Technology FAQs

Technology Innovation

Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner with an idea for an innovative technology? You can access federal government dollars to fund research and development of your idea through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, both administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBIR program is a highly competitive three-phase award system which provides qualified small businesses with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet the specific research and development needs of the government. The STTR program is similar, but the small business must partner with a non-profit research institution, such as the University of Houston, to qualify for funding. SBIR and STTR funds are treated as grants and do not have to be repaid. 

Eleven federal agencies ranging from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Defense participate in the SBIR program, and five agencies participate in the STTR program. Each agency has different timetables and rules regarding solicitations, proposals and funding. Some accept unsolicited proposals, but for the most part, the agencies have very specific technology innovation needs and will make their awards to those small businesses that can respond with the best solutions to those needs.  

In Phase I of the award system, successful proposals will result in the small business being awarded up $100,000 for a period of up to six months to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of their idea. After successfully completing Phase I, the business may then be invited to apply for Phase II funding for up to $750,000 for a period of up to two years for further research and development of the idea. Phase III requires either private sector funding or non-SBIR or STTR federal funding for commercialization of the Phase II results.   

For more details about the SBIR and STTR programs, and to link to the participating agencies, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s web site at, the SBIR Gateway at For a free, comprehensive SBIR/STTR Programs Information Handbook, visit the North Carolina Small Business & Technology Development Center website at