SBIR GRANTS OPEN: The holidays are here--and the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences comes dangling gifts. Submissions are open for the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants, designed to give small companies a boost in the research and development of promising edtech ideas and finding a footing in the tough education market.
Awards range from $150K (Phase I grant) for the development of prototypes) to $1.05M (Phase I & II) for a full-fledged, commercially viable edtech tool. Unlike investors, the government isn't demanding viral growth or big monetary returns. Instead it asks for regular progress reports, pilot studies and results. (Not too shabby of a trade-off, we imagine.)
According to SBIR program manager Edward Metz, 50 projects have gone through both Phase I and II between 2005 and 2011. (The ones that started afterward are still in progress.) Of these, 14 awardees, including Sokikom, Filament Games and Teachley, have launched products "used by a significant number of students and teachers." Seventeen others launched but are facing "more difficulty gaining traction," and 19 did not launch or failed to see success in the market. The majority of the projects in the last category participated in the early years of the program, between 2005 to 2008, notes Metz.
Applications are due January 15, 2015 at 2PM EST; winners will be announced by mid-April. The program seems quite fond of learning games, as 36 of them have been funded by SBIR programs. Want to see if you measure up? Check out awardees from 2014 and 2013.