5 Tips for Winning Government Grants to Fund Your New Product Development

Grant Money

5 Tips for Winning Government Grants to Fund Your New Product Development

Washington D.C. and state capitals are awash in federal grant dollars thanks to COVID and Build Back Better stimulus funding.  Strangely, federal and state agencies have trouble disbursing the grants because there are not enough grant applications.  Upshot 1: much of the grant funding remains unspent and may disappear if it is unspent.  Upshot 2: with a little research and elbow grease, you can win grants that can be used to fund new product development and innovation. 

Over the past three decades, Axiom has collaborated with its clients on a variety of grant programs funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).  Our grant funding win levels have ranged from $82,500 to more than $1,000,000.


Below are 5 tips for successful grant applications:

  • Identify key goals and initiatives being pursued by federal agencies that relate to your business sector – What are key directives for the agencies you care about? How are the agencies attempting to accomplish these directives with grant initiatives?  These questions can be answered by reviewing Congressional Budget Requests.  Below are links to the 2023 budget requests:





  • Align your new product with agency goals and initiatives – Once you’ve identified what the agencies are focused on achieving, review key features and benefits of your new product or service and positioning statements. Identify why and how your product can help the agency.  For example:
        1. Does your product or service save energy or water?
        2. Does it improve air quality or sequester carbon?
        3. Does it improve efficiency and provide greater industry profits and faster industry growth?


  • Participate in Public Inquiry – Before any grant is announced, federal agencies always host an online comment period during which they pose questions to the public, industry participants, and academia. The agencies use this information to structure the grant and the funding categories within the grant.  Savvy grant applicants pay close attention to the questions asked.  They choose to participate in this comment period to inform department grant coordinators about factors that they see as important.  Their goal?  Informed commentary often impacts the structure of the grant FOA in a way that is beneficial to their future grant application.  Below is a link to questions and comments posed by USDA before issuing its $250 million grant program aimed at stabilizing retail prices for fertilizers.

 USDA Public Inquiry Questions


  • Collaborate and Partner with National Labs and Industry Research Non-Profits – The most successful grant applications always have collaboration models that include the country’s 17 national laboratories (e.g. Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, etc.) They also include non-profit industry associations with a proven track record of winning and executing federal, state, and private grant programs (e.g. Gas Technology Institute, Electric Power Research Institute, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Horticultural Research Institute, Foundation for Agronomic Research, etc.)

    Nearly all of the organizations mentioned above are hungry for more collaborations with businesses.  They are interested in developing relationships with more industry manufacturing partners with whom they can collaborate to commercialize new products and services.  Because of their focus on executing applied scientific research, most have neither time, resources nor budgets to seek out businesses like yours.  Your goal?  Develop strategies and timelines to introduce your company to the national lab and non-profit association that is relevant to your industry.  Note: each national lab has focus areas for its research projects.  Find out who the primary investigators are in the areas that matter for your business.  Introduce your business to them and discuss their needs relating to industry business partnerships for upcoming grant applications. 


  • Start Early and Bring In Experienced Contract Resources – Federal grant applications always take more time than anyone ever expects. The process always starts with the creation of some sort of a short concept paper that presents the industry need, research objectives, tactics, general budgets, existing industry paradigms and solutions, risks, etc.  Pending positive encouragement from the grant review panel, the next step is a detailed proposal that may span 50-100 pages. 


Generally, it’s advisable to use experienced contract grant writers once your grant concept paper has been encouraged to move ahead.  The grant writer can help you understand the many steps you’ll need to undertake in the final grant application process.  For example: with any federal agency grants, you need to be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and have an approved and active SAM number.  Be sure to map out and timeline all activities necessary to

It’s hard to remember a time in the past 20 years when there have been more federal funding grants available.  These grants provide an additional funding stream for your new product and channel partner initiatives.  The grants can also act as a foundation for industry networking, discussions with customers and channel partners, and PR/social media campaigns.  However, it’s important to remember that they are time-intensive and require detailed reporting throughout the process. 

If you’d like more information on how your company can access grant funding, contact Mike Reiber at mreiber@axiomcom.com.  

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