Sensor Technology for the 21st Century

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This web page on sensor technology is designed to help sensor developers locate SBIR and/or STTR funding opportunities across federal agencies. The U.S. Government is a significant driver of sensor innovation: investing in low cost, portable, easy-to-use technologies to facilitate the collection of real time, reliable measurement information.
You may be surprised to see how many different SBIR and/or STTR research topics relate to sensor technology development. Federal agencies are supporting sensor research and development, purchasing and using sensors, making sensor data and data products available to the public, and investigating how application of sensor technologies can help accomplish the agencies’ goals. The information below will help you explore funding opportunities beyond the announcements you might normally investigate.

Some agencies allow Phase II application submissions from Phase I projects that were funded by a different agency, if the Phase I project is within the scope of the Phase II agency’s goals. The information presented in the table below may help you to identify such opportunities. provides additional information on federal funding opportunities as well as the federal grants lifecycle, policies on grants management, and profiles on grant-making agencies.

For more information, please review table below:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

EPA seeks sensors that can detect Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act Priority Pollutants with high accuracy and precision, in real time, at low cost. These sensors should either be easily portable or deployable in the field for unattended operation. They should supplement, extend, or improve on existing methods to comply with regulatory requirements, or should make it possible for non-regulated parties (e.g. nonprofit organizations, small businesses, members of the public) to monitor their environment.


One solicitation annually. The FY2019 Phase 1 Solicitation is open from June 13, 2018 to July 31, 2018: SBIR Funding Opportunities                                

For reference, the 2019 sensor topics include:

1. Clean and Safe Water
Novel technologies for rapid detection of PFAS in water

2. Air Quality
Innovative measurement tools for ground-level air pollution from wildland fires

3. Land Revitilization 

Innovative technologies that can sample, detect, analyze, remove or destroy PFAS in and from soil, sediment, water and groundwater

4. Homeland Security
Novel water distribution and stormwater system sensors

1) Hand-Held Sensor for Carbon Dioxide

2) Handheld Microfluidic Device for Cyanobacteria Toxin Detection and Monitoring

3) Low-power, Small Form-factor Benzene Sensor for Mobile Devices-based Exposure Monitoring

4) Hand-held Portable Device to Detect VOCs in Water, Soil & Air Samples


April Richards;
Program Manager;

EPA SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

NIST seeks advancement of sensor technology in areas of measurement and standards to support U.S. industry and trade.


One annual solicitation. FY 2019 Phase II solicitation is expected to open in January 2019.

Examples of topics in the FY 2018 solicitation include: Design of a High-speed, Multiplexed Infrared Sensor Platform for Dynamic Chemical Analysis Intermediate Frequency Conversion System for High-Bandwidth Multiplexed Sensors Arrays



Mary Clague;
NIST SBIR Program Manager;

NIST SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA seeks sensors for detecting and/or accurately and precisely measuring physical, chemical, and biological targets of interest in oceanic (including Great Lakes) and atmospheric systems to provide real- or near real-time data in support of the Agency’s mission to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts.


One solicitation annually. The most recent solicitation was issued on October 18, 2017 and will close January 21, 20178 Program Solicitation: NOAA 2018-1.

Examples of subtopics in FY18 solicitation include:

SUBTOPIC: Calibration of Low-cost Air Quality Sensors (Section 8.1.3)

SUBTOPIC: Next Generation Marine Visibility (FOG) Sensors (Section 8.2.6)

SUBTOPIC: Create the next generation national water level observation station (Section 8.2.10)

SUBTOPIC: Inexpensive, novel weather observing systems (Section 8.2.12)

SUBTOPIC: Automated tools for detecting entanglement risks associated with aquaculture (Section 8.3.2)

SUBTOPIC: Developing monitoring tools to detect disease in marine aquaculture operations (Section 8.3.6)

Desert Star Systems LLC develops innovative  SeaTag: Electronic Tags of the Future


Vince Garcia,
Program Manager;

NOAA SBIR Website: http://www.techpartn...

