NSF Small Business Innovation Research Phase II (SBIR)/ Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Phase II

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

In 1977, the National Science Foundation (NSF) piloted and subsequently instituted the “Small Business Innovation Applied to National Needs” program, a precursor to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and a first of its kind within the federal government. The goal of this program was to catalyze the innovative capabilities of small firms within the United States by supporting “high-risk, potentially high-payoff” projects [1]. The NSF SBIR/STTR program solicits proposals from small businesses based on groundbreaking scientific discoveries or significant engineering breakthroughs 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. This NSF program is governed by 15 U.S.C. 638 and the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.).

The current NSF SBIR/STTR program continues this legacy of supporting the translation of scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. Unlike fundamental or basic research activities that focus on scientific and engineering discovery itself, the NSF SBIR/STTR program supports the creation of opportunities to move discoveries founded from fundamental science and engineering out of the lab and into the market or other use at scale, through startups and small businesses. 

The NSF SBIR/STTR program provides non-dilutive research and development funding at the earliest stages of technology development.

The NSF SBIR/STTR program supports moving scientific excellence and technological innovation from the lab to the market. By funding 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 with potential for broad impact; 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 NSF SBIR/STTR program welcomes proposals from many topics and does not have a specific technological focus (please see website at https://seedfund.nsf.gov/portfolio/ for a listing of topics and cognizant Program staff).  The program is open to proposals focusing on technical and market areas not explicitly noted, and such proposals should be submitted to "Other Topics".

Full Proposal Windows:

March 02, 2023 - July 05, 2023

July 06, 2023 - November 01, 2023

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Firms qualifying as a small business concern are eligible to participate in the SBIR/STTR program (see Eligibility Guide for more information). Please notes that the size limit of 500 employees includes affiliates. The firm must be in compliance with the SBIR/STTR Policy Directive(s) and 13 CFR 121. For STTR proposals, the applicant small business must also include a partner research institution in the project, see additional details below. AND
  • Proposers must have received an NSF SBIR or STTR Phase I Award to be eligible to submit an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II proposal to the current windows. NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I awardees may submit their NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II proposal 6 to 24 months from their NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I award start date. Please reference your NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I award notice for award start date. Please see "Important Information and Revision Notes" section for a Phase II submission extension for eligible Phase I awardees.

NSF does not fund proposals from companies that are majority-owned by one or more venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds, or private equity firms. Proposals from joint ventures and partnerships are permitted, provided the proposing entity qualifies is a small business concern (see Eligibility Guide for more information).

In compliance with the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, Section 10636 (Person or entity of concern prohibition) (42 U.S.C. 19235): No person published on the list under section 1237(b) of the Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 (Public Law 105 261; 50 U.S.C. 1701 note) or entity identified under section 1260h of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (10 U.S.C. 113 note; Public Law 116 283) may receive or participate in any grant, award, program, support, or other activity under the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.

"Collaborative Proposal from Multiple Organizations" (a special proposal type in Research.gov) is not allowed. Collaboration with research institutions is encouraged; however, only one proposal, submitted by the company and with subawards to the research institution(s) is allowed.

Who May Serve as PI: The primary employment of the Principal Investigator (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 employment 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). The PI for the Phase II project does not need to be the same person who served as PI for the associated Phase I award. A PI must devote a minimum of one calendar month of effort per each six months of award duration to an NSF SBIR or STTR Phase II project.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1 per Phase I award.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or co-PI: 1

For NSF SBIR – 1 PI, co-PIs are not allowed

For NSF STTR - 1 PI, 1 co-PI required (must be part of the partner research institution)

No person may be listed as the Principal Investigator for more than one proposal submitted to this NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II solicitation. SBIR proposals submitted to NSF, by definition, do not have co-PIs. For STTR proposals submitted to NSF, a person may act as the co-PI on an unlimited number of proposals.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 100 to 110

  • Approximately 100 awards for SBIR Phase II per year, pending the availability of funds.
  • Approximately 10 awards for STTR Phase II per year, pending the availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $120,000,000

  • Approximately $110,000,000 for SBIR Phase II.
  • Approximately $10,000,000 for STTR Phase II.


Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

External Deadline

November 1, 2023