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 Phase 1 Solicitation generally opens in June: SBIR Funding Opportunities                                       

For reference, the 2019 sensor topics include:

1. Clean and Safe Water
Novel sampling devices for microplastics
Technologies for the rapid detection of antibiotic resistant bacteria

2. Air Quality
Air monitoring technology for ethylene oxide
Air monitoring technology for sulfur dioxide

3. Land Revitailization 

Mining site characterization                  

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. The Phase I solicitation generally opens in January.



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, usually opening in October or November. For additional information, see:

Examples of subtopics in FY19 solicitation include:

SUBTOPIC:  Water-Born Algal Toxins Detection (9.2.03)

SUBTOPIC:  Low-cost Oceanic & Atmospheric Sensors and Observing Systems (9.6.01)

SUBTOPIC:  Mapping & Imagery of Seafloor and the Deep Ocean (9.6.03)

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


Kelly Wright
Acting 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:

3a Design and Manufacturing Advances for Space-Based Sensors

6b Advanced Manufacturing

18a Novel Monitoring Concepts in The Subsurface

19b Advanced Turbines Technologies

24a Fuel Cells

34a High Energy Physics Electronics

37a Advanced Technologies for Nuclear Energy

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 SBIR Program encourages small businesses to submit ideas across all areas of science and engineering (except drug development). Small businesses are required to submit a Project Pitch to determine whether their proposed project is a good fit for the program’s objectives to support (i) innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and (ii) involve a level of technical risk.

Once invited to submit a full proposal, a small business’s Phase I proposal should be to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed innovation and thereby bring the innovation closer to commercialization. Similar to the Project Pitch, invited full proposals should describe the development of an innovation that demonstrates the following characteristics:

  • Involves a high degree of technical risk – for example: Has never been attempted and/or successfully done before; Is still facing technical hurdles (that the NSF-funded R&D work is intended to overcome).
  • Has the potential for significant commercial impact and/or societal benefit, as evidenced by: Having the potential to disrupt the targeted market segment; Having good product-market fit (as validated by customers); Presenting barriers to entry for competition; Offering potential for societal benefit (through commercialization under a sustainable business model).


Typically, there are two submission windows per year and Project Pitches are accepted anytime.:

For program information and submission deadlines, see

Related topics:

Sensors (SE) topic
BT3. Biosensors (subtopic of Biotechnology topic)
DH5. Interoperability of Health Record Systems, Medical Sensors, Devices, and Robotics (subtopic of Digital Health topic)
I4. Internet-of-ThingsoT Sensors and Actuators (subtopic of Internet-of-Things topic)
PH1. Advanced Metrology and Sensors (subtopic of Photonics topic)
EP3. Other Energy and Power Systems Technologies (subtopic of Energy and Power Systems topic)
OT1. Other Topics (if none of the above fit)


New monitoring technology helps farmers in drought-stricken areas better manage crops (also - All-in-one weather and crop monitor delivers agricultural insight to farmers – CES 2018)

Low-cost environmental and pollution sensors -- Access Sensor Technologies

IoT sensor to reduce emissions – K&A Wireless

Henry Ahn
Biomedical (BM) Technologies
Tel (703)292-7069

Peter Atherton
Information Technologies (IT)
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
and Quantum Information Technologies (QT)

Tel (703)292-8772

Anna Brady-Estevez
Chemical Technologies (CT)
Distributed Ledger (DL)
and Environmental Technologies (ET)

Tel (703)292-7077

Nancy U. Kamei
Digital Health (DH) and Medical Devices (MD)
Tel (703)292-7236

Steven Konsek
Advanced Materials (AM) and Semiconductors (S)
Tel (703)292-7021

Rajesh Mehta
Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)
Tel (703)292-2174

Linda K. Molnar
Advanced Manufacturing (M) and Nanotechnology (N)
Tel (703)292-8316

Muralidharan S. Nair
Energy and Power Systems (EP)
Robotics (R)
Sensors (SE)

and Wireless Technologies (W)
Tel (703)292-7059

Ben Schrag
Other Topics (OT)
Tel (703)-292-8323

Rick Schwerdtfeger
Internet of Things (I), Photonics (PH)
Instrumentation and Hardware Systems (IH)
and Space (SP)

