Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)

What is the Small Business Technology Transfer?

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program is an initiative that is coordinated and monitored by the Small Business Administration (SBA), to provide small businesses with greater access to funding in the federal innovation research and development arena. According to the SBA, the goal

“is expansion of the public-private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small business and the nation’s premier nonprofit research institutions. STTR’s most important role is to foster the innovation necessary to meet the nation’s scientific and technological challenges in the 21st century.”

The STTR program is a cooperative research partnership between small business concerns and research institutions. It places emphasis on a company’s potential for commercial success. The program also requires that universities, federal laboratories, or nonprofit research centers team with businesses to get their product(s) into the marketplace. These research partnerships between small businesses and nonprofit institutions enable participants to combine entrepreneurial initiative and creativity with the expertise, equipment, and other assets of nonprofit research laboratories.

How can an organization qualify for STTR?

In order to be considered for the STTR program, small businesses must meet several criteria including:

  • They must be American-owned and independently operated for-profit enterprises.
  • The size of the company may not exceed 500 employees.
  • They must be principally located in the United States.
  • The organization must be a nonprofit college or university, domestic nonprofit research organization, or federally funded research and development center.

According to the rules of STTR, the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Health and Human Services, along with the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—must reserve a portion of their research and development funds for the program. These five federal departments and agencies also designate those subjects suitable for additional Research & Development and determine whether to accept or reject STTR proposals. They make STTR awards based on the following factors:

  • Qualifications of the nonprofit research institution and its small business partner;
  • Degree of innovation;
  • Future market potential.

Once a small business secures STTR funding, they are then routed through a three-phase program.

  1. The Startup Phase: Awards of up to $100,000 are given to pay for approximately one year’s worth of study and research into the scientific, technical, and commercial feasibility of an idea or technology.
  2. The Development Phase. During this period, business/research partnerships engage in research and development work with an intention toward commercial potential.
  3. Introduction to Market. During this phase, the completed project is introduced into the commercial marketplace to succeed or fail. This phase is not supported by STTR funds. Instead, participants must secure funding from private parties or other federal agencies that do not allocate STTR monies.

Small businesses can secure alternative or additional funding by subscribing to and searching for grants at As of the writing of this article, the following STTR grant was available – America’s Seed Fund – Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Phase I.

Libby Hikind

Libby Hikind, began her grant writing career while working as a teacher in the New York City Department of Education. She wrote many grants for her classroom before raising $11 million for a Brooklyn school district. Throughout her professional career, she established her own grant writing agency in Staten Island with a fax newsletter for her clients of available grants. After retiring from teaching, Libby embraced the new technology and started GrantWatch. She then moved GrantWatch and her grant writing agency to Florida to enjoy her parents later years, and the rest is history. Today more than 250,000 people visit online, monthly.

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