Article re-blogged from https://www.sba.gov/blogs/contributors/Caron_Beesley
In fact, annually, nearly 5,000 small businesses receive over $2.5 billion in federal government grants and contracts to help them carry out the R&D necessary to develop and bring high-tech products to market through the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). SBIR, affectionately known as America’s Seed Fund, is the largest source of non-dilutive, early stage see capital in the world.
So how can your small business get in on the act? Here’s what you need to know:
What Can the Government Do for the High-Tech Small Business Sector?
If you are starting or already operate a high-tech startup, high-growth or high-impact firm, you may be eligible for grants and contracts that help fund R&D and product commercialization under the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR).
The risk and expense of conducting serious R&D efforts are often beyond the means of many small businesses. But, by reserving a percentage of federal R&D funds for small business, SBIR helps small businesses to compete on the same level as larger businesses. In turn, SBIR helps the federal government meet its own R&D needs in areas such as defense, healthcare, environmental protection and more. Eleven federal agencies set aside a portion of their budget each year to fund the SBIR program, with the SBA acting as the coordinating agency of the program.
Companies such as Symantec, Qualcomm and MedImmune all got a kick start from SBIR funds in their early years.
How does the SBIR Program Work?
The federal government has specific scientific and technological R&D goals and priorities, all of which are reflected in these solicitations from participating agencies and federal grants (listed at SBIR.gov or on individual agency sites). You can search and explore these solicitations and grant opportunities to see where your R&D efforts may align with the government’s needs. Then follow the application process described below (see “How Do I Get Started?”). Each agency reviews proposals based on technical merit, qualifications and potential benefits to industry and society. Once agencies grant awards to small business, they embark on the R&D process.
The Awards Process
SBIR awards are structure in three phases to reflect the R&D development cycle:
Who is Eligible for SBIR?
The eligibility requirements for SBIR are straightforward – your business must be for-profit, have less than 500 employees, be independently owned and operated and located principally in the U.S. It must also be majority-owned (51 percent) by U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens and the principle researcher must be an employee of the company.
As you can imagine, SBIR is a highly competitive program. Check out this interactive directory of SBIR awards for a review of past awards, proposal abstracts and more.
How Do I Get Started?
SBIR.gov includes information for applicants, but, as mentioned above, the application process starts with research:
Tip: SBIR.gov is a good place to start looking for SBIR/STTR program opportunities. Just click “Open Search Topics” under the “Funding” menu, and off you go!
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