Sadie Doran is a current Entrepreneur Fellow at TREAT and in the Master of Engineering Management (MEM) Program at Dartmouth College. Here, she gives her perspective on how to convey the importance of your rehabilitation or assistive technology and generate excitement for your proposal.
Reading through dozens of proposals on innovative, exciting rehabilitative and assistive technology throughout my time as a TREAT Entrepreneur Fellow, I have noted the significance of a well-written story. Being able to craft a compelling grant can be just as important as the innovation itself when trying to stand out to a review panel
Defining what a well-written grant entails is challenging, as it is important for the writer to express individuality and passion for the innovation. One word that holds true for most stories is flow.
flow (verb): proceed or be produced smoothly, continuously, and effortlessly
How watching a wave flow onto the shore is mesmerizing, you want the audience to remain enthralled as the story flows from beginning to end. One way to begin practicing this is by laying out a storyline. Whether seeking buy-in, funding, or assistance for a rehabilitative or assistive technology, four main segments should be strongly addressed in the storyline:
- Need Statement
- What is the problem?
- How has this been validated (i.e. what stakeholders have you talked to)?
- Technology Resolution
- What is the innovation?
- How does it solve the problem?
- Value Add of the Technology
- Does it save time? Money? Improve outcomes?
- What will it help the end user achieve?
- Value Add of the Award
- How will the funding or assistance help accelerate your timeline?
- What are the next steps and challenges to overcome?
The wording and length of the story will vary depending on the audience but having a storyline will allow you to easily modify when necessary. For instance, when explaining the innovation to a clinician who may be using it someday, they will want to understand the technology, what will be required for them to use it (i.e. is training involved), and what is the value it will bring to them and their patients. Pitching to an investor – they are looking for the concise version of why they should invest their money to bring your product to the forefront. Help the investor understand the return on investment they will receive, whether in the form of capital or a positive social impact.
One way to test your story is to have an unaffiliated person or colleague read your grant or listen to your pitch. Regardless of who the audience is they should understand the flow of the story, what your solution is, and most importantly, feel excited about your project!