NASA SBIR/STTR Basics

Get up to $1.15 million in funding in your first three years

The NASA SBIR/STTR program funds the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies that fulfill NASA needs as described in the annual solicitations and have significant potential for successful commercialization. If you are a small business concern (SBC) with 500 or fewer employees or a non-profit research institution (RI) such as a university or a research laboratory, we encourage you to learn more about the program as a potential source of seed funding for the development of your innovations.

Your journey starts with a Phase I, but the ultimate goal is to reach Phase III where you get infused into a NASA mission and/or commercialize.

The SBIR and STTR programs have 3 phases:

NASA SBIR/STTR Three Phases

Get started by reviewing the research topics

A great way to start is by reviewing the research topics in the most recent solicitations: https://sbir.nasa.gov/solicitations. While these topics may change from year to year, it will give you an idea of what NASA is looking for and whether your technology idea or research area fits.

Take note of the next Phase I solicitation period and plan to submit a proposal for funding!

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has three phases:

  • Phase I is the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical, commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation, and the quality of the small business’ performance.

    Phase I work and results should provide a sound basis for the continued development, demonstration, and delivery of the proposed innovation in Phase II and follow-on efforts. Successful completion of Phase I objectives is a prerequisite to consideration for a Phase II award.

    The SBIR Phase I contracts last for 6 months, with a maximum funding of $150,000.

  • Phase II is focused on the development, demonstration, and delivery of the innovation. Only SBCs awarded a Phase I contract are eligible to submit a proposal for a Phase II funding agreement. Phase II projects are chosen as a result of competitive evaluations and are based on selection criteria provided in the Solicitation

    Phase II contracts last for 24 months with a maximum funding of $1,000,000.

  • Post Phase II initiatives are follow-on opportunities that emphasize commercialization. These opportunities are available to those who have successfully completed a Phase II award. For details and full eligibility, please visit: https://sbir.nasa.gov/content/post-phase-ii-initiatives.

  • Phase III is the infusion and/or commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. Phase III contracts are funded from sources other than the SBIR/STTR program.

The competition for SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards satisfies any competition requirement of the Armed Services Procurement Act, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, and the Competition in Contracting Act. Therefore, an agency that wishes to fund a Phase III project is not required to conduct another competition in order to satisfy those statutory provisions. Phase III work may be for products, production, services, R/R&D, or any combination thereof that is derived from, extends, or concludes efforts performed under prior SBIR/STTR funding agreements. A Federal agency may enter into a Phase III agreement at any time with a Phase I or Phase II awardee.

There is no limit on the number, duration, type, or dollar value of Phase III awards made to a business concern. There is no limit on the time that may elapse between a Phase I or Phase II and a Phase III award. The small business size limits for Phase I and Phase II awards do not apply to Phase III awards.

Get started by reviewing the research topics

A great way to start is by reviewing the research topics in the most recent solicitations: https://sbir.nasa.gov/solicitations. While these topics may change from year to year, it will give you an idea of what NASA is looking for and whether your technology idea or research area fits.

Take note of the next Phase I solicitation period and plan to submit a proposal for funding!

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program exists to unlock the power and innovative thinking of the country’s research institutions. The primary difference from SBIR is that for STTR, the small business must formally partner with a research institution. The STTR program has three phases:

  • Phase I is the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical, commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation, and the quality of the small business’ performance.

    Phase I work and results should provide a sound basis for the continued development, demonstration and delivery of the proposed innovation in Phase II and follow-on efforts. Successful completion of Phase I objectives is a prerequisite to consideration for a Phase II award.

    The STTR Phase I contracts last for 13 months, with a maximum funding of $150,000.

  • Phase II is focused on the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovation. Only SBCs awarded a Phase I contract are eligible to submit a proposal for a Phase II and they must maintain an agreement with the same research institution from the Phase I award. Phase II projects are chosen as a result of competitive evaluations and are based on selection criteria provided in the Solicitation.

    Phase II contracts last for 24 months with a maximum funding of $1,000,000.

  • Post Phase II initiatives are follow-on opportunities that emphasize commercialization. These opportunities are available to those who have successfully completed a Phase II award. For details and full eligibility, please visit: https://sbir.nasa.gov/content/post-phase-ii-initiatives.

  • Phase III is the infusion and/or commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. Phase III contracts are funded from sources other than the SBIR/STTR program.

The competition for SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards satisfies any competition requirement of the Armed Services Procurement Act, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, and the Competition in Contracting Act. Therefore, an agency that wishes to fund a Phase III project is not required to conduct another competition in order to satisfy those statutory provisions. Phase III work may be for products, production, services, R/R&D, or any combination thereof that is derived from, extends, or concludes efforts performed under prior SBIR/STTR funding agreements. A Federal agency may enter into a Phase III agreement at any time with a Phase I or Phase II awardee.

There is no limit on the number, duration, type, or dollar value of Phase III awards made to a business concern. There is no limit on the time that may elapse between a Phase I or Phase II and a Phase III award. The small business size limits for Phase I and Phase II awards do not apply to Phase III awards.

Get started by reviewing the research topics

A great way to start is by reviewing the research topics in the most recent solicitations: https://sbir.nasa.gov/solicitations. While these topics may change from year to year, it will give you an idea of what NASA is looking for and whether your technology idea or research area fits.

Take note of the next Phase I solicitation period and plan to submit a proposal for funding!