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Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)

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What is the SBIR Program?

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is a highly competitive three-phase award system which provides qualified small business concerns with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet the specific research and research and development needs of the federal Government. The SBIR program at the Department of Education is operated by its research office, the Institute of Education Sciences.


What is the small business size standard for purposes of the SBIR Program?

A small business concern for purposes of award of any funding agreement under the SBIR Program is one which, including its affiliates, has a number of employees not exceeding 500.


How does the Small Business Administration define "small business concern" for purposes of the SBIR Program?

It is defined as a concern that, on the date of award for both Phase I and Phase II funding agreements:

  1. is organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States, which operates primarily within the United States or which makes a significant contribution to the United States economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor;
  2. is in the legal form of an individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture, association, trust or cooperative, except that where the form is a joint venture there can be no more than 49 percent participation by foreign business entities in the joint venture;
  3. is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States; and,
  4. has, including its affiliates, not more than 500 employees.


How can a small business concern obtain funding under SBIR?

A small business can obtain funding under SBIR by being the recipient of a competitively awarded SBIR funding agreement.


What is an SBIR funding agreement?

An SBIR funding agreement is a contract entered into between an SBIR participating federal agency and a small business concern for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work, including products or services funded in whole or in part by the federal Government.


Does the Small Business Administration make any awards under the SBIR Program?

No. The SBA has authority and responsibility for monitoring and coordinating the Government-wide activities of the SBIR Program and reporting its results to Congress. The federal agencies participating in SBIR have the responsibility for: selecting SBIR topics releasing SBIR solicitations evaluating SBIR proposals awarding SBIR funding agreements on a competitive basis


Will innovations that have been patented or have patents pending be considered under SBIR?

No. SBIR is a program for NEW high tech innovations.


Are foreign-based firms eligible for SBIR awards?

No. To be eligible for award of SBIR funding agreements, a small business concern has to meet the following qualifications: be independently owned and operated: principal place of business is located in the United States; at least 51 percent owned or in the case of a publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of its voting stock is owned by United States citizens or lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens.


Are non-profit concerns eligible for SBIR awards?



May a portion of an SBIR award be subcontracted?

Yes. For Phase I, a minimum of two thirds of the research and/or analytical effort must be performed by the proposing firm, and For Phase II, a minimum of one-half of the research and/or analytical effort must be performed by the proposing firm


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Last Modified: 04/26/2022