#SBIR: Eligibility Requirements

  • October 2, 2019

Now and again clients ask us about #SBIR/#STTR eligibility requirements. Even though we just posted about #SBIR/#STTR on June 25 – thought we would post about it AGAIN since eligibility is a common question among our clients.

So, we thought it would be helpful to put together this quick checklist for you so that you know if you meet the eligibility criteria for #SBIR/#STTR.

Just re-cap, 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.

While the Small Business Innovation Research (#SBIR) program is a very popular grant program among for-profit organizations, not all businesses qualify for the grant. See more about #SBIR regulations and policy here.

Eligibility criteria checklist

  • small for-profit business
  • no more than 500 employees
  • located/based in the U.S.
  • 51% owned AND operated by U.S. Citizens
  • The small business MUST be the principal investigator’s primary employment and must be employed at the time of the award.
  • Please note: The principal investigators are not required to have a Ph.D., they are required to have the appropriate expertise to oversee your specific project.
  • All contributors to your research must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

To sum up, 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.

To avoid missing out on your award, be sure to research eligibility carefully before you apply!


We are your single source for all your non-dilutive grant funding activities. From identification of relevant funding opportunities through the development of a long-term multi-submission approach to successful execution, and subsequent measuring of your outcomes from your award! We can help you locate funding, apply for funding, and help organizations measure & report on outcomes. Schedule a consult call with us HERE.

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