Success rates of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • August 31, 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

Similarly, grant professionals each have their own success rates based on how many of their clients have been awarded funding. While this can be a helpful measure of success it is all too easy for a proposal preparation specialist to fabricate a higher success rate in an attempt to gain client’s trust or to obtain more clients. While this is highly unethical, there is no way to determine for sure if a grant professional is telling the truth. One way to determine if their success rate is realistic is to learn about the overall success rates in programs such as SBIR and compare them to your grant professionals’ rate. Remember that Phase I is only awarded 17% of the time nationwide. The world of federal funding is highly competitive.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is one of the 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program. The NASA SBIR solicitation occurs once annually. It is available in November and due in January. NASA SBIR/STTR awardees have developed innovative technologies that benefit the department and the public while providing a basis for growth for small businesses. NASA topics surround Earth Sciences, Planetary Sciences, Astrophysics, Space Science, Technology, Aeronautics, Artificial Intelligence, and Flight.

NASA Success Rate

NASA receives 7% of all SBIR spending. NASA has the second-highest success rate of all 11 agencies at 17%. The average number of awards for NASA Phase I is 338. Phase II awards number 132 per year. NASA generally awards $145.6m overall with $41.8m allocated to Phase I and $103.8m allocated to Phase II.

See more about NASA SBIR/STTR funding here.

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