The SBIR and STTR programs are solicited programs. That means that the government requests support of specific needs. You must identify a solicitation or area of interest to which you will respond with a proposal. Each year the federal agencies participating in the SBIR / STTR programs issue program solicitations describing the technical areas for which they are interested. The solicitations, their release and due dates, and submission instructions are available at each agency website (refer to SBIR and STTR fact sheets) www.sbir.gov. These last two sites have search engines that search the text of all solicitations on the web for key words that you enter into a search box. This allows you to quickly identify solicitations that are a match with your technology or idea.
There are literally hundreds of soliciations on the web to browse through. These solicitations are described by three categories:
- SBIR Solicitations – Refer to SBIR fact Sheet for information on the SBIR program and a list of agencies particicpating in the SBIR program.
- STTR Solicitations – Refer to STTR fact Sheet for information on the STTR program and a list of agencies particicpating in the STTR program.
- Open Solicitations are solicitations that you may presently submit proposals for.
- Future Solicitations are of course soliciations that will be Open Solicitations in the future.
- Closed Soliciations are solicitations from prior SBIR / STTR cycles. These solicitations often get recycled so it is a good idea to look at these as well.
- Some agencies generally award funding to the proposer in the form of a grant. These agencies describe broader areas of interest, and their solicitations are open to proposer-generated ideas, however those ideas must somehow match up with areas of interest or the areas of responsibility for some organization within the SBIR agency. Grant agencies include NIH, NSF, and USDA.
- Some agencies generally award funding to the proposer in the form of a contract. Their solicitations tend to be very specific requiring closely targeted responses from the proposals and their solicitations are strictly agency-generated. Contract agencies include DOD, NASA, and DHS.