NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from
the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date.
For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the
appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The Advanced Analytics topic focuses on innovations that involve the mathematical or computational analysis of data or statistics. This topic does not include learning-based systems, which are covered under the Artificial Intelligence (AI) topic. These subtopic areas are meant to serve as examples; all proposals with technical innovation and significant commercial potential are welcome, regardless of the specific area of focus of the project.
The Advanced Manufacturing topic aims to support emerging innovations in manufacturing with the potential to stimulate the nation’s manufacturing sector by improving its efficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability. Proposed technology should be environmentally friendly, compatible with human health and planet health, and driven by technological advancements. Examples include, but are not limited to, innovative technologies for the processing of a variety of single-component and multi-component materials, biological and bio-inspired materials, flexible electronics, ceramics, polymers, metals, alloys, and novel composites using a variety of advanced manufacturing processes. Regenerative designs using a circular economy approach (a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment) are encouraged.
The Advanced Materials topic addresses the development of new and improved materials for a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. Proposals may focus on the creation of innovative material systems and/or on critical fabrication, processing, or manufacturing challenges involved in the successful demonstration and commercialization of novel advanced materials. A broad range of applications areas will be considered as part of this topic.
The Artificial Intelligence topic focuses on innovations in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), which refers to intelligence exhibited by machines or software. AI is not a specific technology or technical method – it is instead a field of study aimed at achieving machine-based intelligence. These subtopic areas are meant to serve as examples; all proposals with technical innovation and significant commercial potential are welcome, regardless of the specific area of focus of the project.
The Augmented and Virtual Reality topic aims to support the early-stage development of technological innovations in the hardware, software, photonics, displays, communication processes and other enabling technologies. Additionally, innovations that bring evidence-based academic discoveries to the public sphere via augmented and virtual reality technologies are also appropriate. Since augmented and virtual reality technology is applicable to multiple industries, proposals to this topic should clearly identify target markets, potential paths to commercialization success as well as competitive analysis demonstrating the need for the proposed solution in advancing the entire field.
The Biological Technologies topic covers a wide range of technology areas to advance engineering and science innovation across the biological spectrum. Biological technologies have disrupted decades-old chemical, agricultural, and medical products and services, producing a new bioeconomy. Potential breakthroughs in this space are on course to make major socioeconomic contributions to the economy by boosting productivity in industrial and agricultural processes, improving human health, and making advances toward environmental sustainability. Proposed projects should be focused on using or modifying living organisms, systems, or biological processes to develop novel technologies to produce biochemicals, medical products, and agricultural products. They may involve bioengineering to improve function in molecules, cells, and tissues in humans, plants, animals, and microbes. NSF also encourages proposals for enabling technologies, such as new tools for genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery, the development of instruments for biological applications, computational and bioinformatic tools, and new manufacturing technologies for cells, tissues, organs and biologics (with the exception of clinical trails and schedule I substances.)
The Biomedical Technologies topic aims to support the early-stage development of novel products, processes, or services that will enable the delivery of high-quality, economically-efficient healthcare. Subtopics are not aimed at supporting or conducting clinical trials, clinical efficacy or safety studies, the development pre-clinical or clinical-stage drug candidates or medical devices, or work performed primarily for regulatory purposes. Limited studies with human subjects may be acceptable to the extent that they are performed in support of feasibility, proof-of-concept studies of early-stage technologies. Proposals that request support for clinical studies will be deemed non-compliant with the SBIR/STTR solicitations and may be returned without review.
The Chemical Technologies topic covers a wide range of technology areas of current and emerging commercial significance pertaining to the broad chemical industry, food processing and technology, agrochemicals, chemical alternatives and organics, green chemicals, water treatment and separations, advanced catalysts and materials, and biochemicals. Sensing, data, and advanced analytics technologies relevant to these fields are also appropriate for this topic area. Beyond improvement on technical specifications, it is important to also clearly identify the competitive landscape of what is currently possible, and why the proposed innovation will an impact commercially and/or from a societal benefit standpoint.
