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Small Business Innovative Research Program (SBIR)

Stimulating participation in technological innovation and commercialization by small businesses

Program Basics
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a government-wide program that provides competitive research funding for qualified small businesses. There are eleven federal agencies that participate in SBIR that include, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Defense, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Health and Human Services (primarily the National Institutes of Health), Dept. of Homeland Security, Dept. of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Science Foundation. Each agency administers its own SBIR program but the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Innovation, Research, and Technology ( oversees the SBIR program across the federal government.

The objectives of the SBIR Program are to stimulate technological innovations in the private sector, strengthen the role of small businesses in meeting federal research and development needs, increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from agency-supported research and development efforts, and foster and encourage participation by women-owned and socially and economically disadvantaged small business firms in technological innovations.

The SBIR grant program is divided into two phases. Phase I supports technical feasibility studies. Phase II provides financial assistance for Phase I projects to enter the development stage to the point of commercialization. Businesses are encouraged to pursue Phase III — commercialization — through other sources, as SBIR does not provide funding for expansion, marketing, and application of the developed technology.

The USDA SBIR program awards grants in the following 12 topic categories: forests and related resources; plant production and protection - biology; animal production and protection; air, water, and soils; food science and nutrition; rural and community development; aquaculture; biofuels and biobased products; marketing and trade; animal manure management; small and mid-size farms and plant production and protection - engineering.

USDA SBIR Project Examples
Phase I

Phase II

Application and Financial Information
Phase I grants are for 8 months and do not exceed $90,000. Phase II grants are for 24 months and do not exceed $400,000. Permission for no-cost extensions may be granted.

Applications in the form of program solicitations are generally available and open in early June and close in early September. Pre-applications and proposals are not accepted, but advice may be sought from the SBIR program office at any time at 202-401-4002.

Eligibility, Uses and Restrictions
To be eligible for Phase I or Phase II grants, the business, which can be a small farm, cannot have more than 500 employees (full time, part-time, temporary, or other). Only Phase I winners are eligible to submit Phase II proposals. The principal investigator must work for the small business a minimum of 51% of his/her time.

The program solicitation, proposal preparation instructions, evaluation criteria, considerations, information sources, research topic descriptions, technical abstracts, and information on upcoming national conferences are available on the USDA SBIR website.

Contact Information
SBIR Program Office

Dr. Charles F. Cleland
SBIR National Program Leader

Dr. William Goldner
SBIR National Program Leader

Last Updated November 4, 2009

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