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
US Department of Energy

DOE funds sensor R&D for a broad range of scientific instruments, for the production or delivery of energy, and for applications in nuclear security. Examples include radiation detection for the study of materials and fundamental particles, environmental monitoring to understand climate change and subsurface processes, process monitoring for oil and gas production, and systems for the recording, processing, storage, distribution, and analysis of experimental data.


DOE posts two Phase I funding opportunities each FY and offers a myriad of sensor R&D topics in both solicitations. Those topics can be found here:

Examples of topics in Release 1 and Release 2 FY18 funding opportunities include:

Release 2

17. Sensors and Controls for Fossil Energy Applications

27f. Radiation Hard CMOS Sensors for Detectors at High Energy Colliders

29a. Advanced Sensors and Instrumentation (Crosscutting Research)

FY18 Release 1

6a. Smart Sensor Nodes for Science, Engineering, and Manufacturing Infrastructures

6b. Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies for Science, Engineering, and Manufacturing 

19c. Advanced Control wth Embedded Sensing (ACES)

A Diode Laser Sensor for High Precision CO2 and H2O Flux Measurements

Breakthrough Monitoring Technology Reduces Time and Expense in Solar Cell Manufacturing Process


Chris O’Gwin,

DOE SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program seeks to transform scientific discovery into societal and economic benefit by catalyzing private sector commercialization of technological innovations. The program increases the incentive and opportunity for startups and small businesses to undertake cutting-edge, high-quality scientific research and development.

NSF will support high-quality projects on important scientific, engineering, or science and engineering education problems and opportunities that could lead to significant commercial and public benefit if the research is successful.

The topics and subtopics guide the logistics of the review process but do not affect award decisions. In fact, NSF recognizes that innovation often can't be categorized. Therefore, proposals are accepted in any areas of technology that show promise of high commercial and societal impact, not just those listed at right and on the NSF website. Any sensor technology that is consistent with these goals would be eligible for funding through this program.


Typically two solicitations per year: one that opens in March with a June deadline, and one that opens in September with a December deadline.

Current SBIR

SBIR NSF 17-596 - Submission deadline December 4, 2017

STTR NSF 17-595 - Submission deadline December 4, 2017

Smart Health (SH) 

Biomedical (BM) Technologies
SH4. Interoperability of Medical Sensors, Devices and Robotics

Biological Technologies (BT)
BT2. Biosensors

Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT)
CT9. Resource and Water Conservation, Treatment and Reuse, Waste Minimization and Environmental Sustainability
CT10. Environmental Sensing, Environmental Pollution Control and Mitigation
CT12. Chemical Production Efficiency and Productivity

Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies (EW)
Sensors (SE)
EP3. Smart Grids and Infrastructure

Internet of Things (I)
IoT1. IoT Sensors and Actuators
IoT4. IoT Integrated Systems

Semiconductors (S) and Photonic (PH) Devices and Materials
PH4. Advanced Metrology and Sensors

M6: Sustainable Manufacturing Technology
tools for the real-time analysis & optimization of system performance technologies (involving materials, sensors, devices, and control systems) that support smart infrastructures 

M7: Manufacturing Processes
on-line detection and control of defects

Food-safety testing gets a much-needed makeover

Self-assembled nanofibers sniff out explosives

Sensitive inline analyzers set to transform the cement industry


Peter Atherton
Information Technologies (IT)

Prakash Balan
Chemical Technologies (CT)

Glenn Larsen
Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)

Rajesh Mehta
Advanced Manufacturing and Nanotechnology (MN)

Murali Nair
Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies (EW)

Ben Schrag

Other Topics (OT)

Ruth Shuman
Biological Technologies (BT)

Jesus Soriano
Smart Health (SH)


Anna Brady-Estevez
Environmental Technologies (CT)


Debasis Majumdar
Advanced Materials and Instrumentation (MI)


Rick Schwerdtfeger
Semiconductors (S) and Photonic (PH) Devices and Materials


Henry Ahn
Biomedical Technologies (BM)


Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

The mission of NIEHS is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives. NIEHS supports the development of sensors that can assess personal exposure in population studies using either networks of fixed site or wearable monitors that can measure exposure in real-time with high sensitivity and specificity and/or low cost.

