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Small Business Innovation Research

Applicant Information

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was established by Congress in 1982 to provide federal research and development funding to stimulate the small business sector and to strengthen the national base for technological innovation. At present, 11 Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, provide approximately $2.5 billion annually to for-profit small business firms and their partners. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) operates its SBIR program through its research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Annual Program Solicitation
The ED/IES SBIR program typically releases its annual solicitations in early winter, and proposals are typically submitted 45 days later. Awards are typically announced within 90 days after the submission deadline, in late spring and projects begin shortly thereafter.

Program Structure
The program is comprised of three phases, the first two of which are supported by SBIR funds.

Phase I awards are for periods up to 6 months in amounts up to $150,000. A funded Phase I SBIR project would be successful if at the end of a 6-month period the team: (1) had developed a functioning prototype of an education technology product, and (2) conducted research to determine the usability and initial feasibility of the prototype.

The Phase II award period is designed to continue the R&D effort initiated in Phase I. Phase II awards are for periods up to 2 years in amounts up to $900,000. A funded Phase II SBIR project would be successful if at the end of a 2-year period the team: (1) had fully developed a commercially viable education technology product; (2) demonstrated the usability and feasibility, and fidelity of implementing the product in an education delivery setting; (3) evaluated the promise of the product for achieving the intended outcomes when used in an education delivery setting; and (4) developed a commercialization plan for the sale and distribution of the product. A key objective of the SBIR program is to increase private sector commercialization of products derived from its funding. During Phase III, the small business is expected to pursue commercialization of the education technology product with non-SBIR funds.

Through the Fast-Track option, ED/IES SBIR funds meritorious proposals for activities that cover both the Phase I and Phase II periods. Fast Track projects include full-scale development of an education technology product, evaluation of the product in an education delivery setting, and plans for the private sector commercialization of the product. By providing funds for the Phase I period (6 months, up to $150,000) and an option for Phase II (2 years, up to $900,000) commencing as soon as Phase I ends, the Fast-Track mechanism has the potential to eliminate a funding gap between Phase I and Phase II. Please Note: ED/IES SBIR is not offering a Fast-Track option in Fiscal Year 2017.

Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for funding, the small business must be a for-profit organization, have no more than 500 employees, be independently owned, operated, and U.S. based, and be at least 51 percent owned by U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted residents. The principal investigator is required to be employed by the small business at least 51 percent time. The small business must certify that it fits the eligibility requirements at the time of the award and throughout the life-cycle of the award.

Partners, including non-profit firms or institutions, are permitted (and encouraged) to collaborate on projects. Such partners can receive up to one-third of the funds in Phase I and one-half of the funds in Phase II, however the small business entity must lead the project.

Executive Order 13329 on Encouraging Innovation in Manufacturing
The purpose of Executive Order 13329 is to ensure that Federal agencies assist the private sector in its manufacturing innovation efforts. Manufacturing-related R&D encompasses improvements in existing methods or processes, or wholly new processes, machines or systems. The executive order states that continued technological innovation is critical to a strong manufacturing sector of the United States economy. The executive order recognizes that the commercialization of technologies, products, or services funded through the SBIR and STTR programs play a crucial role in stimulating the U.S. economy.

The Department of Education's SBIR program encourages R&D in manufacturing through systems level technologies. These projects encompass a range of forms of manufacturing, such as artificial intelligence or information technology devices, software, systems, hardware, product design, among others.

For more information on Executive Order 13329, please contact Edward Metz or read the following document:

To view the ED SBIR Annual Report to SBA on Executive Order 13329 (Encouraging Innovation in Manufacturing), see here.

Technical Assistance Disclaimer

The SBIR Program Officer, Edward Metz, is permitted to address questions about the IES SBIR program, or to provide technical assistance related to project ideas. After the release of the solicitation Edward Metz is no longer available for such consultation.

Product Disclaimer

Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government.