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ED/IES SBIR Program Fundamentals

The U.S. Department of Education deploys its SBIR program through the Institute of Education Services.

The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is administered by the Institute of Education Services (IES). The ED/IES SBIR program funds the research and development of Education Technology (EdTech) meant to enhance the learning experience for students from early education through secondary education and beyond.

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The U.S. Department of Education (ED) stands apart from most other federal agencies in shaping the country’s future. This is because the department has a direct line to how we shape the minds of our next generation—and every generation that follows. 

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program fosters advancements in education, inspiring and funding talented product developers in their mission to develop products that take instruction to the next level. 

Administered by the Institute of Education Services (IES), ED/IES SBIR is a small business cause unlike any other.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the ED/IES SBIR program. 

What Does ED/IES SBIR Stand For?

ED/IES SBIR is shorthand for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), which is administered out of its research office, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).


What are the ED/IES SBIR Program Priorities?

Education is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. Instead, education must change and shift with the times while also being flexible to serve the needs of specific age groups and populations.

The ED/IES SBIR program accepts proposals for research and development (R&D) in three key areas.

  • Priority 1: Education technology products used by students or teachers (or other instructional personnel) in authentic education settings.
  • Priority 2: Education technology products for infants, toddlers, or students with disabilities. Also, teachers (or other instructional personnel, related service providers, or family members) in early intervention or unique education settings.
  • Priority 3: Education technology products used by school administrators. Or technologies designed for use in early intervention or special education settings

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What are the ED/IES SBIR Eligibility Requirements?

The eligibility requirements for entry into the ED/IES SBIR program follow the same path as the other federal agencies that offer SBIR programs.

To be eligible for ED/IES funding, the small business applicant must be a for-profit organization with no more than 500 employees and must be independently owned and operated in the U.S. by at least 51 percent US citizens or lawfully admitted residents.

Each small business that applies for SBIR funding through the ED/IES must also have a Principal Investigator (PI), who must be employed by the small business at least 51 percent of the time.

Throughout the project up until the award itself (and during the life-cycle of the award), the small business will be asked to verify its eligibility requirements.

Meanwhile, applicants are encouraged to collaborate with partners on their SBIR projects, including nonprofit firms and institutions.

These partners can receive up to one-third of the funds in Phase I of the SBIR program and one-half of the funds in Phase II. But remember: the small business must lead the project.

And one more wrinkle in ED/IES SBIR eligibility. 

The Education Department’s SBIR program also accepts proposals from small businesses owned in majority by multiple venture capital operating companies and hedge funds or private equity firms. And you can allocate up to 15 percent of your ED/IES SBIR annual budget to such companies. 

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ED/IES SBIR Program Structure

Like other SBIR programs across other federal agencies, the ED/IES SBIR program is broken into multiple phases. Each phase boasts its own requirements, benchmarks, purposes, and awards.

The ED/IES SBIR program includes three phases, the first two of which are supported by government funds and provide up to $1.25 million combined. The third phase is reserved for the private sector commercialization of education technology products.

Let’s go through the details of each phase!


ED/IES SBIR Phase I

The first phase is where the rubber meets the road.

This is where the primary R&D efforts commence, with government funds fueling your team’s efforts. Officially, Phase is meant to determine the scientific or technical merit of the ideas submitted under the ED/IES SBIR program.

  • How much is ED/IES SBIR Phase I Award?
    • ED/IES SBIR Phase I awards amount to $250,000.

  • How Long is ED/IES SBIR Phase 1?
    • The award period for Phase I is up to 8 months for rapid prototype development and evaluation of new education technology prototypes.

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A successful ED/IES SBIR Phase I project develops a functioning prototype of a new education technology project or service and determines the usability, initial feasibility, and promise of that prototype. 


ED/IES SBIR Phase II

The second phase bolsters the efforts that commenced in Phase I, continuing the R&D efforts and furthering your project’s viability in eventual commercialization.

  • How much is the ED/IES SBIR Phase II Award?
    • ED/IES Phase II awards amount to $1 million.

  • How Long is ED/IES SBIR Phase II?
    • The award period for Phase II is up to 2 years for the full-scale development and evaluation of new education technology products.

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A successful ED/IES SBIR Phase II project successfully develops a commercially viable product in the education technology sphere. It also demonstrates clear usability and feasibility of implementation in an educational setting, where it delivers on the promise to improve education in a classroom setting.

A successful Phase II project develops a commercialization plan for the project or service and develops strategies to evaluate its efficacy. 

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ED/IES SBIR Phase III

As with other federal agencies’ SBIR programs, Phase III is somewhat of a particular case. This final phase of the ED/IES SBIR program is set for private sector commercialization of the products developed in phases I and II with SBIR funds.

ED/IES does not provide funding for Phase III. Instead, it’s up to the small business to commercialize the products through other sources of financing, such as the private sector. 

What is the Executive Order 13329 on Encouraging Innovation in Manufacturing?

Executive Order 13329 was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. It officially defined the duties of all agencies and departments that participate in SBIR programs while also assigning the Small Business Administration (SBA) with its own set of responsibilities. It is meant to ensure that federal agencies continually assist the private sector in its manufacturing innovation efforts.

Dubbed “Encouraging Innovation in Manufacturing,” Executive Order 1339 underscored the importance of technological innovation in strengthening the manufacturing sector of the country’s economy. Under the executive order, the SBIR and STTR programs were lauded for stimulating the economy while recognizing that such programs have improved innovations in education, health and welfare, national defense, environmental efforts, and more. 

The ED/IES promotes and supports Executive Order 13329 by maintaining a notice on the ED SBIR site that describes the order and defines manufacturing-related projects in education. ED/IES also tracks projects and reports success stories to demonstrate the impact of the SBIR program. 

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How do I apply for an ED/IES SBIR Award?

To apply for an ED/IES SBIR award, you must first find out whether or not you’re eligible (see the “What are the ED/IES SBIR Eligibility Requirements?” section of this blog above). Once confirming your eligibility, it’s time to apply.

The next step in the application process is registering your small business on the SBIR/STTR Company Registry. This portal will open access to the SBIR.gov system, providing you with a unique control ID, which you will use for all your submissions. For more tips on the registration process, check out this guide published by America’s Seed Fund. 

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Who are the ED/IES SBIR Program Contacts?

