- Solicitation Details
NSF STTR Phase I (December 2018)
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 official link for this solicitation is: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18592/nsf18592.htm
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
MN: Advanced Manufacturing
- M1: Manufacturing Technologies
- M2: Bio-Inspired Manufacturing
- M3: Additive Manufacturing Components and Systems
- M4: Modeling and Simulation
- M5: Cybermanufacturing
- M6: Personalized Manufacturing / Maker Manufacturing / Maker to Manufacturer
- M7: Transportation Technologies
- M8: Human-Centric Industrial Technologies
- M9: Sustainable Manufacturing Technology
- MI: Advanced Materials
BT: Biological Technologies
- BT1: Plant Biotechnology
- BT2: Biosensors
- BT3: Life Science Research Tools
- BT4: Bioinstruments
- BT5: Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering
- BT6: Fermentation Technologies
- BT7: Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
- BT8: Cell and Biologics Manufacturing
- BT9: Drug Discovery Platforms
- BT10: Cell and Tissue Engineering
- BT11: Animal Biotechnology
- BT12: Food and Food Safety Biotechnology
- BM: Biomedical Technologies
CT: Chemical and Advanced Energy Technologies
- CT1: Advanced Chemical Processes and Products
- CT2: Catalytic Products and Processes
- CT3: Power Generation and Advanced Infrastructure
- CT4: Advanced Hydrocarbons, Petrochemicals and Natural Resources
- CT5: Advanced Energy Technologies
- CT6: Data Technologies, Sensing and Analytics for Chemicals, and/or Energy
- DH: Digital Health
OT: Distributed Ledger
- DL1: Advanced Protocols: Blockchain, DAGs, and Next Gen Protocols
- DL2: Cryptography and Security, Identity and Anonymity Solutions, Trusted Devices
- DL3: Smart Contracts, Next-Generation Financial Technologies
- DL4: Scalability Solutions, Enhanced Consensus Methods, Organizational Structures
- DL5: Human to Technology Interface Innovations, Disruptive Business Model Innovations for Distributed Ledger Technologies
- DL6: Distributed Ledger Convergence with Sensing, Big Data, AI, and IoT
- DL7: Autonomous Systems and Economies
- DL8: Other Technologies and Approaches Potentially Relevant to Distributed Ledger
EA: Educational Technologies and Applications
- EA1: Pre-K and Primary Education
- EA2: Middle School and High School Education
- EA3: Global, Distance, and Higher Education
- EA4: Collaborative and Game-Based Education
- EA5: Social and Behavioral Education
- EA6: Entrepreneurial, Informal and Maker Education
- EA7: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Information Technology Education
- EA8: Learning Assessments
- EA9: Language Applications
- EA10: Capacity Building, Education, and Training for the Emerging Fourth Sector Ecosystem
- EA11: Other Education-Related Topics
- EW: Energy and Power Systems
CT: Environmental Technologies
- CT7: Water Treatment
- CT8: Agricultural and Food Technologies
- CT9: Environmental Health, Green Chemistry
- CT10: Resource Efficiency, Renewable Resources
- CT11: Technologies for Extreme Environments
- CT12: Environmental Security and Defense
- CT13: Data Technologies, Sensing and Analytics for the Environment
IT: Information Technologies
- IT1: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing
- IT2: Image and Video
- IT4: Cybersecurity, Authentication, and Privacy
- IT5: Cybersecurity for the Internet of Things
- IT6: Networking Technology
- IT7: Mobile Computing and Internet of Things
- IT8: Cloud Computing and High-Performance Computing
- IT9: Cloud-based IT Services
- IT10: Big Data and Advanced Analytics
- IT11: Human-Computer Interaction, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality
- IT12: Social Media and Collaborative Networking
- IT13: Software
- MI: Instrumentation and Hardware Systems
- I: Internet of Things
- MD: Medical Devices
- MN: Nanotechnology
- OT: Other Topics
- PH: Photonics
- IT: Quantum Information Technologies
- EW: Robotics
- S: Semiconductors
- EW: Sensors
- EW: Wireless Technologies
The Advanced Manufacturing topic aims to support emerging innovations in manufacturing with the potential to rejuvenate the nation’s manufacturing sector by improving its efficiency, competitiveness, and sustainability. Proposals should be driven by technological advancements that are environmentally friendly and compatible with human health and that are based on commercially and environmentally sustainable technical innovations aiming to create positive and enduring social impact. NSF accepts proposals in this topic that span the gamut of sectors and materials including, but 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.