Tel (703)292-8353

Ruth M. Shuman
Biological Technologies (BT)
Tel (703)292-2160

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

Upcoming funding opportunities can be found at

Exposure Assessment Tools

Nano Environmental Health and Safety
Sensors and Biomonitors

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) Portable Condensation Particle Counter for Ultrafine Airborne Particle Concentration Measurement

6) Aerosol Particle Collector for Chemical and Biological Analysis

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

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

Daniel T. Shaughnessy, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator &
Program Lead.
Tel (984) 287-3321

Lingamanaidu V. Ravichandran,
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel (984) 287-3309

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
Funding opportunities 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.

Current Solicitation can be found at

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.



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.

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

Approximately five to ten SBIR topics annually, and one STTR topic biennially (once every other year), 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. The SBIR/STTR solicitation generally opens in January.


Examples of Sensor-related topics in 2019 include:

A1.03 Low Emissions/Clean Power - Environmentally Responsible Propulsion  GRC
A1.08 Aeronautics Ground Test and Measurement Technologies  LaRC
A1.09 Vehicle Safety - Internal Situational Awareness and Response  GRC
A2.01 Flight Test and Measurement Technologies  AFRC
A2.02 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Technologies  AFRC
H3.02 Spacecraft Solid Waste Management  JSC

H3.03 Microbial Monitoring and Control for Spacecraft Cabins  JPL

H6.01 Integrated Systems Health Management for Sustainable Habitats  ARC

H9.01 Long Range Optical Telecommunications  JPL

H10.01 Advanced Propulsion Systems Ground Test Technology  SSC
H12.06 Continuous Crew Health Monitoring  JSC

S1.01 Lidar Remote Sensing Technologies LaRC
S1.02 Technologies for Active Microwave Remote Sensing JPL
S1.03 Technologies for Passive Microwave Remote Sensing GSFC
S1.04 Sensor and Detector Technologies for Visible, IR, Far IR and Submillimeter JPL
S1.05 Detector Technologies for UV, X-Ray, Gamma-Ray Instruments JPL
S1.06 Particles and Field Sensors and Instrument Enabling Technologies GSFC
S1.07 In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Lunar and Planetary Science JPL
S1.08 Suborbital Instruments and Sensor Systems for Earth Science Measurements LaRC
S1.09 Cryogenic Systems for Sensors and Detectors GSFC
S1.10 Atomic Interferometry GSFC
S1.11 In Situ Instruments/Technologies for Ocean Worlds Life Detection JPL
S3.04 Guidance, Navigation and Control  GSFC

S2.01 Proximity Glare Suppression for Astronomical Direct Detection JPL
S2.03 Advanced Optical Systems and Fabrication/Testing/Control Technologies for EUV/Optical and IR Telescope  MSFC
S3.08 Command, Data Handling, and Electronics  GSFC

S4.04 Extreme Environments Technology  JPL

S4.06 Sample Collection for Life Detection in Outer Solar System Ocean World Plumes  JPL
Z5.04 Technologies for Intra-Vehicular Activity Robotics   ARC

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

Z9.01 Small Launch Vehicle Technologies and Demonstrations  MSFC
Z10.03 Nuclear Thermal Propulsion  MSFC

Z11.01 NDE Sensors, Modeling, and Analysis  LaRC

T4.01 Information Technologies for Intelligent and Adaptive Space Robotics  ARC

T4.03 Coordination and Control of Swarms of Space Vehicles  JPL

T6.06 Spacecraft Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology  JSC

T8.02 Photonic Integrated Circuits  GSFC
T8.04 Metamaterials and Metasurfaces Technology for Remote Sensing Applications  GSFC
T13.01 Intelligent Sensor Systems  SSC


(1) Easy and Non-intrusive Nanoscale Diagnostic Platform

(2) Electronic Scanning Multi-Frequency Radar for Climate Research

(3) Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS)

NASA SBIR Website:

NASA SBIR Program Contacts:
(301) 937 - 0888

Ames Research Center (ARC):
Dr. Ryszard Pisarski

Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC):
Mr. Bruce Cogan  

Glenn Research Center (GRCC)
Dr. Matthew Deans

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

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):
Mr. Mark Davidson 

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 October 29, 2019

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