There are two primary contacts for the ED/IES SBIR program. These contacts are:

Edward Metz, Ph.D.
ED/IES SBIR Program Manager
(202) 245-7550
Edward.Metz@ed.gov

Michael Leonard, Ph.D.
ED/IES SBIR Program Analyst
(202) 245-8133
Michael.Leonard@ed.gov

Technical Assistance Disclaimer

The ED/IES SBIR program personnel can address questions about the ED/IES SBIR program or provide technical assistance related to project ideas before releasing the annual solicitation. 

Following the FAR regulations, please note that when the annual solicitation is open, program personnel and other government officials are not permitted to provide technical assistance or respond to questions from individuals preparing proposals in response to the ED/IES SBIR program solicitation.

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What is ED/IES SBIR Program Solicitation?

ED/IES Program Solicitations refers to the open projects available through the SBIR program. To participate in the ED/IES SBIR program, you must respond to a funding solicitation from your target agency, as programs do not accept “unsolicited” proposals—or a proposal that does not address a current topic. 

Solicitations are also known as Request for Proposals (RFP), Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), or Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). Regardless of the name, the solicitation is the document that provides guidance and rules and regulations about how to prepare a proposal. Along with topic areas of interest, solicitation documents also include Proposal Preparation Instructions, Application and Submission guidance, and Evaluation criteria.

To browse open topics by agency, use this search tool developed by America’s Seed Fund.

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What is the ED Games Expo?

The ED Games Expo is an annual showcase of paradigm-shifting innovations in education technology (EdTech), all developed with the support of more than 30 programs at the education department and other federal agencies. 

The learning games and technologies featured at the expo are appropriate for children and students from early childhood to post-secondary education and special education. EdTech games and technologies touch on STEM, reading, civics, social studies, etc. The resources displayed are research-based, with studies demonstrating the usability, feasibility, and promise leading to intended outcomes.

Participants in the annual ED Games Expo include:

  • Educators and school decision-makers learn about education interventions and assessments.
  • Students demo learning games and EdTech and then ask experts pointed questions about the technology.
  • Developers, researchers, and stakeholders learn about the government programs that invest in new education technologies.
  • Government program representatives highlight the technologies developed through federal programs.

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Who has won ED/IES SBIR Phase II Awards?

Across all participating federal agencies, success stories abound in the world of SBIR programs. However, ED/IES SBIR Phase II award success stories take on a fundamentally special feeling, as the project’s success ultimately means success across an array of educational settings.

And while each project is unique, they all started as innovative ideas that eventually grew into commercially viable products that enhance education and address specific needs in various educational settings. The following ED/IES SBIR success stories are all currently in use by students and teachers.

Agile Mind, Inc.

Phase II Award: $750,000

A technology company that seeks to broaden student access, achievement, and persistence in mathematics and science courses, Agile Mind Inc., developed a comprehensive online instructional platform. The SBIR-funded project consists of 30 web-based, animated visualizations that support learning and help students understand various educational topics. The research consisted of a mixed-methods study completed with 19 teachers and more than 300 students in the 9th and 10th grades from eight schools in two states.

Zoo U

Phase II Award: $849,989

A web-based, social skills learning game for students in grades two through four, Zoo U simulates a school environment and helps students gain social and emotional skills through everyday scenarios, such as recess games and in-classroom group work. The game first establishes a baseline of six skills: impulse control, emotion regulation, empathy, communication, cooperation, and social initiation. Students then play in up to 30 scenarios to improve and reinforce those skills. After creating the prototype, the Zoo U team conducted usability tests with school personnel and students. Since its launch, Zoo U has been the subject of peer reviews and was even a finalist for the 2017 CASEL Design Award Challenge.

Schell Games' Happy Atoms

Phase II Award: $899,542

Developed by Schell Games, Happy Atoms is a physical molecular “ball and stick” modeling set that pairs with an interactive digital app. The game provides a modern alternative to the old-fashioned teaching methods about bonding. Students build atom models, then use the app to snap a photo and identify the molecule with proprietary vision-recognition algorithms. In the development of Happy Atoms, Schell Games partnered with the nonprofit research agency WestEd to assess the game’s usability, feasibility, and implementation. The game project has gone on to gain numerous awards and national recognition, with stories featured in Huffington Post, TIME, and more. 

Is it time to start your ED/IES SBIR program journey? We’re here to help. Reach out to Team 80 today.

Get A Free Consultation for Your ED/IES SBIR Accounting Services
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Ben Smith

Director of Governmental Accounting

Ben has worked in and around small business for the majority of his career. Ben didn’t start out as an accountant, but was actually a chef. In 2009 he opened his own catering business. The accounting duties for the catering company fell on Ben’s shoulders, and that was when he realized accounting was a much better fit for him! Ben is passionate about helping small business owners make their companies successful, and brings a highly varied set of experiences to the table to help in this pursuit. When he’s not crunching numbers he can be found hanging out with his wife Maaike and their Miniature Pinscher Milo, or pursuing his other passions which include skiing, windsurfing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, playing guitar and riding dirt bikes.

Been with Team 80: Since Sept 2018

Education
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Degree Name: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Field Of Study: Accounting
Graduated: 2016

Colorado State University
Degree Name: BA
Field Of Study: English
Graduated: 1995


Two happy male accountants sitting at a desk

Preparing for a World of Government Compliance

The federal government has strict compliance requirements for any small business seeking contracts, grants, or funding. 

Government Compliance for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs consists of a challenging array of benchmarks. Aligning with these laws and regulations can help you secure government contracts, while failing to comply can lead to loss of funds and even stiff penalties.

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Securing a government contract isn’t easy.

It takes a dynamic combination of dedicated team members, work ethic, and perseverance to face the challenge head-on and come out on top. But skills and talent in your chosen field only get you so far—you must also possess the ability to thrive in the world of government compliance.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs offer the opportunity for entrepreneurs to engage in federal research and development (R&D), with the potential for commercialization.

These highly competitive programs often result in multi-million dollar contracts or grants. Any participating small business will face a gauntlet of certifications, audits, and regulations.

It can be complicated and stressful—but Team 80 has the insight you need to confidently step into the government limelight. This blog runs down many of the government’s requirements in a handful of different contracting scenarios.

SBIR Certifications

First things first; let’s take the 30,000-foot view of certifications you’ll need for SBIR Phase I and Phase II.

Known as “Award and Life Cycle Submissions Certificants,” these benchmarks must be met to move forward in the SBIR process, no matter which government agency your project is intended for.

