What is SBIR/STTR?
SBIR stands for Small Business Innovation Research, and STTR stands for Small Business TechnologyTransfer. They are both programs that provide funding for small businesses to conduct innovativeresearch and development (R&D) that has high potential for commercialization. Both SBIR and STTRprograms allow U.S. owned and operated small businesses to engage in federal research anddevelopment that has the potential for commercialization. Each year, federal agencies withextramural research and development budgets over certain thresholds are required to allocate apercentage of their R&D budget to these programs.
What is the Difference between the Two?
SBIR - The goal of the SBIR program is to support scientific excellence and technological innovationthrough the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strongnational economy.
STTR - The STTR program is similar to the SBIR program, but it requires that the small businesscollaborate formally with a research institution. It aims to bridge the gap between performance ofbasic science and commercialization of resulting innovations.
What are the Different Phases of the Programs?
Phase I: Feasibility study or prototype development. Awards typically do not exceed $150,000total costs for 6 months (SBIR) or 1 year (STTR).
Phase II: Expand Phase I results. During this time, the R&D work is performed and the developerbegins to consider commercial potential. Awards typically do not exceed $1,000,000 total costsfor 2 years.
Phase III: At this stage, the grantee is expected to obtain funding from the private sector or othernon-SBIR federal agency funding.
Am I Eligible?
Be a US for-profit company
Have fewer than 500 employees (including affiliates).
The primary employment of the Principal Investigator must be with the small business.
Activities Necessary to Submit a High Quality Proposal
1. Understand the Purpose of SBIR/STTR Program: The goal of SBIR/STTR is to stimulatetechnological innovation, meet federal research and development (R&D) needs, foster andencourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by socially and economicallydisadvantaged persons, and to increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derivedfrom federal R&D.
2. Plan Ahead: The application process can be long and involves many steps. Start the process earlyto allow yourself plenty of time to put together a strong proposal.
3. Understand the Agency's Needs: Make sure that your proposed project aligns with the agency'sneeds and that you understand the priorities of the agency to which you are applying.
4. Attend SBIR/STTR Workshops and Webinars: Many agencies offer workshops and webinars tohelp small businesses understand the application process and provide tips on preparing asuccessful proposal.
5. Leverage Resources: Utilize resources available through the Small Business Administration (SBA)and other organizations to help guide you through the application process.
6. Write a Strong Proposal: Your proposal should be clear, concise, and compelling. Make sure toarticulate the significance and commercial potential of your idea, and the technical approach youwill take to achieve your project goals.
7. Include a Detailed Work Plan: Provide a comprehensive, detailed work plan that outlines everyphase of your project, including specific tasks, timelines, and budget.
8. Prepare a Comprehensive Commercialization Plan: Demonstrate a deep understanding of yourmarket, including size, growth potential, and competition. Clearly outline your business model, go-to-market strategy, and how you will achieve financial sustainability.
9. Understand Review Criteria: Review the scoring criteria that reviewers will use to evaluate yourapplication and make sure your proposal aligns with these criteria.
10. Proofread and Review: Carefully proofread your application for clarity, grammar, and spelling.Make sure all sections of the application are complete and that you have included all requiredinformation.
11. Seek Assistance If Needed: If you're unsure about anything during the application process, don'thesitate to reach out for help. The agency to which you're applying, as well as the SBA, can bevaluable resources.
12. Resubmit if Necessary: If your proposal is not accepted, don't be discouraged. Take into accountthe feedback from the reviewers, make the necessary revisions, and consider resubmitting.
Identify Win Themes: Determine what makes your proposal strong against theevaluation criteria.
Identify and Address Gaps: Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Recognizewhere you may fall short and need improvement to strengthen your proposal.
Selective Topic Response: Rather than responding to all potential topics, prioritizethose where your proposal will be most competitive.
Team Strengthening: If the team's expertise is a weak point, take steps to addressit, such as adding advisors or partners with the necessary experience.
Resource Allocation: Depending on the gaps identified, focus resources to addressthose areas, whether it's innovation, team, commercialization potential, etc.
Iterative Process: Continually reassess and refine your proposal based on theidentified "win themes" and gap analysis.
Resilience and Adaptability: Even if some topics are eliminated due to gaps, remainfocused and competitive for others. Use identified weaknesses as growth points.
Using the evaluation criteria to guide your proposal preparation can help ensurethat you are addressing the key points that reviewers are looking for.