Small Business Innovation Research/ Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I (SBIR/STTR Phase I)

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Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.

Provides up to $275,000 to startups and small businesses to translate research into products and services with commercial and societal impact.


Introduction to the Program:

In 1977, the National Science Foundation (NSF) piloted and subsequently instituted the “Small Business Innovation Applied to National Needs” program, a precursor to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and a first of its kind within the federal government. The goal of this program was to catalyze the innovative capabilities of small firms within the United States by supporting “high-risk, potentially high-payoff” projects [1]. The NSF SBIR/STTR program solicits proposals from small businesses based on groundbreaking scientific discoveries or significant engineering breakthroughs consistent with NSF's mission to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. This NSF program is governed by 15 U.S.C. 638 and the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.).

The current NSF SBIR/STTR program continues this legacy of supporting the translation of scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. Unlike fundamental or basic research activities that focus on scientific and engineering discovery itself, the NSF SBIR/STTR program supports the creation of opportunities to move discoveries founded from fundamental science and engineering out of the lab and into the market or other use at scale, through startups and small businesses.

The NSF SBIR/STTR program provides non-dilutive research and development funding at the earliest stages of technology development.

Synopsis of Program:

The NSF SBIR/STTR program supports moving scientific excellence and technological innovation from the lab to the market. By funding startups and small businesses, NSF hopes to build a strong national economy and stimulate the creation of novel products, services, and solutions in the private sector with potential for broad impact; strengthen the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs; increase the commercial application of federally supported research results; and develop and increase the US workforce, especially by fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.

The NSF SBIR/STTR program welcomes proposals from many topics and does not have a specific technological focus (please see website at for a listing of topics and cognizant Program staff).  The program is open to proposals focusing on technical and market areas not explicitly noted, and such proposals should be submitted to "Other Topics".

[1] R. T. Tibbetts, "NSF's three-phase program helps the small-business innovator bootstrap an idea to commercial success," in IEEE Spectrum, vol. 15, no. 10, pp. 86-86, Oct. 1978, doi: 10.1109/MSPEC.1978.6367918.


Program contacts

Henry Ahn (703) 292-7069 TIP/TI
Peter S. Atherton (703) 292-8772 TIP/TI
Anna S. Brady-Estevez (703) 292-7077 TIP/TI
Edward Chinchoy (703)292-7103 TIP/TI
Parvathi Chundi (703) 292-5198 TIP/TI
Samir M. Iqbal (703) 292-7529 TIP/TI
Rajesh V. Mehta (703) 292-2174 TIP/TI
Elizabeth Mirowski (703) 292-2936 TIP/TI
Alastair Monk (703) 292-4392 TIP/TI
Muralidharan S. Nair (703) 292-7059 TIP/TI
Erik Pierstorff (703) 292-2165 TIP/TI
Benaiah D. Schrag (703) 292-8323 TIP/TI

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program