Small Business Innovation Research Programs

Unlock innovation with America's Seed Fund. SBIR/STTR Programs offer vital grants for small businesses, fueling high-risk research to transform lab breakthroughs into impactful commercial products.

Apply to SBIR/STTR

Also known as the America’s Seed Fund, these grants support for high-risk innovation research for small business companies. Technological development enriches our culture. Imagine the impact you could make on society by translating laboratory discoveries into commercial products or services.

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What are SBIR/STTR Programs?

Commercialization is an essential process of translating fundamental scientific discoveries that benefit the community. Early-stage small businesses such as startups need initial funding for proof-of-concept or feasibility studies for commercialization. Eleven federal agencies support small business R&D with Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs that are known as America’s Seed Fund. These programs fund in two phases to promote research investigations of innovative technologies that have high commercialization potentials.

Phase I

Feasibility or proof of concept

  • Feasibility
  • Technical merit

Phase II

Validation & development

  • Validation/development
  • Commercialization plan

Phase III


  • Bridge grant, contracts, Commercialization Readiness Pilot grant

Which federal agencies fund SBIR/STTR programs, and what research topics do they fund?

Currently, 11 federal agencies participate in SBIR/STTR programs to fund small businesses’ commercialization research. While the programs are managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), each agency has its own mission. Funding opportunity announcements, due dates and funds vary, and it is important to follow the agency specific instructions. Please visit the link to understand the agency specific program details.


Health, life science and biomedical discoveries that could impact the lives of patients and their families.


Almost all areas of technology and market sectors (with the exception of clinical trials).


Advanced scientific computing research, environmental management, fossil energy, biological and environmental research, fusion energy science, cybersecurity, energy security, renewable energy and more.


DOD (SBIR/STTR, Contracts)

5G, AI/autonomy, biotechnology, control and communications, cybersecurity, directed energy, hypersonic, microelectronics, network command, nuclear, quantum sciences, space and more.


EPA (SBIR, Contracts)

Clean and safe water, air quality and climate, land revitalization, homeland security, sustainable materials management, safer chemicals and risk assessment.

NASA (SBIR/STTR, Contracts)

Propulsion systems, flight computing and avionics, aerospace power and energy storage, robotic systems, communications, navigation, and orbital debris tracking/characterization systems.

D. Commerce: NOAA, NIST  (SBIR)

Technologies in support of the missions of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA – LOI needed in Jan) and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST).

D. Homeland Sec (SBIR, Contracts)

Borders and maritime security, chemical and biological defense, critical infrastructure and resilience, cybersecurity, explosives detection and aviation screening, first responders and more.

D. Education (SBIR)

New education technology products for use by students, educators, infants, toddlers, students with or at risk for disabilities, or teachers in early intervention or special education settings (PI @SB at least 51%).


Technologies in support of DOT Operating Administration: federal highway administration, federal railroad administration, federal transit administration, and pipeline and hazardous materials safety administration.


Forest resources, plant/animal production and protection, conservation of natural resources, food science and nutrition, rural and community development, aquaculture, biofuels and biobased products, small and mid-size farms.

What is the typical workflow for a SBIR/STTR grant application?

It takes at least a few months to prepare a competitive grant proposal. Please start early and find your support.


  • Check agencies for funding topics and due dates
  • Start you company or partner with a small business concern (SBC)
  • Register your company ASAP (Takes a few months)


  • Talk to the Technology Licensing Office
  • Organize your research aims
  • Arrange a call with a program official

Application and Prep

  • Inform the Pre-Award Office or OSP
  • Request a letter of support/biosketch/etc
  • Begin drafting and revising your application


  • Application is submitted by the SBC
  • Tracking/JIT/NOA through the SBC

 Frequently Asked Questions


SBIR Phase I application checklist

NIH Phase I Application Checklist

DOE Phase I Application Checklist

Small Business Company Registration Requirements

NIH Registraiton Requirements

NSF Registration Requirements


We support you and your innovation.

Regardless of what you are looking for, or what stage you are in the innovation journey, the Technology Licensing Office is your go-to source to connect you with the U’s innovation ecosystem.

Call 801.581.7792 or send us a message