Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the differences between the two programs?
Q: What federal agencies participate in the SBIR/STTR Program?
Q: Who is eligible to apply for SBIR/STTR?

Q: I am a GW Faculty member and would like to set up a company (or SBC) to apply for an SBIR/STTR.  What are the requirements?
Q: Are non-profit organizations eligible to receive an SBIR/STTR award directly?
Q: Are Venture Capitalist firms eligible to receive an SIBR/STTR award directly?

Q: I’m a faculty member at GW. Can I apply as the PI for the SBC?
Q: Must the Principal Investigator (PI) be a U.S. citizen?

Q: The SBC is registered in another state?  Is that going to affect my eligibility?
Q: What is OVPR’s process for submitting SBIR/STTR applications?
Q:  What if I have reason to believe that there is conflict of interest?  Am I required to disclose this to the University?  How do I do so? 

Q: I was part of an SBIR Phase I submission with one Agency. Can I reapply to another Agency for an SBIR for the same work?

 

Q: What are the differences between the two programs?

A: There are two major differences between the SBIR and STTR programs. 

  1. Under SBIR Program, the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) must have his/her primary employment with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the project period.  However, under the STTR Program, primary employment is not stipulated in the SBIR and STTR policy directives so agencies may have differing rules about this.  Under an SBIR, the University is limited to 30% of the total award Refer to the funding announcement or RFP.
  2. The STTR program requires for both phases I and II that the SBC formally partner with a single, non-profit research institution. At least 40 percent of the STTR research project is to be conducted by the SBC and at least 30 percent of the work is to be conducted by the single, "partnering" research institution through a formal, cooperative arrangement. Such organizations include universities, non-profit hospitals, and other non-profit research organizations as well as Federally Funded Research and Development Centers. STTR grants are awarded to the SBC, which will receive all of the funding for the project and disburse the appropriate funding to the research institution. The SBIR program allows subcontracting; it does not require it so the SBC may conduct the entire SBIR project without outside collaboration.

    For SBIR:
    Phase I.
    The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed Federal Research /R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II.  SBIR Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 and have a six-month period of performance.
    Phase II. The objective of Phase II is to continue the Federal Research/R&D efforts Initiated in Phase I. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II.  Generally, only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. SBIR Phase II awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 and have a two-year period of performance.
    Phase III. The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I and Phase II Federal Research/R&D activities. The SBIR program does not fund Phase III awards.  In some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.

    For STTR:
    Phase I
    . The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed Federal Research/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small businesses prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II. STTR Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs for 1 year.
    Phase II. The objective of Phase II is to continue the Federal Research/R&D efforts initiated in Phase I. 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. STTR Phase II awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years.
    Phase III. The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. STTR does not fund Phase III awards. 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 y the U.S. Government

 

Q: What Agencies participate in the SBIR/STTR Program?

A: Each federal agency administers its own individual SBIR or STTR program within guidelines established by Congress. These particular agencies designate R&D topics in their solicitations and accept proposals from small businesses. Awards are made on a competitive basis after proposal evaluation.

For SBIR, the 12 participating agencies are:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce - National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

For STTR, the 5 participating agencies are:

  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

Q: Who is eligible to apply for SBIR/STTR? 

A: To receive an SBIR or STTR award, the awardee must qualify as a Small Business Concern (SBC) as defined by SBA regulations at 13 C.F.R. §§ 701-705.  The eligibility requirements for the SBIR/STTR programs are unique and do not correspond to those of other small business programs.  NOTE: The SBC is always the applicant/awardee for SBIRs and STTRS.  GW is not eligible to receive an award directly, but they are able to be granted a subaward. 

Q:  I am a GW Faculty member and would like to set up a company (or SBC) to apply for an SBIR/STTR.  What are the requirements?

A: At the time of the award, your company must be a for-profit business, with a place of business located in the United States, is in the legal form of an individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture, association, trust or cooperative, except that where the form is a joint venture there can be no more than 49 percent participation by foreign business entities in the joint venture has, including its affiliates, not more than 500 employees

Operates primarily within the United States or makes a significant contribution to the U.S economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor.  For more details on SBC ownership or control requirements, please consult: www.sba.gov

Q: Are non-profit organizations eligible to receive an SBIR/STTR award directly?

