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General Overview This is the primary government website maintained by SBA for information on the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and related Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs provide funding opportunities to small businesses to engage in applied research & technology development for the largest 11 federal agencies and their components. Over $3 billion in contracts and grants are awarded annually. This is the place to start!

On-line SBIR Tutorials: An excellent set of of online courses designed to help one learn more about the SBIR and STTR programs and how to develop a responsive proposal. Includes information on IP and data rights as well as accounting and finance for use in preparing the proposal budget and carrying out the project. Companies are encouraged to review these tutorials prior to requesting Direct Services assistance from the MS-FAST program. 


Contracts vs GrantsThe eleven Agencies that participate in the SBIR and STTR programs make their awards either as grants or contracts. It is important to understand the differences between these two. Note: Some agencies such as NIH employee both contracts and grants.


Agency Specific

The following are useful information and links on specific aspects of the 11 federal agencies and their sub-components participating in the SBIR/STTR programs. Click on the agency's logo to visit their micro site. 


1) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers competitively awarded SBIR grants to qualified small businesses to support high quality research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefits. 

SBIR Phase I grants are limited to $100,000 and duration of 8 months and are open to any small business concern that meets the SBIR eligibility requirements. SBIR Phase II grants are limited to $600,000 and duration of 24 months and are only open to previous Phase I awardees. 

Participation by university faculty or government scientists in SBIR projects is strongly encouraged. It is also strongly recommended that anyone writing a Phase 1 proposal to USDA read their SBIR Phase I Panel Review Instructions. These instructions provide important insight into what the reviewers are looking for when evaluating a proposal.


2) U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) offers competitively awarded SBIR grants in support of its two major research components: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).   


NIST's SBIR program solicits R&D proposals from small businesses that respond to specific technical needs described in the subtopics of the annual Solicitation. Interested parties are encouraged to review NIST's SBIR Roadmap to Success Video Series found on their website.

NOAA's SBIR program seeks highly innovative products with excellent commercial potential. All SBIR proposals must directly benefit the NOAA mission, but should also be responsive to the greater market demands in order to be successful. Note: NOAA in its 2020 solicitation is moving to making cooperative agreement/grant awards - with broader topic areas - compared to its past contract awards seeking more specific innovations. 


3) Department of Defense (DoD) SBIR/STTR budgets represents more than $1 billion in research contract funds annually. Over half the awards are to firms with fewer than 25 people and a third to firms of fewer than 10. A fifth are minority or women-owned businesses. Historically, a quarter of the companies are first-time winners. The are 13 components under the DoD SBIR/STTR programs (several of these have sub-components) with the major three being the Army, Navy, and Air Force. There are significant differences among each and first time proposers are strongly encouraged to contact the MS-FAST program to discuss their interest.     

4) Department of Education (ED) SBIR program is housed within its research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). ED/IES SBIR funds for-profit technology firms for the research and development, and evaluation of commercially viable education technology products. The products must support relevant student or teacher outcomes in education or special education. With an annual budget of $7.5M, ED/IES SBIR holds one annual competition.


5) Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR/STTR programs support the mission of the Agency to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through trans-formative science and technology solutions. Note: the DOE SBIR/STTR Programs have a mandatory Letter of Intent requirement—one must submit a Letter of Intent to be eligible to submit a full application.


6) Health and Human Services (HHS) - often referred to as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - SBIR/STTR programs are an integral source of capital for early stage U.S. small businesses that are creating innovative technologies to improve health. These programs help small businesses break into the federal research and development (R&D) arena, create life-saving technologies, and stimulate economic growth. NIH is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs), each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems. Of these 27 ICs, 24 have SBIR and STTR programs. 


7) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SBIR Program was initiated in 2004 with the goal of increasing the participation of innovative and creative U.S. small businesses in federal research and development programs and challenging industry to bring innovative homeland security solutions to reality. Solicitation topics are developed by Program Managers in each of the Science and Technology (S&T) Divisions. The annual solicitations consist of topics relevant to the following S&T Directorate organizations: Borders and Maritime Security, Chemical/Biological Defense, Cyber Security, Explosives, and the First Responder Group. Be sure to review their information on "How to Apply" and their excellent "SBIR One-on-One Dos and Don'ts" video on their main page which is relevant for all the agencies.  


8) Department of Transportation (DOT) SBIR program supports the mission of the Department which is to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future. The U.S. DOT SBIR program favors research that has the potential for commercialization through products and applications sold to the private sector transportation industry, state departments of transportation, U.S. DOT, or other federal agencies.


9) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SBIR program supports the mission of the Agency to protect human health and the environment. The program has supported state-of-the-art monitoring devices and pollution clean-up systems and processes. Recently though, the program has expanded to support companies whose ideas are launched from a foundation of life cycle assessment (LCA). This proactive approach means solving an environmental problem in a way that takes into account resources, feedstock, emissions, toxicity and waste.


10) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) SBIR/STTR programs fund the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill NASA needs as described in the annual Solicitations and have significant potential for successful commercialization. Small business concern (SBC) with 500 or fewer employees or a non-profit RI such as a university or a research laboratory with ties to an SBC, are encouraged to learn more about the SBIR and STTR programs as a potential source of seed funding for the development of their early stage innovations.


11) National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR/STTR programs award approximately $180 million annually to help catalyze the commercialization of high-risk technological innovations via research and development (R&D) grants to small businesses and startups. NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7.3 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. As such, NSF SBIR/STTR encourages proposals across all areas of science and engineering; and, unlike many other SBIR/STTR programs, the agency is not the ultimate customer for the products developer. NSF SBIR/STTR funds innovative R&D to overcome technical barriers to private sector commercialization. The grant program is startup friendly, with most Phase I awards each year going to first-time SBIR/STTR applicants. In addition to R&D funding, the program provides training in key business areas, commercialization assistance, and interaction with other small, innovative companies.

SBA's funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. All SBA programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.

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