Technology Development

Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

SBIR STTR LogoThe purpose of DoD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs is to harness the innovative talents of our nation’s small technology companies for U.S. military and economic strength. The program funds over one billion dollars of projects annually and is made up of 12 participating components. The SBIR program plays a critical role in fostering innovation, stimulating economic growth, and enhancing the competitiveness of small businesses in the United States. It provides a pathway for small businesses to access funding, resources, and expertise to develop and commercialize innovative technologies, ultimately contributing to the nation’s scientific and technological advancement.

Definition: The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages small businesses in the United States to engage in federal research and development (R&D) with the potential for commercialization.

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIRS) Purpose

SBIRS program funds early-stage R&D at small technology companies and is designed to:

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Increase private sector commercialization of federal R&D
  • Increase small business participation in federally funded R&D
  • Foster participation by minority and disadvantaged firms in technological innovation

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIRS) Participation

To participate in the SBIR program:

  • A firm must be a U.S. for-profit small business of 500 or fewer employees
  • Work must be performed in the United States
  • During Phase I, a minimum of 2/3 of the effort must be performed by the proposing firm; a minimum of 1/2 of the effort in Phase II
  • The Principal Investigator must spend more than 1/2 of the time employed by the proposing firm

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIRS) Phases

The SBIR Program is structured in three phases:

  • Phase I: The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II. SBIR Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs for 6 months.
  • Phase II: The objective of Phase II is to continue 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. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. SBIR Phase II awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years.
  • Phase III: The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. The SBIR program does not fund Phase III. Some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.

For more information on how to apply for the SBIR or STTR visit the DoD SBIR – Small Business Innovated Research website:

Difference Between Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovative Research (SBIRS) Program

STTR differs from SBIR in three essential aspects:

  1. The SBC and its partnering institution are required 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.
  2. STTR requires that the SBC perform at least 40% of the R&D and the single partnering research institution to perform at least 30% of the R&D.
  3. Unlike the SBIR program, STTR does not require the Principal Investigator to be primarily employed by the SBC.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 2/28/2024

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