Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - National Science Foundation

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    C - Funds little to no technology


    National Science Foundation (NSF)


    The National Science Foundation's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provides small business with equity-free funding to conduct research and development (R&D) work and de-risk technology for commercial success. The NSF SBIR program accepts innovative proposals that show promise of commercial and societal impact in almost all areas of technology. The NSF SBIR Program encourages the submission of proposals across all areas of science and engineering (except drug development). The NSF recognizes that innovation often can't be categorized. Therefore, proposals are accepted in almost any area of technology that shows promise of high commercial and/or societal impact.

    SBIR Phase I proposals are expected to undertake R&D with the aim of establishing technical feasibility or proof of concept. The aim of a Phase I project should be to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed innovation and thereby bring the innovation closer to commercialization. Proposals should describe the development of an innovation that demonstrates the following characteristics:

    • Involves a high degree of technical risk – for example: Has never been attempted and/or successfully done before; Is still facing technical hurdles (that the NSF-funded R&D work is intended to overcome).
    • Has the potential for significant commercial impact and/or societal benefit, as evidenced by: Having the potential to disrupt the targeted market segment; Having good product-market fit (as validated by customers); Presenting barriers to entry for competition; Offering potential for societal benefit (through commercialization under a sustainable business model).

    An SBIR Phase I proposal must describe the research effort needed to establish the feasibility of the proposed scientific or technical innovation. The primary objectives of the Phase I effort are to: 

    • Determine whether the innovation has sufficient technical and broader/commercial impact merit for proceeding into a Phase II project and
    • Assess commercial feasibility of the proposed innovation.

    The deliverable of an SBIR Phase I grant is a report describing technical accomplishments that will be included as part of the Phase II proposal package in FastLane.


    History of Funding

    Previous awards of this program can be seen at,1591,5371,5373&BooleanElement=Any&BooleanRef=Any&ActiveAwards=true&#results.

    Additional Information

    Examples of project objectives that are not appropriate to include as part of an NSF SBIR-funded effort are non-technical efforts (such as business development, market research, and sales and marketing) as well as manufacturing, indirect research and development, and patent costs.

    Project objectives that are not in line with NSF's SBIR program mandate include evolutionary development or incremental modification of established products or proven concepts; straightforward engineering efforts with little technical risk; evaluation or testing of existing products; and basic scientific research unconnected to any specific market opportunity or potential new product, process or service.


    Henry Ahn

    Henry Ahn
    Biomedical (BM) Technologies
    200 Independence Avenue, S.W
    Washington, DC 20201
    (703) 292-7069

  • Eligibility Details

    Only firms qualifying as a small business concern are eligible to participate in the SBIR/STTR program. See the Eligibility Guide for more information at:

    Only recent SBIR Phase I/STTR awardees are eligible for SBIR Phase II.

    Deadline Details

    Applications are to be submitted by December 3, 2020. A similar deadline is expected, annually.

    Award Details

    Approximately $33,750,000 is available in funding. Up to 150 awards will be granted. Phase I proposals may be up to $225,000. Projects will extend 6- to 12-months.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

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    • Funding High Performance Computing in Support of University Research – Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available
    • Getting A Virtualization Project Funded - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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