The Department of Education’s (ED) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, administered by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), funds entrepreneurial developers to create the next generation of technology products for students, teachers, and administrators in education and special education. The program, known as ED/IES SBIR, emphasizes an iterative design and development process and pilot research to test the feasibility, usability, and promise of new products to improve outcomes. The program also focuses on planning for commercialization so that the products can reach schools and end-users and be sustained over time.
In recent years, millions of students in tens of thousands of schools around the country have used technologies developed through ED/IES SBIR, including more than million students and teachers who used products for remote teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ED/IES SBIR Announces 2022 Awards
IES has made 10 2022 Phase I awards for $250,000*. During these 8 month projects, teams will develop and refine prototypes of new products and test their usability and initial feasibility. All awardees who complete a Phase I project will be eligible to apply for a Phase II award in 2023.
IES has made nine 2022 Phase II awards, which support further research and development of prototypes of education technology products that were developed under 2021 ED/IES SBIR Phase I awards. In these Phase II projects, teams will complete product development and conduct pilot studies in schools to demonstrate the usability and feasibility, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the products to improve the intended outcomes.
IES also made one Direct to Phase II award to support the research, development, and evaluation of a new education technology product to ready an existing researcher-developed evidence-based intervention for use at scale and to plan for commercialization. The Direct to Phase II project is awarded without a prior Phase I award. All Phase II and the Direct to Phase II awards are for $1,000,000 for two-years. Across all awards, projects address different ages of students and content areas.
The list of all 2022 awards is posted here. This page will be updated with the two additional Phase I awards after the contracts are finalized.
The 2022 ED/IES SBIR awards highlight three trends that continue to emerge in the field of education technology.
Trend 1: Projects Are Employing Advanced Technologies to Personalize Learning and Generate Insights to Inform Tailored Instruction
About two-thirds of the new projects are developing software components that personalize teaching and learning, whether through artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, automated speech recognition, or algorithms. All these projects will include functionalities afforded by modern technology to personalize learning by adjusting content to the level of the individual learner, offer feedback and prompts to scaffold learning as students progress through the systems, and generate real-time actionable information for educators to track and understand student progress and adjust instruction accordingly. For example:
- Charmtech Labs and Literably are fully developing reading assessments that provide feedback to inform instruction.
- Sirius Thinking and studio:Sckaal are developing prototypes to formatively assess early grade school students in reading.
- Sown To Grow and xSEL Labs are fully developing platforms to facilitate student social and emotional assessments and provide insights to educators.
- Future Engineers is fully developing a platform for judges to provide feedback to students who enter STEM and educational challenges and contests.
- Querium and 2Sigma School are developing prototypes to support math and computer science learning respectively.
- ,Soterix is fully developing a smart walking cane and app for children with visual impairments to learn to navigate.
- Alchemie is fully developing a product to provide audio cues to blind or visually impaired students learning science.
- Star Autism Support is developing a prototype to support practitioners and parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.
Trend 2: Projects Focusing on Experiential and Hands-On Learning
Several new projects are combining hardware and software solutions to engage students through pedagogies employing game-based, hands-on, collaborative, or immersive learning:
- Pocketlab is fully developing a matchbox-sized car with a sensor to collect physical science data as middle school students play.
- GaiaXus is developing a prototype sensor used for environmental science field experiments.
- Mind Trust is a developing a virtual reality escape room for biology learning.
- Smart Girls is developing a prototype science game and accompanying real-world hands-on physical activity kits.
- Indelible Learning is developing a prototype online multi-player game about the electoral college.
- Edify is fully developing a school-based program for students to learn about, create, and play music.
Trend 3: Projects to Advance Research to Practice at Scale
Several new awards will advance existing education research-based practices into new technology products that are ready to be delivered at scale:
- INSIGHTS is fully developing a new technology-delivered version to ready an NIH- and IES-supported social and emotional intervention for use at scale.
- xSEL Labs and Charmtech Labs (noted above) are building on prior IES-funded research-based interventions to create scalable products.
- Scrible is developing an online writing platform in partnership with the National Writers Project based on prior Department of Education-funded research.
*Note: Two additional 2022 Phase I awards are forthcoming in 2022. The contracts for these awards are delayed due to a back-up in the SAM registration process.
Stay tuned for updates on Twitter and Facebook as IES continues to support innovative forms of technology.
Edward Metz (Edward.Metz@ed.gov) is the Program Manager of the ED/IES SBIR program.
Michael Leonard (Michael.Leonard@ed.gov) is the Program Analyst of the ED/IES SBIR program.