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Opportunities for Small Businesses – SBIR Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (“SBIR”) program (“the Program”) enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. The mission of the 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.”

High-tech companies that meet the eligibility requirements should heavily consider exploring the availability of federal government grants and contracts through this Program. The eligibility requirements include:

  • business must be for-profit;
  • be independently owned and operated in the United States;
  • have less than 500 employees;
  • must be majority-owned (51 percent) by United States citizens or permanent aliens; and
  • the principle researcher must be an employee of the company.

These funds are available to help small businesses supplement their financing in order to advance their research and development efforts and compete in the marketplace. In 2013, approximately 4,800 awards were given out within this Program totaling approximately $1.9 billion in federal government grants and contracts.

Eleven federal agencies allot a percentage of their budget each year to help fund this Program, including:

  • Department of Agriculture;
  • Department of Commerce;
  • 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 ; and
  • National Science Foundation.

The federal government has certain scientific and technological goals which can be viewed at Grants.gov or going to the individual agency sites noted above. Each agency reviews proposals based on technical merit, qualifications and feasibility.

The Program is structured in three phases to reflect the research and development (R&D) development cycle:

  • Phase I – This phase analyzes the feasibility of the project and commercial potential of the project. These awards normally do not exceed $150,000 over a time frame of less than six months.
  • Phase II – This phase is for continued efforts of projects that have already gone through Phase I noted above. The focus is to expand R&D efforts and to further assess commercial viability of the product(s). These awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 over a time frame of less than two years.
  • Phase III – This phase is for the pursuit of commercialization of the product(s) through private sector investments. The Program does not fund this phase.

To get started, SBIR.gov includes information for applicants and Grants.gov has information for SBIR opportunities, or you can contact your local Cherry Bekaert representative for information and assistance on submitting a SBIR proposal.

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