A Common Misconception about SBIR: Eligibility

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 7:00 AM

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is one of the largest funding opportunities offered by the United States government. In all, 11 governmental agencies participate in the highly competitive program.

The mission of SBIR is to promote small businesses and encourage innovation within the United States, to grow the national economy, and to meet research and development needs within the government. The program encourages participation from women-led businesses and persons from socially disadvantaged groups. As a small business, an SBIR grant can open a world of opportunities.

While SBIR is a highly sought-after program, there are often misconceptions or misunderstandings among applicants. One of the most popular is surrounding eligibility for SBIR. Many would-be applicants really do not have a firm understanding of the eligibility requirements specifically as it pertains to work owned by and completed by domestic small businesses.

SBIR is a program for domestic small businesses ONLY, meaning that to be eligible, your business must be owned and operated within the United States, and all contributors to the SBIR research and development must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. Even if your business is entirely owned and operated within the U.S., to qualify for SBIR, you are not allowed to conduct research outside of the country. This means that no foreign contractors or experts from overseas may contribute to the research of your project.

On rare occasions, certain government agencies may approve of some work done outside of the U.S.; however, this is only if a supply or material, or another component critical to your project is not available within the United States. If you think this may be the case for your project, you will want to gain approval far in advance from submitting your application. That said, it is best to avoid using any resources from overseas at the risk of being disqualified from your SBIR.


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