Phase I And II Award and Life Cycle Submissions Certifications include:

  • Principal Investigator’s (PI) primary employment: The PI must spend more than half of their time (based on a 40-hour workweek) as an employee of the awardee.
  • Essentially Equivalent Work: Cannot be funded by another federal agency. (Essentially, Equivalent Work is a significant point of compliance all on its own. More on it later in this article).
  • Phase II Mid-Effort Certification: Upon completion of the effort, the small business will have performed the required portion of the work.
  • Phase I and II Final Certification: Work is completed, and the small business has performed the required portion of the work.
  • Location of the Small Business: Any awarded R&D must be performed in the U.S.
  • Further Location-based certification: Performance is taking/has taken place at the small business’ facilities with the company’s employees.

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Preparing for Government Audits

There’s no two ways about it; the phrase “government audit” sounds terrifying. Conjuring images of federal agents rifling through your company’s most personal financial records, those words alone could cause entrepreneurs to balk at even entering into the SBIR process.

The old saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” However, with a few steps toward preparation, you can make the entire government auditing process smooth. Here are some tips to prepare for a successful SBIR government audit.

Outline any changes in these areas:

  • Management
  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Personnel
  • Industry developments
  • Accounting systems
  • Risk reports

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However, the government will likely deploy an array of compliance audits depending on the type of work you’ve conducted, which agency is awarded the funds, and other variables. So next, let’s look at some specific compliance audits and regulations.

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What is a Government Compliance Audit?

In short, a government compliance audit ensures your business is compliant with financial, technological, environmental, and safety regulations.Whether your SBIR project provides products or services, there are government-mandated rules that must be satisfied. These audits confirm a particular standard is being met—and it takes many files, documents, and internal processes to verify your compliance.

Federal compliance investigators will evaluate IT security issues, taxation, accounting standards, health and safety regulations, and environmental protection. These actions measure how your organization follows specific rules related to government regulatory requirements.

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Essentially Equivalent Work

When competing for an SBIR award, participants often submit duplicate or similar proposals to more than one federal agency when solicitation involves identical topics.

However, it’s unlawful for applicants to submit “Essentially Equivalent Work” and receive funding for that work from SBIR or other federal programs.

Essentially Equivalent Work is wholly prohibited.

  • It is unlawful to enter into multiple contracts or grants requiring essentially equivalent work. Therefore, SBIR/STTR awardees must certify at the time of proposal submission and during the lifecycle of the award that they do not have any essentially equivalent work funded by the federal government.

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But what is considered unlawful Essentially Equivalent Work? There are mainly two definitions that government compliance investigators follow:

  • Work that is substantially the same research, which is proposed for funding in more than one contract proposal or grant application submitted to the same federal agency or submitted to two or more different federal agencies for review and funding consideration.
  • Work where a specific research objective and the research design for accomplishing the goal are the same or closely related to another proposal or award, regardless of the funding source.

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The bottom line is, absent any specific authorization in writing from a government agency, it’s considered a type of fraud to accept payment from multiple agencies for the same, or essentially equivalent, work. 

Suppose you think you might have submitted similar work to another agency. In that case, it’s crucial that you immediately disclose any similar proposals or awards to your target federal agency. Applicants submitting multiple proposals describing duplicate or essentially equivalent work must include a statement in each submission indicating:

  • Name and address of each agency to which proposals were submitted or from which awards were received.
  • Date of proposal submission or date of the award.
  • Title, number, and date of solicitations under which each proposal was submitted or awards received.
  • Specific relevant research topics for each proposal submitted or award received.
  • Titles of research projects.
  • Name and title of the principal investigator or project manager for each proposal submitted or award received.

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And this is no empty threat. 

There have been numerous incidents involving Essentially Equivalent Work, with the government proceeding with legal actions against small businesses that knowingly received multiple monetary awards for duplicate work. 

One such incident involved a small business owner applying for funding from NASA for a proposal after receiving funding from the Air Force for the same proposal. 

The small business owner subcontracted out significant portions of the grants and contracts, violating the written terms. 

The owner pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion after an investigation and was sentenced to 12 months of home confinement and five years probation. He also had to pay $1.4 million in restitution to the government and received a five-year ban on receiving federal grants or contracts. 


What is CAS (Cost Accounting Standards)?

While accounting standards exist throughout multiple contracting sectors, government contracting exists in a world all its own. It’s so singular in form and function that government contracting has its own set of accounting standards.

Known as CAS (Cost Accounting Standards), this government-focused accounting compliance requirement consists of a set of 19 standards that are designed to achieve complete uniformity and consistency in cost accounting practices. Configured by the Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB), these standards establish costs on negotiated acquisitions.

The 19 accounting standards of CAS are as follows:

  1. Consistency in Estimating, Accumulating and Reporting Cost
  2. Consistency in Allocating Costs Incurred for the Same Purpose
  3. Allocation of Home Office Expenses to Segments
  4. Capitalization of Tangible Assets
  5. Accounting for Unallowable Costs
  6. Cost Accounting Period
  7. Use of Standard Costs for Direct Material and Direct Labor
  8. Accounting for Costs of Compensated Personal Absence
  9. Depreciation of Tangible Capital Assets
  10. Allocation of Business Unit General and Administrative Expenses to Final Cost Objectives
  11. Accounting for Acquisition Costs of Material
  12. Composition and Measurement of Pension Costs
  13. Adjustment and Allocation of Pension Cost
  14. Cost of Money as an Element of the Cost of Facilities Capital
  15. Accounting for the Cost of Deferred Compensation
  16. Accounting for Insurance Cost
  17. Cost of Money as an Element of the Cost of Capital Assets Under Construction
  18. Allocation of Direct and Indirect Costs
  19. Accounting for Independent Research and Development Costs and Bid and Proposal Costs (IR&D and B&P)

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The main advantage of CAS is that it brings a level of consistency to accounting, with more accurate cost allocations and a higher degree of reliance on accounting systems. This reduces the risks of incorrect charging or the misallocation of funds. 

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What is FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation)?

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is another set of government compliance standards focusing on how contractors can charge the government for specific contracts.

FAR is all about “allowability.” 

It states what you can charge to the government through a contract and what you cannot. FAR safeguards government contracts with consistent, uniform policies and procedures within the acquisition process. It’s a set of accounting standards that defines when costs can be recovered under a federal contract. 

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For the full scope of FAR, check out this page on Acquisition.gov.

Though FAR and CAS sound similar, remember this primary difference between the two:

  • FAR deals with the allocability and allowability of cost.
  • CAS deals with the allocability of costs.

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What is DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency)?

For the most part, federal agencies rely on the Defense Contract Auditing Agency (DCAA) to perform the in-depth auditing process of any small business conducting research for SBIR.

