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Grants to USA Small Businesses to Support
the Development of New Technologies

America's Seed Fund - Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Phase I

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

Deadline Date:

01/06/22 5:00 PM Submitter's Local Time


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Grants to USA and territories businesses for the development of new technologies. Applicants must submit a letter of intent prior to submitting a full proposal. Applicants are also advised that required registrations may take several weeks to complete. Funding is intended for the development of technically risky and innovative technologies in nearly any science and technology field. Socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses and women-owned small businesses are encouraged to participate.

The NSF SBIR program focuses on transforming scientific discovery into commercial potential and/or societal benefit through the development of products or services. Unlike fundamental or basic research activities which focus on scientific and engineering discovery itself, the NSF SBIR program supports startups and small businesses in technological innovation, that is, the creation of opportunities to move fundamental science and engineering out of the lab and into the market.

The NSF SBIR Program funds research and development. The program is designed to provide non-dilutive funding and entrepreneurial support at the earliest stages of company and technology development.

By investing federal research and development funds into startups and small businesses, NSF hopes to build a strong national economy and stimulate the creation of novel products, services, and solutions in the private sector; strengthen the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs; increase the commercial application of federally supported research results; and develop and increase the US workforce, especially by fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.

The SBIR/STTR Programs at NSF have no specific topical or procurement focus. Generally, the topics included in NSF SBIR and STTR solicitations are broad to permit as many eligible science- and engineering-based small businesses as possible to compete for funding. By doing so, these programs meet the purpose of the SBIR/STTR legislation by transforming science and engineering discovery and innovation into both social and economic benefit, by emphasizing private sector commercialization.

The NSF SBIR Program encourages small businesses to submit proposals across all areas of science and engineering (with the exception of proposals requiring clinical trials).

While startups and small businesses face many challenges, the NSF SBIR/STTR funding is intended to specifically focus on challenges associated with technological innovation; that is, on the creation of new products, services, and other scalable solutions based on fundamental science or engineering. A successful Phase I proposal demonstrates how NSF funding will help the small business create a proof-of-concept or prototype by retiring technical risk. Funding from NSF may only be used to conduct research and development (R&D) to demonstrate technical feasibility.

NSF seeks SBIR/STTR proposals that represent success in three distinct, but related merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit, Broader Impacts and Commercialization Potential.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184701

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

250 to 300

Estimated Size of Grant:

Proposals may be submitted for up to $256,000.

Term of Contract:

Funding is intended to support projects from 6-12 months in duration.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
- Firms qualifying as a small business concern are eligible to participate in the SBIR program (see Eligibility Guide for more information). Please note that the size limit of 500 employees includes affiliates. The firm must be in compliance with the SBIR Policy Directive(s) and the Code of Federal Regulations (13 CFR 121); and
- Firms that have received an official invitation to submit a proposal from the cognizant NSF SBIR Program Director within the past twelve months. To receive the invitation, potential proposers must submit a Project Pitch document and receive an official response (via email) from the cognizant Program Director.

The primary employment of the PI must be with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the award, unless a new PI is named. Primary employment is defined as at least 51 percent employed by the small business. NSF normally considers a full-time work week to be 40 hours and considers employment elsewhere of greater than 19.6 hours per week to be in conflict with this requirement. The PI must have a legal right to work for the proposing company in the United States, as evidenced by citizenship, permanent residency or an appropriate visa. The PI does not need to be associated with an academic institution. There are no PI degree requirements (i.e., the PI is not required to hold a Ph.D. or any other degree). A PI may be primarily employed at another organization at the time of submission, as long as he or she is primarily employed at the proposing small business at the time of award. A PI must devote a minimum of one calendar month of effort per six months of performance to an SBIR Phase I project.

Project Activities Not Responsive to the Solicitation:
- Evolutionary development or incremental modification of established products or proven concepts;
- Straightforward engineering efforts with little technical risk;
- Evaluation or testing of existing products;
- Basic scientific research unconnected to any specific market opportunity or potential new product, process or service;
- Business development, market research, and sales and marketing); and/or
- Clinical research and drug development efforts are not considered in this solicitation.

Pre-Application Information:

Submission Window Date(s) (due by 5:00 PM submitter's local time):
- February 12, 2021 - March 04, 2021
- March 05, 2021 - June 03, 2021
- June 04, 2021 - September 02, 2021
- September 03, 2021 - January 06, 2022

Small businesses can submit a Project Pitch at any time. Small businesses that have been invited to submit a full proposal can submit a proposal based on that Project Pitch at any time during one of the submission windows listed above.

NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Phase I proposers are required to submit a three-page "Project Pitch" that outlines the project objectives, technical innovation and associated technical risks. The Project Pitch gives NSF the ability to provide feedback prior to the full proposal submission process, ensuring that proposers do not expend time or resources preparing full proposals that are clearly not aligned with the solicitation requirements.

In addition to the general eligibility requirements, submission of a full proposal requires that the proposer:
- Register in the System for Award Management (SAM),, and To register with SAM, the small business must have a valid DUNS number. These registrations take time, so it is recommended to start several weeks or a month prior to the proposal deadline.

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this program solicitation through use of the NSF FastLane system.

Typically, small businesses will be notified of the award decision four to six months after the submission deadline.

SBIR Solicitation:

Detailed FastLane Instructions:

Project Pitch information:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Project Pitch online form:

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

- Henry Ahn, Biomedical (BM) Technologies and Medical Devices (MD), telephone: (703) 292-7069, email:
- Peter Atherton, Advanced Analytics (AA); Artificial Intelligence (AI); Cloud and High-Performance Computing (CH); Cybersecurity and Authentication (CA); and Quantum Information Technologies (QT), telephone: (703) 292-8772, email:
- Anna Brady-Estevez, Chemical Technologies (CT); Energy Technologies (EN); and Distributed Ledger (DL), telephone: (703) 292-7077, email:
- Kaitlin Bratlie, Pharmaceutical Technologies (PT), telephone: (703) 292-2638, email:
- Diane Hickey, Augmented and Virtual Reality (AV); Learning and Cognition Technologies (LC); and Human-Computer Interaction (HC), telephone: (703) 292-8875, email:
- Steven Konsek, Advanced Materials (AM); Power Management (PM); Nanotechnology (N); Semiconductors (S); Photonics (PH); and Other Topics (OT), telephone: (703) 292-7021, email:
- Rajesh Mehta, Environmental Technologies (ET), telephone: (703) 292-2174, email:
- Elizabeth Mirowski, Advanced Manufacturing (M) and Mobility (MO), telephone: (703) 292-2936, email:
- Alastair Monk, Digital Health (DH), telephone: (703) 292-4392, email:
- Muralidharan S. Nair, Internet of Things (I); Robotics (R); Space Technologies (SP); and Wireless Technologies (W), telephone: (703) 292-7059, email:
- Erik Pierstorff, Biological Technologies (BT), telephone: (703) 292-2165, email:
- Benaiah D. Schrag, Internet of Things (I) and Instrumentation and Hardware Systems (IH), telephone: (703) 292-8323, email:

For FastLane user support, contact:
FastLane Help Desk

America's Seed Fund
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: (703) 292-8050

CFDA Number:

47.041 Engineering, 47.049 Mathematical and Physical Sciences, 47.050 Geosciences, 47.070 Computer and Information Science and Engineering, 47.074 Biological Sciences, 47.075 Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences, 47.076 Education and Human Resources, 47.079 Office of International Science and Engineering, 47.083 Office of Integrative Activities (OIA)

Funding or Pin Number:

NSF 20-527

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

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