Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)

Program Descriptions

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in 1982 to fund research and development (R&D) by U.S. owned and operated businesses of less than 500 employees. SBIR, the nation's largest source of early-stage technology financing, is administered by the Small Business Administration through 11 federal agencies and is funded at more than $2 billion annually. The Department of Defense (DoD) accounts for more than half of the federal government's total SBIR/STTR program.

The DoD SBIR program is made up of 13 participating Components: Army, Navy, Air Force, Missile Defense Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, US Special Operations Command, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Microelectronics Activity, the Office of Secretary of Defense, and the Defense Health Program.

The three-phase SBIR Program directly funds up to $1.15 million in early-stage R&D by small companies. Eligible projects must fulfill an R&D need identified by the DoD and have the potential to be developed into a product or service for commercial or defense markets.

Three-Phased Program

  1. Phase I (project feasibility) determines the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the ideas submitted. Phase I contracts are typically $150,000 over a period of six months.
  2. Phase II (project development to prototype) is the major R&D effort, funding the prototyping and demonstration of the most promising Phase I projects. Phase II contracts are up to $1 million and usually span 24 months.
  3. Phase III (commercialization) is the ultimate goal of the SBIR program. Small businesses are expected to obtain funding from the private sector or government sources outside the SBIR program to commercialize the Phase II project for sale in the military and private sector markets.
Three-Phased Program
Phase I: Project feasibility 6 months, up to $150,000 12 months, up to $150,000
Phase II: Project development to prototype 2 years, up to $1,000,000 2 years, up to $1,000,000
Phase III: Commercialization Commercialization of the technology in military and/or private sector markets with non-SBIR/non-STTR funds

*Phase I and Phase II awards are posted at Link generally six months after selection.

The DoD issues three SBIR and three STTR Broad Agency Announcements (BAA) per year describing R&D needs and inviting R&D proposals from small businesses. Click here to see the schedule.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)

Congress established the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program in 1992. Similar in structure to SBIR, STTR provides up to $850,000 in early-stage R&D funding directly to small companies working cooperatively with researchers at universities and other research institutions.

The DoD STTR program is also a three-phased program. Funded at over $100 million annually, STTR is made up of six participating components: Army, Navy, Air Force, Missile Defense Agency, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Secretary of Defense.


The SBIR and STTR programs are designed to:

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Increase private sector commercialization of federal R&D
  • Increase small business participation in federally funded R&D
  • Foster participation by minority and disadvantaged firms in technological innovation

For further information regarding program eligibility, limitations, and definitions, review the SBIR or STTR BAAs.


Download our printer-friendly SBIR/STTR Program flyer that outlines program information and details.