DCAA auditing components typically include a review of your company’s financial stability and your company’s overall accounting system. What’s more, DCAA also evaluates your proposed indirect rates and confirms your payroll tax deposits.

And although there are multiple pre-award and post-selection audits to contend with, here are three of the most crucial audits you’ll experience with DCAA.

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Accounting System Adequacy (SF 1408)
The government will need to evaluate the configuration of your accounting system to ensure you’re following the necessary guidelines. This audit is intended for contracts that include:

  • Cost-sharing
  • Cost reimbursement
  • Cost-plus incentive fee
  • Cost-plus award fee
  • Cost-plus fixed fee
  • Fixed-price

Real-Time Labor Evaluations (Floor Check)

In this audit, DCAA will gauge the integrity of your timekeeping system, measuring if it accurately states labor costs and adequately identifies the time allocated to that labor. In addition, since labor costs are billed directly to the government, federal auditors will check and re-check your timekeeping system to ensure it holds up to rigid standards. 

The “floor check” refers to the element of surprise inherent in real-time labor evaluations. This audit happens with no advanced warning and will consist of employee interviews and timesheet examinations. The unannounced nature of this type of audit means you should have your timesheets in order and properly vetted!

Incurred Cost Submission

Establishing the final annual indirect costs rate and determining over/under billing over a given period, Incurred Cost Submission includes direct and indirect costs incurred by the contractor during the fiscal year. 

The Allowable Cost and Payment clause FAR 52.216-7 states that “a contractor must submit an adequate final indirect cost rate proposal to the contracting officer and auditor within six months of the conclusion of each fiscal year.”

This type of audit is conducted so that the government can either accept the proposed contractor’s final indirect rates or make adjustments as needed before issuing the final payment.

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What is DFARS (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement)?

For any organization to conduct business with the Department of Defense (DoD)—and other federal agencies—they must comply with stringent prerequisites. 

These rules and regulations limit who can access specific data, ensures participants have sufficient security education and training and protect the government’s investment with identity and access management (IAM) while also enlisting physical security safeguards in the workplace.

It all comes together in DFARS (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement).

DFARS is a set of rules followed by the government to oversee the purchase of goods, services, and technology. 

The requirements and regulations that constitute DFARS guarantee the integrity of sensitive information—also known as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)—that belongs to the government. 

All applicants seeking contract work with the DoD and other federal agencies must be DFARS compliant. This goes for small businesses, as well as large defense contractors. There are 14 critical areas of DFARS compliance, and these are as follows:

  1. Audit and Accountability
  2. Awareness and Training
  3. Access Controls
  4. Incident Response
  5. Identification and Authentication
  6. Configuration Management
  7. Media Protection
  8. Maintenance
  9. Personnel Security
  10. Physical Protection
  11. Security Assessment
  12. Risk Assessment
  13. System and Information Integrity
  14. System and Communications Protection

Illustration of computer laptop with security in place

Becoming compliant with DFARS begins with a comprehensive security assessment. If you are contracting work with the DoD, you should create a compliance team to monitor CUI and identify sensitive information, security shortfalls, and improvements that can be implemented.

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How to Prepare for Government Compliance

Government compliance and federal audits are a necessary, if stressful, part of the government contracting process. 

 

Whether you’re an SBIR or STTR applicant, you must prepare your organization and team for the rigorous rules and regulations. So start by making government compliance a fundamental part of your daily operations. 

 

Team 80 can step in and handle ALL of your accounting processes, doing the work necessary to ensure you comply with all of the federal government’s many accounting requirements. So enlist us to keep your records in order while you and your team aim for that all-important federal funding.


Is it time to start your SBIR/STTR government compliance journey? We’re here to help. Reach out to Team 80 today.

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Get A Free Consultation for Your Government Compliance Accounting Services

Ben Smith

Director of Governmental Accounting

Ben has worked in and around small business for the majority of his career. Ben didn’t start out as an accountant, but was actually a chef. In 2009 he opened his own catering business. The accounting duties for the catering company fell on Ben’s shoulders, and that was when he realized accounting was a much better fit for him! Ben is passionate about helping small business owners make their companies successful, and brings a highly varied set of experiences to the table to help in this pursuit. When he’s not crunching numbers he can be found hanging out with his wife Maaike and their Miniature Pinscher Milo, or pursuing his other passions which include skiing, windsurfing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, playing guitar and riding dirt bikes.

Been with Team 80: Since Sept 2018

Education
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Degree Name: Bachelor of Science (BS)
Field Of Study: Accounting
Graduated: 2016

Colorado State University
Degree Name: BA
Field Of Study: English
Graduated: 1995


Close Up of U.S. Air Force Transport Plane

The Air Force Helms Innovative Programs with AFWERX SBIR

The U.S. Air Force powers innovation through AFWERX, a team of technological advisers that pilot the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

AFWERX is a U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense (DoD) program that fosters small business technological innovation. Those innovations are funded via competition in the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), encouraging startups to research and develop products and services.

Illustration of Pilot with airplane in the background

Entrepreneurs who pilot startups often encounter three significant obstacles:

  • Coming up with the cash to fund their project.
  • Finding the market to fit the product they’ve developed.
  • Landing their first paying customer.

But when those entrepreneurs are developing commercial technology meant for the Air Force, there’s one group that can accelerate the process of overcoming obstacles and help break the sound barrier of innovation.

The Air Force’s AFWERX team runs a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, awarding contracts to entrepreneurs who aim high.

What Does AFWERX SBIR Stand For?

The acronym AFWERX does not represent a phrase or name abbreviation; “AF” stands for “Air Force,” and “WERX” is shorthand for “work project.”

It represents a U.S. Air Force program that fosters a culture of innovation within the service.

AFWERX, a team of technology advisors within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), seeks ground-breaking ideas and invests seed money to move projects from the laboratory into production.

The advisors accomplish this by overseeing the Air Force’s arm of the Department of Defense (DoD) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

As part of its effort to attract the best and brightest minds in technology, AFWERX hosts tech competitions, issues exploratory contracts to fund research and development, and matches startups with venture capital investors to spur paradigm-shifting ideas. AFWERX also includes sister organizations, including SOFWERX, MGMWERX, and DEFENSEWERX.



What is the AFWERX SBIR Mission?

First established in 2017 by the Secretary of the Air Force and reporting to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, AFWERX provides an environment conducive to thoughtful, deliberate, innovation.

