May 2012

SBIR/STTR Grants: Free Federal Monies for SBC Research and Development

Since 1982, the federal government has directed billions of dollars to encourage domestic small technology businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.
Currently more than $2.6 billion in non-equity position, no pay-back grants are available annually through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.
Through these highly competitive awards-based programs, SBIR and STTR grants enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization.  To assist Utah companies in navigating the system and increase their chances to win the grants, Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative opened the SBIR-STTR Assistance Center (SSAC) in June 2008 in partnership with Salt Lake Community College (SLCC).  To date, the SSAC has brought in over $4.5 million dollars with a win rate significantly higher than the national average.
Currently, eleven Federal agencies participate in the SBIR program and five in the STTR program. Each agency administers its own individual program within guidelines established by Congress. These agencies designate R&D topics in their solicitations and accept proposals from small businesses nationwide. Awards are made on a competitive basis after proposal evaluation.  The programs are structured in three phases:
• Phase I is the startup phase. Awards of up to $150,000 are granted allowing support for approximately six months towards development and exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology.
• Phase II awards up to $1,000,000 for up to two years to expand Phase I results. During this time, the R&D work is performed and the developer evaluates commercialization potential. Only Phase I award winners may be considered for Phase II awards.
• Phase III is the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. No federal funds support this phase. The small business must find funding in the private sector or other non-SBIR federal agency funding. Multiple SBIR and STTR’s are encouraged.
Only United States small businesses are eligible to participate in the SBIR and STTR programs. Business must meet all of the following criteria at the time of Phase I and II awards:
  • Organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States;
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States, or
  • At least 51% owned and controlled by another for-profit business concern that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States; and;
  • No more than 500 employees, including affiliates.
STTR’s differ in that they partner with nonprofit research institutions who must also meet certain eligibility criteria:
  • Located in the US
  • Meet one of three definitions:
    • Nonprofit college or university
    • Domestic nonprofit research organization
    • Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
USTAR’s SBIR-STTR Assistance Center assists Utah companies in all aspects of these competitive programs, from finding topics and pre-preparation to consulting, document editing and proposal submission, the staff is ready to guide companies and technology.  SSAC is a statewide program located at SLCC – Miller Campus in Sandy Utah.  Decades before anyone had ever heard of stimulus programs, the SBIR-STTR program began providing small businesses a leg up in R&D while asking nothing in exchange in equity or IP. It’s early stage capital that doesn’t dilute your ownership,” said Ted McAleer, USTAR Executive Director. “We are thrilled to offer assistance to this program for our state and encourage every technology company with less than 500 employees to take full advantage.”

To see how your company might benefit from the Federal SBIR-STTR program or the Utah SBIR-STTR Assistance Center, please contact Mary Cardon, Manager of the SSAC or 801.957.5249 or visit
In partnership with Logan SBDC offices and partially funded through a grant from the Small Business Administration, the SSAC is offering a half day workshop “Secrets of a Winning Proposal” in Logan, Thursday, June 21, 2012. See details in the Calendar section of this newsletter.