Grants and Funding

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

Updated: 1/3/2014

Note: The SBIR and STTR programs have been Re-Authorized by Congress through FY2017. Portions of this webpage may be updated as guidance from the Small Business Administration is received and implemented.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a set-aside program (2.8% of an agency's extramural budget in FY2014) for domestic small business concerns to engage in Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. The SBIR program was established under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-219), reauthorized until September 30, 2000 by the Small Business Research and Development Enhancement Act (P.L. 102-564), reauthorized until September 30, 2008 by the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-554), and re-authorized through FY2017 by the 2012 Defense Authorization Act (P.L.112-81). Federal agencies with extramural research and development budgets over $100 million are required to administer SBIR programs using an annual set-aside of 2.8% (FY2014) for small companies to conduct innovative research or research and development (R/R&D) that has potential for commercialization and public benefit. Currently, eleven Federal agencies participate in the SBIR program: the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Agriculture (USDA), Commerce (DOC), Defense (DOD), Education (DoED), Energy (DOE), Homeland Security (DHS), and Transportation (DOT); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). To date, over $16 billion has been awarded by the SBIR program to various small businesses.

The STTR program was established by the Small Business Technology Transfer Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-564, Title II), reauthorized until the year 2001 by the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-135), reauthorized until September 30, 2009, by the Small Business Technology Transfer Program Reauthorization Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-50), and re-authorized through FY2017 by the 2012 Defense Authorization Act (P.L.112-81).

Federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets over $1 billion are required to administer STTR programs using an annual set-aside of 0.40% (FY2014). Currently, five Federal agencies participate in the STTR program: DOD, DOE, HHS (NIH), NASA and NSF. In fiscal year (FY) 2013 (October 1, 2012-September 30, 2013), the NIH made SBIR grant and contract awards totaling over $617 million and STTR grant awards totaling over $80 million.

Objectives. The SBIR Program includes the following objectives: using small businesses to stimulate technological innovation, strengthening the role of small business in meeting Federal R/R&D needs, increasing private sector commercialization of innovations developed through Federal SBIR R&D, increasing small business participation in Federal R/R&D, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns and women-owned business concerns in the SBIR program. The STTR and SBIR programs are similar in that both programs seek to increase the participation of small businesses in Federal R&D and to increase private sector commercialization of technology developed through Federal R&D. The unique feature of the STTR program is the requirement for the small business concern applicant organization to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II.

Differences between SBIR and STTR. The SBIR and STTR programs differ in two major ways. First, under SBIR Program, the Principal Investigator must have his/her primary employment with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the project period, however, under the STTR Program, primary employment is not stipulated. Second, the STTR Program requires research partners at universities and other non-profit research institutions to have a formal collaborative relationship with the small business concern. At least 40 percent of the STTR research project is to be conducted by the small business concern and at least 30 percent of the work is to be conducted by the single, "partnering" research institution.

Structure of the SBIR and STTR Programs. The SBIR/STTR Programs are structured in three phases.

Phase I. The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit and feasibility and potential for commercialization of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II. Support normally may not exceed the following:

SBIR Phase I: $150,000 total costs for 6 months

STTR Phase I:  $150,000 total costs for 12 months

(Costs are based on total costs which include direct costs, F&A costs, and negotiated fee.)

Phase II. The objective of Phase II is to continue the R/R&D efforts initiated in Phase I. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. Support normally may not exceed:

SBIR Phase II: $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years

STTR Phase II:  $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years

(Costs are based on total costs which include direct costs, F&A costs, and negotiated fee.)

Deviations from the indicated Phase I/Phase II statutory award amount and project period guidelines are acceptable but must be well justified and should be discussed with appropriate NIH staff prior to submission of the application prior to submission of the application.

Phase III. The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business concern to pursue with non-SBIR/STTR funds the commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. In some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR/STTR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.

Application/proposal receipt dates:

Grant applications: April 5, August 5, December 5 each year

Contract proposals: First week in November each year

In what areas is NIH interested? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) welcomes SBIR and STTR applications from small businesses in any biomedical or behavioral research area that falls within our mission, which is to improve human health. Areas of interest are described in the funding opportunity announcements and solicitations available at the NIH Small Business Funding Opportunities website (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir.htm). Applicants are encouraged to subscribe to the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts and to visit the websites of our Institutes and Centers to learn of emerging interests and areas of high priority.

Eligible Institutions/Organizations. Only United States SBCs are eligible to submit SBIR applications. A SBC is one that, on the date of award for both Phase I and Phase II funding agreements, meets ALL of the criteria as described in the current SBIR or STTR parent funding opportunity announcement available from the previously mentioned NIH Small Business Funding Opportunities website. 

Eligible Project Directors/Principal Investigators. Individuals with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research are invited to work with their SBC to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for SBIR support. On an SBIR application, the PD/PI must have his/her primary employment (more than 50%) with the SBC at the time of award and for the duration of the project. On an STTR application, the PD/PI may be employed with the SBC or the participating non-profit research institution as long as he/she has a formal appointment with or commitment to the applicant SBC, which is characterized by an official relationship between the small business concern and that individual.

Inquiries:

Questions of a general nature about the NIH SBIR program should be directed to:
Matthew E. Portnoy, PhD.
NIH SBIR/STTR Program Coordinator
6705 Rockledge Drive
Rockledge I, Room 3540
Bethesda , MD   20892
Phone: 301-435-2688, Fax: 301-480-0146
Email: sbir@od.nih.gov or mportnoy@mail.nih.gov

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This page last updated on January 3, 2014
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