SBIR vs STTR Grants

If you haven’t done so already, check out our first blog entry, “Can YOU apply for an SBIR grant?”, which gives a background on SBIR and STTR grants, and whether they may be something worth pursuing. This blog post will cover the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between SBIR and STTR grants. We will try to present this in a manner that is easier to understand for the average investigator.

*Why are we, EnQuire BioReagents, writing this blog? Check out our first blog post for a more thorough answer, but the short story is this: We think we can change how research is funded and researchers are incentivized. This will, in turn, attract the very best and brightest to do more research. It’s a big goal, but one worth trying to achieve.

SBIR Grants, STTR Grants

What are the similarities and differences between an SBIR and STTR grant?

To put it simply, SBIR grants are for Principle Investigators who want to be primarly employed at their own small business, working towards creating a product or service that answers the needs outlined in a government soliciation from a participating government agency. Current solicitations can be found here.

Whereas STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) grants are for Principle Investigators who wish to remain primarily employed in a non-profit or academic institution, but are willing to collaborate with a small business in the development of a product or service meant to satisfy a government agency’s soliciation.

To be fair, there are exceptions to this, and different ways to look at these two grants. So let’s dive in a bit further.

STTR Grant Attributes

  • The Principle Investigator may work for either the applicant business or the non-profit entity.
  • Non-profit collaboration is required, with no less than 30% of effort coming from the non-profit entity, and as much as 60%.
  • The primary applicant, responsible party and awardee is the small business only.
  • The small business and non-profit must have a signed agreement to allocate all intellectual property to the business.
  • Some government requests for applications require an STTR proposal and will not consider an SBIR proposal.
  • SBIR Grant Attributes

  • The Principle Investigator must be primarily employed by the business entity applying, and not by the non-profit organization.
  • SBIR encourages, but does not require collaboration with a non-profit institution.
  • No more than 33% of the total effort may be performed by a non-profit, in Stage I. In Stage II, that total is 50%.
  • The primary business entity is allowed to subcontract effort to other for-profit companies.
  • EnQuire BioReagents, while a research reagent company, wants to help the life science research community grow, develop and own their ideas. We will be blogging weekly and covering much more on this subject soon. SBIR vs STTR grants; Writing a commercial plan; Thinking like a businessman as a Scientist, I-Corps grants and more are coming soon! If you’re interested in EnQuire’s consulting services, please email

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    SBIR vs STTR Grants