When interviewing your potential sponsor, try to understand what they do in the lab within the agency they work for. Build knowledge about what their problems, needs, wants and expectations are.
In addition, you will be well served to ask them how they have engaged with the SBIR program in the past. This can help you gauge whether your sponsor puts out a lot of money in awards or is just testing the water with a couple of solicitations a year.
Ask them questions like this:
- What have you funded in the past 12 months?
- Have you funded something like this before?
- Do you fund the same company more than once?
Also, some sponsors form close collaborative relationships with companies and they will fund them 5 years in a row - those sponsors might not be looking to build a new relationship with you, their research needs may be well satisfied with the existing company they are already working with. If you know this in advance, you can make an informed decision about which sponsors to build relationships with - you might be better off working with someone who has a new technical problem that they are looking for someone to solve for them.