STTR Program Description and Requirements

STTR Differences

STTR differs from SBIR in the following ways:

Four of the five STTR agencies do not require the PI to have his or her primary employment with the small business at the time of the award and for the duration of the project period. The National Science Foundation does require the PI to be employed by the small business.

The STTR program requires the small business to have a formal, collaborative relationship with research partners at universities or at other federally funded research institutions. A list of federally funded R&D centers can be found at

At least 40% of the STTR research project is to be conducted by the small business and at least 30% of the work is to be conducted by the single “partnering” research institution.

STTR Phase I awards are typically for a 12-month period, rather than the 6-month period of the SBIR Phase I awards.


Requirements for STTR Program Applicants

The firm must be a U.S. for-profit business of 500 or fewer employees.

The research institution must be located in the U.S., and can be either a nonprofit college or university or a federally-funded R&D center (FFRDC).

The small business must perform a minimum of 40% of the work and the research institution must perform a minimum of 30% of the work in both Phase I and Phase II.

Under the STTR Program, up to 60% of the work can be contracted out, meaning that 60% of the award may go to the federal institution and/or other subcontractors of the small businesses. Subcontractors are restricted to federal labs, universities, or other nonprofit research entities. The exact amount of subcontracted work must be negotiated between the small business and research institution.

The small business must manage and control the STTR funding agreement.

With the exception of the NSF, STTR agencies will allow the PI to be employed by either the small business the partnering research institution. The NSF requires all PIs to be employed by the small business.

Work must be done in the United States.