The National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program focuses on high-growth startups and commercializing federally funded research and development (R&D).
Inspiralia’s mission as a global consultancy firm is to help our clients develop their innovation either finding the funding they need, with the technical development of their product or through the commercial expansion to Europe and the Americas.
We are a company that works closely with our clients to develop and improve their business models and innovative projects to access federal funds from the US Government.
In the USA, one of the programs we specialize in is the SBIR program from the National Science Foundation. SBIR is a federal program coordinated by the Small Business Administration that funds small business R&D. The program has helped companies such as Apple, 23andMe and Qualcomm with seed funds, and has been copied by 17 countries around the world.
NSF reinvented its SBIR program over the past two decades to focus more sharply on one of the program’s objectives: commercializing innovations derived from federal R&D. And over the past five years alone, NSF’s SBIR awardees have received $6.5 billion in private investment and had 87 exits.
Program Structure and Funding
Federal agencies that support over $100 million per year in extramural research (i.e., research conducted outside of the agency) are required to commit at least 3.2 percent of these funds to SBIR, while agencies with extramural research budgets over $1 billion are required to devote an additional 0.45 percent of these funds to STTR. Five federal agencies with large extramural research budgets provide both SBIR and STTR awards and collectively fund 97.5 percent of the program: The Department of Defence (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and NSF. Six other agencies fund the remaining 2.5 percent of the program, providing SBIR awards but no STTR awards: the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency.
At Inspiralia we support companies in the process of obtaining funds from any of these agencies.
Funding for Start-Ups
NSF has sought to increase the number of start-ups it funds, and to provide these companies with a stream of investment (Phase I, Phase II, and potentially Phase IIB) intended to enable them to access follow-on private investment. Its portfolio is start-up-heavy: As of 2019, 56 percent of the firms it funds have been in existence for less than 24 months, 74 percent of these firms have 0 to 3 employees, 96 percent have received no prior Phase II SBIR/STTR award, and 47 percent of firms are submitting for the first time to the NSF.