Could Grant Money Help Pay for Your Medical Device Project?

The design and development process for a new medical device can be costly. For companies and projects that meet certain criteria, applying for a grant may be a viable option to secure the funding needed for these medical device projects. In its most basic sense, a grant is money given to an individual, business or other organization that is designated for a specific purpose and does not need to be repaid. The grants.gov website provides a wealth of information for available grant opportunities and how to apply.

Grants for Medical Device Companies

As it relates to medical devices, there are several organizations that offer grants to fund research in the fields of science and engineering, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Department of Defense (DOD), National Institute of Health (NIH), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grants and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants are two programs offered by the National Science Foundation and other agencies that are often well-suited for startups and small businesses in the medtech space. There are a number of eligibility requirements to apply for these grants. At a minimum, the business applying for an SBIR/STTR grant must be for profit, primarily based in the US, and have 500 or fewer employees. It is also preferred that the funding be used for design and development, rather than manufacturing or commercialization. It’s important to note that just because a business applies for a grant does not mean they will receive funding. SBIR and STTR grants are competitive. Over the past 10 years on average, SBIR grant submissions have had a success rate of approximately 18%.

Application Process for a National Science Foundation SBIR Grant

The initial application for an SBIR grant through the NSF is an introduction letter. This two-page letter is essentially an elevator pitch that includes two main sections: an explanation of the significance of the invention and an explanation of the potential commercial and societal impact of the invention. Once submitted, the grant committee will review the letter and provide a response as to whether or not the company can move forward with submitting a full grant application for Phase 1 funding. If the committee responds positively to the introduction letter, the chances of having the grant application accepted increase to about 35%.

There is no set template to follow when writing a grant application. The government agency offering the grant will outline what information they want to see, and it is expected that the application will present fully developed ideas in response. A full SBIR grant application can be anywhere from 10-20 pages in length, single spaced. The application should thoroughly explain what the product is and try to justify why this particular product deserves to receive funding. This justification is then followed by the technical information relating to the project. The technical section of the grant application is often what can make-or-break a submission. A common mistake businesses make is not providing enough technical detail. The technical section should include a detailed list of project tasks to be completed and explain how the company plans to complete each task. Any material that can demonstrate how the product will function, like concept drawings, adds significant value to a grant application. The application should also include a commercialization plan. The government wants to be assured before they provide funding that the company has a plan to sell the product once it’s developed.

The entire SBIR grant application process from the initial application to receiving Phase 1 funding typically takes just under one year. There are a few rolling windows throughout the year when applications can be submitted. The grant-issuing agency expects that the goals set in the Phase 1 application will be achieved within a reasonable time frame. If Phase 1 is successful, Phase 2 funding is likely to be granted. A successful Phase 2 will end with a functional form factor and true-to-manufacturing prototype that is ready to be commercialized.

Pros and Cons of Applying for a Grant to Fund Medical Device Development

Writing and submitting a grant application requires a great deal of time and attention, and simply applying does not guarantee funding. However, the benefits reaped from a successful grant application can make the process a worthwhile investment of time and resources. Grant money allows companies to fund design and development without sacrificing company equity or intellectual property. Any grant money awarded must be used for the project, but there is no requirement to pay the money back. Receiving funding through an SBIR or STTR grant is an excellent way to fund invention in medtech and related industries.

Gilero Grant Writing Services

If your company is considering applying for a grant to fund medical device design and product development, Gilero can assist. We will help to determine if your company is eligible to apply for a grant and identify which grant opportunity may be a good fit for your product. Gilero can provide consulting services throughout the grant writing and submission process. We can also write the technical section of a grant application, which is often the most difficult and time-consuming part for applicants to get through. Gilero has team members with strong writing skills and the technical expertise needed to write a successful application. Contact us to learn more about our grant writing services.