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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at NASA encourages small businesses and non-profit research institutions to explore their technological potential by providing them with the opportunity to partner with NASA to develop federally funded R&D projects. The SBIR program aims to stimulate technological innovation, encourage participation in entrepreneurship, and increase private sector commercialization of products by funding the research, development, and demonstration of innovative technologies. These project must fulfill NASA’s needs and have significant potential for successful commercialization. Small businesses have played a key role in the successful development of many NASA Glenn Research Center projects sponsored by the Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) program, from developing and prototyping cognitive technologies for the SCaN Testbed to creating a compact lightweight isolation platform and innovative gimbal for the integrated RF and Optical communications (iROC) system. Former SBIR awardees are also responsible for supporting the successful development of autonomous navigation systems that allow space crafts in deep space to make important navigation decisions without human instruction.


Competitive Award Process

The SBIR program uses a three-phased approach to select funding contract awardees:

  • Phase I is the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical, commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation, and the quality of your performance
  • Phase II is focused on the development, demonstration and delivery of your innovation. Only those awarded a Phase I contract are eligible to submit a proposal for a Phase II funding agreement
  • Phase III is the commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. Phase III contracts are funded from sources other than the SBIR program and are unlimited in number, duration, and dollar value

Phase III contracts are not funded from the SBIR program. There is no formal solicitation process for Phase III. Follow-up initiatives are available to help provide support for small business post Phase II. The ultimate goal of every SBIR funded project is for the technology to eventually be commercialized or infused into NASA missions. To learn more about future solicitations, visit


Future Projects

NASA provided $45.4 million of funding to small businesses in the U.S. for innovative technology development in 2019. In the future, SCaN will continue to harness innovative ideas from small businesses and research institutions to help NASA achieve their upcoming space communications and navigation goals. If you are a small business concern with 500 or fewer employees or a non-profit research institute such as a university or a research laboratory with ties to a small business concern, then NASA encourages you to learn more about the SBIR program and NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program as a potential source of seed funding for the development of your innovations.


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