Success rates for Department of Defense SBIR

  • July 6, 2021

The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program is a federal grant opportunity released annually to fund high-risk, innovative research and development programs. There are 11 agencies that participate in the program.

Each of the 11 agencies releases its own topics and subtopic and has a unique success rate. The success rate of each agency indicates the percentage of applicants that are awarded funds, on average. This measurement relates to how large the overall funding pool is for that agency as well as how many applications the agency receives. Programs with large funding purses and fewer applicants per round tend to have a higher percentage of awarded proposals, while programs with less funding or a higher number of applicants are more competitive.

Overall, the federal government invests approximately 50 billion dollars per year into the SBIR/STTR program. The most recent published statistics for fiscal year spending indicate that agencies made awards for $2.572 billion, including 3,223 Phase I awards totaling $568.0 million and 1,871 Phase II awards totaling $2.004 billion.

In general, the success rate of SBIR/STTR is ~ 17% for Phase I and ~60% for Phase II.

Success rates of grant preparation professionals

Besides the success rate of the program, another important thing to consider is the success rate of your grant preparation professional. The SBIR agency’s success rates can help you gauge the validity of the success rate claims from grant preparation professionals. If only 17% of all Phase I are funded per year and your grant preparation professional claims to have a suspiciously high success rate in SBIR they are probably embellishing their success rate to gain clients.


The U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. DOD) is one of the 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program. The Funding Opportunity Announcement is typically issued in January and is due in March. However, different branches of the DOD such as the army, navy, and airforce have individual funding deadlines within that window. DOD SBIR/STTR seeks applicants with ideas that have the potential for commercialization within the defense industry. DOD SBIR/STTR awardees have developed innovative technologies that benefit the department and the public while providing a basis for growth for small businesses. DOD topics surround Radios, autonomous vehicles, detection technology, sensors, information systems, weapons, and electronics.

DOD Success Rate of SBIR

The DOD receives the largest amount of federal funding in the SBIR program of any of the 11 agencies encompassing 46% of all SBIR spending. Nonetheless. The DOD only has a success rate of 15%. The average number of awards for DOD Phase I is 1,440, far more than any other agency. Phase II awards number 938 per year. The DOD generally awards $1,121.4m overall with $192.1m allocated to Phase I and $929.3m allocated to Phase II. Overall, despite a success rate of only 15% the DOD is possibly the least competitive SBIR agency as its large funding purse enables it to grant thousands of awards per fiscal year.

See more about DOD SBIR/STTR funding here.

Ready To Take the Next Step?

We assist our clients in locating, applying for, and evaluating the outcomes of non-dilutive grant funding. We believe non-dilutive funding is a crucial tool for mitigating investment risks, and we are dedicated to guiding our clients through the entire process—from identifying the most suitable opportunities to submitting and managing grant applications.