Show me the money! The Importance of Budget Preparation.

After spending months planning your experiments and detailing your approach, you are now ready for the budget.  WRONG!  A common mistake in preparing an SBIR is to put off budget planning to one of the last tasks. Many reviewers will look first at the budget as your financial abstract assessing if it makes sense with your overall summary and proposed specific aims. Before you get too in the weeds with writing, draft your budget and see if it makes sense with your proposed scientific aims and timeline. The budget can be a key to telling reviewers you understand what it takes to complete your project.

Consider these comments from reviewers as you prepare your budget.  Want more guidance?  to help you be proactive in budget planning.

  • Is $150K (or $225K) enough? Remember you only have about 6 months for a phase 1 project.  Innovators often propose lofty experimental goals and crunch them into the 6 month time frame.  Instead, have a focused project that shows the reviewer successful outcomes address the question of feasibility. 
  • I think they need more personnel. With tight timelines, leveraging collaborators, consultants and other temporary resources can be the key to making a project work. Augmenting the skills of your core team with other staff provides the skills and team credibility your project may need without the expense of permanent staff.
  • How will they keep the lights on? This is a grant to a small business. You have to include costs for rent, internet, utilities and so on.  The indirect fees from your grant may offset these costs.  Showing reviewers that you have access and can pay for the right facilities lends credibility to your proposal. To help mitigate these costs, consider unique arrangements with other businesses and university space rental agreements.  The CTC can suggest options other clients have utilized in the past.

Your SBIR budget should reflect the goals of your project and supports focused project that could demonstrate the innovative and commercial potential of your technology.