At the National Science Foundation (NSF), Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) is an approximately $180 million program that catalyzes the commercialization of high-risk technological innovations via research and development (R&D) grants to small businesses and startups. NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $7.3 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. As such, NSF SBIR/STTR encourages proposals across all areas of science and engineering; and, unlike many other SBIR/STTR programs, the agency is not the ultimate customer for the products developer. NSF SBIR/STTR funds innovative R&D to overcome technical barriers to private sector commercialization.
The grant program is startup friendly, with most Phase I awards each year going to first-time SBIR/STTR applicants. In addition to R&D funding, the program provides training in key business areas, commercialization assistance, and interaction with other small, innovative companies.