Unlocking Startups Access to SBIR Programs
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is the largest source of non-dilutive capital available for early-stage and growth-stage tech companies that struggle to access private capital.
Annually ~$3.7 billion in funding is available to U.S.-based small businesses, doing work across nearly all technology.
Learn about the eligibility requirements to apply for the SBIR|STTR funding programs.
Your company must be a small business (fewer than 500 employees) located in the United States.
At least 50% of your company’s equity must be owned by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. NSF does not fund companies that are majority-owned by multiple venture capital firms, private equity firms, or hedge funds.
The project’s principal investigator (tech lead) must be legally employed at least 20 hours a week by the company seeking funding. The PI doesn’t need any advanced degrees.
SBIR|STTR federal funding programs fund startups doing work across nearly all technology and market sectors, including clinical trials and testing.
Why SBIR Program?
No Equity. No Debt
Non-Dilutive Funding Available SMEs and Startups
Success Rate for Phase I ~15% and Phase II ~50%
~$2 Million Initial Capital for Market Validation and Proof-of-Concept
Over 5,000 new awards every year
Available Through All 11 Federal Agencies
What is the SBIR|STTR Program?The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Annually, ~4 billion USD is distributed to the U.S.-based small businesses through 11 Federal Agencies. The goal of SBIR|STTR Program is: → To increase private-sector commercialization of innovation derived from federal research and development funding → To stimulate technological innovation → To encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by women and socially/economically disadvantaged individuals → To foster technology transfer through cooperative R&D between small businesses and research institutions.
How much money can a business raise through SBIR Program?The SBIR Program is structured in three phases: Phase I. Phase I is designed for concept development, establishing the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts. Phase I will also determine the eligibility of an awardee organization for Phase II. SBIR/STTR Phase I awards are generally $50,000 - $275,000 for six months to 1 year. Phase II. Phase II is designed for prototype development, and continuing 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. Typically, only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. SBIR/STTR Phase II awards are generally $750,000 - $2 million for 2 years. Phase IIB. The objective of Phase IIB is for the small business to pursue commercialization resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. The appropriate government agency will match $100,000 - $500,000 additional funding, if a company bring ~$500,000 investments from a third party.
How does the STTR program differ from SBIR program?STTR differs from SBIR in several ways, including: For and STTR award, the small business must perform at least 40% of the work and the single partnering research institution must perform at least 30% of the work. STTR requires the small businesses and its partnering institution to establish an intellectual property agreement detailing the allocation of intellectual property rights and rights to carry out follow-on research, development or commercialization activities.
Which Federal Agencies participate in the SBIR Program?Each year, Federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate a certain percentage of their R&D budget to the SBIR program. Currently, eleven Federal agencies participate in the program: 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 Each of these agencies has an SBIR program office and administers the program within guidelines established by Congress in the Small Business Act and by SBA in the SBIR Policy Directive. The agencies designate R&D topics in their solicitations and accept proposals from small businesses. Awards are made on a competitive basis after proposal evaluation.