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Overview of Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs

May 13, 2013

As research and development funding across all sectors faces cuts and challenges, there is increased emphasis on academic-industry partnerships in order to make optimal use of available resources. Two federal funding programs, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs serve as a means of encouraging such partnerships.  NIU researchers who collaborate with small business or who have spin-off companies may find these programs particularly appealing. The ultimate goal of these programs is to spur economic development by helping small business turn innovative ideas into products for the market.  A list of federal agencies that participate in the SBIR and STTR programs is available at www.sbir.gov.

SBIR

The SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. There are three possible funding stages in SBIR:

  • Phase I awards are intended to assess the feasibility and viability of the proposed R&D, and usually do not exceed $150,000 for six months;
  • Phase II awards are intended to build on Phase I R&D, and usually do not exceed $1,000,000 for two years;
  • Phase III is the commercialization of R&D efforts, but this phase is not funded through the SBIR program. 

Federal agencies interested in Phase III commercialization may provide non-SBIR follow-on R&D or enter into production contracts, with the deliverables being used for federal government purposes.  The SBIR program does not require the small business to collaborate with a research institution, such as universities, as the STTR program does. However, opportunities exist for academic-industry partnerships as the small business may need access to the technological expertise and facilities that exist within a university to carry out their proposed R&D. \

STTR

The STTR program encourages small businesses to expand their R&D, too, but requires formal collaboration with a research institution (including universities).  It also has three possible funding stages:

  • Phase I awards are feasibility and viability assessment, and usually do not exceed $100,000 for one year;
  • Phase II awards build on results from Phase I, and usually do not exceed $750,000 for two years;
  • Phase III is the commercialization of R&D efforts, and just as with SBIR, federal agencies interested in Phase III commercialization may provide non-SBIR follow-on R&D or enter into production contracts, with the deliverables being used for federal government purposes.

NIU faculty have successfully obtained SBIR/STTR funding, and as institution, NIU is well-positioned to support these and other industry-academic partnership projects.

Visit the SBIR/STTR web site for further information about participating agencies and solicitations and contact OSP’s CIR Coordinator, Kristin Duffy, (kduffy@niu.edu) to discuss potential SBIR/STRR proposals.