Additive Manufacturing Components and Systems
Modeling and Simulation
Personalized Manufacturing / Maker Manufacturing / Maker to Manufacturer
Human-Centric Industrial Technologies
Sustainable Manufacturing Technology
The Advanced Materials (MI) topic addresses the development of new and improved materials for a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. Proposals in Advanced Materials may focus on the creation of innovative material systems and/or on critical fabrication, processing, or manufacturing challenges involved in the successful commercialization of materials. A wide variety of applications areas will be considered as part of this topic.
Metals and Ceramics
Structural and Infrastructural Materials
Coatings and Surface Modifications
Multiferroics and Specialized Functional Materials
Materials for Sustainability
The Biological Technologies topic covers a wide range of technology areas to advance engineering and science innovation across the biological spectrum. We are in a biotechnology revolution where advanced biological technologies have disrupted decades-old chemical, agricultural, and medical products and services producing a new bioeconomy. The bioeconomy is on course to make major socioeconomic contributions to the United States and world economies to boost productivity in industrial and agricultural processes, improve human health, and make advances toward environmental sustainability. We seek to support next-generation technologies that will continue to advance disruptive, high-impact, and high-payback innovation in the bioeconomy. 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. In addition, enabling technologies are encouraged, 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.
Life Science Research Tools
Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
Cell and Biologics Manufacturing
Drug Discovery Platforms
Cell and Tissue Engineering
Food and Food Safety Biotechnology
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 in the United States and globally. Subtopics under Biomedical Technologies include pharmaceutical manufacturing, materials for biomedical application, non-invasive technologies to better understand brain function, medical imaging technologies (covering both better imaging and imaging agents), diagnostic assays and platforms that deal with screening, diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of diseases, and drug delivery platform. The BM 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.
Materials for Biomedical Applications
Noninvasive Imaging of Brain Function
Medical Imaging Technologies
Diagnostic Assays and Platforms
Chemical and Advanced Energy Technologies
The Chemical and Advanced Energy Technologies topic covers a wide range of technology areas of current and emerging commercial significance pertaining to the broad chemical industry, energy, power generation, and related industrial sectors. Sensing, data and advanced analytics technologies relevant to these fields are also appropriate for Chemical Technologies. 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 have high impact commercially and/or from a societal benefit standpoint.
Advanced Chemical Processes and Products
Catalytic Products and Processes
Power Generation and Advanced Infrastructure
Advanced Hydrocarbons, Petrochemicals and Natural Resources
Advanced Energy Technologies
Data Technologies, Sensing and Analytics for Chemicals, and/or Energy
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. The Digital Health 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.
Business Models for User-Centered Healthcare
Digital Health Information Infrastructure
From Data to Decisions
Interoperability of Health Record Systems, Medical Sensors, Devices and Robotics
Empowering Individuals and Communities
The Distributed Ledger (OT) 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 their field of use. Proposals that address significant pain points and opportunities are solicited; examples include but are not limited to: enhancements to speed, scalability, efficiency, improved functionalities/capabilities, enhanced security, consensus, immutability, information and identity validation, trusted data/inputs, digital privacy, artificial intelligence (AI) applications, internet of things (IoT) integration, autonomous systems / economies, and improvements to enhance user adoption. Platform technologies and enablers for this field are also welcome. Companies should be sure to address whether there are differentiated technical elements, intellectual property or other competitive barriers that will allow the company, once NSF funded, to defend against potential “fast followers” in this space. The proposal should clearly identify the competitive landscape of what is currently possible, and why the proposed innovation will have high impact commercially and/or from a societal benefit standpoint. Any key points relating to enhancing U.S. leadership in this space should also be highlighted. The subtopic areas below are meant only as incomplete 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.
