Whether you are fresh out of college or university or are a seasoned employee with many years of experience, you have a great idea for a good or service and want to start a business. However, in both of these situations, capital may be a significant hindrance as money is needed for startup fees such as inventory, office space, supplies, utilities and staff.
The good news is, in today’s business world, there are many resources offering grants to help you with your innovative idea. The bad news is, the competition for these grants can be fierce and if you fail to bring your A-game, you may miss out. Below are 5 requirements needed to receive an innovation grant and being mindful of them might mean you get exactly what you need to be successful in your endeavor.
1. Know where you fit
You may be overwhelmed while trying to consider a possible source of funding for your innovative idea. However, it becomes easier when you find organizations that match with your goals and objectives. You should never try to match or alter your plan to correlate with a niche where it does not belong.
Trying to fix your application to a specific plan is not only a waste of time but will also be a major disappointment. Take your time to assess your goals. This will give you a clear indication of where you fit in and what grants you are eligible for.
2. Think local
With many parties applying for the same grants, most people think that it is nearly impossible to obtain a grant. You should not allow this to deter you. If your idea is smart and innovative you have just as much of a chance to receive a grant as anyone. However, some agencies providing grants want to promote local growth and as a result researching grants in your area is often beneficial.
Take your time to find grants that are being offered at your local level. These agencies sometimes have a mandate of boosting economic needs in their respective areas. Knowing this, you can base your innovative idea around an economic need in your area and increase your chances of being approved for a grant.
3. Work with the program officer
Funding organizations usually have program officers. These people are in charge of reviewing applications and either approving them or making recommendations for approval.
Before you finalize your application, you should be in touch with the program officer. They can confirm what their application processes are and may even give you some tips on increase your chances of success. If possible, meet them in person. Sometimes a program officer is more likely to approve an application if they can put a face to it.
4. Do not rush the process
Applying for a grant is not easy. It is a difficult and time-consuming process. You want yours to be perfect since you are in direct competition with other parties who are also hoping to receive a grant. Rushing the process will not help you and may prove to be a waste of time as chances are your application will be rejected with missing information and any grammatical or spelling errors.
To ensure your application is completed to the best of your ability, give yourself a few months before the deadline to do it. Remember to provide an in-depth breakdown of your project and strictly adhere to the grant application requirements. Also, remember that this is an innovation grant. Therefore, you need to demonstrate how your idea is fresh and can fulfill a need in the economy or community.
5. Know your audience
You may write the best grant application and always adhere to all the grant requirements and evaluation criteria. Your idea may also be smart and innovative. However, if you cannot communicate what you have written in a very clear and concise manner to those reviewing your application, you may not be considered.
Before submitting your application, consult with the program officer to know who will be reviewing your proposal. This gives you a good idea about their areas of expertise. For example, if the review panel is made up of researchers, you should tailor it to include a lot of detail about your research. Knowing your audience will give you an advantage because your application will reflect your effort to include information that they can relate to and are looking for.