Do you have an idea for a new technology? Is it high risk? Will nobody fund the development because it’s high risk? If you could figure out how to make this new technology work, is there a huge need/market for it?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, there is a good chance you can win a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help fund the R&D.
The NSF accepts proposals twice a year (Fall and Summer) for a wide range of topics.
Go to http://www.sbir.gov for more info.
The proposal process is a bit long but it’s a good way to fund product development without getting diluted by investors early on.
Basically you need to write a 30+ page proposal with a discussion on the technology and how you intend to bring it to market. You must convince the reviewers that the idea is novel, you have a sound technical approach, your team has the right technical capability, there is a market need and you have a plan to bring the technology to market.
Once you submit, expect a long six-month wait before your hear anything back. If you do win, a Phase 1 grant (6-12 months) is $225,000 dollars and a Phase 2 grant (2 years) is $750,000. There are also several additional supplemental funds you may qualify for. For example, if you bring on a investor, the NSF will match the investment up to a certain percentage.
I currently have a client in the smart headphone space. We have been talking about adding sensors that can detect your brainwaves and play music based on your emotions. It’s an extremely high risk project and the NSF SBIR might be the perfect platform to get this development underway. I will be applying for the grant for the Fall 2013 submission window.
I will keep you posted on how it goes!