A: No. A non-profit organization cannot directly receive an SBIR or STTR award.  Non-profits may be a minority investor or subcontractor or sub-grantee on a project. In addition, an STTR awardee must subcontract a portion of the award to a research institution – a scientific or educational nonprofit institution, or a Federally Funded R&D Centers (FFRDC).

Q: Are Venture Capitalist firms eligible to receive an SIBR/STTR award directly?

A: Yes. Venture capital operating companies, hedge funds and private equity firms are allowed to hold minority shares of SBIR/STTR awardee so long as they do not have control of the awardee company and so long as their affiliation with the awardee, if any, does not put the awardee firm over the size limit. The exception to this is if the VC is itself more than 50% directly owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States. In such a case, that VC is allowed to have majority ownership and control of the awardee. In that case, the VC and the awardee, and all other affiliates, must have a total of 500 employees or less.

For SBIR awards only, some agencies may make a portion of their awards to companies that are majority-owned by venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms. This is allowed only if no one venture capital operating company, hedge fund, or private equity firm holds more than 50% for the stock.

Q: I’m a faculty member at GW.    Can I apply as the PI for the SBC?
A: Yes you can apply; however, you cannot be the PI and still have a full-time GW faculty appointment. The policy directive states that the primary employment (51%) of the SBC Principal Investigator must be with the SBC at the time of the award and for the duration of the project. Primary employment with a SBC precludes full time employment at another organization. Therefore, a full-time employee of the University may not serve as the PI of the SBIR/STTR award. The only mechanism by which a University employee may serve as the PI of an SBIR/STTR award is to take a leave of absence from the University.

If the SBIR or STTR grant is awarded, and you become an employee of the company, then you may be required by the terms of the grant to commit a percentage of your effort to company activities. As a result, you may be required to reduce or sever your University appointment or take a leave of absence to reduce or eliminate the conflict of commitment or interest as well as to comply with time and effort reporting.

If the company will sub-contract with the University, then you will require additional conflict management prior to the execution of the sub-award to the University. Furthermore, as a GW employee, you must adhere to the University’s policies on Conflict of interest and get prior approval to engage in activities with the business.

Q: Must the Principal Investigator (PI) be a U.S. citizen?

A. No. The PI, the individual who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the project, is not required to have US citizenship, but the PI must legally reside and perform the research in the United States and must be available to perform the research proposed for the duration of the project.

Q: The SBC is registered in another state?  Is that going to affect my eligibility?

A:  No.  The state the company is in does not affect eligibility, rather the agencies focus on which country the company is located in (i.e., the awardee must have a place of business located in the United States (U.S.), and operate primarily within the U.S. or make a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor).  In addition, the SBIR and STTR work must be performed in the U.S.

Q: What is OVPR’s process for submitting SBIR/STTR applications?

A: All SBIR/STTR applications must go through the normal channels of review and approval through the Office of the Vice President for Research.    OVPR’s internal proposal process is the same for an SBIR/STTR proposal as it would be for any proposal. However, because SBIR/STTR applications typically require additional oversight with respect to terms and conditions and requirements of the program, it is in the Principal Investigator’s best interest to begin working with OVPR as early in the process as possible.  This includes carefully reviewing the funding announcement or Request for Proposal (RFP), completing the GW’s internal routing form, forming a budget and budget justification, statement of work, and routing it through the proper channels of OVPR for review and approval.  The proposal to the agency must be submitted by the SBC and time should be allowed for the SBC to incorporate any comments changes following the review by OVPR.  The University is not eligible to receive a SBIR grant directly.  For additional information on OVPR’s proposal routing process, please contact your Sponsored Project Manager.

Q:  What if I have reason to believe that there is conflict of interest?  Am I required to disclose this to the University?  How do I do so? 

A: Yes.  Your individual school will be the final arbiter to determine if there is the potential for a Conflict of Interest. Mechanisms will be in place to mitigate potential Conflicts of Interest in certain cases. This is why it is important to bring this issue to the forefront early in the process. If a COI is identified late in the process, there may not be ample time to mitigate the COI.  The GW policy for faculty/PI’s can be found here, and for non-faculty employees here.  

Q: I was part of an SBIR Phase I submission with one Agency. Can I reapply to another Agency for an SBIR for the same work?

A: No. However, if the scope of work is not “essentially equivalent”, just employing the same technology, then you may apply for another Phase I. 
NOTE: Applications may be submitted to different agencies for similar work, but awards may not be accepted from different agencies for duplicative projects.