SBIR & STTR Program Benefits

The SBIR and STTR programs are one of the largest sources of funding for early-stage companies in the United States. There are many benefits to securing SBIR or  STTR funding, including:

  • Funding is stable, predictable and not a loan.
  • Capital is non-dilutive.
  • Small businesses retain intellectual property rights.
  • NIH’s rigorous peer-review provides recognition, validation and visibility to early-stage companies.
  • Prestige associated with the award can help attract more funding or support (e.g., venture capital, strategic partner).

In addition to these benefits, recent changes to the SBIR and STTR programs have expanded eligibility. A few key changes are summarized below; visit the NIH SBIR & STTR website for more comprehensive information.

Size Regulations

NIH may spend up to 25 percent of SBIR funds on small businesses majority owned by multiple venture capital companies, hedge funds or private equity firms.

Cross-Program or -Agency Awards

STTR Phase I awardees can receive SBIR Phase II awards and vice versa. In addition, Phase I awardees may receive a Phase II award from a different agency.

Expanded Technical Assistance

NIH has increased flexibility to fund technical assistance for SBIR and STTR awardees ($5,000 per award) through programs like the NIH Commercialization Accelerator Program (Phase II) as well as by request.


NIH can provide up to 10 percent of SBIR or STTR funds to support commercialization and Phase III efforts. Applicants must provide information on commercialization of prior SBIR or STTR awards.

Direct to Phase II

NIH can issue a Phase II SBIR award to a small business that did not receive a Phase I award for the relevant research and/or development. Small businesses can submit a "Direct-to-Phase II" SBIR application if the company has performed the type of research conducted in Phase I using other funding sources.