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SBIR versus STTR

Posted by Ed Bard on

SBIR/STTR logo

Two innovation programs are the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR).  These programs have similar objectives, but differ in two major ways related to the Principal Investigator (PI) and non-profit research partner.  The PI will be better defined later, but for now think of the PI as the project manager and/or lead researcher.

Under the SBIR program, the PI must be primarily employed with your organization at the time of award and for the duration of the project period.  Under the STTR Program, primary employment is not necessarily stipulated so the PI may be primarily employed by either the small business concern or the collaborating non-profit research institution at the time of award and for the duration of the project period.

The SBIR program permits and encourages research partnerships. However, STTR requires that the small business concern formally collaborate with a non-profit research institution. Under SBIR, the research institution can complete up to 33 percent of the total effort for  Phase I, and up to 50 percent of the total effort for Phase II.

Under STTR, the small business must perform at least 40 percent of the work and the research institution must perform at least 30 percent. The remaining 30 percent may be with the small business concern, the collaborating non-profit research institution, or additional third party/parties. 

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