Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NOAA Announces New "Water and Wind" SBIR Topics with Surprising Subjects

The big dogs in the SBIR Program are the Department of Defense and The National Institutes of Health, together accounting for over $1.5 Billion of the $2.2+ Billion worth of SBIR projects funded each year. The next tier of agencies, NSF, DOE, NASA and Homeland Security, together fund another $450 Million worth of projects. The remaining five participating agencies (Commerce, Education, Transportation, Agriculture, and the EPA) don't have a lot of SBIR money to spend (do the math), and sometimes get lost in the SBIR shuffle. That's unfortunate, as they do fund interesting projects in worthwhile technologies. (To see the SBIR priorities of all of these agencies, go to the SBIR Gateway's Agency Program Links page, and click on the agency you'd like to explore.)

A case in point is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a branch of the Department of Commerce. NOAA announced their new SBIR Topics today, with a Jan 14, 2009, proposal due date. NOAA's SBIR budget is very small -- they anticipate awarding only ten Phase I grants of $95K each in this round -- but the projects are fascinating. Their four Topic Areas are Ecosystems, Climate, Weather and Water, and Commerce and Transportation. Don't think you can predict what they're looking for, as the variety of technologies being sought is quite broad. To see the Topics and Sub-Topics, surf to NOAA's SBIR web-page and click on the download link for the 2009 NOAA SBIR Solicitation.

Having just ducked the worst of Hurricane Ike, and watched while my favorite vacation places were destroyed, I was especially taken by NOAA's Topic 8.1.9SG: "NOAA is looking for proposals to develop new building methods and materials that can be utilized in both the retrofitting and new construction of structures in coastal areas to reduce the wind and water damage sustained during severe weather events."

There's something for everyone here, with other technologies involving biology, meteorology, chemistry, electronics, sensors, physics, and mathematics. Even SCUBA technology is involved!

NOAA doesn't get the attention that the big dogs get, so the number of SBIR proposals they receive is a lot smaller. Competition is about on par, however, with approximately 10% of the applications getting funded. But, they tend to get overlooked by the companies who are experts in technologies that aren't obviously NOAA-centric. So, overcome your skepticism, take a good look, and call the SBIR Coach if you'd like some help in improving the odds.

No comments: