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Small Business Innovation Research

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs work with small technology firms to stimulate innovative, cost-effective solutions to challenging scientific and engineering problems. These applied research grants are a primary source of the Energy Department's risk capital devoted to launching promising technology developed by small business enterprises.

With AMO support, SBIR-STTR awards advance scientific excellence by investing in manufacturing technology innovations that will increase American competitiveness, create new jobs, and build a strong national economy.

In fiscal year 2012, AMO awarded projects under Phases 1 and 2. View our full list of AMO-funded SBIR-STTR projects.

SBIR-STTR Overview

DOE is one of 11 federal agencies participating in the SBIR-STTR programs enacted under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982. Technical topics for projects vary with each solicitation. See the DOE SBIR website for case studies featuring selected projects and other information.


SBIR is for small businesses

STTR is for small businesses partnering with nonprofit research institutions


Criteria for small businesses:

  • American-owned and independently operated
  • For-profit
  • Principal researcher employed by business
  • Company size limited to 500 employees
  • Criteria for nonprofit research institutions:

  • Located in the U.S.
  • Meet one of three definitions
  • Nonprofit college or university
  • Domestic nonprofit research organization
  • Federally funded R&D center (FFRDC)
  • Phase I

    Startup phase. Awards of up to $100,000 for approximately 6 months support exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology.

    Startup phase. Awards of up to $100,000 for approximately one year fund the exploration of the scientific, technical, and commercial feasibility of an idea or technology.

    Phase II

    Awards of up to $750,000, for as many as 2 years, expand Phase I results. During this time, the R&D work is performed and the developer evaluates commercialization potential. Only Phase I award winners are considered for Phase II.

    Phase III

    The period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. Under Phase III, Federal agencies may award non-SBIR/STTR-funded, follow-on grants or contracts for products or processes that meet the mission needs of those agencies, or for further R&D. No SBIR-STTR funds support this phase.

    In FY 2010, Phase III awards were made to 33 small businesses under the DOE Small Business Xlerator Program. These were a first for DOE, which previously funded SBIR-STTR projects only through Phase II.