NSF boosts funding amounts for SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II programs to better support the nation's innovation and entrepreneurship community

Small businesses can receive about $2 million to create a prototype and commercialize technology. 

The U.S. National Science Foundation has released new funding opportunities for its Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs, increasing the maximum funding for SBIR/STTR Phase I awards to $305,000 and SBIR/STTR Phase II awards to $1,250,000 to further back development of the creative ideas coming from the nation's startups and small businesses. 

The SBIR/STTR program, also known as America's Seed Fund powered by NSF, provide non-dilutive funding for startups to develop deep technologies into commercially viable products and services with positive societal impact. The program focuses on companies at the earliest stage of development; most are newly emerging from the private sector, federal labs and academia. These entrepreneurs are taking scientific and engineering breakthroughs and translating them into new generations of products and services that are commercialized into sustainable businesses.  

To get started, an entrepreneur must submit a three-page Project Pitch to the SBIR/STTR team. This first step spares entrepreneurs the time and effort of preparing a full proposal if the proposed innovation does not align with the NSF SBIR/STTR review criteria. If the proposed innovation does align, the company receives an invitation to submit an SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal. The program welcomes pitches and proposals spanning nearly all areas of technology (see the website’s portfolio page). Project Pitch can be submitted anytime; however, proposals are reviewed after each of three annual deadlines. 

In the late 1970s, NSF piloted the SBIR program for the federal government. Following formal establishment in 1982, Congress authorized the program and extended it to other federal agencies with significant extramural research and development budgets. The program continues to provide capital to technology startups for de-risking technology, building prototypes, and commercializing the resulting products and services for impact. Between Fiscal Year 2014 and FY 2023, NSF exceeded 4,000 awards to startups and small businesses. NSF-funded startups and small businesses have gone on to raise approximately $28 billion in private investments during FY 2014 to FY 2023, along with roughly 450 exits, according to Pitchbook. 

For information on how to get started, visit seedfund.nsf.gov.