When it’s my turn to write the blog post, if I don’t already have a topic ready to go, I visit the EPA and OSHA websites, to see what’s “new” there.  This is how why I found myself on EPA’s “Small Business Innovation Research” or “SBIR” page.  This was after following a link to EPA’s announcement that 21 small businesses in 14 states will receive funding to “develop and commercialize innovative, sustainable technologies to address current environmental issues,” to use EPA’s words.

To give some examples, here are the companies in Connecticut and Massachusetts that are receiving funding in FY 2014:

It turns out that EPA is only one of 11 agencies involved in the federal government’s SBIR initiative.  Here are the others. You can get to their SBIR pages through the SBIR webpage, sbir.gov.

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

SBIR’s mission is to “support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of Federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.”   There is a special emphasis on manufacturing. Executive Order 13329 requires SBIR agencies to give high priority within the SBIR programs to manufacturing-related research and development (R&D). “Manufacturing-related” is defined as “relating to manufacturing processes, equipment and systems; or manufacturing workforce skills and protection.”

The goals of SBIR are:

  • Stimulate technological innovation
  • Meet Federal research and development needs.
  • Foster and encourage participation in innovation and entrepreneurship by socially and economically disadvantaged persons.
  • Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal research and development funding.

Funding is disbursed in 2 phases: proof of concept (Phase I) and to continue R&D (Phase II). Phase III would be commercialization; this is not funded through SBIR.

For purposes of participating, here’s the definition of a “small business:”

a for-profit organization with no more than 500 employees. In addition, the small business must be independently owned and operated, at least 51 percent owned by U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted resident aliens, not dominant in the field of operation in which it is proposing, and have its principal place of business in the United States.

FYI 2015 Phase I Funding from EPA is now open, closing September 11, 2014.  Other agencies also have funding rounds open now. Companies need to register at FedConnect.