What is SBIR / STTR?

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide funding to small businesses to research and develop high-risk, innovative technology of interest to the granting agency. These programs are intended to comprise one element of a company’s overall funding strategy. The Department of Defense issues more than $1 billion in SBIR / STTR contracts annually.

The programs have three Phases: in Phase I companies develop a technically feasible solution. In Phase II, they develop a prototype of the solution. Phase III is commercialization of the technology, which is funded by entities other than SBIR / STTR.

What is the Difference Between SBIR and STTR?

Although the two programs are similar, the primary difference lies in who will be doing the work on your project. For SBIR, you may choose to partner with a non-profit institute but you must do at least 67% of the work for Phase I and 50% in Phase II. For STTR, cooperation with a non-profit institution such as a university is required. The company must perform at least 40% of the work while the institution must perform at least 30% of the work.

Why Should I Apply?

You should apply to SBIR and STTR if you want to access non-dilutive, early stage R&D funding for a technology you believe solves a problem identified by the Department of Defense. Unlike other funding sources, SBIR/STTR will not require you to sell or relinquish any of your company’s sales, and you will not need to return the money received after commercialization.

What Should I Consider Before I Apply?

Before applying, it is important to first check whether you are eligible. To qualify for participation in SBIR/STTR, your company must be a US-owned, for-profit organization with fewer than 500 employees, and you must have sufficient facilities to conduct the research proposed. Your technology must also aim to solve an existing problem with a solution that is better than any existing solutions. Once you have determined eligibility, do your homework on each agency’s regulations and past funded projects to see where your project will be most competitive.

How Do I Apply?

Each year, the services and defense agencies within the DoD (commonly referred to as DoD Components) issue three SBIR Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) and three STTR BAAs describing their R&D needs and inviting small businesses to submit proposals. All SBIR/STTR proposals must be prepared and submitted electronically through the DoD SBIR/STTR Electronic Submission website and in accordance with the Program Announcement. When the BAA closes the site will no longer accept changes to your proposal(s), although you will be able to view and print the proposals you have submitted.