Arrowhead Center SBIR Accelerator (ACSA)

Applications are due April 30th


Notices will be sent out May 7th

Apply Today

Real-time Support for SBIR Proposal Package Preparation.

Timing matters. Run concurrently with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) SBIR/STTR open submission window, Arrowhead Center’s SBIR Accelerator (ACSA) provides the structure and support you need to put together a strong proposal package.

Do you have a transformative technology or innovative idea with commercial potential?

The ACSA Model

Putting together a strong SBIR proposal takes time. Drawing on the resources and expertise of NM FAST, ACSA provides a guided, structured track of support, from registration to submission. Throughout the 12-week program, participants will receive guidance on areas such as preparing and submitting a Project Pitch, creating actionable Letters of Support, and creating a complete proposal package that adheres to NSF requirements. Each week focuses on an aspect of proposal package development and culminates with a submission to NSF.

Weekly, participants can expect to:

  • Attend a virtual meeting
  • Complete a portion of their proposal package
  • Receive feedback, guidance, and support from NM FAST

This ACSA agency-specific program focuses on the NSF’s SBIR/STTR programs. The NSF SBIR/STTR programs focus on transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. NSF funds deep technologies – those that are based on discoveries in fundamental science and engineering – in a variety of functional technology topic areas. The only scientific discovery areas that NSF will typically not fund are related to drug discovery and clinical trials.

NSF utilizes the Project Pitch as a “first-pass” to see if you meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. If your Project Pitch is a good fit for the program, you will receive an official invitation from NSF to submit a full proposal, and you will continue on with cohort activities. If you Project Pitch is rejected, NM FAST staff will work with you on refining your Project Pitch and developing one that more closely aligns with NSF’s needs for their SBIR/STTR programs.

Through the ACSA program, you’ll receive targeted support on the following areas of proposal development:

  • Registrations
  • Project Pitch
  • Topic matching
  • Letter(s) of support
  • Forms
  • Grant writing
  • Budget creation

The NM FAST program will help you facilitate a meeting or phone call with an appropriate NSF program director, conduct a professional review of your completed proposal package, and be on-call during the submission process.

The NSF Approach

The FY21 NSF ACSA cohort will go through a slight paradigm shift. While prior cohorts have focused on an immediate rampway into the Project Pitch process, the FY 21 NSF cohort will require approved applicants to attend a Project Pitch development workshop before the start of the 12-week program (tentatively scheduled for May 12th). In this workshop, participants will receive an overview of the NSF Project Pitch process, what to focus on in their Pitch, how to discuss their innovation, and work directly with a member of the teaching team on starting their Pitch. Approved applicants will attend a follow-up one-on-one session with the teaching team to discuss their efforts to date and to have live critique and feedback on their document.

Cohort participants will not need to have an approved Project Pitch to participate in the ACSA program, but they will need to have a final draft by the start of the teaching sessions. This will allow for participants to have more development time for their full proposal and the ability to submit a complete proposal package during the 12-week program.

The Team

Del Mackey

Economic Development Officer

Arrowhead Center

A member of the NM FAST team for five years, Del has extensive experience in helping clients prepare SBIR/STTR proposal packages for every agency.

Jim Greenwood

Owner and President

Greenwood Consulting Group

Jim Greenwood and his wife, Gail, have been involved in the SBIR program since its inception in 1983. The Greenwoods have taught SBIR/STTR workshops in 48 states plus Puerto Rico.

Tailored Benefits

Targeted Support

Our team will walk you through the NSF SBIR proposal development process, from start to finish.


We want you to submit the strongest proposal possible. You will be matched with a service provider to assist in the development of your SBIR proposal package. These service providers will be paid directly by NM FAST through a micro-grant.

Professional Review

Having a third party review your proposal is critical. The ACSA program has SBIR experts on-hand to review and provide constructive feedback before you submit.


Putting together a quality SBIR proposal package can be overwhelming. We use a cohort-style approach to build a community of innovators working towards a shared goal (Don’t worry: your technology will be covered by a non-disclosure agreement).

We will also connect you to experts – those who live and breathe SBIR – throughout the program. Expect to talk to NSF program managers, DCAA compliance experts, past reviewers, and more.

We are looking for small businesses working on innovative ideas with commercial potential, that align with NSF SBIR/STTR guidelines.

Requirements include:

SBIR Program Eligibility:

  • Having 500 or fewer employees;
  • Being independently owned and operated and organized for profit;
  • Having your principal place of business in the U.S.;
  • Being at least 51% owned by U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens;
  • Performing all work within the U.S.;
  • Having the Principal Investigator (PI) spend more than one-half of their time employed by the proposing firm; and,
  • Having a minimum of two-thirds of the research work performed by the proposing firm in Phase I and one-half in Phase II.

To participate in ACSA, additional requirements must be met:

  • Business must be based in New Mexico; and
  • Business cannot have won a SBIR/STTR from NSF in the past two years.


Informational Webinar

April 8, 2021

Application Deadline

April 30, 2021

Acceptance Notices Sent

May 7, 2021

Required Project Pitch Workshop

May 12, 2021

Required Project Pitch Working Session

May 24-28, 2021

First Day of ACSA

June 9, 2021

Last Day of ACSA

August 27, 2021

Application Deadline








Frequently Asked Questions

How much does ACSA cost?
There is no cost to participate in ACSA.
What is the time commitment for participation?
ACSA doesn’t add too much additional time to the proposal development process. Putting together a strong SBIR proposal package typically requires at least 100+ hours, especially for first-time applicants. During the program, you’ll also need to dedicate about two hours each week for a virtual meeting and check-in.
Does participation in ACSA guarantee me a SBIR award?
No. ACSA is designed to help participants put together and submit a stronger proposal package, which increases the success of an award, but in no way guarantees it.
I don’t live in Las Cruces – can I still participate?
Yes! ACSA is a statewide program delivered virtually. You can participate from anywhere.
I don’t have grant writing experience – can I still participate?
Yes! The ACSA program is designed to assist first time applicants and will utilize specialized resources and expertise to help you through the process.
Do I have to participate in the Pitch workshop if I am accepted?
Yes. Due to the level of information that is needed for an NSF SBIR/STTR proposal submission, and to ensure that the teaching team can fully support your proposal development efforts, accepted applicants must attend both the development workshop and have a follow-up meeting with the teaching team. We have made this requirement so that we can provide the best level of support and assistance to SBIR/STTR program applicants.
What happens if I don’t have a Project Pitch?
While a Project Pitch is a requirement to be an active participant in the NSF ACSA cohort, if you are a business based in the State of New Mexico, the NM FAST team can still support your proposal development efforts through the NM FAST program.

This accelerator is an initiative of the NM FAST program, which is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration

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