Advanced Protocols: Blockchain, DAGs, and Next Gen Protocols
Cryptography and Security, Identity and Anonymity Solutions, Trusted Devices
Smart Contracts, Next-Generation Financial Technologies
Scalability Solutions, Enhanced Consensus Methods, Organizational Structures
Human to Technology Interface Innovations, Disruptive Business Model Innovations for Distributed Ledger Technologies
Distributed Ledger Convergence with Sensing, Big Data, AI, and IoT
Autonomous Systems and Economies
Other Technologies and Approaches Potentially Relevant to Distributed Ledger
Educational Technologies and Applications
NSF welcomes proposals that present creative, ground-breaking, and commercially sustainable innovations in the field of education, where such innovations offer the potential for substantial positive impact on society and the world we live in. The subtopics below provide vital (but incomplete) examples of possible educational applications. Submitted proposals should provide detailed descriptions of how the proposed application will work, provide examples of how users would interact with the application, how learning will be assessed, and how accessible and affordable the application will be. Applicants are encouraged to apply under a subtopic where the strongest case for the project’s technical innovation can be made.
Pre-K and Primary Education
Middle School and High School Education
Global, Distance, and Higher Education
Collaborative and Game-Based Education
Social and Behavioral Education
Entrepreneurial, Informal and Maker Education
Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Information Technology Education
Capacity Building, Education, and Training for the Emerging Fourth Sector Ecosystem
Other Education-Related Topics
Energy and Power Systems
Proposals are solicited in the areas of electronic systems for portable energy sources for mobile technologies and off-grid type applications, including new energy sources. Proposals in the areas of power management systems for energy scavenging/harvesting and compact energy conversion systems, conversion from renewable resources, interface devices between batteries and super-capacitors as well as smart power demand-response management systems are welcome. 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 sought. Proposals involving energy storage from the scale of wearable devices to power plant, and energy conversion are encouraged. Proposals that address innovations in new technologies that support smart infrastructures (such as materials, sensors, devices, and control systems) to ensure efficient and sustainable energy transmission, distribution, monitoring, and management for micro grids, integration of diverse energy sources, and self-healing networks are sought. Innovations in the areas of novel voltage conversion, micro-inverters and DC-DC voltage converters, and compact high-voltage, high-power systems are welcome. Proposals covering new energy sources for portable and mobile devices, smart power demand-response management systems, inverters, motors, and generators for higher efficiency, smaller size and power factor corrections are encouraged.
Energy Harvesting and Storage
Infrastructure and Smart Grids
Environmental Technologies cover a range of innovations that bring promise of high commercial impact and/or societal benefit for the environment. 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 for Environmental Technologies. If the proposed technology or approach solves a problem without a current solution or underserved area, this should be highlighted.
Agricultural and Food Technologies
Environmental Health, Green Chemistry
Resource Efficiency, Renewable Resources
Technologies for Extreme Environments
Environmental Security and Defense
Data Technologies, Sensing and Analytics for the Environment
This topic encourages the submission of proposals that present ground-breaking innovations in the generation, analysis, use, transmission or protection of information, where such innovations offer the potential for substantial commercial returns and a positive impact on society and the world in which we live. The subtopics below provide specific examples of technologies and applications, although given the enormous range and diversity in the field of IT these examples are inevitably incomplete.
Note that Software (the IT13 subtopic) focuses on information technology innovations that are embodied in software and provide important new or enhanced capabilities that will usually be generalized, rather than directed to a specific use case. Examples of such capabilities include (but are not limited to): enhanced computational speed or efficiency; new or improved functionality; improved or extended performance; increased ease of use and accessibility. The range of possible innovations under that subtopic is too broad to attempt to describe here. Past examples of significant software innovations cover a wide range of technical approaches and resulting new capabilities, and they include (but are obviously not limited to): object-oriented programming; the GUI; HTTP; HTML; TCP/IP; SQL; internet search engine(s); the spreadsheet; word processing; MapReduce; virtualization.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing
Image and Video
Cybersecurity, Authentication, and Privacy
Cybersecurity for the Internet of Things
Note: This subtopic is focused on cybersecurity innovations pertaining to IoT. Hardware innovations related to IoT should be submitted to the Internet of Things (I) topic.
Note: This subtopic includes IT-based innovations pertaining to IoT networking technology. Hardware innovations related to IoT should be submitted to the Internet of Things (I) topic.
Mobile Computing and Internet of Things
Note: This subtopic includes IT-based innovations pertaining to IoT devices. Hardware innovations related to IoT should be submitted to the Internet of Things (I) topic.
Cloud Computing and High-Performance Computing
Cloud-based IT Services
Big Data and Advanced Analytics
Human-Computer Interaction, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality
Social Media and Collaborative Networking
Instrumentation and Hardware Systems
The Instrumentation and Hardware Systems (MI) 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.
