Overview of SBIR/STTR Grant Programs

What are SBIR and STTR Grants?

Each year the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding programs award approximately $2.5 billion in non-dilutive funding to small, high-tech, innovative businesses. SBIR encourages small for-profit companies and research institutions to pursue risky but potentially rewarding endeavors to ensure the United States remains the world's innovation leader. The funding is awarded based on a competitive process that considers both the technical merit of the technology to be developed and the potential for successfully introducing it to the market.

Who makes SBIR and STTR Grants?

SBIR/STTR grants are made by the following participating federal agencies:

Department of Agriculture

Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Department of Defense

Department of Education

Department of Energy

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Transportation

Environmental Protection Agency

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Science Foundation 

How do I find out about the topics of interest to the agencies?

SBIR and STTR proposals must be relevant to a particular “topic” in an agency solicitation. These topics are identified by agency program managers through interaction with various stakeholders. Companies with technology innovations that would be of interest to federal program mangers should seek ways of making those managers aware of the technology. 

In many cases—and particularly in the Department of Defense—program managers have identified specific technologies that meet a particular need for the agency, and are seeking companies to develop innovation solutions to address that need.

You can find more information on the topics of interest to federal program managers by following the links above or by visiting the Current SBIR/STTR Funding Opportunities page on this site.

What kind of products and technologies are eligible?

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Products and technologies should be innovative in nature, aligned with federally-identified topics, and have the potential to be introduced to the market with some competitive differentiation and protection. 

Who is eligible to receive SBIR grants?

To be eligible for an SBIR grant, a company should have the following characteristics:

  • Organized as a for-profit business located in the United States
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States
  • OR 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
  • AND no more than 500 employees, including affiliates

Who is eligible to receive STTR grants?

To be eligible for an STTR grant, the company and proposed project should have the following characteristics: 

  • Organized as a for-profit small business based in the United States
  • Have a formal cooperative research and development effort
    • Minimum 40% by small business
    • Minimum 30% by U.S. research institution
  • U.S. research institutions include:
    • College or University
    • Other nonprofit research organization
    • Federal research and development center
  • Have an intellectual property agreement between the business and the research institution
  • Have a plan for a follow-on R&D and commercialization effort

What’s the difference between SBIR and STTR?

  • STTR projects require that the proposing small business partner with a research institution (optional in SBIR)
  • STTR and SBIR Phase I projects have different timelines and funding limits
  • Each program has different budget allocation requirements
  • Award rates for the two programs are similar 

What is size of the Grant?

SBIR awards up to $225,000 in Phase I funding to an organization that needs to prove feasibility of its innovative technology. Typically, a project lasts 6-9 months—just long enough to demonstrate that the novel concept is in fact possible. Phase II awards can reach $1.5 million and build upon the work that the company started in Phase I. The actual amount of available awards depends on the federal agency and is defined in the funding opportunity announcement. 

What are the deadlines for proposal submission?

The first important deadline is getting your company registered in the federal website portals. A company must be registered in order to submit a proposal. This process can take several weeks to complete. As part of the proposal process, applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

The deadlines for actual proposal submissions vary among the different participating Federal Agencies. These agencies post solicitations throughout the year. See the green links at the top of this page for Federal Agencies, or visit our Current Funding Opportunities page to learn more.

Deadlines for Current Solicitations

What resources are available to help in navigating this process?

The process of applying for SBIR/STTR funding can be complex. Many companies find it useful to work with grant writers who have experience and success in SBIR/STTR proposals. Due to the highly competitive process of SBIR/STTR grants, successful applicants typically tap external reviewers such as technical experts to review their applications prior to submission. To learn more about support resources available to companies and researchers in Oregon, visit our SBIR/STTR Support for Oregon Companies page.

SBIR/STTR Training and Workshops