Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, Phase I

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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, Phase I
Opportunity ID
Primary CFDA Number
Funding Opportunity Number
Funding Instrument Type
Expected Number of Awards Synopsis
Length of Project Periods
Project Period Expected Duration in Months
Eligibility Category
Small businesses
Additional Information on Eligibility
Each organization submitting an application must qualify at the time of the award as a small business concern as defined by the Small Business Administration.
Foreign entities are not eligible to compete for, or receive, awards made under this announcement. Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.
Estimated Award Date
Funding Opportunity Description

NIDILRR’s mission is to generate new knowledge and to promote its effective use to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community and to expand society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities. All SBIR projects funded by NIDILRR must address the needs of individuals with disabilities (see 29 U.S.C. 760). An application to NIDILRR’s SBIR program must support this mission and should present a sound approach to the investigation of an important technological, engineering, or scientific question that it is worthy of support under the stated criteria of this program announcement. The applicant should review the program announcement carefully to ensure that information and data essential for evaluation are included. The scientific and technical merit of the proposed research and research and development (R/R&D) is the primary concern for all work supported by NIDILRR.

The Small Business Administration defines the following activities as research or research and development (R/R&D):

A systematic, intensive study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the subject studied;
A systematic study directed specifically toward applying new knowledge to meet a recognized need; or
A systematic application of knowledge toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.

The application's R/R&D must be responsive to NIDILRR’s SBIR program objectives, and it should also serve as the basis for technological innovation, new commercial products, or processes or services.

The purpose of the Federal SBIR program is to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector and to strengthen the role of small business in meeting Federal research or research and development (R/R&D) needs. The specific purpose of NIDILRR’s SBIR program is to increase the commercial application of research and development results and improve the return on investment from research and development that can be used to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
An applicant should consult NIDILRR’s Long-Range Plan for Fiscal Years 2018-2023 when preparing its application. The Long-Range Plan is organized around the following outcome domains:

Community living and participation;
Health and function; and

Applicants for these SBIR projects must specify in their abstract and project narrative which of NIDILRR's major outcome domains their proposed project will address. Although applicants may propose projects that address more than one domain, they should select the primary domain addressed in their proposed project.

An applicant must demonstrate, in its original application, that people with disabilities from diverse racial and ethnic communities will be included in proposed samples in sufficient numbers to generate knowledge or products that are relevant to the racial and ethnic diversity of the population of people with disabilities being addressed. The applicant must describe and justify, in its original application, the planned racial and ethnic distribution of people with disabilities who will participate in the proposed R/R&D activities.

Applicants may address topics that support NIDILRR's mission as described above. For FY 2022, there are several invitational priorities of interest to the agency (see below). We do not give an application that meets one of these invitational priorities a competitive or absolute preference over other applications.

NIDILRR seeks to enhance opportunities for individuals with disabilities of all types to engage in employment. One barrier to this goal identified by our partners at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is the lack of accessibility of technologies used by employers in all aspects of recruiting and hiring, including online job applications and pre-employment testing. Therefore, NIDILRR is particularly interested in SBIR applications that focus on making the processes of reading, understanding, accessing, and completing online job applications and pre-employment tests accessible to people with all types of disabilities.

Increased independence of individuals with disabilities in community settings through the development of technology to support access to these settings.

Enhanced sensory or motor function of individuals with disabilities through the development of technology to support improved functional capacity.

Enhanced workforce participation through the development of technology to increase access to employment, promote sustained employment, and support employment advancement for individuals with disabilities.

Enhanced community living and participation for individuals with disabilities through the development of voting technology that improves access for individuals with disabilities.

Improved health-care interventions through the development of technology to support independent access to community health-care services for individuals with disabilities.

Technology that increases access to caregiving for individuals with disabilities. This can include access to personal care assistants.

