Education Department requests research proposals from small businesses

The Department of Education is looking for research proposals from small businesses in the areas of consulting at the state and local level and development of educational products.

The department's requirements were published Dec. 22 in the Federal Register. Applications are due Feb. 19. Thirty to 35 six-month awards of approximately $100,000 each will be made in this competition for Phase I awards under the Small Business Innovation Research Program for fiscal 2004.

Education wants research on business consulting services for the education community at the local and state levels.

The department also wants research on educational products in reading, mathematics, science or character development at the pre-kindergarten through post-secondary levels, including products used by teachers and administrators and products used by students.

According to the department's Institute of Education Sciences, examples of business consulting services include an application or service designed to provide schools with test results that have been condensed into easily interpretable language for teacher and principal use. Another example is research that evaluates existing commercial software to determine which product best meets the need of the school, district or state financial systems. Products may include, but are not limited to, software applications, supplemental educational materials such as workbooks, and assessment instruments.

The SBIR program is meant to stimulate technological innovation, strengthen the role of small businesses in research and development, and increase the commercial application of innovations derived from that research and development.

In Phase I, research ideas are submitted and evaluated for their scientific or technical merit and feasibility. In Phase II, the principal research and development is conducted. Phase II applicants are Phase I awardees whose research appears promising. In Phase III, small businesses use non-SBIR capital to pursue commercial applications of their research and development.

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