Business innovation is when companies implement new processes, ideas, services, or products with the goal of boosting the bottom line. It could mean launching new and improved products or services (which can lead to higher revenue), making an existing process more efficient, or solving a current business problem (both of which cut down on costs and save time). The key element of innovation is that it drives economic growth.
The US Government invests billions into economic growth via grant funding. This money goes to everything from job training to upgrading infrastructure around the country. One of the main vehicles the government uses to infuse this capital into the business ecosystem is grants.
Naturally, our suggestion is going to be OpenGrants. Here is a quick overview of what our platform has to offer as a means of searching for grant funding. We highly recommend starting here for two reasons: it's free, and it's the fastest way to kick off your research journey.
Here are some stats on this space, to give you an idea of what is available.
Some of the major funding partners in this space include the following agencies;
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (DOI)
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS)
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION (ED)
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA)
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD)
The first step in developing your partnering strategy is understanding who your partners are going to be. In this space you are going to find yourself targeting large institutions including state and local government, economic development teams, and workforce development teams. These groups are often hard to make inroads with because they are constantly approached by companies looking to sell something and extract value from them.
A great first step in building out a partnership with these groups is to offer value immediately and seek to solve a problem of theirs. After you have bridged the relationship gap, and the institution or government is ready to work with you, here are a few notes to keep in mind:
Many large organizations are very risk averse, so you may be required to maintain significant amounts of liability and other insurance to work with a large organization. This applies to anyone, including knowledge workers.
Know that you will need to have all of your company information organized and accessible. You will need to be in good standing with regulatory agencies.
When contracting with the government specifically, you will want to assess if there are specific contract vehicles you need to leverage. There are a multitude of rules and regulations to navigate.
If you are a sub-contractor on a grant funded project, be aware that there may be significant cash flow challenges. You will typically be doing work for payment, and may generate invoices with up to net-90 terms.
When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, if you partner on a grant, you are really just selling a service to the lead applicant. It will be a relationship that is defined by a contract and exchange of services for payment.
As a partner, you take on the role of a subcontractor, which means you give up overall control of the project, but also avoid the liability and work of reporting and management.