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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SBIR/STTR PROGRAMS:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SBIR/STTR PROGRAMS:

What are the three phases of SBIR / STTR awards?

What federal agencies participate in the SBIR program?

What federal agencies participate in the STTR program?

May a portion of an SBIR award be used to pay for outside services or assistance from a university or other nonprofit research institution?

For STTR awards, what is the minimum percentage of research that can be conducted by the small firm and institution receiving an award?

What are the chances of receiving funding?

When are the proposal deadlines?

As a UTA faculty member, how do I find a business to work with?

As a small business, how do I find a UTA faculty member to work with? / How do I get started?

How long does it take for an agency to notify award winners, and grant funding to occur?

Can a faculty/researcher own all or part of the SBC?

What are some things to consider, and potential risks?

Where can we conduct the research? Is UTA space an option?

How may I help the SBC get a grant?

What agreements do we need to work together on SBIR or STTR research?

Are there other regulatory requirements or practical restrictions?



What are the three phases of SBIR/STTR awards?

Phase I is a feasibility study to evaluate the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of an idea or technology. The objective of Phase I includes to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II. SBIR and STTR Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs, SBIR for 6 months, and STTR for up to one year. 

Phase II expands on the results of Phase I, in that funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the Phase II project proposed. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. Both SBIR and STTR Phase II awards are for periods up to two years in amounts up to $1,000,000.

Phase III awards (where appropriate) support commercialization of successful results of Phase II. There is no SBIR or STTR Phase III award as such. Typically, awardees should expect to use private sector or (perhaps) non-SBIR/STTR federal funding for Phase III. In some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-STTR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.

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What federal agencies participate in the SBIR program?

The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Transportation, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Science Foundation.

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What federal agencies participate in the STTR program?

The Departments of Defense, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space, Department of Health and Human Services, and National Science Foundation.

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May a portion of an SBIR award be used to pay for outside services or assistance from a university or other nonprofit research institution?

Yes, but only a portion. For an SBIR award, a minimum of two-thirds (66%) of the research work must be performed by the Small Business Concern (SBC) in Phase I, and one-half (50%) in Phase II.

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For STTR awards, what is the minimum percentage of research that can be conducted by the small firm and institution receiving an award?

An STTR award requires that the SBC perform at least 40% of the R&D and the single partnering research institution to perform at least 30% of the R&D.

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What are the chances of receiving funding?

Success rates vary. SBIR and STTR are very competitive programs. For 2011, as an example, SBIR award rates ranged from a low of under 1 in 10 applications, to a high of 1 in 4, applications being awarded funds. The number of past awards, by year and by state, may be found here.

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When are the proposal deadlines?

They vary depending on the agency. Contact the Office of Grant and Contract Services (GCS) or click here  for more information and a summary list of current opportunities and deadlines.

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As a UTA faculty member, how do I find a business to work with?

Many times, opportunities are close at hand. Check with sponsors and companies you already have a working relationship with, to explore mutual prospects.

Search and review all the listed companies that have received SBIR/STTR grants for leads. Awards for Texas-based companies may be found there using search parameters.

The University of Texas at Arlington has a current, multi-year partnership to commercialize University research and move innovation to the marketplace, with TechFW, a Fort Worth-based technology startup initiative. TechFW has a growing number of entrepreneurial, small business partners it works with or has worked with, that may be willing to work with you.

Awards vary by agency, and some list their awards on their sites: DoD, DOE, Dept of Education, EPA, NASA, National Cancer Institute, NIH, NOAA, US Army.

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As a small business, how do I find a UTA faculty member to work with? / How do I get Started?

Email sbchelp@uta.edu with a brief non-confidential description of your subject matter and technology. We will try to make a best match, and send you back suggestions.

Small businesses may also locate research collaborators at The University of Texas at Arlington, UTARI, Shimadzu SIRT, or other UTA Institutes and Organized Research Centers of Excellence to give each proposal a competitive edge.

If you are considering collaboration with a small business through the SBIR/STTR program, please contact the Office of Grant and Contract Services (GCS) as early as you can in the process, so you assigned specialist can help to discuss requirements, eligibility and negotiations with the business. GCS staff also negotiates the written subcontract agreements with the small business. Some of the usual forms are found here. Your agreement will include the scope of work, deliverables, reporting requirements, intellectual property terms, and other obligations. The STTR program requires a particular IP rights agreement before you will receive any money awarded.

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How long does it take for an agency to notify award winners, and grant funding to occur?

