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Tutorial 10: NIST

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, is a non-regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Founded in 1901, NIST is one of the nation's oldest physical science laboratories, originally created to help standardize metrics and measurements and create uniform key measurements. An example of such a measurement is the atomic clock used for the calibration of GPS. Today NIST's mission is “to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.” NIST has several labs and user facilities including the Communications Technology Laboratory, the Engineering Laboratory, Material Measurement Laboratory, the Physical Measurement Laboratory, the Information Technology Laboratory, and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. In the Tools section of this tutorial you will find a collection of videos that provide insight into the work conducted at NIST laboratories and user facilities.

The NIST SBIR program releases one Funding Opportunity Announcement per year, usually in the January/February time frame. Phase I awards are for up to $100,000 for six months concept development, while Phase II awards are for up to $300,000 for two years of research and development. The number of Phase I and Phase II awards has varied as a function of the budget for the Department of Commerce as a whole.

The NIST topics for FY18 include Advanced Manufacturing and Material Measurements, Cybersecurity and Privacy, Health and Bioscience, Physical Infrastructure and Resilience and a number of others. Lab to Market is a unique topic which encourages small business to explore the database of NIST-developed technologies. Interested parties are invited to contact the NIST Technology Partnerships Office and to browse available technologies online. Through the Lab to Market topic, small businesses have the opportunity to integrate and/or build upon NIST-developed technologies.

The other topics in the Funding Opportunity Announcement do not involve licensing-in NIST technology and are quite diverse. The Advanced Manufacturing and Material Measurements topic, for example, includes the following subtopics: Biomanufacturing; Smart Visualization for Smart Manufacturing; Measuring Handedness by Fluorescence; and several other subtopics.

NIST topic descriptions are unique. It is not unusual to see a statement in a FOA indicating the potential availability of NIST technical experts to collaborate or to be available for consultation and discussion. This is because the type of agreement that NIST uses in making its SBIR awards is a Cooperative Agreement. Nonetheless, in the interest of competitive fairness, while the solicitation is open questions need to be submitted in writing through the NIST SBIR website and all responses will be made available to the public. During the evaluation process, proposals are reviewed by NIST employees.

For more information on NIST, please contact Mary Clague, or (301) 975-4188, the NIST SBIR Program Manager

Institute Videos

Course 2 Tutorial 10
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST/DOC)


(1) True/False? NIST awards are made as contracts.

(2) What is the ceiling on Phase II awards from NIST?

(3) True/False? NIST stands for the National Institute of Science and Technology.

(4) True/ False? As NIST provides Cooperative Agreements you can talk with topic authors during the proposal preparation process.

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