Of the approximately $500 billion in grants the U.S. federal government awards each year, only about 5% of those are awarded to for-profit businesses. The fact of the matter is that there are very few grants available to businesses. About 95% of the all federal government grants awarded are given to states, counties, cities, universities, public safety entities, governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, cultural institutions and other entities that support strategic national priorities (SNPs).
However, there is one federal grant that is specifically targeted to for-profit businesses—the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants program. The SBIR program was established for the purpose of strengthening the role of innovative small businesses in federally-funded research and development (R&D).
The program’s goals are to:
- 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.
SBIR grants are awarded in three phases. In Phase I, the applicant is typically awarded no more than $150,000 to essentially ‘validate’ the concept. If they are successful in achieving their Phase I goals and objectives, they can apply for funding through Phase II. Here, they can apply for up to $1,000,000 in follow-on funding. Phase III does not provide funding but 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.
The following agencies offer SBIR grants:
- 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 and designates R&D topics in its respective SBIR solicitations. You can learn more about the SBIR program by visiting the SBIR website.
To help you decide whether or not an SBIR grant is right for you, review the checklist below. If you can answer ‘yes’ to the majority of these questions, then you may want to consider taking a closer look at the SBIR grant program.
SBIR grant readiness questionnaire
1. Is my company or project aligned with any strategic national priorities (SNP)?
- National security and public safety
- Health care innovation, cost savings and research
- Education, particularly college- and career-readiness, providing equitable education services for students with special needs or disabilities and topics relating to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM)
- Energy savings and renewable energy
- Exceptional advances in technological innovation
- Major advances in scientific research
- Workforce training and education in high-growth fields and industries
- Agriculture- and food-related research and projects
2. Is the product or technology you wish to develop directly aligned to the goals and objectives of the agency (e.g., Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, etc.) that is offering the SBIR solicitation?
3. Is the product or technology you wish to develop directly aligned to at least one of the Priority Areas of interest of the SBIR solicitation to which you are interested in applying?
4. Are you or do you have access to, a published (in a scholarly journal) researcher with a university affiliation and experience in your field?
5. Have you or your company ever carried out a research and development project?
6. Do you data that demonstrates the viability of the product or technology you wish to develop with the support of SBIR funds? Data can be in the form of minimum viable product (MVP), proof of concept, beta testing, etc.
7. Have you developed a plan to commercialize and bring to market the technology or product you wish to develop with the support of SBIR funds?
8. Have you outlined specific, measurable objectives regarding what you would like to achieve with the support of SBIR funds?
9. Have you identified the resources you need (e.g., research facilities, equipment, etc.) to achieve those objectives?
10. Have you developed a budget that would enable you to achieve the objectives you have identified?
Contact me today if you are interested in learning more about the SBIR grant program or are looking for a professional SBIR grant writer with a solid track record of success.