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5 Tips Entrepreneurs Should Keep in Mind When Applying for Government Grants

The Greentown Labs community recently gleaned great insight from Anzu Partners, an investment firm located in Washington DC that teams with entrepreneurs and strategic players to transform their industries with investment and expertise. Anzu’s Technology Partnerships Team provides grant advisory support to internal and external companies. Their recent presentation focused on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, what entrepreneurs need to know, how to be successful, and what to plan for, particularly in the new political environment.

  • Plan and be patient. When applying for government grants, you need to plan ahead. There are long wait times and delays associated with application submissions and receiving funds. SBIR grants, for example, take at least 9 months altogether: 3 months to apply, 3 months to hear whether you won the award, and another 3 months to receive the funding. After receiving the money, you will need to continuously share data and milestones with the award agency.


  • Plant the seed of your innovation by submitting a white paper. A helpful way to receive funding is to write a white paper about your innovation, find a contact at a funding agency and encourage the agency to release a topic specifically about your research and innovation. This way, the funding opportunity will be explicitly geared toward your innovation, giving you a leg up on the rest of your field. It makes you much more likely to win a funding opportunity when it’s written for you!


  • If at first you don’t succeed… try again! Half of the application process is understanding the format and gathering the necessary documentation needed for submission. In the process of applying for grant funding, you will have to do a thorough investigation of market opportunity. The process forces you to make connections (specifically for letters of support or partnership) and reach out to potential partners and customers who can provide feedback and/or lead to business deals, separate from the grant success. This customer discovery will not only lead to a stronger business, but a stronger application second time around.


  • Find someone who has done this before. Services and resources that walk you through identification, prioritization and application processes of government grants are there for a reason. If you have the resources to take advantage of these services, their knowledge of the strategic players, application format and workload planning is highly beneficial. Grant Advisory teams will lead necessary tasks such as, reviewing all relevant funding opportunities in your field, calling relevant agencies to confirm fit of your innovation, draft proposals for the funding opportunities, develop stock material to reuse in multiple applications, and form responses to any questions that may come from grantors.


  • Prepare for SBIR Phase II application when you write the Phase I application. If you’re applying for a SBIR grant, preparation for Phase II applications should start when you write the Phase I application. As opposed to Phase I Awards, which award up to $150K for 6 months, Phase II awards can fund up to $1M for 2 years, making them much more desirable. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for Phase II awards. Set yourself up for success by setting achievable experiments, tasks and milestones that can be completed prior to submission of the Phase II application.


Thank you to Anzu Partners for spending time with our entrepreneurs and arming them with great information for their grant applications!

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