The source of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants ensures that recipients can complete their work without worrying about dealing with conflicts with corporations.

All SBIR grants are federally funded, meaning the money comes from, ultimately, taxpayer dollars.


How Does SBIR Funding Work?

The SBIR is congressionally mandated, requiring every federal agency that has an external research budget above $100 million to earmark between 1.5% to 3.2% of their budget for small businesses.  These are outlined in the NIH Budget 2018. 

The following agencies and more participate:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • NASA
  • National Science Foundation


Each of these agencies administers its own program and designates research and development topics that it solicits.

SBIR grants are for domestic small businesses that engage in federal research or research and development that can be potentially commercialized, which is the draw for federal agencies who act as funders.

The SBIR fund offers millions of dollars to grant recipients each year. The goal of the government is to stimulate technological innovation, meet federal research and development needs, foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by women and socially or economically disadvantaged persons, and increase private sector commercialization of innovations from federal funding.


Who is Eligible for an SBIR Grant?

Of course, SBIR is for small businesses, but what exactly does that mean in the context of this particular grant?

Small businesses, to the SBIR funding qualifications, means fewer than 500 employees. The principal researcher for the project has to be employed by the small business and not just a consultant. The company has to be a for-profit business, American owned and independently operated.

Small businesses are the focus of this funding because entrepreneurs are often full of innovative ideas but lack the capital, or the ability to handle the risk of major research and development initiatives. SBIR helps small businesses who fit the criteria, by removing the expense and risk and providing valuable funding.

Grant Engine understands the value of SBIR grants and how important it is to set up a quality application for this competitive funding program. We’re here to help your small business access funds for innovation, research, and development.

Please feel free to contact Grant Engine to answer any further questions you may have. To do so, call (650) 937-9164, or email