The SBIR/STTR application process is competitive, and timing varies. Award winners are typically notified between 3 and 6 months after the close of SBIR/STTR solicitations, depending on the agency.

Many times the agency solicitation or the SBIR/STTR program section of the agency website gives information about the SBIR/STTR award selection and notification time frame.

Note that awards are usually made 6 months or so before an estimated start date. The standard due dates are September 5, January 5, and April 5 for applications submitted in response to a parent funding opportunity announcement. Submission dates for targeted/special announcements vary.

Agencies also publish success rates, such as at http://report.nih.gov/success_rates/index.aspx. Success rates are shown by specific activity codes (mechanisms).

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Can a faculty/researcher own all or part of the SBC?

Yes, subject to program eligibility and UTA's conflict of interest policy.

As to eligibility, for both SBIR and STTR programs, the SBC must be at least 51% owned and controlled by individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in the United States, and must have fewer than 500 employees.

The Program Director or Principal Investigator for an SBIR proposal must have primary employment (more than 50%) with the SBC at the time of award and for the duration of the project. This means a faculty cannot have both primary employment with a small business concern and full-time employment at another organization. Therefore, a full-time employee of UTA may not serve as the PD/PI on an SBIR grant. The only mechanism by which a UTA faculty employee may serve as the PD/PI on an SBIR grant is to take a leave of absence.

The PD/PI of an STTR proposal may be employed with the small business or the participating non-profit research institution as long as s/he has a formal appointment with or commitment to the applicant small business, which is characterized by an official relationship between the small business and that individual. This may or may not involve salary or other remuneration. The PD/PI must commit at least 10% of his/her effort to the project Combined with UTA activities, effort may not exceed 100%.

As to COI in Research, UTA requires that all faculty disclose financial relationships with the private sector in their annual Conflict of Interest in Research disclosure, and new conflicts as they arise. Any significant financial conflicts of interest must be disclosed and managed.

Participation in SBIR/STTR programs by UTA faculty through any SBC (owned or not) can create a conflict of interest on the part of the faculty member, which must be disclosed and appropriately managed. A conflict may happen for example when the faculty member is the co-founder or owner of the SBC applying for the funding and will do research on a subcontract between the SBC and UTA, using UTA resources or UTA owned and licensed technology.

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What are some things to consider, and potential risks?

Participating in a SBIR or STTR program can provide a unique opportunity to stimulate collaborations and technology development. However, it can also lead to potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment if appropriate institutional and programmatic guidelines are not strictly adhered to. For example, Ethical and Process Guidelines for UTA found here.

All parties, especially the UTA PI, must keep clear distinctions between activities performed in UTA facilities and activities performed at a small business (SBC) location. Clearly outline the roles of the PIs (and any student involvement).

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Where can we conduct the research? Is UTA space an option?

It is a Federal requirement that some of the research must be conducted by the SBC in facilities that it owns or controls. SBC’s can contact UTA Research Administration to explore options for incubator space, including through our partnership with TechFW.

SBC’s sometimes operate in a “virtual” environment. UTA space and facilities cannot be used by the SBC without UTA approval, which will be given only in exceptional circumstances. If UTA does allow for the use of space, it must be located apart from the investigator’s UTA research labs and the SBC must pay a fair-market value for the lease.

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How may I help the SBC get a grant?

UTA investigators should avoid having their graduate students or postdoctoral researchers to serve as a PI for the small business. Further, the roles for students should be closely evaluated for potential conflicts.

SBC’s often need assistance in writing and submitting the application. However, UTA personnel and resources should not be used in this role. SBC’s can seek assistance from a variety of outside sources that are independent of UTA.

The SBC may not use UTA developed or UTA or UT System owned IP, data or technology without an option or license from UTA. Check with our OTM group.

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What agreements do we need to work together on SBIR or STTR research?

UTA-based research requires a formal, written sub-award agreement from the SBC. UTA cannot start the research without a formal written and signed agreement. Note that SBC’s often do not have grant or legal support to process a contract easily or quickly.

UTA-based research funded through the SBIR/STTR award must be conducted according to the requirements of the sub-award terms. It cannot be used as a gift to support a PI’s research.

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Are there other regulatory requirements or practical restrictions?

Yes, there are many. Discuss with UTA GCS. Note too that SBC’s are often unfamiliar with one or more applicable Federal regulations (e.g., human or animal subjects research, Conflict of Interest (COI), export control regulations, financial systems that segregate Federal funding). They also may lack the controls to receive Federal funding. UTA cannot accept a sub-award if the SBC does not meet eligibility criteria.

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