Applicants should describe the approaches they expect to use to collect empirical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of the knowledge or products they are proposing to create. This empirical evidence should facilitate the assessment of the efficacy and usefulness of the knowledge or products.
Consultative or other arrangements between small business applicants and universities or other nonprofit organizations are permitted, but the small business concern must serve as the grantee. For Phase I projects, at least two-thirds of the research or analytic activities must be performed by the small business concern grantee.
Note: NIDILRR encourages all applicants to adhere to universal design principles and guidelines. The term “universal design” is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (The Center for Universal Design, 1997). Universal design of consumer products minimizes or alleviates barriers that reduce the ability of individuals with disabilities to effectively or safely use standard consumer products. (For more information go to:
NIDILRR SBIR Funding Restrictions:
A firm must not propose market research, patent applications, or litigation. Projects that propose service provision without a research/development component will not be considered.

Starting in FY 2020, NIDILRR will not review SBIR applications or make SBIR awards that are used exclusively for research and development toward mobile applications (apps). A mobile application is defined as a program or software application designed to run on a mobile hardware device such as a smart phone, tablet, or watch. NIDILRR will only support development of mobile applications through its SBIR program if the mobile application is integral to a piece of hardware that is also being developed through the SBIR grant funding.

At current funding levels, grantees who receive NIDILRR SBIR Phase I and Phase II funding receive a total of $675,000. This funding is provided over a course of three years, at a minimum. This funding level is significantly higher than available estimates for the development of mobile applications (Jones, Mueller, Morris, 2016). Mobile applications developed over the course of a three-year funding period also face serious risks of being obsolete by the end of the grantee performance period. For information about other NIDILRR-funded programs that support the development of mobile applications, please contact Brian Bard at
The three phases of the SBIR program are:
PHASE I – Phase I is intended to determine, insofar as possible, the scientific or technical merit and feasibility of ideas submitted under the SBIR program. The application should concentrate on research that will significantly contribute to proving the scientific or technical feasibility of the approach or concept, a prerequisite to further ACL/NIDILRR support in Phase II. Applications are evaluated by panels of expert reviewers based on criteria published in this funding opportunity announcement. Awards are for periods up to six months. The maximum award amount includes both direct and indirect costs and any reasonable profit/fee requested.
PHASE II – Phase II is intended to expand on the results of and to further pursue the development of Phase I projects. Phase II is the principal research or R&D effort. It requires a more comprehensive application, outlining the effort in detail including its commercial potential. All Phase I awardees with approaches that appear sufficiently promising are eligible to apply for Phase II. Once again, applications are evaluated based on published criteria by panels of experts.
Awards are for periods up to two years. The maximum award amount includes both direct and indirect costs and fee. The second year of the Phase II award will be approved contingent upon submission of an annual performance report and the demonstration of substantial progress in the first year.
PHASE III – In Phase III, the small business must use non-SBIR capital to pursue commercial applications of the research or research and development. Also, under Phase III Federal agencies may award non-SBIR follow-on funding for products or processes that meet the needs of those agencies. NIDILRR does not participate in Phase III.
Jones, M., Mueller, J., & Morris, J. (2016). App Factory: A flexible approach to rehabilitation engineering in an era of rapid technology advancement. Assistive Technology, 29(2), 85–90.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) developed the following definitions relevant to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program:
The Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 631, et seq.), as amended.
The organizational entity that qualifies as an SBC at all pertinent times and that submits a contract proposal or a grant application for a funding agreement under the SBIR Program.
This term has the same meaning as set forth in 13 CFR Part 121 - Small Business Size Regulations, §121.103 (available at
The SBC receiving an SBIR funding agreement.
The process of developing products, processes, technologies, or services and the production and delivery (whether by the originating party or others) of the products, processes, technologies, or services for sale to or use by the Federal government or commercial markets.
Cooperative Agreement
A financial assistance mechanism used when substantial Federal programmatic involvement with the awardee during performance is anticipated by the issuing agency. The Cooperative Agreement contains the responsibilities and respective obligations of the parties.
Covered Small Business Concern
A small business concern that:
(1) Was not majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds, or private equity firms on the date on which it submitted an application in response to a solicitation under the SBIR program; and (2) Is majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms on the date of the SBIR award.
Essentially Equivalent Work
