NSF: America's Seed Fund
Connecting the National Science Foundation with more diverse audiences.
America’s Seed Fund — formerly known as NSF-SBIR/STTR — is a program within the National Science Foundation that helps researchers and entrepreneurs transform their ideas into marketable products. Each year, the program awards about $200 million to small businesses developing high-risk technologies. Even if you haven’t heard of America’s Seed Fund, you’ve almost certainly used products developed by its award recipients. NSF has backed research that led to the creation of bar codes, the iPhone, and more.
Despite providing entrepreneurs with funding and valuable mentorship, the SBIR/STTR program found it wasn’t attracting as many applicants as it would have liked from the non-academic realm. 18F partnered with SBIR/STTR to rebrand the program and build a new site with the goal of attracting a more diverse applicant base.
As the project’s content lead, I led a design workshop to help the SBIR/STTR team identify core business goals, user objectives, and the areas of overlap between them. These areas of overlap helped my team identify the core pages we’d focus on during our redesign/rebranding effort. Working closely with our visual designer, I wrote and iterated on interface copy for our prototypes; I also created interview scripts, led research sessions, and co-led our research synthesis. Perhaps most importantly, I offered ongoing human-centered design coaching to the SBIR/STTR team, helping them reframe their decision-making processes and internal workflows to center on the needs of their users.
The America’s Seed Fund team was thrilled with the new site, which is more visually engaging, accessible, and concise than its predecessor.
Roles: Content lead, UX researcher (18F)
View my work: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/