Small business concerns (who employ less than 500 people) and non profit research institutions, like universities or laboratories who work with a small business concern can apply for a business grant offered by NASA through the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research ) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer ) programs. These programs offer funding for projects which research, develop and demonstrate innovative technologies relevant to NASA needs. The STTR program focuses on encouraging the cooperation between small businesses and non profit research organizations. The program requires that the small businesses which benefit from its funding to collaborate with a research institution in the first two phases of the program.
The SBIR and STTR programs are organized in three phases:
The first phase is dedicated to analyzing the research, technological and commercial value and feasibility of the innovative project proposed for receiving the business grant. In this phase, it is also measured the quality of the small business concern activity and results.
For the SBIR program the phase 1 contracts last for 6 months, while the STTR program consists of a contract of 13 months, with a funding of maximum $125000. Phase 1 objective is to obtain results which will encourage future development of the idea proposed. It is mandatory that the goals and objectives established in the phase 1 be completed in order to be considered for the Phase II award.
The second phase will be dedicated to the process of developing, presenting and delivering the innovative project. Small business concerns can send proposals for the Phase II award only if they passed through and successfully completed Phase I. The Phase II business grant contracts are offered for a period of two years and consist of a maximum funding of $750,000.
The third phase is focused on commercializing the product or service which has been developed in the phase I or phase II. The contracts for this phase are funded from other sources than the SBIR or STTR programs.
The schedule for solicitation and proposal periods can be found here. You can find important information on SBIR and STTR programs terms on this link. It is important to read all the information available before applying for these programs.
There are also some other opportunities for small businesses which have completed the Phase II, called Post Phase II Initiatives.
If you are a small business interested in growing your potential in technology, these programs might be right for you. It is important though to get more detailed information about the submission and selection process. You can do that by exploring the links above and by reading the frequent questions and answer section on their website, which you can find here.