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Q: What is the difference between SBIR and STTR

The major difference between the SBIR and STTR is that the STTR requires the small business to partner/collaborate with a U.S. non-profit research institution, while the SBIR allows you partner/collaborate. In both cases (SBIR and STTR) the award goes to the small business i.e. it is the primary contractor or grantee and the non-profit research institution is the sub-contractor.

U.S. non-profit research institution:

  • College or university
  • Other non-profit research organization
  • Federal research and development center

How much work must the small business do and how much can it outsource?

Under STTR, the small business needs to do a minimum of 40% of the work under the agreement and the U.S. non-profit research institution need to do a minimum of 30% of the work in Phase I

Under SBIR, the small business needs to do a minimum of two-thirds of the work and can subcontract one-third of the work in a Phase I. The small business will complete a minimum of 50% of the work in Phase II

Phase I  - Feasibility/Proof-of-Concept Up to $150K for 6 months Up to  225K for 12 months
Phase II - Development Up to $1M for 24 months Up to $1M for 24 months
Partner - Academic, Non-Profit or Federally
Funded R & D Center
Optional Required
Budget Allocation Phase I Minimum of 2/3 to the
small business
Min. of 40% to small businesses
Min. of 30% to research partner
Primary Employment of Principal Investigator (PI) small business either small business or research partner

The Five largest agencies participate in SBIR and STTR: HHS; NSF, DoD, NASA and DOE 

There are agency differences so be sure to check the solicitation for the specific requirements for proposal development.

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