The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive three-phase award system. First enacted in 1982 as part of the Small Business Innovation Development Act, Federal agencies with more than $100 million in extramural R&D are required to allocate a percentage of their budgets exclusively for small businesses. The current set-aside for the SBIR program is 2.5%. In 2011, over 6700 awards were granted worth over $2.2 billion. North Carolina companies received over $56 million in SBIR/STTR awards in 2011.
SBIR Mission and Goals
The mission of the SBIR program is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy. The program’s goals are four-fold:
- Stimulate technological innovation
- Meet Federal research and development needs.
- Foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by socially and economically disadvantaged persons.
- Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal research and development funding.
Participating Federal Agencies
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Department of Defense
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Transportation
- Environmental Protection Agency
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- National Science Foundation
Each agency administers its own individual program within guidelines established by Congress. These agencies designate R&D topics in their solicitations and accept proposals from small businesses. Awards are made on a competitive basis after proposal evaluation.
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.