NSF Project Pitch

NSF Project Pitch

The required Project Pitch allows startups and small businesses to get quick feedback at the start of their application for Phase I funding from America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF.

Startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page Project Pitch* will know within three weeks if they meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. They will also get additional guidance and feedback from NSF staff.

If your Project Pitch is a good fit for the program, you will receive an official invitation from NSF to submit a full proposal. If you’re not invited to submit, you’ll be told why your project is not appropriate for the program.

Along with your company information, you’ll have to outline four key elements in your Project Pitch:

1. The Technology Innovation. (Up to 500 words)

Describe the technical innovation that would be the focus of a Phase I project, including a brief discussion of the origins of the innovation as well as explanation as to why it meets the program’s mandate to focus on supporting research and development (R&D) of unproven, high-impact innovations.

What is the problem being addressed? 

What is your solution?

What approaches have been used before?  How is it done today?  What alternatives have been tried before?

What are the shortfalls of state of the art and other alternative approaches?

How do you overcome the shortfalls?

What makes your approach unique, different?

What is your secret sauce, what is the innovation that makes your approach workable?

How do you know it will work?

What is the benefit of your approach, qualitative and quantitative?

What are the key technical for your technology that must be overcome to demonstrate both technical and commercial feasibility?

2. The Technical Objectives and Challenges. (Up to 500 words)

Describe the R&D or technical work to be done in a Phase I project, including a discussion of how and why the proposed work will help prove that the product or service is technically feasible and/or significantly reduce technical risk. Discuss how, ultimately, this work could contribute to making the new product, service, or process commercially viable and impactful. This section should also convey that the proposed work meets the definition of R&D, rather than straightforward engineering or incremental product development tasks.

What are the outstanding issues today that must be researched, developed and demonstrated to show this is feasible?

What are the 2-3 key questions that must be answered in Phase 1 to show feasibility?

What are the performance requirements for Phase 2 that are necessary for technical and commercial success?

How will you study the 3 key questions in Phase 1?  What is your technical approach?  What is your test plan?  How do you know your test plan will adequately address the 3 key questions in a demonstrably measurable way?  What facilities and expertise do you need to adequately answer the questions?

If Phase 1 successfully demonstrates feasibility, what will be necessary to do in phase 2 to develop and test a "near commercial" version of the technology?

3. The Market Opportunity. (Up to 250 words)

Describe the customer profile and pain point(s) that will be the near-term commercial focus related to this technical project.

What are the shortfalls of state of the art and other alternative approaches?

What is the size of the problem and opportunity?

What makes your approach unique, different?  In what measurable way does your technology product meet an unmet customer need better than the competition?

What is the benefit of your approach, qualitative and quantitative?

What is the value to the user/customer?  Quantify when it is commercialized broadly, what will be total impact for users, for military? For USA economy (5 E's - economy, employment, energy, environment, exports)?

Who are the actual users/customers and where/how do they buy the current solution?

Who are potential users that will be major customers and could be reviewers now and test sites in Phase 2?

4. The Company and Team. (Up to 250 words)

Describe the background and current status of the applicant small business, including key team members who will lead the technical and/or commercial efforts discussed in this Project Pitch.

Who is the principal investigator?  Research team?  Test facilities?  Technical advisers?  Commercial advisers?

What are their key roles and qualifications to fulfill these roles in the proposed project?

Visit the online form to submit your Project Pitch or to preview the required fields. More details about the NSF’s new process and eligibility requirements are on our Apply page.

*Each small business can only submit one Project Pitch at a time and up to two Project Pitches per submission window. (The submission windows for 2019 are March 4-June 13 and June 14-December 12). Any small business with a pending Project Pitch must wait for a response before submitting another Project Pitch. Any small business that has received an invitation to submit a full proposal must wait for a resolution of the full proposal before submitting a new or revised Project Pitch.