Skip to Main Content
Text size: SmallMediumLargeExtra-Large

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs at the NIDCR

 1.  SBIR/STTR Origins

In the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982, Congress designated 4 major goals.  Federal government and small businesses will work together to—

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Meet Federal R&D needs
  • Foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation
  • Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal R&D

2.  Reauthorization of the Act (until Jan 2011)

Federal and state government (state government includes quasi-government corporations, economic development entities, and technology centers) work together with small businesses and academia (academia includes university research parks; faculty and graduate students, technology incubators, and research foundations).  Other provisions to the Act include:  

  • Asking for reporting outcomes: public summaries and government evaluations
  •  Establishing Federal and State (FAST): State-based Business mentoring and assistance
  • Increasing some funding ceilings for Phase II awards    

    The goal of the reauthorization of the Act was to produce a richer, broader, and more diverse program


3.  SBIR/STTR Program Mission

To support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy… small business at a time


4.  SBIR/STTR Participating Agencies 


    --NIH (about $690 million in FY 2010)
                    --NIDCR (about $8.9 million in FY2010)










TOTAL:  $2.2 billion 


5.  Addressing Global Objectives with Specific Solutions

SBIR/STTR Helps NIH Meet its Mission

The program supports the conduct of innovative research and research and development that results in product, process, or service that will…..

  • Improve human health
  • Speed process of discovery
  • Reduce cost of medical care/research
  • Improve research tools


6.  What are SBIR and STTR

Similar research programs…..

  • SBIR is a set-aside program (2.5 percent of the extramural budget) for small business concerns to engage in federal R&D with the potential for commercialization
  • STTR is a set-aside proram (0.3% of the extramural budget) to facilitate cooperative R&D between small business concerns and U.S. research institutions with the potential for commercialization

In three phases…..

  • Phase I:   Feasibility study (6 – 12 months, can receive funding up to $150,000/$100,000)
  • Phase II:  Full research or R&D (2 years, can receive funding up to $1 million/$750,000)
  • Phase III: Commercialization (WITHOUT SBIR funding)

7.  SBIR/STTR Eligibility

  • An organized for-profit U.S. business
  • At least 51 percent U.S.-owned by individuals and independently operated, OR owned and controlled by one other eligible entity
  • A small business located in and performing the work in the U.S.
  • The principal investigator’s primary employment must be with the small business during the project
  • Must have 500 employees or fewer, including affiliates


8.  SBIR vs. STTR: Critical Differences

Research Partners

:  Permits (encourages) research institution partners (about 33 percent in Phase 1 and 50 percent in Phase II R&D)

STTR: Requires research institution partners (e.g. universities) (40 percent small business and 30 percent research institution) 

Principal Investigator

: Primary (greater than 50 percent) employment must be with small business

STTR: Primary employment not stipulated (research institution and/or small business)

The award is always made to the small business.



9.  Getting More from the SBIR/STTR: Leveraging Academic Excellence

University scientists can be:

  • Owners of small firms (assign someone else as PI)
  • Principal investigators (with official permission from the university)
  • Senior personnel on SBIR/STTR
  • Consultants on SBIR/STTR
  • Subcontracts on SBIR/STTR
  • Conduits for university facilities to provide analytical and other service support


10.  Entrepreneurial Research Institutions

To be successful they are characterized by the following:

  • Develop common goals between faculty-initiated business and mission of research institution
  • Create an entrepreneurial environment while protecting interests of the university
  • Establish policies to manage, reduce or eliminate conflict of interest (COI)
  • Retain intellectual talent

In summary, intellectual rigor, plus hard work, plus passion, plus mission equals success.


11.  Challenges in Blending Diverse Cultures

The University environment is characterized by:

  • Research to educate, break ground, provide service
  •  A slower pace
  •  A mission that includes basic and applied research
  •  A place where technology transfer is companion to research mission
  •  A fertile ground for economic development

On the other hand, Industry can be summarized by an environment where:

  • R&D drives commercialization
  • It’s quick-paced
  • It’s focused on solving problems to develop new products and make a profit
  • Exploits the full potential of science (e.g. capture intellectual property, license to the patents)
  • Direct and indirect economic impact


12.  To become a star

You must have the following--
  • Science
  • Team
  • Application
  • R&D Plan
  • Track record

Share This Page

GooglePlusExternal link – please review our disclaimer

LinkedInExternal link – please review our disclaimer


This page last updated: June 30, 2014