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

Grants to USA Small Businesses to Research and
Develop Marketable High-Risk Technologies

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

Deadline Date:

12/04/18 5:00 PM Submitter's Local Time


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Grants to USA and territories small businesses for early-stage research and development projects to establish the feasibility of marketing risky, unproven technologies. Required registrations may take several weeks to complete. Eligible proposals may address any area of technology that shows promise of high commercial and/or societal impact.

SBIR Phase I proposals are expected to outline R&D projects with the aim of establishing technical feasibility or proof of concept of unproven, risky technologies. Companies that receive a Phase I award are eligible to apply for a Phase II award (award amount up to $750,000; duration 2 years).

Introduction to the Program:

The NSF SBIR program focuses on transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential and/or societal benefit. Unlike fundamental research, the NSF SBIR program supports startups and small businesses in the creation of innovative, disruptive technologies, getting discoveries out of the lab and into the market.

The NSF SBIR Program funds early or "seed" stage research and development. The program is designed to provide equity-free funding and entrepreneurial support at the earliest stages of company and technology development.

Synopsis of Program:

The SBIR program is Congressionally mandated and intended to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds to build a strong national economy by stimulating technological innovation in the private sector; strengthening the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs; increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results; and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.

The SBIR program at NSF solicits proposals from the small business sector 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.

Because the program has no topical or procurement focus, the NSF offers very broad solicitation topics that are intended to encourage as many eligible science- and technology-based small businesses as possible to compete for funding. The topics are detailed on the website. In many cases, the program is also open to proposals focusing on technical and market areas not explicitly noted in the aforementioned topics.

The aim of a Phase I project should be to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed innovation and thereby bring the innovation closer to commercialization. Proposals should describe the development of an innovation that demonstrates the following characteristics:

- Involves a high degree of technical risk – for example: Has never been attempted and/or successfully done before; Is still facing technical hurdles (that the NSF-funded R&D work is intended to overcome).
- Has the potential for significant commercial impact and/or societal benefit, as evidenced by: Having the potential to disrupt the targeted market segment; Having good product-market fit (as validated by customers); Presenting barriers to entry for competition; Offering potential for societal benefit (through commercialization under a sustainable business model).

Additional criteria used to determine which companies to fund:

- Game-changing: Your innovation could make a difference to people worldwide or revolutionize an industry.
- High-risk: Your product is based on unproven technology that needs further testing (and funding for that testing).
- Market pull: You have evidence that your product or service could meet an important, unmet need for your customers.
- Scale: If you successfully bring your product or service to market, it could form the foundation for a scalable business and make a large impact in your target market.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 184701

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Estimated Number of Awards: 150 (pending the availability of funds)

Estimated Size of Grant:

Successful applicants will receive a grant of up to $225,000.

Term of Contract:

Successful applicants will receive a grant over a period of 6 to 12 months (the period to be decided by the applicant).

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Only firms qualifying as a small business concern are eligible to participate in the SBIR/STTR program.

Make sure your company meets these eligibility requirements.

- Your company must be a small business (fewer than 500 employees) located in the United States.
- At least 50% of your company’s equity must be owned by U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and all funded work needs to take place in the United States (including work done by consultants and contractors).
- The project’s principal investigator (tech lead) must be legally employed at least 20 hours a week by the company seeking funding. The PI doesn’t need any advanced degrees.
- The principal investigator needs to commit to at least one month (173 hours) of work on a funded project per six months of project duration.

SBIR Funding
If you’re applying for SBIR funding, at least 2/3 of the funding you receive must go to your company.

For more details on eligibility requirements, see the Eligibility document in Supporting Documents below, or the FAQs page:

Pre-Application Information:

To apply for NSF SBIR Phase I funding, the small business must be registered 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.

You can send an executive summary to one of the program directors to discuss your work and get feedback. Complete the short executive summary form — an SBIR/STTR program director will send you written feedback within a week or two:

An organization may submit no more than ONE Phase I proposal to this SBIR/STTR cycle (where SBIR/STTR cycle is defined to include the SBIR Phase I solicitation and the STTR Phase I solicitation with a December 2018 deadline). This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. In the event that an organization exceeds this limit, the first proposal received will be accepted and the remainder will be returned without review.

- December 4, 2018: Deadline Applications due by 5:00 p.m. in your local time zone.
- 1-3 months after the deadline, Applications undergo panel and merit reviews.
- 4-6 months after the deadline, You will be notified whether your proposal is accepted or declined.
- 5-6 months after the deadline, If your proposal is accepted, you'll receive funding

View the SBIR solicitation:

How to Apply:


Revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide:

Funded tech sectors:

Fast Lane guide:

Watch a video on how to apply:

Contact Information:

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

Start an application in FastLane:

For general question or concern, call the help line at 703-292-8050 or email

For a list of program directors, see here:

America's Seed Fund
National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22314 USA

Tel: (703) 292-8050
FIRS: (800) 877-8339 | TDD: (800) 281-8749

Funding or Pin Number:

NSF 18-593

URL for Full Text (RFP):

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