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America's Seed Fund Update for June 2021

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June 17, 2021
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June 2021

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National SBIR Week is July 19-23 – Register to Connect One-on-One with Funding Agencies!

The 2021 National SBIR Week is a virtual outreach effort connecting entrepreneurs working on advanced technologies and the organizations that support them to the country’s largest source of early stage funding – the SBIR/STTR programs. Also known as America’s Seed Fund, the SBIR/STTR programs provide over $4 billion in funding to small businesses each year in a wide variety of technology areas.

National SBIR Week will provide attendees with an opportunity to hear directly from the participating federal agency program managers that administer over 7,000 new awards annually and to meet virtually one-on-one with program decision makers. Register for the free, online event.

XLerat-ing IDeAs: Experiences from the Southeast – June 23-24

Join the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) at a two-day virtual mini-conference to educate potential applicants about the benefits of the SBIR/STTR programs, the application submission process, and available resources. Register for this free event with opportunity to speak 1-on-1 with program directors.

Grants for Commercializing Innovation in Global Markets

You may have tapped SBIR at some point to help launch your innovative technology. It may be time to come back to SBA to help grow that business in global markets, and SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant can support your international expansion. STEP funds can be tapped to support travel for trade shows and missions and other traditional methods of global marketing and sales; international intellectual property protection; product testing, licensing, and certification requirements for foreign markets; and product adaptation to meet local standards.

In the last year STEP has significantly increased focus and allowable expenses for such things as: website translation, search engine optimization, digital marketing strategies, e-Commerce expansion, virtual trade shows, training, and a range of other activities.

SBA’s Office of International Trade administers the STEP awards at the national level and individual STEP awards are managed by state trade offices.  Reach out directly to SBA’s state partners for details on application and available uses of funds.

Hear directly from two SBIR awardees who made use of the STEP program: Anthony Mulligan, CEO/President of Hydronalix (Green Valley, AZ) and Jennifer Hwu, CEO of InnoSys, Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT). Hosted by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), SBA Senior Innovation Policy Advisor Brittany Sickler and STEP Director Eddy Mayen shared how SBA supports small businesses sharing their innovation with the world. Watch the recording of this on-demand webinar.   

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month

The Biden-Harris Administration champions LGBTQ+ equality. On June 1, 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation affirming June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month, marking a time of hope, progress, and promise for LGBTQ+ Americans across the country.

SBA celebrates pride month with a panel discussion on June 24. SBA’s network for LGBTQ+ businesses expands year after year and has come a long way from lessons learned in history. We continue to support LGBTQ+ business owners in gaining a fair shot in today’s marketplace. Get inspired by some of the many examples of small business success in the LGBTQ+ business community at

SBIR News & Updates

Alabama Creates SBIR/STTR Matching Grant Program: Governor signs measures to boost state’s innovation economy with $9M in appropriations

Alabama is the latest state that is embracing innovation as a way to grow the state’s economy. On May 19, Alabama Gov. Key Ivey signed legislation establishing the Alabama Innovation Corporation as a public-private partnership that will serve as a catalyst for the state’s growing innovation economy and creates the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program, which will support SBIR & STTR awardees in the state. The corporation is funded at $4 million and the grant program at $5 million for the state’s next fiscal year.

Biden-Harris Administration’s budget would increase SBA innovation funding

The White House released President Joe Biden’s full budget proposal in May. The budget would include $10 million for each of SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters (RIC), FAST program, and the Growth Accelerators Fund Competition (GAFC). The budget also includes $2 million for SBA to expand its capacity to support SBIR/STTR, which is set to increase substantially through additional R&D funding. These funds are intended to be used for administration, reporting and outreach.

SBA and Millennium Challenge Corporation Announce Strategic Collaboration to Advance Emerging Technologies from Small Businesses

The SBA and The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) partnership will identify, pilot, and scale SBIR/STTR-developed innovative technologies to address country-specific needs in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture and irrigation, health, water, sanitation, and hygiene.  It will also help U.S. small business innovators gain access to international markets.

DOE Awards $54 million to 235 Small Businesses Developing Novel Clean Energy and Climate Solutions

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 235 small businesses, across 42 states, will receive $54 million in critical seed funding for 266 projects that are developing and deploying proof-of-concept prototypes for a wide range of technological solutions needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Watch DOE Deputy Secretary Dave Turk and Chief Commercialization Officer Dr. Vanessa Chan host a roundtable discussion with small business awardees, discussing the clean energy economy and diversity in entrepreneurship.

