Incremental Objectives, Innovative Objectives, and SBIR

  • December 2, 2020

Incremental Objectives

To understand the difference between incremental objectives and innovative objectives, we must first define each. Incremental objectives are usually small achievable objectives that must be reached in order to fully develop a product, process, or idea. Incremental objectives are small, necessary, low-risk steps that must be taken to meet the goal. In the case of research and development projects, these are often straightforward engineering tasks or similar product building.

Innovative Objectives

Innovative objectives, on the other hand, are objectives that seek to improve things by an order of magnitude. Innovative objectives require experimentation, risk-taking, and creative solutions. As such, innovation objectives involve greater levels of uncertainty than the more straightforward incremental objectives that lead to predictable and quickly obtainable improvements. Innovative objectives are designed to bring something brand nee to the table, such as a new capability in ML or biosensors that have not been produced before and will likely take iterative redesign and testing to perfect.

Objectives in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Realm

While it is likely you will have both types of objectives in your SBIR research project, be advised that the majority of your focus should be on innovative objectives. The SBIR program is focused on industry disruptive innovations, not simple straightforward engineering. While there may be objectives required to build hardware and software in order to create a finished project, the reviewers of your proposal are not nearly as interested in these as they are in the innovative objectives.

How To Include Objectives In Your SBIR Proposal

Focus the language in the objectives section of the proposal to highlight innovative objectives. Remember that these objectives carry a higher risk of unpredictable outcomes. Be sure to include language describing any potentially iterative processes that may arise due to high risk or unknown outcome objectives. Include a breakdown of the risks associated with each innovative objective and how your team plans to mitigate the risk to the best of their ability.


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