Through open topic solicitations, small businesses can submit innovative solutions that have yet to be deployed in service to the DoD.

And we’re not only talking about developing wartime technology like fighter jets and bombers—the Air Force is a large and varied organization that requires a wide range of products in the medical field, construction, law enforcement, communications, energy, and more.

Essentially, any innovative technology that could be applied to a small city could have a use in the Air Force.

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What are AFVentures?

The Department of the Air Force’s commercial investment group, AFVentures, is a division of AFWERX that works to expand the number of small businesses working with the Air Force.

It accomplishes this by awarding small startups a development contract to help them survive the complex qualifying process for a defense contract.

Venture capital firms are often hesitant to work with companies that might not develop a high-margin product capable of quickly growing to produce a far greater return than the firm’s initial investment.

AFVentures levels the playing field, finding funding for startups through various programs—including Strategic Fund Increase, which sees AFVentures match a certain amount of funding already received by the startup via a private investor.

AFVentures give the DoD a window into the innovations outside of large contractors such as Raytheon and Boeing—helping the federal government tap into the valuable work being done to address nontraditional concerns, such as cyberwarfare.

Since it launched in 2018, AFVentures has awarded $710 million in contracts to various small business startups. Meanwhile, through the Air Force SBIR/STTR program, AFVentures even found itself on the frontlines of the nation’s response to the COVID pandemic, gathering and deploying valuable ideas about how to battle the virus.

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Who is Eligible for AFWERX SBIR?

The SBIR/STTR programs affiliated with AFWERX share many of the eligibility requirements of other government agencies. These eligibility requirements are as follows:

SBIR

  • Must be a for-profit business
  • Must be based in the U.S.
  • Must have 500 or fewer employees
  • The Principal Investigator must be primarily employed (more than 50 percent) with the small business applicant

STTR

  • Must be a for-profit business
  • Must be based in the U.S.
  • Must partner with a U.S. research institution
  • Must be a formal cooperative research and development effort
  • At least 40 percent of the work must be performed by the small business, with 30 percent of the work performed by the partnering research institution.


AFWERX SBIR Phases

Like other SBIR programs across the federal landscape, AFWERX comprises two main phases for research and development (R&D) and one ancillary phase mainly for commercialization purposes.

AFWERX SBIR Phase I

Most AFWERX Phase I SBIR program funding is awarded in response to open topic Commercial Solution Openings. CSOs are used to acquire innovative commercial projects, with open topics inviting industries to propose solutions to Air Force problems. To view the issues for which the Air Force seeks solutions, check out the AFVentures Focus Areas for Phase I.

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How Much Funding is Awarded in AFWERX SBIR Phase I?

The Air Force describes its AFWERX Phase I SBIR program funding as “small bets,” doling out between 1,000 and 1,500 Phase I awards to the tune of $50,000 each.

 

How Long Is AFWERX SBIR Phase I?

Each AFWERX SBIR Phase I award of $50,000 covers three months.

AFWERX SBIR Phase II

Approximately a third of Air Force Phase I awards have what it takes to transition to Phase II, which AFWERX describes as “medium bets.”

How Much Funding is Awarded in AFWERX SBIR Phase II?

The “medium bets” placed by AFWERX can total up to $750,000 per small business.

 

How Long Is AFWERX SBIR Phase II?

Each AFWERX SBIR Phase II award of $750,000 covers 15 months of prototype development.

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Yes! While AFWERX does not always guarantee the availability of Direct-to-Phase II (D2P2) opportunities, it is a program that is currently being made available.

D2P2 allows AFWERX to award an SBIR Phase II award to a small business, regardless if that small business was awarded any Phase I funding.

This page from AFWERX AFVentures helps to answer D2P2 specific questions.

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These funding sources enable AFWERX to emphasize big-ticket contracts and are intended to help the small businesses substantially increase the dollar amount received in awarded funds.

Highly beneficial but often tricky to navigate, Supplemental Funding Pilot Programs through AFWERX typically appear in two forms, Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) and Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI). Additionally, each supplemental funding opportunity has its own requirements and funding amounts.

Both STRATFI and TACFI are intended for companies that have already won an SBIR/STTR Phase II award in the last three years. These companies become eligible to receive additional funding through these supplemental programs to scale their Phase II efforts further.

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One of AFWERX’s Supplemental Funding Pilot Programs, STRATFI awards are between $3 million and $15 million of SBIR funding and cover up to 48 months of performance.

A matching component requires that non-SBIR funding be put up to receive the award. For every $1 of SBIR/STTR funds, companies must also receive $2 of other government funds or $1 of additional government funds and $2 of private funds.

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What is the Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI)?

Another of AFWERX’s Supplemental Funding Pilot Programs, TACFI, awards amounts from $375,000 to $1.7 million and up to 24 months of activity. For every dollar of SBIR/STTR funds, companies must also receive at least $1 of other government funding (non-SBIR/STTR) or $1 of private funding.

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AFWERX Research Topics

“Research topics” refer to the many diverse technology categories small businesses could research in their SBIR program proposal. The technology categories include: 

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Administration

  • Administrative Services
  • Dress and Appearance
  • Health/Physical Fitness
  • Personnel
  • Training/Learning

General Areas

  • Manufacturing
  • Advanced Materials
  • Base Infrastructure
  • Energy and Power
  • Energy and Efficiency
  • Maintenance

Information Technology

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Augmented, mixed, and virtual reality
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Cyber Security
  • Data
  • Data analytics
  • Electronics/Microelectronics
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Information Technology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Robotics

Mission Readiness

  • Aeromedical Evacuation
  • Air Refueling
  • Autonomy and Autonomous systems
  • Battle Management
  • Cargo Operations
  • Communications
  • Emergency Response
  • Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR)
  • Personnel Transportation
  • Physical Security/ Security Forces

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What is the Air Force SBIR Open Topic?

The federal agencies participating in the SBIR program present a set collection of topics they want you to research and develop into products and services.

While the Air Force takes part in this type of SBIR program solicitation, they also take a unique approach. 

The U.S. Air Force, through AFWERX, allows organizations to propose solutions for their “open topic” research area. This open topic can be any commercially viable technology that the small business believes could be potentially useful to the Air Force. 

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Essentially, Open Topic allows small businesses to solve problems that the Air Force doesn’t know they have.

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AFWERX SBIR Program Success Stories

Though the process of landing an AFWERX SBIR award from the DoD can be grueling, there are plenty of success stories to inspire you along the way.

