Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer

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Segmented Rectifying and Blocking Contacts on large diameter Germanium Planar Detectors developed by PhD Co. (Phase II SBIR awards) and evaluated at UMass Lowell. This contact technology transitioned into commercial detector fabrication and is used in gamma ray detectors such as the Germanium Gamma Ray Imager (GeGI) shown above, and the Germanium Gamma Camera (GGC) (see PhD Co presentation at 2013 Exchange Meeting.)

What are SBIR and STTR?

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) are U.S. Government programs in which federal agencies with large research and development budgets set aside a fraction of their extramural R&D funding for competition exclusively among U.S. small businesses. Small businesses that win awards in these programs keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology.

How much money is set aside?

Each year, the federal agencies that participate in SBIR and STTR, including DOE, set aside a fraction of their extramural R&D budgets. Based on the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011, the fractional set aside in FY 2016 for SBIR and STTR totaled 3.45%.  The combined fractional set aside increases to 3.65% in FY 2017.

What phases are there and how do they work at the DOE?

Grant applications submitted by small businesses must be responsive to a specific Topic and Subtopic as included in the open funding opportunity announcement (FOA) found under the SBIR/STTR web page "Funding Opportunities".  SBIR and STTR have two distinct phases.

  • Phase I explores the feasibility of innovative concepts with awards up to $225,000 over 9 months.
    • Only DOE Phase I awardees may compete for DOE Phase II funding.
  • Phase II is the principal R&D effort, with awards up to $1,500,000 over 2 years.
  • Companies with Phase II awards may apply for follow-on “Sequential Phase II” funding, with the same funding level as a regular Phase II.
  • Phase IIA:  For projects requiring more time and funding than available with a single Phase II award to complete prototype or process development
  • Phase IIB: For projects requiring additional R&D funding to transition an innovation towards commercialization

Small businesses are encouraged to contact, and if appropriate, collaborate with NP-funded national user facilities, laboratories and universities to better understand the mission of the NP program and its community, and to best optimize resources aimed at current high priority technical challenges. These needs and challenges are reflected in the NP topics and subtopics published yearly around the third week of July, with the FOA published in mid-August.  The Phase I application process starts with submission of letters of intent (LOI) that are due in early September, followed by submission of proposals due in mid-October. In FY 2015 and 2016 the Office of Nuclear Physics (NP) received about 270 LOI each year which resulted in the submission of 160-170 proposals.

For more general information on DOE SBIR/STTR visit the Office of Science SBIR/STTR web site at /sbir/about. For the definition of 'small business', visit

Nuclear Physics SBIR/STTR Topics


NP Program Managers annually revise the subtopics for each SBIR/STTR topic based on the latest technical needs within their portfolios that require research, development and innovation. This input includes revisions of existing items, addition of new items, and deletion of items no longer needed. The topics are then distributed to the community, who is encouraged to suggest additions to the subtopics related to their future experiments or facilities, consistent with the SBIR/STTR R&D spirit and its grant regulations.

The SBIR/STTR Funding Opportunity Announcement for NP has 5 topics;

  1. Nuclear Physics Software and Data Management
  2. Nuclear Physics Electronics Design and Fabrication
  3. Nuclear Physics Accelerator Technology
  4. Nuclear Physics Instrumentation, Detection Systems and Techniques
  5. Nuclear Physics Isotope Science and Technology

The subtopics within each topic vary from year to year, the last two year’s subtopics can be found here:

NP SBIR/STTR Exchange Meeting

Since 2010, the Office of Nuclear Physics (NP) has annually organized a two day information exchange meeting between the representatives of SBIR/STTR companies with active Phase II grants, scientists and engineers from the NP community, Federal Program Managers from NP and other DOE Offices and Federal Agencies. The meetings include presentations from the SBIR/STTR companies on their research as well as talks on the relevant technical needs of the NP community. Information on past meetings are available at the following links:

For further questions on the NP SBIR/STTR program please contact Dr. Michelle Shinn, or click here for more contact information.