The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced nearly $2.7 million in Phase 1 and Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to 18 U.S. small businesses.
The awards provide funding to small businesses to help develop technologies that could lead to commercial and public benefit. Winning projects include a research platform for developing microscopic robots less than a millimeter in size, an environmental chamber for testing the weathering of materials, and an improved system for broadcasting time-of-day signals.
NIST's SBIR program is a competitive funding opportunity that provides contracts to small businesses for federal research and development. The program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector, strengthens the role of small business in meeting federal research and development needs, increases private-sector commercialization of federal research and development, and fosters technological innovation at minority and disadvantaged firms.
SBIR awards are funded through a three-phase process. In Phase 1, small businesses can receive up to $90,000 to establish the scientific or technical merit, or feasibility of ideas, that support the commercial potential of their research. Every year, NIST issues a "call for proposals" under Phase 1 of the SBIR program to address specific problems related to the agency's mission. Successful completion of Phase 1 enables awardees to compete for Phase 2 funding of up to $300,000 that enables them to continue their research and development efforts. Phase 1 awardees have six months to complete their work; Phase 2 awardees have up to two years. Phase 3 involves commercial applications of the newly developed technologies, with funding from outside of the SBIR program.
NIST solicits proposals for the SBIR program that fall within its mission and that, whenever possible, allow collaboration between NIST scientists and SBIR awardees. The SBIR program was established by Congress in 1982 under the Small Business Innovation Development Act.
A full list of the 18 awards is available online.