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Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs Phase I
The USDA SBIR/STTR programs focus on transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. Unlike fundamental research, the USDA SBIR/STTR programs support small businesses in the creation of innovative, disruptive technologies and enable the application of research advancements from conception into the market. The STTR program aims to foster technology transfer through formal cooperative Research and Development (R&D) between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions.
Different from most other investors, the USDA SBIR/STTR Programs fund early or "seed" stage research and development that has a commercial potential. The programs provide equity-free funding and entrepreneurial support at the earliest stages of company and technology development.
Key differences between USDA’s SBIR and STTR programs include the percentage of research conducted by the nonprofit research institutions (e.g., Universities, Federal Laboratories) that requires a formal cooperative agreement detailing the allocation of intellectual property rights and rights, if any, to carry out follow-on research, development, or commercialization activities for STTR applicants and the primary employment of the project’s principal investigator.
- FY 2024: September 19, 2023
- FY 2025: September 17, 2024 (Anticipated)
Areas of Interest
NIFA is soliciting applications under the following ten SBIR/STTR topics / program areas:
8.1 Forests and Related Resources
8.2 Plant Production and Protection (Biology)
8.3 Animal Production and Protection
8.4 Conservation of Natural Resources
8.5 Food Science and Nutrition
8.6 Rural and Community Development
8.8 Biofuels and Biobased Products
8.12 Small and Mid-size Farms
8.13 Plant Production and Protection (Engineering)
Each applicant must qualify as a SBC through registration with the SBA for R/R&D purposes at the time of selection (see definitions in section Part VIII of this RFA). Failure to meet an eligibility criterion by the application deadline may result in the application being excluded from consideration or, even though an application may be reviewed, will preclude NIFA from making an award.
To apply for SBIR only, the primary employment of the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) must be with the SBC at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed research. Eligible primary employment means that more than one-half (51%) of the PD’s/PI’s time is spent in the employ of the SBC during the award period of performance. Primary employment with the SBC precludes the applicant as a full-time employee with another organization or academic institution. While the PD/PI must work more than one- half (51%) of his/her time for the SBC during the entire grant period, there is no time requirement for the PD’s/PI’s work on the proposed research. Prior Federal Employees must provide documentation that post termination requirements from Federal Service have been completed at time of submission. For SBIR Phase I, as determined by budget expenditures, a minimum of two-thirds (66%) of the research or analytical work must be performed by the proposing SBC.
For STTR only, the PD/PI for the proposed project (or, if multiple PD/PIs, at least one PD/PI) must be employed by and perform more than one-half (51%) of the PD’s/PI’s time in the employ of either the SBC or the partnering nonprofit Research Institution. For projects with multiple PD/PIs, at least one PD/PI must meet the primary employment requirement. That PD/PI will serve as the contact PD/PI for the Project Team. For STTR Phase I, as determined by budget expenditures, a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 60% of the research or analytical work must be performed by a single nonprofit research institution (e.g., University, Federal Laboratory, etc.), and the SBC must conduct a minimum of 40% of the proposed research or analytical work.
To apply to Both (SBIR and STTR), the PD/PI must be employed more than one-half (51%) by the SBC, and, as determined by budget expenditures, a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 33% of the research and analytical work must be conducted by a single non-profit research institution (e.g., University, Federal Laboratory, etc.). The small business must perform a minimum of 40% of the proposed research or analytical work.
This RFA is being released prior to the passage of an appropriations act for FY 2024 and FY 2025. Enactment of additional continuing resolutions or an appropriations act may affect the availability or level of funding for these programs. The anticipated amount available for Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I is approximately $13,000,000 for FY 2024 and approximately $13,000,000 for FY 2025. The anticipated amount available for Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I is approximately $2,500,000 in FY 2024 and is approximately $2,500,000 FY 2025. USDA is not committed to fund any particular application or to make a specific number of awards.