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Re: [ontolog-forum] Goverment funding for private research?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Len Yabloko" <lenya@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2009 02:58:47 +0000
Message-id: <W542232869520721240455527@webmail45>
Ron, thanks for advice    (01)

>Given all of Ed's advice and suggestions, I can only add that you 
>probably will have more success partnering with an established company 
>for your first contract.    (02)

Can you suggest a scenario (or better yet- example) when established company 
would give someone "first contract"? The only contract I can think of is 
contract under which all your work becomes property of this company.    (03)

>After you have been the main researcher on a project, you will have a 
>better chance.    (04)

Again - I can't imagine main researcher on a project leave this position to 
start his company hoping to get smallish government grant as "first contract".    (05)

>The established company may also give you a good grounding on how to get 
>and to manage a government project.    (06)

What you are saying makes sense only if you remove "first contract". Then 
government grant can be an additional client and sales channel. First contract 
is usually a "catch 22".    (07)

>    (08)

>Ed Barkmeyer wrote:
>> Len Yabloko wrote:
>>> My experience is similar to what you described. However, I believe
>>> that very much depends on the agency.
>> I'm sure it does.  NIST is a small agency, and we don't have a lot of 
>> SBIR grant money (as Chris implied) and we pride ourselves on being 
>> conscientious about this stuff.  Other agencies have much more money, 
>> and get orders of magnitude more SBIR proposals, and don't have a 
>> proportionate evaluation staff.  So you get the very quick 3-pile 
>> system: Yes, Maybe, No, and the No's get the 3-sentence review.
>>> I think "some knowledge... and new idea" is an understatement.
>>> My impression is that reviewers are looking for solid (certifiable)
>>> expertise and prove record of accomplishment in the field.
>> Yes.
>>> Do you 
>>> really think that some smart person with good idea can get
>>> government money just for interesting thoughts about solving
>>> particular problem at hand?
>> Yes.  But that person has to have some track record.  It is the 
>> Catch-22: you can't get a contract if you have never had a contract. 
>> (And that is why NSF has first-timer grant programs.)  If you were the 
>> lead PI on a project at Raytheon or sold your software product to NASA 
>> Ames, or whatever, that may be enough.
>>> If so, how can reviewer be sure that she is not wasting tax money?
>> She can't be sure, ever.  And it is probably fair to say that 9 out of 
>> every 10 such grants are a waste of taxpayer money with respect to the 
>> objective at hand.  But they are somebody's first grant, or they kept 
>> some smart person actively engaged in the area and working with and 
>> educating the agency, or they demonstrated the fruitlessness of a blind 
>> alley, etc., all of which may bear fruit later.
>>> Are newcommers ever welcome?
>> If you mean "wet behind the ears", no.  But new small businesses created 
>> by experienced people, or people with a clear idea and the knowledge of 
>> where the market for that idea is, yes.
>>> What about "high risk" requirements of SBIR?
>> That just means that you can't propose something they have already done 
>> or can buy off-the-shelf, or something that is a simple matter of 
>> engineering using a well-known approach, i.e. something they could do in 
>> a week or so themselves.  Much of the "high risk" requirement is just 
>> nominal justification for public venture capitalism. ;-)
>> -Ed
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