FedScoop: NSF case management pilot streamlines grant process for entrepreneurs

“For decades, the National Science Foundation has depended on a legacy system called FastLane for small businesses and startups to submit proposals for scientific research grants and interact with the agency.”

“But to anyone who’s not a full-time research expert seeking NSF funding, the platform hardly lived up to its name. For entrepreneurs and startups in particular — who are typically unfamiliar with the process of applying for government grants and often the most in need of them — it was cumbersome and difficult to navigate, according to Ben Schrag, NSF program director of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer.”

“’They are not experts. They’re almost by definition new to the process of government funding,’ Schrag said. ‘And for entrepreneurs, generally grant-writing is not a standard skill set for them. Their skill set is pitching investors and things like that. So we don’t necessarily even want them to become experts, because that’s a lot of time that they could be spending building their companies.’”

“But it’s those innovative, bootstrapped entrepreneurs and small businesses that NSF aspires to reach through the program, which is also known as America’s Seed Fund,  because they tend to overperform in terms of return on investment and driving meaningful, transformative outcomes.”

“It was clear NSF had to create a more modern front-end process to better connect with this community. To do so, the foundation decided, it needed to help entrepreneurs get a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ before requiring them to enter the official grants submittal portal.

“That’s where the idea for Project Pitch came from: A quick submission portal that sits in front of FastLane catered to entrepreneurs and startups, who, if they are a good fit, get an official invitation from NSF to submit a full proposal and help along the way…” Read the full article here.

Source: NSF case management pilot streamlines grant process for entrepreneurs – By Wyatt Kash, June 22, 2020. FedScoop.

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