Lickenbrock Technologies

Total SBIR Investment: $895,000

Missouri-based Lickenbrock Technologies developed Fast Expectation-Maximization Ordered Subsets (FEMOS), a reconstruction algorithm that creates scans with greater resolution and contrast than commercial computed tomography (CT) scans.

Funding through the Air Force AFWERX SBIR program, an investment of $895,000, helped Lickenbrock accelerate the speed of its algorithm to seven times the original speed, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to finish a scan. 

The SBIR investment improved the quality of the reconstructions and diversified the variety of specimens the system is capable of scanning.

With further development, Lickenbrock Technologies expects $500,000 to $1 million per year in commercial, industrial use profits. 

Specular Theory

Total SBIR Investment: $1.5 million

With SBIR funding, California-based Specular Theory developed a next-generation virtual reality flight simulation training system explicitly designed to guide pilots in the exact science of in-air refueling. 

Traditional air refueling training costs the Air Force thousands of dollars per flight and requires at least two aircraft and two full crews. 

This is where Specular Theory saw an opportunity for improvement. 

The virtual training program reduces the number of failures and helps reduce the number of times pilots must practice in real aircraft. As a result, the cost savings in that area alone are substantial. 

Traditional air refueling training costs the Air Force thousands of dollars per flight, which requires at least two aircraft and two full crews. 

Students often require extra flights to gain proficiency, adding cost and time. This virtual training program is connected to The Air Force SBIR funding allowing Specular Theory to adapt its existing products into an immersive student experience not typically available in consumer applications. 

SBIR invested close to $1.5 million into the project, while the product has pulled in $5 million in Phase III contracts for Specular Theory. 

iNovex Information Systems

Total SBIR Investment: $899,154

The Air Force’s SBIR program supported Maryland-based iNovex Information Systems in its effort to develop an open-source data collaboration platform known as Mobi-SRE. This platform pulls together and analyzes data for the weapon system design acquisition lifecycle. 

With this development, users can better use pre-existing data, accelerate the process, reduce errors, and increase access to more comprehensive and consistent information. 

This reduces the time it takes to get advanced weapon technology into the hands of the boots on the ground—or in the air. 

iNovex Information Systems utilized the investment to research the specific Air Force needs and limitations. Then, they used that information to specifically build and expand the data platform to address those problems. 

The Air Force SBIR invested $899,154 into the project, and the company has received close to $1.5 million in Phase III contracts. As a result, it is positioned to save the Air Force an estimated $5 million.

Are you a small business owner with innovative ideas? Get your AFWERX accounting in order with Team 80.

Get A Free Consultation for Your AFWERX SBIR Accounting Services
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Sarah Sinicki Photo

Sarah Sinicki

Partner & Director of Business Development at Team 80 LLC

Sarah is a Colorado native and loves everything about our beautiful state. In her free time you can find her spending time with her husband, two kids and her Yorkie named Marley. She also enjoys paddle-boarding, riding her cruiser bike, and just hanging out with friends and family. Sarah is also an avid Colorado Avalanche fan, so if you ever want to talk about hockey, she’s your gal. As one of the Partners of Team 80, she certainly does have a passion for helping small businesses. She is able to apply her 20 years of experience to tailor an accounting solution for a business owner no matter what industry they might be in.

Been with Team 80: May 2008

Education
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Degree Name: BS
Field Of Study Accounting
Graduated: 1998


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Federal Funding Assistance: SBIR Resources by State

Entrepreneurs working toward an SBIR award can access a wealth of resources in every state. 

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are presented by the federal government through a collection of 11 agencies and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBIR/STTR programs award capital to small businesses to fund the research and development of a product or service and marketing efforts. 

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Small businesses often need a boost from like-minded organizations—an infusion of wisdom from professionals who have been there, done that, and prospered. 

This is especially true for entrepreneurs diving into the competitive world of government grants and contracts. 

Programs like Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), two federal efforts that fund ground-breaking ideas across an array of projects, become attainable when you’ve got the support of vital resources.

With so many innovative minds spread throughout the country, these resources are available in every state. 

It coalesces into a comprehensive small business assistance network, from individualized business advisement and technical assistance to in-person counseling and training services. 

But what agencies offer SBIR/STTR support, and how can you, a small entrepreneurial business, receive the help you need to advance your innovation? 

Let’s take care of business and find out.

Resources Available to SBIR/STTR Applicants

In your quest for SBIR/STTR funding, you’re likely to encounter more than a few obstacles.

These barriers to project completion could be a shortage of capital, knowledge gaps in the application process, general business understanding, or a slew of other shortcomings.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone—not only do most small business people face similar challenges but there are pros out there who want to help you!

In this article, we’ll cover state-by-state resources while focusing on these specific programs:



What is the SBDC?

SBDC stands for Small Business Development Centers, a collection of programs spread throughout the country that provide training and counseling to small businesses and informational tools to support business start-ups and existing business expansion. 

Depending on where your business is located, you could have numerous SBDC programs at your disposal. To find the local SBDC serving your region, simply enter your zip code into the search bar on this page presented by the Small Business Administration. 

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Is SBDC the Same as SBA?

While not precisely the same, the SBDC is a partner program of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

This partnership fosters small businesses and jobs by providing educational resources to business owners and those looking to start a business. 

Meanwhile, the centers are typically hosted by colleges, universities, private sector organizations, and state economic development agencies.

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How Can SBDC Help My Small Business?

As previously mentioned, SBIR and STTR programs are incredibly competitive, and new entrepreneurs might feel overwhelmed by the guidelines and protocols that must be followed to obtain funding. That’s where the SBDC comes in. 

SBDC programs serve as an invaluable resource for business owners, passing along wisdom in the form of professional, high-quality, individualized business advisement and technical assistance. 

This assistance is made available to existing small businesses and pre-venture entrepreneurs. Simply put, SBDCs help you solve problems.

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And as you know, small business life is rife with problems, and SBDC can advise you in areas including:

  • Access to Capital
  • Development and Exchange of New Technologies
  • Business Planning Improvement
  • Strategy Development
  • Operations Streamlining
  • Financial Management
  • Personnel Administration

  • Marketing Expertise
  • Export Assistance
  • Sales Deployment
  • Management Improvement
  • Increased Productivity
  • Growth & Expansion
  • Overall Innovation

Professionally inspired advancement in all areas can significantly increase your chances of SBIR program success!

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What are Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC)?

Government contracts can be some of the most lucrative business deals that any entrepreneur can hope to obtain. Federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense, offer tremendous financial opportunities, buying all types of products and services—in both large and small quantities—directly from small businesses that develop innovations through the SBIR.