NIEHS is also particularly interested in personal sensors that measure multiple analytes simultaneously or ones that pair exposure assessment with physiological response. 

The NIEHS Superfund Research Program supports sensors for real-time monitoring and detection of toxic chemicals in the environment that are of high relevance to Superfund or other hazardous waste sites (not interested in viruses, agricultural pollutants, petroleum etc).


Three solicitations annually.
Standard receipt dates:
    January 5
    April 5
    September 5
New solicitation:

Novel Approaches for Characterizing Exposure and Response to Engineered Nanomaterials

Upcoming funding opportunities can be found at

I. Exposure Assessment Tools

I. Exposure Assessment Tools

II. Nano Environmental Health and Safety
Sensors and Biomonitors

V. Superfund Research Program
Monitoring, Detection, and Site Characterization


1) Personal Ozone Monitor (POM)

2) Hand-Held Fluorimeter and DNA Powered Sensors for Rapid On-Site Analysis of Heavy Metals in Water

3) Personal Exposure Monitor for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

4) Personal Exposure Monitoring of the Air Pollutants as a K-12 Educational Tool

5) Gold Nanoparticle-Based Sensor to Measure Mercury in Liquid or Aqueous Samples (Superfund)

6) Rapid, Real-Time, Mobile Trace Gas Detector (Superfund)

Daniel T. Shaughnessy, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator &
Program Lead.
Tel (984) 287-3321
Heather Henry, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel (984) 287-3268
NIEHS SBIR Website: /grants/mechanisms/sbir/
Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

The mission of the NIOSH is to generate new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice for the betterment of workers.

NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

NIOSH development and application of sensors addresses hazards and exposures ranging from noise, chemicals, and radiation to stress, ergonomics, and work flows. For all types of hazards in the workplace, the objective is to enable operators to anticipate and quickly identify potential overexposures and implement interventions to prevent these overexposures. In May 2014, NIOSH created the Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies. The primary goals of the Center are to develop guidance for appropriate use, validation, and interpretation of direct reading and sensor technologies and will also focus on coordinating a national agenda for their effective application in occupational safety and health.


Current NIOSH extramural research grants in the area of sensors include biosensors for different chemical exposures, wearable monitors for a variety of work sites, monitors that can be used in exposure characterization studies for ultrafine and nanoparticles, and noise dosimeters.

Three SBIR solicitatons annually 
Standard receipt dates:
    January 5
    April 5
    September 5
Upcoming funding opportunities for April 1018 – April 2019 can be found at

Examples of specific research areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
Real-time sensors capable of reliably detecting nanoparticles and providing information on size distribution and count, that can be used for personal monitoring;
Develop or adapt easy-to-use, direct-reading instruments and test kits to rapidly and inexpensively measure exposures in a variety of workplaces.

Additionally, the following NIOSH standing research announcement includes interests in sensors and sensor technologies:
ANNOUNCEMENT NO. PAR-18-812: Occupational Safety and Health Research (R01); New applications due July 23, 2018.

Additional information about NIOSH SBIR funding opportunities can be found at:

Thermal precipitator description and success story from the NIOSH small grant (R03OH009381, 2008-2010) awarded to Prof. John Volckens (CSU)

Flexible, Graphene-based Detector Arrays for Petrochemical Exposure Monitoring;

Development of a Novel Wireless In-Ear Noise Exposure Monitor for the Prevention of Occupational Hearing Loss; and

Size-Resolved Measurement of Ultrafine and Nanometer Particle Concentrations.

Steve Dearwent, PhD, MPH
SBIR Grants Officer
NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs:

Tel: 404-498-6382

Mark D. Hoover, PhD, CHP, CIH
NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies:

Tel: 304-285-6374

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA seeks sensors and sensor networks that can provide high spatial resolution and temporal monitoring of specialty crops and detect and monitors nutrients, contaminants, gases and pathogens in water, soils and air.


Two solicitations annually. Phase I RFAs are generally released every year in July with due dates in October. Phase II RFAs are generally released every year in December with due dates in February.

