Getting Set Up for SBIR Grant Applications

General Requirements

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has over $2B in funds available for startups and small businesses. These are competitive grants that eliminate much of the competition that is typically seen when applying for grants. However, there are certain requirements that need to be met for an entity to apply for and receive SBIR funding. Here are the main requirements:

  • You must be a small business to apply for SBIR funding. You don’t have to be a fully-operational business at the time that you submit an SBIR application, but you will need a DUNS number and Tax ID number, such as an Employer Identification Number. You can obtain a DUNS number here and request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) here. To be a small business, you must have no more than 500 employees.
  • Your business must be US-owned and must operate primarily in the US.
  • Your business must be a for-profit entity.The legal form of your business can be of almost any recognized form here in the US. So, it can be an S Corp, C Corp, LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship.

For further details, here’s a link to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) description of Small Business Eligibility Criteria.


In order to apply for an SBIR or STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) grant, there are certain registrations that you need to complete. It is crucial to fill out these registrations as early as possible. Some of these registrations can take weeks to complete. You don’t want to miss a grant application deadline due to incomplete registration. All of these are free registrations.

  • As previously mentioned, you should first obtain a DUNS number
  • Register with SAM (System for Award Management)
  • Register with
  • Register with – while not all agencies use to manage their grant submission process, most do. This is also a good central repository of available grants.

Agency-Specific Instructions

Once you have all the required registrations complete, you will then need to register with the specific agency of interest. If you plan to submit to multiple agencies over time, then you might as well register with all agencies of interest at this time.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

For NIH, you also need to register with ERA Commons.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

For NSF, you also need to register with Fastlane.

Department of Defense (DOD)

For the DOD, you must register with the DOD SBIR/STTR Web Portal.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

For NASA, you must register with the NASA Electronic Handbook (EHB).

Department of Energy

For the Department of Energy, you will also need to register with FedConnect and create an account with the DOE Portfolio and Management System (PAMS).

If you plan to submit an SBIR or STTR proposal in the near future, complete these registrations now. Get them out of the way so that you can focus on the grant application.

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