An Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center employee recently served on a National Science Foundation panel reviewing Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTF) federal funding proposals.
In her role as the center’s innovation consultant, Rebecca Norman helps Arkansas entrepreneurs and companies develop SBIR/STTF proposals.
Dr. Anna Brady-Estevez, the agency’s SBIR/STTR program manager, invited her to participate in the review panel March 16 in Arlington, Virginia.
The experience gave Norman “an enhanced understanding of the key considerations that are weighed during proposal evaluation and how the panelists converse with each other to arrive at a consensus,” she said.
Norman’s panel focused on the research topic “Environmental Sensing, Monitoring, and Modeling.” They considered the technical and commercial strengths and weaknesses of 14 proposals and suggested rankings for funding consideration, while also giving all applicants meaningful feedback.
Each panelist served as lead reviewer and scribe for three proposals, reviewing and ranking others prior to the session.
Even proposals with great commercial potential also need to be technically strong, Norman observed.
“Although preliminary data is not required for NSF SBIR/STTR proposals, most reviewers do want to see that there is sound technical backing for a proposed approach and that applicants have considered the full range of factors that technologies would be exposed to in a real-world environment,” she said.
Norman enjoyed her first turn as a commercial reviewer and hopes for additional review panel opportunities with the National Science Foundation or other agencies.
“It was a great learning experience that I can use to benefit future Arkansas SBIR/STTR applicants,” she said.