If you’re a tech innovator seeking R&D funding, start thinking about the DOD billion-dollar pot of money from SBIR/STTR, where you own the intellectual property, you don’t have to pay the money back and you have the potential for sole-source contracts in the future. At this point, you might ask: What are all those acronyms – and how can my business qualify?

DOD is the U.S. Department of Defense – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and others. Congress authorized the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), aka America’s Seed Fund, with more than $2 billion each fiscal year.  DOD’s overall budget for SBIR/STTR is over $1 billion! That funding equates to a lot of opportunity for small businesses to support our men and women in uniform.

UPDATE:  Topics for DOD applications for SBIR/STTR, published Aug. 24, 2018, can be found here.



SBIR/STTR funds are awarded to small businesses, with up to 500 employees and at least 51 percent ownership and control by US citizens or legal residents, to conduct early-stage research and development of innovations that can be commercialized five years from now. The Minnesota High Tech Association is home to MN SBIR, which serves the state.

DOD research interests are not just about bombs and bullets. DOD covers the spectrum of science, technology, engineering and manufacturing. The benefit of developing innovations for the DOD is the potential for big rewards in Phase III – Commercialization.  DOD not only funds the research and development ($1.15M) but could also become your first customer with sole-source contracts. This is a big deal in the world of federal government procurement.

adventium lags logoAdventium Labs, based in Minneapolis, is one local success story. The company, founded in 2004 by former Honeywell researchers, develops solutions to cyber security, system engineering and automated reasoning. It has won numerous SBIR contracts, including a $24 million Phase III SBIR IDIQ from the Air Force. Most recently, the Navy awarded Adventium Labs a contract worth up to $1 million to develop SLICED (the State Linked Interface Compliance Engine for Data).

Preparing to submit for SBIR/STTR
Pat Dillon, director of MN SBIR, provides coaching and mentoring to help small businesses navigate through the winding road to proposal submission.

What do you need to qualify?  A compelling research capability that aligns with one of the research topics issued by the DOD along with a compelling business case.  Be realistic: applying for SBIR/STTR funding is highly competitive. You will need to spend time designing the scope of your work, assembling your team, obtaining letters of support, constructing your budget, and making the case for commercialization. All of this requires a qualified technical and business team to deliver on the proposed research.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 24. Don’t be afraid to get involved in federal R&D contracting. We want Minnesota to get a greater share of the billion-dollar DOD SBIR/STTR pie.

Contact Pat Dillon: pat@mntech.org, 952-230-4540