The most recent 2018 Phase I solicitation closed October 5, 2017:

Examples of topics in FY18 solicitation include:

i.     8.4 Air, Water and Soils – Page 10 of the RFA
The Air, Water and Soils topic area aims to develop and commercialize technologies and innovations for conserving, monitoring and protecting air, water and soil resources while sustaining optimal farm and forest productivity. Climate variability, natural resources conservation (air, water and soils) and food security are major focal points of this topic area. We encourage new technologies and innovations that will help improve soil; reduce soil erosion; improve water and air quality; enable plant and animal production systems to adapt to changing climatic conditions; and conserve and use water more efficiently. Priority areas are:

1. Water Quality and Conservation
Develop new and improved technologies to optimize water management conservation at both the farm level and at a watershed scale, monitor the quality of surface water and groundwater resources for biotic and abiotic pollutants, including animal manure and pharmaceuticals, develop improved methods for the reuse of waste water, including the remediation and restoration of water resources that impact agriculture and forestry operations, and promote watershed restoration.
2. Irrigation
Develop improved irrigation technologies for both farming and landscaping applications that will provide more efficient and cost-effective delivery of water and chemicals. Develop new irrigation methods that allow for more efficient use of water including accurate delivery of water to where it is needed.
3. Soil Erosion
Develop better methods for preventing soil erosion by wind and surface water runoff and for monitoring wind erosion and sediment transport.
4. Soil Health
Develop new technologies for measuring soil physical, chemical and biological properties including, but not limited to, soil nutrient content, microbial functional activity related to nutrient cycling, methods to remediate degraded soils and the physical and chemical structure of soil.
5. Air Resources
Develop new and improved technologies to monitor air quality and reduce air pollution stemming from agricultural enterprises, including manures from livestock and poultry production systems.


i.    8.13 Plant Production and Protection – Engineering (Page 21 of the RFA)
The objective of this topic area is to enhance crop production in both conventional and organic systems by creating and commercializing engineering technologies that enhance system efficiency and profitability and that protect crops from pests and pathogens in economically and environmentally sound ways. Projects that promote energy conservation or efficiency in food and fiber systems are strongly encouraged. Engineering projects must describe the system need; design specifications, and functionality and reliability; and cost benefit analysis. Where feasible, describe the testing metrics, experimental design, and materials and methods to collect and analyze data on the metrics.
1. Improved crop production methods or strategies
Enhance the efficiency of crop production by utilizing innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting crop plants that optimize inputs and reduce operational costs. Topics may include but are not limited to:
a. Technologies that enhance commercial horticulture production
Projects to improve the competitiveness of U.S. commercial horticulture production including flowering potted plant, bedding plant, cut flower production, seasonal crops, annuals, and perennials.
b. Production, harvesting, and postharvest handling of specialty crops and in organic systems.
Projects to reduce manual labor, maintain quality, reduce food safety issues, reduce waste streams, and select for quality and consumer preference.
c. Cyber-physical systems to support precision agriculture.
Projects that accelerate the integration of cyber-physical systems into precisions agriculture including methods, tools, hardware, and software components.
2. Plant protection against abiotic and/or biotics stresses
Reduce the impact of plant pathogens, insect pests, weeds, and abiotic stresses on crop plants. Topics may include but are not limited to:
a. Improved chemical application technology
Projects that increase product efficacy, worker safety, and reduce off-target drift of applied chemicals.
b. Monitoring, detection, and management.
Projects that provide engineered technical solutions for monitoring, detection, and management of pests and abiotic stresses at the earliest stage of their manifestation. Projects on diagnostics submitted to this area should focus on engineering, not biological solutions.
3. Energy conservation
Develop crop management systems, farm and greenhouse structures, and waste utilization strategies that promote energy conservation and efficiency, including the development of technology for the economic use of alternative/renewable energy resources.
4. Pollinators and crop production
Engineering technologies that address the health and success of domesticated and natural pollinators of economically important crops.


Scott Dockum
Program Manager;

USDA SBIR Website:

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JSTO-CBD)

The Chemical and Biological Defense (CBD) SBIR and STTR Programs require sensor technologies for chemical and biological detection for both point and stand-off capabilities; medical diagnostics: disease surveillance/detection.

