About SBIR

Competitive Opportunity for Small Business

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was originally established in 1982 by the Small Business Innovation Development Act (P.L. 97-219), codified at 15 U.S.C. § 638. It was then expanded and extended by the Small Business Research and Development Enhancement Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-564), and received subsequent reauthorization and extensions, the most recent of which extends the SBIR program through 2022. (P.L. 114-328).

Each Federal agency with an extramural budget for research/research and Development (R/R&D) in excess of $100,000,000 must participate in the SBIR program and spend (obligate) a minimum percentage of their extramural R/R&D budgets (obligations) of not less than 3.2% of such budget in fiscal year 2017 and for the percentage required by statute for each fiscal year after for awards to small business concerns (SBCs) for R/R&D under the SBIR program.


Objectives of the SBIR Program
Stimulate technological innovation in the private sector
Strengthen the role of small business in meeting Federal R&D needs

Foster and encourage participation by businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged persons and women-owned SBCs in technological innovation
Increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal R&D funding
Infrared camera mounted on a boat on the ocean. Image by Toyon.


The mission of the NOAA SBIR program is to stimulate the U.S. economy and business growth through the commercialization of innovative mission-relevant technologies by investing NOAA research funds in American small businesses and providing guidance to entrepreneurs throughout the process of researching, developing, and commercializing products or services.

NOAA SBIR: A Three-Phase Approach

  • The NOAA SBIR Program is organized in three phases. Phase I supports proof of concept studies. Awards of up to $175,000 for up to 6 months aim to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of a technology.
  • Phase II awards are for up to $650,000 and up to a 24-month period and aim to expand Phase I results through continued research and development, towards commercialization. For the NOAA SBIR program, only Phase I award winners are considered for Phase II.
  • Phase III is the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. No SBIR funds support this phase. The small business must find funding in the private sector or other non-SBIR federal agency funding to support the commercialization of the product or service.

Why Seek SBIR Funding?

  • Provides seed funding for innovative technology development.
  • No repayment required; Not a loan = non-dilutive capital.
  • Small businesses retain intellectual property rights.
  • Provides recognition, verification, and visibility.
  • Can provide leverage to attract other funding and collaboration (e.g., venture capital, strategic partner).
  • Can lead to Sole Source acquisition of resulting technology at any of the 11 participating Federal agencies.