Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants link small businesses to academic/research institutions – here’s a short primer on how they work.
What is an STTR?
One of the federal government’s most sought-after grants is the Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, grant. Founded in 1992, Congress designed the STTR program for federal agencies with Research & Development (R&D) budgets over $1 billion every year. These agencies set aside a percentage of their budget to invest in small American businesses. In Fiscal Year 2020, the federal government awarded over $145 billion to small businesses alone; that leaves a lot to go around!
Which Federal Agencies Offer STTR Grants?
The agencies that currently participate in the STTR program are the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Hence, numerous contracting opportunities exist within different fields. Modeled after the more extensive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the STTR program differs by aiming to commercialize emerging technologies pioneered by America’s research institutions through a partnership with a small business that can facilitate that transfer.
How Do I Know if I Qualify for an STTR Grant?
A defining feature of the Small Business Technology Transfer grant (and an aspect that distinguishes it from the SBIR) is its requirement that the participating small business and a nonprofit research institution work together in the early stages of development. Networking is the step that sometimes trips up newcomers to federal contracting, but let’s define several rules first. The Small Business Administration qualifies small businesses as those that:
- Employ 500 or fewer employees
- Are for-profit with a place of business in the United States
- Are more than half-owned by an individual or group composed of permanent United States citizens
Additionally, the Small Business Administration requires that the accompanying research institution is:
- Also based in the United States
- Is either a nonprofit college/university, nonprofit research organization, or federally funded research and development center (FFRDC)
Find out more information here: https://www.sbir.gov/about.
How Do I Obtain an STTR Grant?
Within this partnership, the STTR program stipulates that the small business complete at least 40% of the research and development, and the partnering research institution complete at least 30%. The primary employment of the Principal Investigator (PI) may be with the small business or research institution. This is different than the SBIR program, where the primary employment must be with the small business.
Suppose you’re a small business or research institution interested in a partnership like this. What course of action should you take to initiate contact with a party you’re interested in? And how do you even begin searching?
First, you should reach out to Vertx Partners. It takes about 6 minutes. Our services come at no cost and are personalized to get you on track faster and with better results. We’re building a network of small business owners, nonprofit organizations, researchers, and more who can be at your disposal with the click of a button.
If you’re interested in learning more from the Small Business Administration, their SBIR/STTR website offers a resource page for parties who want to know more about the process or look up local assistance. There are even a few listed organizations based in Appalachia!
If you’re curious about eligibility and what role you might be able to play in such a partnership, this page can offer assistance. And, of course, we encourage you to reach out to Vertx with any questions concerning eligibility as well.
The STTR program is one which most represents Vertx Partners’ mission to build a network of unexpected partnerships. If you’re interested in learning more or getting started, reach out today, and we can begin to match you with potential entities with like-minded goals.
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