Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

Small Business Innovation Research Logo

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is a set-aside program (3.2% of an agency’s extramural budget in FY2021) for domestic small business concerns to engage in Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization and public benefit. The SBIR program was established under the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-219).

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program provides “seed funds” for small business concerns (SBCs) to explore their technological potential and the incentive for SBCs to profit from commercialization of their innovations. CDC’s SBIR Program targets innovations in diagnostics, data science (e.g., artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, etc.), surveillance, occupational safety and health, and public health. This program helps to develop technologies in support of CDC’s health promotion and disease prevention needs.

CDC’s SBIR program falls under the stewardship of CDC’s Office of Science, Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI). The Office commits to ensuring a competitive award process that results in projects of scientific excellence and technological innovation with the potential for commercialization.

About the SBIR Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program encourages small business to engage in research and development (R&D). Program goals include to:

  • Use small businesses to stimulate technological innovation,
  • Strengthen the role of small business in meeting Federal R/R&D needs,
  • Increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal research and development funding,
  • Increase small business participation in Federal R/R&D, and
  • Foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns and women-owned business concerns in the SBIR program.

Eligible Institutions/Organizations:

Only U.S.-based small business concerns (SBCs) are eligible to submit SBIR applications. A SBC is one that, on the date of award for both Phase I and Phase II funding agreements, meets ALL of the criteria as described in the current SBIR parent funding opportunity announcement available at the NIH Small Business Funding Opportunitiesexternal icon.

Three Phases of SBIR

Funding gets awarded competitively for only Phases I and II of the SBIR Program:

  • Phase I awards projects up to $243,500 for approximately 6 months to support exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology.
  • Phase II awards projects that expand Phase I results. Awards range up to $1,000,000 for a project period of up to 2 years. During this time, the awardee performs R&D work, and the developer evaluates commercialization potential.
  • Phase III covers the period during which Phase II innovation moves from the laboratory into the marketplace. At this stage, the SBIR recipient must find funding in the private sector or other non-SBIR funding.

CDC SBIR Funding Opportunities

  1. CDC participates in the SBIR Parent Grant Solicitation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) external icon: Clinical Trial Not Allowed (PA-20-260external icon) and Clinical Trial Required (PA-20-262)external icon.
  2. CDC participates along with the NIH in the PHS 2021-1 SBIR Contract Solicitation. The receipt date closed on October 26, 2020, 5 p.m. EDT.

For more information about individual funded projects, visit the NIH RePorterexternal icon.

SBIR Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) promotes the effective, efficient, and economical operation of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs and operations through audits, inspections, investigations, and other reviews. The HHS OIG Hotline accepts tips from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in HHS programs. The reporting individual should indicate the fraud, waste, and/or abuse concerns for a SBIR grant or contract, if relevant.

Combating Fraud

What types of fraud are found in the SBIR Programs?

  • During Application Process:
    • Submitting a plagiarized proposal,
    • Providing false information regarding the company, the Principal Investigator, or work to be performed, and
    • Seeking funding for the work that has already been completed.
  • During Award:
    • Using award funds for personal use or for any use other than the proposed activities,
    • Submitting plagiarized reports or reports falsely claiming work has been completed, and
    • Claiming results for an award that were funded by a different source.

Knowing the Rules

Which SBIR rules should you become particularly familiar with?

  • Applicants may not submit duplicate or overlapping proposals to multiple agencies without full disclosure to all agencies.
  • The company must meet SBA’s requirements for a small business, including being majority American owned and having 500 or fewer employees.
  • For SBIR, the Principal Investigator’s primary employment must be with the company during the grant period and he or she may not be employed full time elsewhere.
  • For SBIR Phase I, the grantee company must perform a minimum of two thirds of the research effort; for SBIR Phase II, the grantee company must perform a minimum of one-half of the research effort. Work performed by a university research lab is NOT work completed by the grantee company.
  • University employees participating on an SBIR award should disclose their involvement to the university as well as their use of university facilities.
  • Awardees must perform the R&D in the United States.


What happens if you break the rules?

  • If you commit fraud or other wrongdoing in applying for or carrying out an SBIR award, HHS will investigate.
  • HHS refers violations of civil or criminal law to the Department of Justice (DOJ). If DOJ prosecutes you for fraud or false statements, you may be sentenced to prison and required to pay full restitution.
  • If DOJ pursues a civil action under the False Claims Act, you may have to pay treble (triple) damages and $11,000 for each false claim.
  • HHS may terminate your awards and debar you from receiving grants or contracts from any federal agency.

Please use the following if you want additional information or want to report wrongdoing:

HHS OIG Websiteexternal icon

HHS OIG Hotline Operationsexternal icon

Please direct all inquiries to: Office of Technology and Innovation,, 404-718-1386.

Page last reviewed: November 3, 2020
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