Before the review meeting, three members of the committee review, comment on, and score each part of the proposal separately and provide overall comments and an overall score. Scores range from 1 to 9, with 1 being the best and 9 the worst. Proposals having the best scores from the three reviewers are discussed and scored by the full committee. Usually, the top-scoring half of the proposals in each meeting are discussed and scored. After discussion, all committee members provide an overall score. Their scores are averaged and multiplied times 10 to yield an impact or priority score.
These are the parts of the proposal that are scored:
- Significance – The problem being solved and its commercial potential
- Investigators – The PI and team
- Innovation – What is new about the product or how it’s better than what is already available
- Approach – The research design and feasibility
- Environment/Facilities – Where the work will be completed and what equipment is available
- The following are also considered: commercial potential (Phase I), commercialization plan (Phase II), quality of milestones (meaningful and measurable), human subjects/vertebrate animals, and biohazards
The comments and scores are combined in a document called the summary statement, which is sent to the PI. Program staff use the impact or priority score and committee comments to make a decision on funding. They also consider other factors, such as the agency’s mission and the need for balance in that agency’s program. Scores from 10 to 30 are most likely to get funded.
Commercialization plans count. Even for your Phase I proposal, be sure your company’s business strategy has a high potential for success.