Useful Stats: SBIR application success rates decreased from FY 2019 to FY 2020 at National Institutes of Health

An SSTI data analysis finds that in FY 2020, small businesses were less successful in obtaining Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — particularly from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — than they were in FY 2019. NIH provides more funding to the SBIR/STTR program in total than the other participating civilian agency combined, and is also the top funder of the program within most states among the civilian agencies. As such, organizations dedicated to supporting technology startups and bolstering local innovation economies should consider how to better assist companies prepare and submit quality SBIR/STTR applications to NIH while designing outreach, education, technical assistance, mentorship, and other entrepreneurial support programs.

ICYMI: Hear from SBIR Recipients Featured in the Department of Education’s ED Games Expo

The ED Games Expo is the Department of Education's annual public showcase and celebration of game-changing innovations in education technology. In the 2021 ED Games, SBIR awardees presented their entrepreneurial journeys, discussing their innovative paths towards pioneering educational games for current and future generations. Below are a few highlights from the ED Games Expo; a full list of events and their recordings can be found here.

How the Games Were Made series featuring SBIR Awardees

Master Classes for Educators hosted by SBIR Awardees

Recently Opened SBIR/STTR Funding Opportunities

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2021-2022 SBIR Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Phase I Solicitation

Department of Defense (DoD)

New Army SBIR 2021.4 Topics

  • A214-036 Virtual Human Integration supporting Intelligent Tutoring / Adaptive Training. Open 6/16/2021. Closes 7/7/2021.
  • A214-037 Vision Based Inventory Management. Open 6/16/2021. Closes 7/7/2021.
  • A214-038 Logistics Enterprise Enhancement Platform (LEEP). Opens 6/23/2021. Closes 7/21/2021.

National Institute of Aging (NIA) Research and Entrepreneurial Development Immersion (REDI): Entrepreneurial Small Business Transition Award

  • The goal of this REDI Grant is foster the career development of early career scientists with an interest in entrepreneurship by simultaneously supporting their entrepreneurial development and facilitating their transition to industry.
  • RFA-AG-22-007 (SBIR), RFA-AG-22-014 (STTR) – Letters of intent due 9/26/21. Applications due 10/26/21.

Events & Education

Introduction to the USDA SBIR Program Details will be shared including the agency's topics of interest, process for determining project fit, review process, and tips for preparing competitive applications. | June 22, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (ET) | Event signup

From the Sources' Mouth with Department of Energy (DOE) This one-hour overview of the DOE SBIR/STTR program will include tips for submitting a competitive proposal. | June 22, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. (ET)| More information

SBIR/STTR 101 This is an introductory workshop to the program (eligibility, difference between SBIR/STTR, what the program funds, grants versus contracts, participating agencies, picking topics, what to expect when preparing a proposal).| June 23, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (ET) | More information

XLerat-ing IDeAs: Experiences from the Southeast – June 23-24 Two-day virtual mini-conference hosted by the NIH-funded Southeast XLerator Hub with opportunity for one-on-one time with agency representatives. More information

SBIR-STTR Bootcamp hosted by TechConnect WV Learn what is involved in developing a concept for a proposal, identifying opportunities, preparing to write an SBIR-STTR grant, best practices for successful applications and how to navigate the registration process. | July 15, 3 p.m. to July 16, 4:45 p.m. (ET) | More information

2021 National SBIR Week | July 19 – July 23 | More information and registration Watch out for partner events to come during National SBIR Week! Including MBDA InVision Tour event focused on technology transfer and small business innovation. More information and registration.

Look for upcoming events at

R&D Spotlight

Provide Feedback on Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Climate Technology by July 30

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is looking for input on enabling an inclusive and just entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem in climate and energy technologies. DOE seeks to understand barriers and actions needed to make its funding opportunities and innovation and entrepreneurship activities more inclusive, just, and equitable, in line with the Administration’s climate and Justice40 goals. Respond by July 30.

Useful Stats: Performers of federally-funded R&D by state, 2019

Federally-funded R&D is a pillar of the U.S. innovation economy, and understanding how that funding is disbursed among the various performers within a state can help regional innovation leaders in developing, designing and implementing investment strategies, programs, and policies. This edition of Useful Stats examines how that funding is distributed within states among industry, universities and colleges, federal agencies, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), other nonprofits, and state and local governments.

Useful Stats: Federal R&D obligations by state and agency, 2019

The level of federal R&D funding within a state can have important implications for local innovation economies. As such, understanding the amount of federal R&D funding and which agencies provide that funding within a state can help regional innovation leaders in designing and implementing programs and policies. This edition of Useful Stats explores NSF’s recently updated data on federal R&D funding obligations in 2019 by state and agency.

