Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant
An opportunity for collaboration
The Fundus Camera is an example of how SBIR funding, and collaboration between a private company and University of Rochester researchers, can propel exciting new technology – in this case, a pen-sized device that could dramatically improve access to vision-related health care across the globe.
Based on a patent invented by UR researchers Steven Feldon and Geunyoung Yoon, Lumetrics Inc., a Rochester manufacturer of precision thickness measurement technology, has developed a digital diagnostic ophthalmic device for inspecting the human retina and documenting the findings. Lumetrics received a $99,963 Phase I SBIR grant in April 2010 to demonstrate the feasibility of the project, then a $972,375 Phase II SBIR grant two years later to further refine the camera.Feldon, who is director of the Flaum Eye Institute, and Yoon consult with the company on the project. “The collaboration with the University Rochester and its Flaum Eye Institute is an incredible opportunity for Lumetrics and will lead to new jobs at our company and expanded purchasing for our local talented supplier community,” Lumetrics CEO John Hart said.
About SBIR and STTR programs
In 2012 alone, New York State received 261 SBIR/STTR awards, with 26 in the Greater Rochester area.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research and Development (R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.
The program is structured in three phases: Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee prior to providing further federal support in Phase II. In Phase III, which is not federally funded, the business pursues commercialization based on Phase I/II R&D activities.
Small businesses may collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II.
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) is another program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development (R&D) arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. The STTR program uses the same three-phase structure as the SBIR program (see above).
The unique feature of the STTR program is the requirement for the small business to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) serves as the coordinating agency for both of these programs, which total more than $2 billon. Each year, federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate 2.5 percent of their R&D budget (0.3 percent for STTR)to these programs. These agency set-asides are scheduled to increase each year through FY 2017, when 3.2 percent will be set aside for SBIR and 0.45 percent for STTR.
Are you interested?
The University of Rochester welcomes collaboration between its researchers and private industry. SBIR and STTR awards are an important vehicle for doing that. To learn more about our innovations and technology portfolio, contact the Office of Technology Transfer at (585) 276-6600 or by email at TechTransfer@urmc.rochester.edu.
Regional small businesses can seek assistance from High Tech Rochester for incubator space and assistance with the SBIR/STTR application process.
Here are websites describing SBIR/STTR funding opportunities offered by key federal agencies:
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Commerce
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) overview
Department of Defense (DOD)
Department of Energy (DOE)
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Department of Education
Department of Education overview
Environmental Protection Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Small Business Administration (SBA)