Part of a Federal Contracting Assistance effort managed by the SBA, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) lend a hand to small businesses by providing technical assistance in selling products or services to federal, state, and local governments.

Along with that overall mission, PTACs can help you:

  • Determine if your business is ready for federal contracting
  • Prepare you to register in the proper places
  • Measure your eligibility for small business certifications
  • Assist in the research of previous contracting opportunities

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Guided by Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs), small businesses can win federal contracts by learning procurement strategies before the agreements are even announced to the public.

PCRs can also conduct market research, assist with payment issues, and serve as your guiding light through the entire contracting process.

You can find your state’s local PTAC by entering your zip code in the search bar on this page.

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What is Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)?

Business development resources also extend to other specific small business sectors, including U.S. manufacturers.

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program consists of a nationwide network of centers that provide manufacturers with the tools necessary to enhance growth, reduce costs, improve productivity, and expand capacity.

MEPs are everywhere, with more than 440 locations spread throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Each center delivers customized services and resources calibrated to match the needs of individual small- and mid-sized manufacturers.

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MEP programs help businesses focus on:

  • Lean and Continuous Improvement 
  • Growth and Innovation
  • Supply Chain Issues
  • Keeping Operations in America
  • Sustainability
  • Technology Acceleration
  • Workforce Challenges

Check out the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) MEP resource page for contact information and economic impacts from all 50 states and Puerto Rico. 

Manufacturers can also utilize the NIST interactive map to find a local MEP center or view the MEP Center quick list for phone numbers, email addresses, websites, and more.

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What is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Proof-of-Concept Center (POCC)?

A Proof-of-Concept Center is part of a more extensive Proof-of-Concept Network (POCN) powered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

The network engages academic innovators to support the conversion of scientific discoveries into actual medical products, while training the biomedical workforce to be globally competitive in technology development and entrepreneurship. 

Spanning more than 100 universities in 34 states and Puerto Rico, the POCN is manifested through three programs: NIH Centers for Accelerated Innovations (NCAI), Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hubs (REACH), and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ STTR Regional Technology Transfer Accelerator Hubs for IDeA States

As of December 2021, the POCN has worked with 386 projects by more than 100 startups, resulting in close to 50 SBIR/STTR awards and $1.58 billion in funding. 

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These additional state-by-state resources include:

  • Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program
  • SBA Growth Accelerator
  • SBA Regional Innovation Cluster
  • Build-to-Scale (B2S)
  • MBDA Business Center

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These additional state-by-state resources include:

  • Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program
  • SBA Growth Accelerator
  • SBA Regional Innovation Cluster
  • Build-to-Scale (B2S)
  • MBDA Business Center

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To find local SBIR/STTR assistance in your state, access the search functions presented by the SBA on this page or find your state below.

SBIR STATE RESOURCES


Sarah Sinicki Photo

Sarah Sinicki

Partner & Director of Business Development at Team 80 LLC

Sarah is a Colorado native and loves everything about our beautiful state. In her free time you can find her spending time with her husband, two kids and her Yorkie named Marley. She also enjoys paddle-boarding, riding her cruiser bike, and just hanging out with friends and family. Sarah is also an avid Colorado Avalanche fan, so if you ever want to talk about hockey, she’s your gal. As one of the Partners of Team 80, she certainly does have a passion for helping small businesses. She is able to apply her 20 years of experience to tailor an accounting solution for a business owner no matter what industry they might be in.

Been with Team 80: May 2008

Education
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Degree Name: BS
Field Of Study Accounting
Graduated: 1998


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Prime Information Regarding the USDA SBIR Program

SBIR awards granted by the USDA give small businesses the power to enhance American agriculture. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is one of 11 federal agencies participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Through SBIR, the USDA offers competitively awarded grants to eligible and qualified small businesses that develop products, services, and processes to address problems in agriculture and provide significant public benefits.

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In facilitating comprehensive accounting services for a slew of small businesses, Team 80 has come across many important initiatives that aim to better the lives of countless individuals. This front-row seat to meaningful innovation is one of the many perks we enjoy while crunching numbers for clients.

The strides made by startups awarded funds through the USDA’s SBIR program are truly impressive—altering the very landscape of American agriculture, the environment, rural communities, and rural healthcare.

Throughout this article, we’ll examine the finer details of the USDA program and tell you everything you need to know to apply. We’ll also highlight some of the most remarkable awardees.

What Does USDA SBIR Stand For?

USDA SBIR stands for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the USDA’s SBIR program awards projects that focus on bolstering American agriculture while protecting the environment and strengthening rural communities and the healthcare that keeps them safe.

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What is the USDA SBIR Mission?

The USDA is one of 11 federal agencies participating in the SBIR program, which awards grants and funds to eligible small businesses. The USDA seeks to select qualified small companies with proposals for high-quality, advanced research projects through the SBIR program. The research must relate to scientific opportunities and issues within agriculture, with the ultimate goal of benefiting the public.

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The USDA’s SBIR program stimulates technological innovations in the private sector, strengthens the role of small businesses in federal research projects, increases the potential commercialization of innovations, and fosters the advancement of women-owned and socially or economically disadvantaged small businesses.

Ultimately, the USDA wants these SBIR projects to provide solutions for American agricultural efforts and society. This is facilitated by combining science, research, production, and marketing in a way that transforms innovative ideas into practical realities.

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USDA SBIR Phase I

Open to all eligible small businesses, Phase I establishes the first step in the USDA’s SBIR process. The objective is to determine the scientific feasibility of the small business idea and map out its commercial potential.

How Much is the USDA SBIR Phase I Award?

The funding limit for the USDA SBIR Phase I award is $100,000.

The duration of the USDA SBIR Phase I is eight months.

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USDA SBIR Phase II

Open only to previous Phase I awardees, USDA SBIR Phase II continues the research and development established in Phase I while scaling up the efforts and funds awarded. Phase II also allows the small business to begin planning commercialization and implementing the technology, product, or service.

The funding limit for the USDA Phase II award is $600,000.

How Do I Apply for a USDA SBIR Award?

To apply for a USDA SBIR award, you must first establish whether or not your company is eligible.  Eligibility comes down to your company’s size, ownership, and control requirements—all established by the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Guide to SBIR/STTR Program Eligibility. The requirements include:

  • Must be a small business in the U.S. with no more than 500 employees, including affiliates.
  • It must be a for-profit business.
  • Must be more than 50 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens.
  • The bulk of the ownership and work must reside with the grant recipient, though you may have business partners and contract out a minor share of the work.