Technical challenges regarding chemical agents (and Toxic Industrial Chemicals) include low detection limits (parts per trillion/low parts per billion); low volatility compounds; sensor operation in harsh environments; Size, Weight & Power (SWaP) considerations; minimize false positive/false negative results; easy to interpret data; identify low target analyte concentrations within complex environmental backgrounds and matrices. Biological Threat Materials have a similar set of unique detection and identification challenges.


One announcement annually (subject to change based on funding availability).

Topics are announced in November and announcements open in December and close in February.

The FY19 announcement opens on November 28, 2018 and closes on February 6, 2019 at 8pm Eastern Time.

View recent or upcoming solicitation: CBD SBIR and CBD STTR Announcements at: as well as

Approximately five to ten SBIR topics and one STTR topic annually based on available funding.


Larry Pollack
Program Manager;

Agency Agency Interest in Sensor Technology Grant or Contract Recent or upcoming solicitation Success Stories Program Contact
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The NASA SBIR and STTR programs fund the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill NASA needs and have significant potential for successful commercialization.

NASA is interested in a wide range of sensor technologies across its Aeronautics Research, Human Exploration and Operations, Science, and Space Technology Mission Directorates.

Sensors are sought for deployment in a wide range of environments including on satellites and space vehicles, in test chambers, in telescopes, in extreme environments, and on earth.


One solicitation annually. FY 2018 SBIR/STTR solicitation opened from January 11, 2018 through March 9, 2018:

View the full list of FY18 topics: 

Examples of Sensor-related topics include:
A1.08 Aeronautics Ground Test and Measurements Technologies

A2.01 Flight Test and Measurements Technologies

H1.01 Mars Atmosphere ISRU for Mission Consumables

H2.01 Lunar Resources

H3.01 Process Technologies for Water Recycling in Space

H4.01 Advanced Space Suit Portable Life Support System (PLSS)

H7.02 In-Situ Monitoring and Development of in-process quality control for in-space manufacturing (ISM) applications

H12.03 Crew Worn Accelerometers in spaceflight environment

S1.01 Lidar Remote Sensing Technologies

S1.02 Technologies for Active Microwave Remote Sensing

S1.03 Technologies for Passive Microwave Remote Sensing

S1.04 Sensor and Detector Technology for Visible, IR, Far IR and Submillimeter

S1.05 Detector Technologies for UV, X-Ray, Gamma-Ray and Cosmic-Ray Instruments

S1.06 Particles and Field Sensors and Instrument Enabling Technologies

S1.07 In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Planetary Science

S1.08 In-situ Sensors and Sensor Systems for Earth Science

S1.09 Cryogenic Systems for Sensors and Detectors

S1.10 Atomic Interferometry

S1.11 In Situ Instruments/Technologies and Sample Processing for Ocean Worlds Life Detection

S2.01 Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Direct Detection

S3.04 Guidance, Navigation and Control

S4.04 Extreme Environments Technology

S4.05 Contamination Control and Planetary Protection

S4.06 Sample Collection For Life Detection in Outer Solar System Ocean World Plumes

Z7.01 Entry Descent & Landing Sensors for Environment Characterization, Vehicle Performance, and Guidance, Navigation and Control

Z11.01 NDE Sensors

T8.02 Photonic Integrated Circuits

T13.01 Intelligent Sensor Systems


NASA SBIR Website:

NASA SBIR Program Contacts:
(301) 937 - 0888

Ames Research Center (ARC):
Dr. Ryszard Pisarski

Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC):
Mr. Mark Davis 

Glenn Research Center (GRCC)
Dr. Matthews Deans

Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC):
Mr. Joseph Famiglietti

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):
Dr. Carol Lewis 

Johnson Space Center (JSC):
Ms. Kathryn Packard 

Kennedy Space Center (KSC):
Mr. Michael Vinje 

Langley Research Center (LaRC):
Ms. Kimberly Cannon 

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC):
Ms. Gwen Jasper

Stennis Space Center (SSC):
Mr. Thomas M. Stanley


Last Updated on July 18, 2018

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