Program Synopsis: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes competitively awarded grants that are to qualified small businesses to support high quality, advanced concepts research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefit if successful.
The objectives of the SBIR Program are to:
stimulate technological innovations in the private sector;
strengthen the role of small businesses in meeting Federal research and development needs;
increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from USDA-supported research and development efforts; and
foster and encourage participation by women-owned and socially and economically disadvantaged small business firms in technological innovations.
The USDA SBIR program office directs all activities required under the SBIR law and executes the policy established by the Small Business Administration. The SBIR program at USDA is administered exclusively by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). SBIR program awards are based on the scientific and technical merit of investigator initiated ideas. The SBIR Program does not make loans and does not award grants for the purpose of helping a business get established.
SBIR Phase I grants are limited to $100,000 and duration of 8 months and are open to any small business concern that meets the SBIR eligibility requirements. SBIR Phase II grants are limited to $450,000 and duration of 24 months and are only open to previous Phase I awardees. SBIR program funds are allocated in proportion to the number of proposals received over 10 broad topic areas. Proposals are reviewed through a confidential peer review process using outside experts from nonprofit organizations. All applicants receive verbatim copies of reviews.
Participation by university faculty or government scientists in SBIR projects is strongly encouraged. They can serve as consultants or can receive a subcontract (in both cases limited to no more than 1/3 of the Phase I award or 1/2 of the Phase II award) and continue to work full time at their institution. University faculty or government scientists can also serve as a PI if they reduce employment at their institution to 49 percent for the duration of the grant.
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