Highlights for Ecosystem Builders

Help your region celebrate 2021 National SBIR Week

The 2021 National SBIR Week is a virtual, collaborative outreach effort connecting entrepreneurs working on advanced technologies and the organizations that support them to the SBIR/STTR programs. Ecosystem builders are encouraged to hold their own events during the week — the mornings of July 21 and 22 have openings in the agenda that provide a perfect time to highlight local success stories and services available to help companies access the federal programs. Learn more about the 2021 National SBIR Week and submit your event to SSTI is able to provide assistance to organizations that need help planning an event: contact Jason Rittenberg ( to learn more.

SBA Growth Accelerator Fund and SBIR Catalyst Competitions Close July 2

The GAFC and SBIR Catalyst Competitions are now open. The GAFC track will infuse accelerators and incubators with additional resource capital of up to $50,000 per award to provide focused assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs, including but not limited to support for company formation as well as awareness and education of the SBIR/STTR programs. The SBIR Catalyst program funds ESOs with up to $150,000 per award to act as connectors across current and future programs that fund innovation clusters, hubs, and navigators. Successful proposals will also detail efforts to align federal resources with existing state and local resources, regional strengths and economic growth opportunities.

SBA launches $100M Community Navigator Pilot Program, Closes July 12

Established by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Community Navigator Pilot Program will leverage the coordinating power of network “hubs” and the direct outreach and stakeholder engagement “spokes” to deliver services to underserved businesses, especially those owned by women, veterans and socially disadvantaged individuals. Award amounts will vary depending on the size of proposed networks and the markets they are able to serve, with total funding ranging from $1 million to $5 million per network. Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESOs) must apply on by July 12.

Local Assistance - Meet FAST

The Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program funded 24 organizations this year, building the SBIR/STTR ecosystem through outreach, technical assistance, and financial support. Meet two of the FAST awardees:

The University of New Hampshire offers the FOSTER (Focused SBIR/STTR Teaching, Equity and Results) program that provides training and grant assistance to small businesses interested in SBIR/STTR.

The Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University provides training, news and technical assistance to companies applying for SBIR/STTR.

Find local assistance near you at:

SBIR Success -

WorldWinds, Inc., flies with NOAA SBIR investment

As we celebrate the ocean during National Ocean Month, we acknowledge the success of technology developed by WorldWinds, with the help of the federal SBIR program. The project with NOAA focused on developing new products that were utilized when a commercial aircraft carried 173 passengers to safety despite category 5 hurricane winds when Hurricane Irma hit Puerto Rico in 2017. The project focused on developing new products for the TV broadcast market based on NOAA and NASA data and evolved into the company’s SpaceRadar, which uses satellite information to simulate a land-based radar. This proved to be a perfect solution for aircraft, since radar is not avail-able in the middle of oceans, and satellites provide the only option. 

Get inspired by more SBIR company stories at and learn about the 2020 Tibbetts Award winners at

SBIR/STTR Funding Opportunities

Find more funding opportunities and specific topic areas at

Dept. of Defense (DoD) – All open topics

Army SBIR 2021.4

  • A214-005 Waveform Challenge for Tactical Radios. Open 6/1/2021. Closes 6/24/2021.
  • A214-035 Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) Sustainment. Open 6/3/2021. Closes 6/23/2021.
  • A214-036 Virtual Human Integration supporting Intelligent Tutoring / Adaptive Training. Open 6/16/2021. Closes 7/7/2021.
  • A214-037 Vision Based Inventory Management. Open 6/16/2021. Closes 7/7/2021.
  • A214-038 Logistics Enterprise Enhancement Platform (LEEP). Opens 6/23/2021. Closes 7/21/2021.


  • HR001121S0007-10 Lifting Legacy Code to Safer Languages (LiLaC-SL).  Closes 06/29/2021.
  • HR001121S0007-11 Accurate Passive Processes for Remote Analysis of Internal Structure via Externals (APPRAISE).  Closes 06/29/2021.
  • HR001121S0007-12 Mobile Anti-Totalitarian HumaNets (MATH).  Closes 06/29/2021.
  • HR001121S0007-13 Additive Manufacturing of Rhenium for Propulsion Applications.  Closes 06/29/2021.
  • HR001121S0007-14 SQUad Intelligent Robotic Radio Enhancing Links (SQUIRREL).  Closes 06/29/2021.

Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation (C3i) Program - Validation/Execution. Applications due 7/26/2021.

Targeted funding opportunities from HHS on specific topics with various upcoming due dates can be found here.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF SBIR and STTR Phase I. Project Pitches are always accepted. Remaining submission window close dates: 9/2/2021, and 12/2/2021.

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