Work that is substantially the same research, which is proposed for funding in more than one contract proposal or grant application submitted to the same Federal agency or submitted to two or more different Federal agencies for review and funding consideration; or work where a specific research objective and the research design for accomplishing the objective are the same or closely related to another proposal or award, regardless of the funding source.
Extramural Budget
The sum of the total obligations for R/R&D minus amounts obligated for R/R&D activities by employees of a Federal agency in or through Government-owned, Government-operated facilities.
The practical extent to which a project is capable of being successfully performed.
Federal Agency
An executive agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. §105, and a military department as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102 (Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of the Air Force), except that it does not include any agency within the Intelligence Community as defined in Executive Order 12333, §3.4(f), or its successor orders.
Funding Agreement
Any contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into between any Federal agency and any SBC for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work, including products or services, funded in whole or in part by the Federal Government.
A financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity. A grant is used whenever the Federal agency anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the awardee during performance.
Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone)
An SBC meeting the following criteria:
1. Located in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone or HUBZone area located in one or more of the following:
a) A qualified census tract (as defined in section 42(d)(5)(C)(i)(l) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
b) A qualified non-metropolitan county (as defined in section 143(k)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) with a median household income of less than 80 percent of the State median household income or with an unemployment rate of not less than 140 percent of the Statewide average, based on US Department of Labor recent data; or,
c) Lands within the boundaries of federally recognized Indian reservations.
2. Owned and controlled by one or more US Citizens; and,
3. At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.
Use the link below to determine if your business is located within a HUBZone:
Something new or improved, having marketable potential, including (1) development of new technologies, (2) refinement of existing technologies, or (3) development of new applications for existing technologies.
Intellectual Property
The separate and distinct types of intangible property that are referred to collectively as "intellectual property," including but not limited to: patents; trademarks; copyrights; trade secrets; SBIR technical data (as defined in this section); ideas; designs; know-how; business, technical and research methods; and other types of intangible business assets, including all types of intangible assets either proposed or generated by an SBC as a result of its participation in the SBIR Program.
Joint Venture
See 13 C.F.R. §121.103(h)
Key Individual
The principal investigator/project manager and any other person named as a “key” employee in a proposal submitted in response to a program solicitation.
Relating to manufacturing processes, equipment and systems, or manufacturing workforce skills and protection (as defined in Executive Order 13329 available at
Mobile Application
A mobile application (also referred to as a “mobile app” or “app”) is defined as a program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a smart phone, tablet or watch.
Program Solicitation
A formal solicitation for proposals issued by a Federal agency that notifies the small business community of its R/R&D needs and interests in broad and selected areas, as appropriate to the agency, and requests proposals from SBCs in response to these needs and interests. Announcements in the Federal Register or the GPE are not considered an SBIR Program solicitation.
Principal Investigator/Project Manager
The one individual designated by the applicant to provide the scientific and technical direction to the project that will be supported by the funding agreement.
A model of something to be further developed, which includes designs, protocols, questionnaires, software, and devices.
Research or Research and Development (R/R&D)
Any activity that is:
1. A systematic, intensive study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the subject studied;
2. A systematic study directed specifically toward applying new knowledge to meet a recognized need; or
3. A systematic application of knowledge toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.
SBIR Technical Data
All data generated in the performance of any SBIR funding agreement.
SBIR Technical Data Rights
The rights an SBC obtains in data generated in the performance of any SBIR funding agreement that an awardee delivers to the Government during or upon completion of a Federally-funded project, and to which the Government receives a license.
Small Business Concern
A concern that meets the requirements set forth in 13 C.F.R. §121.702 (available at…).
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individual
See 13 C.F.R. §§ 124.103 (available at…) & 124.104 (available at
Any agreement, other than one involving an employer/employee relationship, entered into by an awardee of a funding agreement calling for supplies or services required solely for the performance of the original funding agreement.
United States
The 50 states, the territories and possessions of the Federal Government, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.
Woman-Owned Small Business Concern (WOSB)
An SBC that is at least 51% owned by one or more women, or in the case of any publicly owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by women, and women control the management and daily business operations.

Award Ceiling
Award Floor
Due Date for Applications
Date for Informational Conference Call

Last modified on 12/01/2021

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