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This site/course consists of four self-paced educational modules that provide an overview of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The course consists of four self-paced educational modules that provide an SBIR/STTR Program Overview, tips for Proposal Planning, Intellectual Property Considerations, and Financial and Accounting System Requirements. This course was originally developed in conjunction with EnableVentures, Inc. and inXsol LLC for the Arizona Commerce Authority.

We strongly recommend that you review this course material before attending any SBIR/STTR workshop or training. If you know this material, you will be able to gain much more from such training.


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs provide grant or contract funding to small businesses from various agencies of the United States Government. Small businesses use these contracts and grants to conduct research and development activities that benefit these government agencies in achieving their agency missions. The key goals of the programs are to accelerate and mature technological innovations of small businesses, provide additional sources for meeting the research and development needs of the government, and to commercialize federally funded investments, including those made to the nation’s universities in concert with small business.

The SBIR and STTR programs are coordinated and monitored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in cooperation with the 11 participating government agencies. The agencies award contracts and grants in Phase I and Phase II of a three-phase program. In Phase I, companies may receive up to $150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand US dollars) for an approximate six-month initial feasibility research effort. If the research appears feasible and promising, then agencies may award a company up to $1,000,000 (one million US dollars) for a two-year additional effort. Phase III is considered the commercialization phase of the project, and no additional SBIR funds are normally involved in Phase III efforts.

Each agency involved in the program publishes a document called a Solicitation. Within the solicitation, they describe their particular research interests, primarily in the form of Topics or Research Topics and Subtopics. Small businesses interested in conducting the described Research and/or Research and Development described in these topics are required to then submit a formal proposal describing the technical work and the commercial potential of the resulting efforts. To receive funding for the program, small business proposers must respond to a particular topic. No unsolicited SBIR or STTR proposals will be accepted.

The purpose of the first training module is to provide an introduction to the SBIR and STTR programs. The other three modules offer pre-proposal writing tips and steps for success, describe the proposal evaluation processes used by the various agencies, and introduce intellectual property and financial management and accounting system considerations necessary for SBIR and STTR Program participation.


Completing this training will equip you with:

  • A better understanding of what it will take to prepare for and write your SBIR or your STTR Proposal.
  • A better understanding of what you need to know in order for your company to use the SBIR or STTR programs successfully.

The training is divided into four modules:

Program Overview

  • What are the SBIR and STTR programs?
  • Why did the government establish these programs?
  • How much money is available through these programs?
  • How can a company qualify for the SBIR/STTR programs?
  • What government agencies are involved?
  • How do these programs work?
  • How much money is allocated to these programs?
  • How can I find out about the various agencies and their programs?
  • What other recommended resources are available to help me learn about the program?

Proposal Planning

  • What are the proposal evaluation criteria?
  • How do I find a topic that fits?
  • How are proposals reviewed?
  • Can I ask questions before writing my proposal?
  • What should I do prior to starting work on my proposal?
  • What can I learn from my potential government customer?
  • What should my proposal outline look like?
  • Are sample proposals available for review?
  • What other resources are available to aid in proposal writing?

Intellectual Property Considerations

  • What is the Bayh-Dole Act?
  • What do I need to know about the government and IP rights?
  • What are “march in” rights?
  • What export restrictions impact SBIR/STTR funded IP?
  • How can I protect my IP rights when contracting with the government?
  • What are good business practices when dealing with Intellectual Property?
  • What tools are available to help manage my IP?
  • Are there court cases that provide examples of what to do/not do?
  • How can I know that I am doing enough to protect my IP?

Finance and Accounting Considerations

  • What do I need to know about finance and accounting to get started?
  • What are some good practices for setting up my finance and accounting systems?
  • What do I need to know about about job cost accounting?
  • What should the cost proposal portion of my proposal contain?
  • What do I need to do to prepare a cost proposal?