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NIST Announces 2021 R&D Opportunities for Small Businesses

Square gray cube with two square holes in it and a gold square in between the holes, and a dark brown coffee bean leaning against the cube.
Credit: Hummon/NIST

The heart of NIST’s next-generation miniature atomic clock — ticking at high “optical” frequencies — is this vapor cell on a chip, shown next to a coffee bean for scale. 

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced its fiscal year 2021 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I topics. NIST’s SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization with funding of up to $100,000 per project. 

The mission of the federal SBIR program is to “support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy.” The SBIR Phase I funding should be used to establish the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed research and development efforts. Successful projects may be eligible for additional funding in later phases of the program. 

Small science-and-technology-based firms with strong research capabilities in the following areas are encouraged to submit applications. Applications must identify and address a specific NIST technical program area that falls within one of these research areas or a NIST-patented technology available for licensing.

  • Advanced Communications, Networks and Scientific Data Systems
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Material Measurements 
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy
  • Fundamental Measurement, Quantum Science and Measurement Dissemination 
  • Health and Biological Systems Measurements
  • Physical Infrastructure and Resilience 
  • Exploratory Measurement Science

NIST’s SBIR program supports research at the frontiers of measurement science to ensure that the U.S. system of measurements is firmly grounded in sound scientific and technical principles. Its research activities provide industry, academia and other federal agencies with measurement tools and standards to strengthen U.S. competitiveness and security.

Application details can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. See the NIST website for more information on the NIST SBIR Program, and for a list of NIST technologies available for licensing, visit the website of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer. The closing date for applications is April 14, 2021.

NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov.

Released February 10, 2021