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Move forward with your application process by registering your business on the SBIR/STTR Company Registry. This gives you access to the SBIR.gov system and will provide you with a unique control ID for all of your submissions.

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What are the USDA Research Topics?

The USDA addresses various agricultural, environmental, community, and health concerns, represented by specific SBIR research areas. Research topics include:

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  • Forests and Related Resources
    • Projects related to forests and grasslands’ health, diversity, and productivity. The main area of focus should be on sustaining forest resources, addressing the impact of climate change, developing value-added materials, and protecting existing ecosystems.

  • Plant Production and Protection — Biology
    • A biological approach to enhancing crop production and protection. Projects should aim to reduce the impact of harmful agents, advance plant improvement methods, and develop new food and specialty crops.

  • Plant Production and Protection — Engineering
    • An engineering approach to the same crop enhancement and protections mentioned above, this area utilizes economically and environmentally sound production, post-harvest, and storage systems. 

  • Animal Production and Protection
    • Supports the development of innovative technologies that assist agricultural concerns and animal producers to improve efficiency while preventing disease and outbreaks, conserving resources, and reducing production costs.

  • Conservation of Natural Resources
    • Focused on air, soil, and water, this area creates tech for conserving and protecting essential natural resources. Projects must work to sustain farm and forest productivity by reducing erosion, enhancing quality, developing irrigation techniques, reducing pollution, and promoting these transformative technologies. 

  • Food Science and Nutrition
    • Efforts in this area must develop products and processes related to what we eat and how it relates to health. Projects can work to improve processing and packaging methods for better quality and nutritional value, promote programs and products that increase the consumption and understanding of healthy foods, and reduce childhood obesity.

  • Rural and Community Development
    • Improve the economic vitality of rural communities and reduce poverty by conceptualizing and commercializing tech, products, processes, and services. In addition, projects should enhance the efficiency and equity of public and private investments, build a diversified workforce, and increase resilience to disasters. 

  • Aquaculture
    • Projects include a wide array of concerns related to ocean life, such as increasing reproductive efficiency and genetic improvement in fish and shellfish, enhancing animal health, food safety, production efficiency, cost-effective production of alternative proteins, and reducing water usage.

 

  • Biofuels and Biobased Products
    • Efforts should promote product usage through innovative technologies that increase bio-production from agriculture materials and provide new opportunities to diversify agriculture’s role in the raw materials industry. 

 

  • Small and Mid-Size Farms
    • Projects aimed at increasing the sustainability and profitability of farms and ranches through plant, animal, organic, and natural products. There are also opportunities to enhance farm safety, increase operational efficiency, and conserve natural resources. 

SBIR Phase I TABA

  • Phase I awardees can request an additional $6,500 through TABA. Applicants awarded a USDA SBIR Phase I grant will receive a contact from a USDA-funded vendor on what services are available and how to obtain those services at no cost to your business. If you select your own TABA provider, you must include this as “Other Direct Costs” in your budget. You must also have a detailed budget justification and a signed letter of commitment from the provider. 

SBIR Phase II TABA

  • Phase II awardees can request up to an additional $50,000 through TABA. Grant recipients in Phase II must select their own TABA vendor while also including the requested TABA amount in their budget as “Other Direct Costs” and provide a detailed budget justification and a signed letter of commitment from the vendor.

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Note: TABA funds may not be used for research and development (R&D) activities that the grant funds otherwise support. However, electing to use TABA will not take away from a company’s R&D budget. Instead, it is in addition to the USDA SBIR grant and can only be used for TABA services.

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The highly competitive nature of the SBIR program makes it a grueling process—but it’s this characteristic that also makes winning the award deeply gratifying. Over the years, USDA SBIR Phase II awardees have run the gamut from projects that enhance food safety and nutrition to projects that fortify agricultural efforts and animal protection. To give you a general idea of what it takes to receive a grant from the USDA, here are some past winners of the agency’s SBIR program Phase II.

Whole Trees, LLC

Answering the call by USDA officials to “develop new markets for forest byproducts that encourage healthy timber management,” Whole Trees, LLC created value from an abundant, near-waste byproduct of well-managed forests. The Wisconsin-based company utilized the $579,540 Phase II award to develop a process to use de-barked, un-milled whole timbers and proprietary steel connections as a cost-competitive and environmentally sound structural building material for columns, beams, and truss assemblies in place of steel, concrete, or milled lumber. The R&D led to an expanded supply chain, improved design values, associated cost reductions, and enhanced product safety, performance, and reliability.

Green Heron Tools

Thirty percent of U.S. farmworkers are women. However, farming tools have never been explicitly designed with women in mind. That all changed with Green Heron Tools, a woman-owned, Pennsylvania-based company that received SBIR Phase II awards totaling $532,157. Green Heron Tools developed a new line of ergonomically efficient garden tools to address the specific needs of women’s bodies. The Phase II award led to the development and commercialization of HERShoval, a safer, scientifically designed alternative to standard unisex tools and tools made smaller solely for aesthetic purposes.

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The USDA’s SBIR Directly Serves Citizens

Projects born from the USDA’s SBIR program seem geared explicitly toward addressing the overarching health of the average citizen and the day-to-day issues faced by America’s working farmers. It’s innovation with an immediate impact!

However, that impact can be dulled if you fall short of SBIR accounting requirements.

Like the SBIR programs across all federal agencies, the USDA boasts accounting rules and regulations that can seriously slow progress. The requirements are numerous and highly consequential, from the separation of direct and indirect costs to general ledger management to error-free timekeeping records.

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Team 80 has the experience necessary in the arena of government grants to make this process as headache-free as possible—giving you the bandwidth to focus on your innovation.

Get A Free Consultation for Your USDA SBIR Accounting Services
Sarah Sinicki Photo

Sarah Sinicki

Partner & Director of Business Development at Team 80 LLC

Sarah is a Colorado native and loves everything about our beautiful state. In her free time you can find her spending time with her husband, two kids and her Yorkie named Marley. She also enjoys paddle-boarding, riding her cruiser bike, and just hanging out with friends and family. Sarah is also an avid Colorado Avalanche fan, so if you ever want to talk about hockey, she’s your gal. As one of the Partners of Team 80, she certainly does have a passion for helping small businesses. She is able to apply her 20 years of experience to tailor an accounting solution for a business owner no matter what industry they might be in.

Been with Team 80: May 2008

Education
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Degree Name: BS
Field Of Study Accounting
Graduated: 1998