The Cloud and High-Performance Computing topic focuses on innovations that result in substantial improvements to cloud computing or high-performance computing platforms. These improvements may be in terms of computing power and efficiency, energy management, data storage, latency, data integrity and availability, cost, or any other factor of importance in such platforms, and may result from software- or hardware-based innovations. These subtopic areas are meant to serve as examples; all proposals with technical innovation and significant commercial potential are welcome, regardless of the specific area of focus of the project.
The Cybersecurity and Authentication topic focuses on innovations related to the security and integrity of data and data processing, and the authentication of people and devices. These subtopic areas are meant to serve as examples; all proposals with technical innovation and significant commercial potential are welcome, regardless of the specific area of focus of the project.
The Digital Health topic aims to support the early-stage development of novel devices, components, systems, algorithms, networks, applications, or services that will enable the transformation of healthcare from reactive, hospital-centered, and indemnity-based to proactive, person-centered, preventive, and cost-efficient. Subtopics are not aimed at supporting clinical trials, the clinical validation of information technologies, or medical devices or studies performed primarily for regulatory purposes. Limited studies with human subjects may be acceptable to the extent that they are performed in support of feasibility, proof-of-concept studies of early-stage technologies. Proposals that request support for clinical studies will be deemed non-compliant with the SBIR/STTR solicitations and may be returned without review.
The Distributed Ledger topic area covers a wide range of technology areas of current and emerging commercial significance and impact spanning all areas of distributed ledger including blockchains, Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs), and related capabilities (cryptography, smart contracts, etc.). Applications of these technologies and approaches across any range of industries and commercial uses are appropriate for this topic area. It is important that the proposed project involve novel, distinctive approaches and/or disruptive innovations that enable high potential impact and competitive advantage in its field of use. These subtopic areas are meant to serve as examples of what entrepreneurs may propose in this space; all distributed ledger proposals with technical innovation and significant commercial potential are welcome, regardless of the specific area of focus of the project.
The Energy Technologies topic covers areas of new energy sources and resources, power generation, energy storage, and electronic systems for energy sources used in mobile technologies and off-grid type applications. Proposals in all areas of energy generation are welcome, with an emphasis on how the new idea competes favorably with existing solutions. Proposals in oil and gas and related processes are welcome. Proposals that focus on the intersection of energy technologies and data are welcome across all areas where integrations to energy technology, applications are the primary thrust (including computational technologies). Proposals with ideas on nature-inspired processes for sustainable energy solutions and carbon storage, reducing the carbon and resource intensity of hydrocarbon extraction, energy conversion, and its uses are also sought. Proposals involving energy storage from the scale of wearable devices to power plant, and energy conversion are encouraged.
Environmental Technologies cover a range of innovations that bring the promise of sustainability, high commercial impact and/or societal and environmental benefits. The topic covers a wide range of technology areas of current and emerging commercial significance pertaining to the technologies and materials that improve environmental and or environmental health outcomes. Sensing, data, and advanced analytics technologies relevant to these fields are also appropriate. If the proposed technology or approach addresses a problem without a current solution or one which is underdeveloped, this should be highlighted.
The Human Computer Interaction (HC) topic aims to support the early-stage development and prototyping of unproven technologies to increase usability of high-intensity human-computer interactive tasks. Intradisciplinary approaches to sustainable products in this topic are encouraged as HCI is an intersection of multiple disciplines, including computer science, behavioral sciences, human-centered design, media studies, and several other fields of study. Subtopics include but are not limited to:
The Instrumentation and Hardware Systems topic addresses the research and development of new and improved instrumentation and related systems for a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. Proposals in this topic may deal with new instruments for use in scientific, industrial, engineering, or manufacturing environments, among others. Types of instruments that will be considered include systems and tools designed for the purposes of detection, manipulation, characterization, measurement, processing, control, and/or monitoring. A wide variety of applications areas will be considered as part of this topic.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a rapidly evolving field that involves the interconnection and interaction of smart objects (objects or devices with embedded sensors, onboard data processing capability, and a means of communication) to provide automated services that would otherwise not be possible. IoT is not a single technology, but rather involves the convergence of sensor, actuator, information, and communication technologies. Emerging IoT implementations will use smaller and more energy-efficient embedded sensor technologies, more sophisticated actuators, enhanced communications, and advanced data analytics to collect and aggregate information and enable intelligent systems that understand context, track and manage complex interactions, and anticipate requirements. Market verticals that are potentially impacted by innovations in this area include connected cities and homes, smart transportation, smart agriculture, industrial IoT, and retail IoT.
