SBIR/STTR Assistance Resources

Find out which of our resources are right for you to commercialize your high-tech small business.

Reach out to a consultant for help navigating your journey.

General Resources

The SBIR/STTR site offers general information about the history and background of the program, lists Open and Closed Solicitations, and provides a searchable database of all award winners by state.

Registration Resources

Before you submit a proposal, you will register your small business with the System for Award Management (SAM), the Official U.S. Government system consolidating the capabilities of Central Contractor Registry, the Federal Register (FedReg), US Federal Contractor Registration (ORCA) and the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). There is NO fee to register for this site.

Reauthorization Policy Directive

The version of the SBIR Policy Directive PDF below is dated May 2, 2019. SBIR and STTR Policy Directives.

Search for Solicitations

You may search for Open and Closed Solicitations at the site under the Funding pull down. Here you can find abstracts of award winning proposals to help guide your strategy.

Grants Management

Federal Acquisition Regulations provide detail on post award accounting and grants management and may offer some guidance related to detailed budgeting questions.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. You may access these rules by year.

Agency Specific Links

Look on this page for agency specific links.

FAQ (General SBIR/STTR):

How would my business benefit from the SBIR/STTR Program?

There is over $2.5 billion available annually in SBIR/STTR awards! SBIR/STTR funding is specific to address technology risks and is an excellent way of starting your business without giving up equity or assuming debt.

Other benefits include:

  • Winning an SBIR/STTR award confers creditability to your idea and your team, and provides national recognition.  It often helps attract follow-on financing and/or licensing deal
  • Your firm retains rights to the intellectual property developed with an award

What is the difference between a grant and a contract?

A grant is an agreement to carry out your research in return for a monetary award of funding. The federal government funds research and innovation of public benefit in this way. Grant topics are generally initiated by the researcher applying for the grant, also known as the Principal Investigator an academic setting. A granting agency does not wish to become your customer. 

A contract is an agreement to provide a product or service that is needed by the agency awarding the contract. An example of this would be the procurement of new military technology by the Department of Defense.  In this instance, the military becomes your customer.

Who is the Principal Investigator?

The Principal Investigator is the person responsible for overseeing the research  Typically, this individual has designed and overseen research efforts in the past, although if you have not done so, we can help you find ways to compensate for that.

The Principal Investigator, or PI, must commit to leading the project which typically involves taking at least partial employment at the small business at the time of the award. This does not preclude partial employment at a university or elsewhere, and in certain case, there are exceptions to this rule.

What is the difference between the SBIR and the STTR programs, and which one is better?

There is no right or wrong program.  Choosing a program is a strategic decision that is based on your company’s situation and needs. However, there are some notable differences in the funding levels and some differences in the rules of eligibility between the two programs. More agencies participate in the SBIR program than the  STTR program. Thus, SBIR programs have more total funds available. However, with STTR awards, the businesses do not need to employ the Principal Investigator, thus a PI can continue working for the University or nonprofit research institution if that is desirable.

From your perspective, the key distinction often rests on where the research scope of work must be performed. If you can accomplish at least 60% of the scope of work (as determined by the budget) within your small business, you are eligible to apply for an SBIR. Sometimes, if specialized equipment or expensive resources are required to conduct the research, by default the budget may dictate that less than 60% of the work can be done at the small business. In this case, you may be eligible for submitting an STTR which is a grant or contract that requires collaboration with a research institution such as a university or federal lab. Contact CTC to help identify the best strategic option for your company.

What is the history of SBIR/STTR programs?

The SBIR program was established under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 to strengthen the role of innovative small businesses in federally-funded research and development (R&D). Information about the history of the programs can be found here.

What agencies participate in SBIR/STTR? shows the participating agencies and other useful information.

What are the solicitation dates?

Solicitation close dates vary by agency, although an important consideration is that many of them occur only once per year. Please see us for assistance or visit the specific agency website for more information. 

Can I apply for a Phase II without competing for a Phase I?

Companies that have considerable “Phase I equivalent” feasibility data already completed may be able to apply for “Direct to Phase II” funding. While an attractive alternative to get larger funding earlier, the applicant needs to make a convincing case that they have already performed all the necessary feasibility work comparable to a Phase I project.

NIH also allows, in some cases, Fast-Track funding.  This is a situation where the company submits both Phase I and Phase II projects simultaneously.  The advantage to this is that the project only goes through peer-review once; and when the Phase I project is satisfactorily completed, the Phase II project can immediately start without delay.  The disadvantage is that reviewers tend to be more critical of such applications and if either the Phase I or Phase II portion is unsatisfactorily presented, than the entire project will be rejected and unfunded.

FAQ (Eligibility)

Can I apply for an SBIR award if I am working full time at a University or with a company?

Yes, you may. However, to be eligible for SBIR funding, the Principal Investigator must be primarily employed by the business at the time of the award.  There are nuances about this matter, so it’s best to discuss with your CTC consultant and read the agency solicitation thoroughly.

Am I eligible for SBIR/STTR funding if I have already received investments from venture capital, hedge funds, or private equity?

A company is not automatically rejected if they have private investment, and, in fact, such investment tends to be looked on favorably as outside validation of the commercial interest in the technology.  If the venture capital, hedge funds, etc. ownership is <49% and the remaining >51% is owned by eligible individuals the company is able to apply for SBIR funding as any other company. With the last reauthorization, SBIR/STTR funding became available to some companies that have more the 50% ownership by venture firms and the like; as long as no one firm owns a majority stake. For example, a company that is 60% owned by venture firms is eligible as long as no single firm owns >50% of the company. While the overall SBA policy allows this, it is up to each agency’s discretion. Currently agencies within HHS (NIH and CDC) or DoE (ARPA) are authorized to fund up to 25% of their awards to small businesses in this group. There are detailed eligibility requirements to consider in this instance, so please look to us to help guide you through this issue. This chart may also help you ascertain eligibility. Read more. Compliance Guide.