The SBIR program is intended to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds to build a strong national economy by stimulating technological innovation in the private sector; strengthening the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs; increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results; and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.
The SBIR program at NSF solicits proposals from the small business sector consistent with NSF’s mission to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.
The program is governed by Public Law 114-328 (SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2017). SBIR/STTR policy is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the SBIR Policy Directive. A main purpose of the legislation is to stimulate technological innovation and increase private sector commercialization. The NSF SBIR/STTR program is therefore in a unique position to meet both the goals of NSF and the purpose of the SBIR/STTR legislation by transforming scientific discovery and innovation into both social and economic benefit, and by emphasizing private sector commercialization.
Because the program has no topical or procurement focus, the NSF offers very broad solicitation topics that are intended to encourage as many eligible science- and technology-based small businesses as possible to compete for funding. The topics are detailed on the program website. In many cases, the program is also open to proposals focusing on technical and market areas not explicitly noted in the aforementioned topics.
- Small Businesses