The Learning and Cognition Technologies topic aims to cover all learning and cognitive innovations that require research and development to advance the field of STEM education from “pre-K to gray.” This topic supports the development of a prototype or proof-of-concept and does not support curriculum development or incremental work on existing technologies. Subtopics include but are not limited to:
The Medical Devices topic aims to support the early-stage development of novel products, processes, or services that will enable the delivery of high-quality, economically-efficient healthcare in the United States and globally. The medical devices topic is not aimed at supporting or conducting clinical trials, clinical efficacy or safety studies, the development of pre-clinical or clinical-stage drug candidates or medical devices, or work performed primarily for regulatory purposes. Limited studies with human subjects may be acceptable to the extent that they are performed in support of feasibility, proof-of-concept studies of early-stage technologies. Proposals that request support for clinical studies will be deemed non-compliant with the SBIR/STTR solicitations and may be returned without review.
The Mobility topic aims to support novel innovations in land, air, sea-based movement of goods and people. This topic supports the research and development of transformative hardware, software, and behavioral solutions in support of a resilient and sustainable future of mobility. Proposals responsive to this topic can include innovations in hardware and software, innovations to facilitate adoption of new mobility technologies, address issues in infrastructure and flow in global, urban, and rural environments. Interdisciplinary and collaborative innovations to address multiple mobility aspects are welcome. All proposed innovations must be capable of a sustainable business model.
The Nanotechnology topic addresses the creation and manipulation of functional materials, devices, and systems with novel properties and functions that are achieved through the control of matter at a submicroscopic scale (from a fraction of nanometer to about 100 nanometers). This includes, but is not limited to, innovative hierarchical nanostructures, nanolayered structures, nanowires, nanotubes, quantum dots, nanoparticles, nanofibers, and other nanomaterials and biomaterials and their composite structures.
For projects that do not seem to fit into one of the other technology topic areas, but still meet the NSF SBIR/STTR goals of supporting research and development of deep technology, with commercial viability and the potential to benefit society, please pick Other Topics and subtopic OT1. Project pitches and proposals submitted to Other Topics are typically transferred and reviewed in the topic area that best matches the underlying technical innovation. The program does not reject Project Pitches or proposals based on a non-ideal choice of topic areas. The program routinely moves Project Pitches or proposals internally among topic areas that seem to best describe the underlying technical innovation and to ensure the right program officer and reviewer panel sees the project.
The Pharmaceutical Technologies topic covers a wide range of technology areas to advance the discovery, early-stage development and characterization, formulation, delivery, and/or manufacture of novel drugs, moieties, compounds, products, processes, platforms or services that will improve the selection, quality, or price of pharmaceutical and biologic therapies. The Pharmaceutical Technologies topic is not aimed at supporting or conducting clinical trials, clinical efficacy or safety studies, the development of pre-clinical or clinical-stage drug candidates or medical devices, or work on schedule I substances or work performed primarily for regulatory purposes. Limited studies with human subjects may be acceptable to the extent that they are performed in support of feasibility, proof-of-concept studies of early-stage technologies and must follow NSF policies on research on human subjects (https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/human.jsp). Proposals that request support for clinical studies will be deemed non-compliant with the SBIR/STTR solicitations and may be returned without review.
The Photonics topic addresses the research and development of new materials, devices, components, and systems that have the potential for revolutionary change in the optics and photonics industries. Photonic technologies can include anything generally operating in or using photons in the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays down to long radio waves. Examples include lasers, various light emitting diode technologies (LED, OLED, QLED), radiation detectors, photonic integrated circuits, optical systems, and novel communications technologies.
The Power Management topic address the development of novel technologies that enable new power and thermal management solutions. Innovations supported could range from device-scale breakthroughs, to embedded or standalone systems, to grid-scale technologies.
