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SBIR & STTR Programs

The SBIR/STTR programs provide over $2.3 billion annually in grants and contracts to small businesses and start-up companies for the development of new products and services.

The Federal government offers two programs, available exclusively to small companies:

  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants
  • Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants
  • These programs are designed to:

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Use small business to meet Federal R&D needs
  • Foster and encourage participation by minorities and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation
  • Increase private-sector commercialization innovations derived from Federal R&D
  • In the SBIR/STTR program the applicant is a small business, meaning only the small business may apply for and receive grants and contracts

    The SBIR program allows, but the STTR program requires, cooperation between small business and a research institution. University-based researchers, by collaborating with small companies, may spin-off their commercially-promising ideas while retaining their primary employment with their research institutions.

    Federal Agencies Participating in the SBIR/STTR Programs

    Agency Program Budget FY2013 (M)
    Department of Defense (DOD) SBIR and STTR $1,000
    Department Health and Human Services (HHS) SBIR and STTR $697
    Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR and STTR $184
    National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR and STTR $153
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) SBIR and STTR $149
    Department of Agriculture (USDA) SBIR $18
    Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SBIR $16
    Department of Education (ED) SBIR $13
    Department of Transportation (DOT) SBIR $8
    Department of Commerce (DOC/NIST) SBIR $7
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SBIR $4

    SBIR/STTR Phases of Funding:

  • Phase I – Feasibility Study
  • Phase II – Full research R&D - Commercial Prototype
  • Phase III – Commercialization Stage not funded by the SBIR/STTR program
  • Phase Gap Funding – IB, IIB
  • Fast Track (both Phase I and Phase II applications are submitted together)
  • Extensions and continuation programs
  • Phase SBIR STTR
    Phase I: Proof of Concept ($150K – $225K) over 6 months ($150K - 225K) over 12 months
    Phase IB Varies by Agency Varies by Agency
    Phase II: Prototype ($ 500K – 1.5M) over 24 months ($ 500K – 1.5M) over 24 months
    Phase IIB Varies by Agency Varies by Agency
    Phase III: Commercialization Not funded by the program Not funded by the program

    Applicable to selected Agencies:

  • Crossover - between SBIR and STTR programs in different phases
  • Phase Flexibility - Direct access to Phase II in NIH, DoD, ED
  • Phase II access
  • Phase I at one agency transition to Phase II at another agency
  • Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP)
  • Small Business Eligibility Requirements (determined at time of award):

  • Must be organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States, and operate primarily within the United States or make a significant contribution to the United States economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor;
  • Must be in the legal form of an individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture, association, trust or cooperative, except that in the case of a joint venture there can be no more than 49% participation by foreign business entities;
  • Must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States; or,
  • Only for SBIR: must be at least 51% owned and controlled by another for-profit business concern that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States or may be owned by VC/HF, PEFs (allowed by selected agencies).
  • Must have, including its affiliates, no more than 500 employees.
  • PI Eligibility Requirements (determined at time of award)

    Fiscal Year SBIR STTR
    Principal Investigator Primary employment with company - defined as at least 51% of a 40 hour work week Primary employment with the company or research institution (in most instances)

    Critical SBIR and STTR Differences

    Type SBIR STTR
    Small Business Eligibility US, for-profit, and fewer than 500 employees - At least 51% US owned by individuals and independently operated -IP agreement required at the time of award
    Collaboration with Research Institution Allowed Required
    Level of Effort (based on budget allocation) Company: Phase I - Min 66%; Phase II - Min 50% Company: Min 40%; Research Institution: 30% (Phase I and II)

    Each Agency is Unique and Different Solicitations within the Same Agencies Might Have Different:

  • Solicitation schedules (number and timing) and receipt dates
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Funding levels –dollar amount of award (Phase I, IB, Phase II, IIB, etc.)
  • Proposal preparation instructions
  • Evaluation processes and criteria
  • Types of award (grant or contract)
  • Attitudes and rules of interaction with applicants
  • Proposal success rate
  • Important Facts to Remember:

  • Eligibility is determined at time of award
  • The PI is not required to hold an advanced degree (Ph.D. or M.D.)
  • The PI is required to have expertise necessary to oversee the project scientifically and technically
  • Eligibility requirements may change - always check announcements
  • Applications may be submitted to different agencies for similar work
  • Awards must not be accepted from different agencies for projects with the same scope of work
  • Each SBIR/STTR project is expected to have a commercial outcome
  • The money doesn’t flow quickly (6-9 months from submission, if awarded), and company is subject to scrutiny and audits prior to phase II award
  • TVC Success:

    Fiscal Year Phase I and Phase II Number of Awards Phase I and Phase II Total in Awards
    FY2012 9 $4.3M
    FY2013 11 $5.3M
    FY2014 11 $6.2M
    TOTAL 31 $15.8M

    Advice from Previous Awardees:

  • Know current “state of the art”
  • Present strong credentials (technical, scientific, business)
  • Do pre-solicitation marketing
  • Submit proposal only to Agencies interested in your research
  • Don't depend solely on SBIR funding
  • Don’t judge an agency’s interest by its “name”
  • Don't do it alone— seek collaboration partners, form a team, use all support systems available to you
  • Provide convincing preliminary data with clear, measurable milestones
  • Define the desired, or expected commercial outcomes
  • Win or lose--obtain and review evaluations
  • Be PERSISTENT
  • Resources for potential applicants:

  • For current and past solicitations, including deadlines go to: http://www.zyn.com/sbir/scomp.htm
  • For company registrations (DUNS number, SAM, grants.gov etc.) go to: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants/organization-registration.html
  • For SBA registration/SBC Control ID go to: http://www.sbir.gov/registration
  • Additional resources

    Book: SBIR/STTR at the National Institutes of Health

    Description: The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide federal research and development funding to small businesses. In 2008, the National Research Council completed a comprehensive assessment of the SBIR and STTR programs. The first-round study found that the programs were "sound in concept and effective in practice." Building on the outcomes from the Phase I study, this second phase examines both topics of general policy interest that emerged during the first phase and topics of specific interest to individual agencies, and provides a second snapshot to measure the program's progress against its legislative goals.

    You can write a winning SBIR/STTR Proposal… and TVC can help you!

    For more information please contact:

    Danuta Petelenz, MS, MBA
    Business and Grants Manager
    (801) 213-3585, danuta.petelenz@tvc.utah.edu