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What is SBIR/STTR?

NCI’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs support small businesses across the United States to develop innovative cancer technologies with strong potential to help people live longer, healthier lives.


The SBIR and STTR programs seek to:

  • Stimulate technological innovation.
  • Increase private-sector commercialization of federal research and development (R&D).
  • Increase small business participation in federally funded research and development.
  • Foster participation by minority and disadvantaged companies in technological innovation.

Program Differences

The SBIR and STTR programs offer different types of support and funding for small businesses. In both programs, the award is always made to the small business concern (i.e., not to the research institution).

Program for small business concerns to engage in federal R&D with the potential for commercialization
Federal agencies with an extramural R&D budget >$100M
Program to facilitate cooperative R&D between small business concerns and U.S. research institutions with the potential for commercialization
Federal agencies with an extramural R&D budget >$1B
$159M set aside for FY 2022 $22M set aside for FY 2022
Permits research institution partners
(e.g., universities)
Requires research institution partners
(e.g., universities)
The small business may outsource ~33% of Phase I activities and 50% of Phase II activities. The small business (for profit) should conduct a minimum of 40% of the work, and a U.S. research institution (non-profit) should conduct a minimum of 30%.
The Program Director/Principal Investigator must be primarily employed (i.e., >50%) with the small business concern for the duration of the project period. There is no stipulation regarding primary employment by the Program Director/Principal Investigator (min. 10% effort to project).

Why seek SBIR/STTR funding?


Provides seed funding for innovative technology development //

No repayment is required. It doesn’t impact stock or shares in any way (i.e., non-dilutive).


Allows small businesses to retain intellectual property rights //

NIH does not request intellectual property rights for the SBIR- or STTR-funded technologies.


Provides recognition, verification, and visibility //

The NIH peer review system rigorously assesses every application.


Helps secure additional funding or support //

NIH provides commercialization resources to help advance your project.

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