Instrumentation or Hardware Systems for Characterization and Imaging
Instrumentation or Hardware Systems for Detection, Actuation, Control, and Manipulation
Other Instrumentation or Hardware Systems
Internet of Things
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, information, communication, and actuation technologies. Today, most of what we consider as IoT is a variety of largely stand-alone devices and isolated systems, such as wearable fitness monitors, home thermostats and lighting, remote video streaming, smartphones, and smart watches. Emerging IoT implementations will use smaller and more energy- efficient embedded sensor technologies, enhanced communications, advanced data analytics, and more sophisticated actuators to collect and aggregate information and enable intelligent systems that understand context, track and manage complex interactions, and anticipate requirements.
IoT is expected to become ubiquitous, with implementations in the smart home for management of energy use, control of appliances, monitoring of food and other consumables; consumer applications such as health and fitness monitoring, condition diagnosis; manufacturing and industrial settings for supply chain management, robotic manufacturing, quality control, health and safety compliance; utility grids and other critical infrastructure for grid optimization, automated fault diagnosis, automated cyber security monitoring and response; and automotive/transportation for optimization for driving conditions, assessing driver alertness, collision/accident avoidance, and managing vehicle health.
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. Proposals are encouraged that address key challenges across the full range of IoT applications.
IoT Sensors and Actuators
IoT Energy and Power Systems
IoT Integrated Systems
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 as well as 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 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. Proposals focusing on global technological challenges through development of innovative nanotechnologies are especially encouraged. Examples of such challenges include (but are not limited to) desalination of seawater to solve the emerging water crisis, solar energy collection, storage, and conversion for contributing to energy solutions for the future, solid-state refrigeration for reducing global greenhouse emissions and conversion of atmospheric CO2 to useful products.
Other topics in nanotechnology
The Other Topics area is intended to be a home to any proposed project which does not seem to fit into one of the other technology topic areas, but still seems to meet the NSF SBIR/STTR goals of supporting research and development of innovative, risky, unproven technology, with commercial viability and the potential to benefit society.
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.
Lighting and Displays
Communications, Information, and Data Storage
Advanced Metrology and Sensors
Advanced Optical Components and Systems
Quantum Information Technologies
The Quantum 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 in order to provide faster, more efficient or more secure information processing and communications. Quantum proposals could include innovations at the component, sub-system and 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 intended application. Applications will in general fall into one of the four broad areas of quantum sensing, quantum communications, quantum simulation and quantum computing.
Quantum Information Technologies
Proposals addressing robot intelligence and experiential learning, particularly those in the areas of high-performance processors/hardware to provide situational awareness, and improved artificial intelligence, are welcome. Innovations in voice, obstacle and image recognition, emotional response, and eye-hand coordination are encouraged. 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 are encouraged. 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 are sought. 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; and robots of augmentation are welcome.
Human-Machine Interfaces and Control/Architecture
Robotics in Agile Manufacturing, and Co-Robots
Human Assistive Technologies and Bio-related Robotics
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 industry.
Processing and Metrology Technology
Integrated Circuit Design
Micro-electronics Packaging, Thermal Management, and Systems Integration
Recent technological advancements in materials science and bioengineered systems have made inexpensive, powerful, and ubiquitous sensing a reality. Examples range from truly smart airframes and self-evaluating buildings and infrastructure for natural hazard mitigation to large-scale weather forecasting, self-organizing energy systems, and smart devices that self-assemble into networks leading to the first electronic nervous system that connects the internet back to the physical world. Proposals are sought in new sensing modalities; self-powered and energy efficient sensors; sensors for extreme environments; sensor fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and self-assembly; sensor signal read out, conditioning, and processing; and biodegradable sensors. For sensor systems and algorithms, tomographic processing, 3D array, autonomous sensing, sensor fusion, extreme environment materials sensing, and remote sensing parametric inversion are of interest.
Proposals that involve 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 are sought. Devices and subsystems that increase data throughput rates via cell density, increased spectrum, multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), massive MIMO, and new “antenna” concepts. 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 are appropriate. 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 are sought. Mobile and automotive radar, smart solar panels, on-panel DC-AC converters, and self-testing and self-networking devices are also of interest.