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    Short for the Small Business Innovation Research program, a federal program that awards research and development funds to small businesses to encourage them to explore their technological potential and innovate new technologies that will be made commercially available to the public. The program is meant to help small businesses compete with large enterprises that have more resources for research and development and subsequently stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging the development and commercialization of new technologies.

    In order to be eligible for a SBIR award, businesses must:

    • Be American-owned and independently operated
    • Be for-profit
    • Employ the principal researcher of the technology being developed
    • Have 500 or less employees

    The SBIR program occurs in three stages. First, federal money is awarded to the company for research into the merit of the technology. Second, additional money is awarded for the development of the technology. The third step is commercializing the new technology, which the company must fund without any federal awards.

    The SBIR program is coordinated by the Small Business Administration.

    Compare with STTR.