This topic focuses on innovations in information and communications technologies that rely fundamentally on quantum mechanical properties and interactions. Typically, such innovations will involve the generation, detection, or manipulation of quantum states to provide faster, more efficient or more secure information processing and communications. Proposals may include innovations at the component, sub-system, or system level that result in substantial and usable improvements in the generation, transmission, detection, storage, or processing of information, or the security and privacy of information. Proposed innovations must offer the potential for robustness, reliability, scalability, and operation at temperatures that are practical within the constraints of the intended application. Innovations at the component and sub-system level should aim for compactness and energy efficiency, consistent with the requirements of the application. Examples of technology innovations in the quantum computing subtopic could include qubit generation and detection; development of computational models (quantum circuits, etc.); error correction; software; hardware sub-systems and systems; and Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) computers. Examples of technology innovations in the quantum communications subtopic could include components such as sources, memories, repeaters, detectors; hardware sub-systems and systems; networks; cryptography; and key distribution.
The Robotics topic covers robot intelligence and experiential learning, particularly those in the areas of high-performance processors or hardware to provide situational awareness and improved artificial intelligence. Innovations in voice, obstacle and image recognition, emotional response, and hand-eye coordination are encouraged. We encourage proposals describing projects that borrow features from other animal nervous systems and include biologists, neuroscientists, and/or psychologists on their team to exploit new knowledge in the study of the brain and behavior. NSF also seeks proposals that address next-generation automation, the flexible and rapid reconfiguration of assembly lines allowing mass customization, the use of advanced control, scheduling, modularization, and decentralization with agile, mobile robotic systems that can enable the cost-effective manufacture of small lot-size products, and on-demand parts manufacturing. Proposals to support the physical and educational needs of individuals with disabilities (e.g., vision, hearing, cognitive, motor related) are sought. Robotic applications in healthcare, smart drones and drone networks are appropriate. Medical devices that provide new capabilities to doctors including surgery; robotic exoskeletons to enhance human strength; personal robots with an emphasis on human-centered end use and interaction, personal caregiving and increased autonomy; future of work; flying taxis, reverse engineer human brain, robot sense, motion, thought, and emotion; human-robot art, and robots of augmentation are welcome.
The Semiconductors topic addresses the research and development of new designs, materials, devices, and manufacturing systems that have the potential for impactful change in the semiconductor and microelectronics industry.
The Space topic seeks revolutionary technologies to be deployed outside Earth’s atmosphere to enhance the commercial use of space. Technologies could include innovations that provide cheaper, safer, and more frequent products and solutions for commercial space customers. This topic particularly seeks to support growth-oriented small businesses who have not previously received significant SBIR/STTR funding and are seeking to contribute to economic growth by developing innovative technologies supporting the overall emerging space economy. Proposals should address real capability gaps or enabling technologies for the space industry, anchored with a solid understanding of the challenges of working in space, including launch, mass and volume restrictions, radiation and thermal environment, communications and latency, power, and energy. NSF encourages proposals with revolutionary satellite and vehicle hardware or systems innovations involving propulsion systems, navigation systems, and energy collection and power generation systems unique to space environments, in-space manufacturing systems and services; Earth imaging and sensing; planetary (other than Earth) physical surveying, mapping, and prospecting services; extraction and processes of water and volatiles (not on Earth); search for extraterrestrial intelligence, space tourism, space weather, interplanetary habitats, and analytic algorithms based on data collected extensively from space-based systems, either alone or in combination with terrestrial systems.
The Wireless topic involves next-generation wireless communication technologies requiring systems with high data rates, low cost, and that support a wide variety of applications and services, while maintaining full mobility, minimum latency, and long battery life. Devices and subsystems that increase data throughput rates via cell density, increased spectrum, multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), massive MIMO, and new “antenna” concepts. NSF welcomes proposals involving modulation and demodulation techniques for signal generation and reception through spectral efficiency, noise immunity, jamming immunity, and power efficiency; radio frequency (RF) pollution: device and circuit; processing algorithms/3D spatial control; high efficiency devices such as micro-TWT, smart dust, and inductive couplers. NSF seeks proposals in the areas of spectrum-related research and development activities that improve the efficiency by which the radio spectrum is used, and the ability of all members of the public to access spectrum-related services. Mobile and automotive radar, smart solar panels, on-panel DC-AC converters, openRAN-related devices and applications, and self-testing and self-networking devices are also of interest.