Securing Federal Grants — A Snapshot of What Success Looks Like

Small businesses from across the U.S. shared their experiences with the SBIR, a special program of the Small Business Administration to support scientific and technological investment, in a recent survey we conducted. We sought broader insight into this program — intended to help turn your innovative ideas into market worthy products — and the experiences of those looking to achieve their aspirations.


Key Findings


Most Common Advice

  • Start early, give yourself plenty of time
  • Know your audience
  • Read instructions carefully
  • Seek professional guidance and writing courses

Understanding the process, requirements, and knowing the reviewer’s perspective sets you up for better results in the long-term.

Have a great idea. Form a strong team. Understand the customer’s needs. Finally, be or get a good writer.
— Anonymous Survey Taker

Getting in touch with potential customers during the technology development and commercialization stages is absolutely important, and reflects in what many shared. Nevertheless, 21% had not or were unsure whether this had taken place. Even after securing funding, 10% said they still had not engaged with potential customers.

Pitfalls and Foibles

Here are a few pointers, especially if you are new to the process or looking to improve your acceptance rate.

Companies who are successfully securing funding are experiencing an increase in SBIR funding over the last three-years and are seeing 50% or more of their grants being accepted. But even among successful groups, meeting proposal deadlines can be problematic. Respondents cited these top reasons:

  • Insufficient time
  • Lack of administrative support
  • Difficulty with websites or portals

Keeping this all in perspective, more than half reported as having been denied a grant proposal at least once. You are best to stay persistent and know that there will be more opportunities to pursue.

Apply for lots of grants because the review process is somewhat random and perfect proposals might not reach the appropriate audience.
— Anonymous Survey Taker

Fortunately, companies can be successful. In fact, 85% of survey takers anticipate applying for more funding within six-months. 


Does this resonate with you? Interested in learning about our grant proposal services an how we can assist you and your organization? 


A special thanks to everyone who took time to complete our survey. We hope to continue to evalute our small business community and discover how we can better assist in bringing new ideas to market.

Donald Pendagast