Program Directors, Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Program

Job Type:
Appointment Type:
Temporary / Rotator

Application timeline

Date Posted:
Closing date: Open until filled

Position Description

Dear Colleagues:

The Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP), within the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation, announces a nationwide search to fill multiple Program Director positions for the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program.

Formal consideration of interested applications will continue until these positions are filled.

The National Science Foundation's SBIR/STTR programs provide grants to small businesses with the goal of stimulating the Nation's technological innovation. The SBIR/STTR programs play a key role in translating technical innovation and scientific discovery into commercial outcomes, and associated broader societal impact, through support of innovation research at small business enterprises. NSF SBIR/STTR seeks to support companies with early-stage technologies that require additional research and development in order to enable successful commercialization. The technologies which NSF SBIR/STTR funds must be highly innovative with strong commercial potential and satisfy a market need. Emphasis in the proposal review process is placed on the novelty of the technology as well as the potential of the small business to translate NSF's support into commercial impact in the marketplace. These programs collectively support several hundred small businesses each year, across a vast range of technical and market areas.

Program Directors have an unparalleled opportunity and responsibility to ensure the NSF SBIR and STTR programs fulfill their mandate as "America's Seed Fund", and that these programs support the next generation of innovative, high-growth technology enterprises. Program Directors solicit and review applications, consider external advice from technical and commercial experts, perform due diligence on potential awards, make funding recommendations, and provide guidance and oversight to awardee small businesses. They are also responsible for service to Foundation-wide activities and initiatives that together accomplish NSF's strategic goals to: 1) Transform the Frontiers of Science and Engineering, 2) Stimulate Innovation and Address Societal Needs through Research and Education, and 3) Excel as a Federal Science Agency.

Individuals selected for this position will serve as Program Directors. Program Directors are responsible for:

  • Spearheading NSF's merit review process, which relies on advice and feedback from technical and commercial experts to guide NSF funding decisions regarding SBIR and STTR applications;
  • Working closely with awardee companies before, during, and after NSF funding, to provide guidance and mentorship and to maximize the chance of project and company success;
  • Conducting due diligence on potential SBIR and STTR awardee small businesses in advance of funding recommendations, in order to ensure the highest quality of funded projects and to ensure that NSF policies and procedures are followed;
  • Working with the program staff NSF-wide, as well as external communities of innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors, to apprise them to the opportunities and requirements of the SBIR/STTR programs;
  • Designing, developing, managing, coordinating, and implementing small business solicitations, conferences, publications, and reports;
  • Developing and presenting clear and concise explanations and interpretations of NSF policies and research program initiatives for small businesses, the academic community, large industrial firms, the investment community, state and local governments, and other federal agencies.

The position recruited under this announcement will be filled under the following appointment option(s):

Temporary Excepted Service Appointment: Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act. Candidates who do not have civil service status or reinstatement eligibility will not obtain civil service status if selected. Candidates currently in the competitive service will be required to waive competitive civil service rights if selected. Usual civil service benefits (retirement, health benefits and life insurance) are applicable for appointments of more than one year. Temporary appointments may not exceed three years.

Visiting Scientist, Engineer, and Educator (VSEE) Program: Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act. Visiting Scientists are on non-paid leave status from their home institution and placed on the NSF payroll. NSF withholds Social Security taxes and pays the home institution's contributions to maintain retirement and fringe benefits (i.e., health benefits and life insurance), either directly to the home institution or to the carrier. Appointments are usually made for a one-year period and may be extended for an additional year by mutual agreement.

It is NSF policy that NSF personnel employed at or IPAs detailed to NSF are not permitted to participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.  Failure to comply with this NSF policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from Federal Service or termination of an IPA assignment and referral to the Office of Inspector General.

Applications will be accepted from U.S. Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-Citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible. Non-Citizens are not eligible for positions requiring a security clearance.

To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in an appropriate science or engineering field, plus after award of the degree, six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position; OR a Master's Degree in an appropriate science or engineering field, plus after award of the degree, eight or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

In addition, entrepreneurial, investment, and/or managerial experience are highly desirable. Prior experience in roles related to the commercialization of innovative products, in either small or large businesses, is sought. Specific experience with technology start-ups and/or small businesses, or with early-stage technology investments, is also recommended. The position requires effective oral and written communication skills and a commitment to high standards of ethical conduct. The position also requires a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, attention to detail, good judgment and a high degree of personal integrity.

To apply, email a single PDF document that includes 1) CV, 2) a cover letter explaining the reasons you are interested in the position, and 3) Citizen affidavit, as applicable. The cover letter should describe how your experiences fit with the position of SBIR/STTR Program Officer (referencing the CV). It is preferred that application materials and questions be sent to the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships via email to with "SBIR/STTR Program Director" in the subject line.