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Anti-Hustle Resources for Entrepreneurs

An entrepreneurial life can quickly become overwhelming when you try to juggle too many tasks at one time.

While “hustling” has become a way of life for some small business owners, the Anti-Hustle Movement puts a greater emphasis on the inner well-being and health of everyone in the workforce. Rather than overworking to the point of burnout, Anti-Hustle inspires entrepreneurs to achieve success by working smarter, not necessarily harder.

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Everyday we’re hustlin’.

Somewhere along the way, having a good work ethic became synonymous with entrepreneurial hustle—and now people are expected to burn the candle at both ends and neglect their personal life to reach the pinnacle of their chosen industry.

To be honest, that sounds more like a nightmare than the American Dream. 

We believe it’s time to wake up from that old way of thinking about the entrepreneurial lifestyle. But how does one break free from Hustle Culture? What tools and resources are available to entrepreneurs looking to change their everyday narrative? Also, what is Hustle Culture? 

In this blog, Team 80 answers those questions and more. 

What is Hustle Culture?

Hustle culture refers to the relentless pursuit of money and power. It’s a pursuit that includes working relentlessly and continuously, regardless of the toll it takes on one’s health and personal life. And while the phrase “hustle culture” makes it sound aspirational, another way to put it is “burnout culture.”

Some say the idea of “hustling” rose to prominence thanks to a 2006 song by rapper Rick Ross.

However, the smart money says that the Great Recession of 2008 and the fact that life has grown excessively expensive is to blame for the never-ending work cycle for entrepreneurs. Especially for Millennials and Generation Z, there’s a prevailing thought that one must work long hours and start a side business to weather the rough economic times.

Hustle culture describes the incessant need for entrepreneurs to keep up with an ever-accelerating world. In this culture, entrepreneurs work an insane number of hours, up to 60 hours per week. And when they’re not working, entrepreneurs spend their off time thinking about work. It’s unsustainable and not conducive to a healthy life!

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What is the Anti-Hustle Culture Movement?

The world slowed down considerably during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Not only did office workers clock out and go home for an extended period, many decided not to go back in a phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. That event brought with it a wave of Anti-Hustle Culture, a growing disquiet among workers railing against long hours, and an off-kilter work-life balance.

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And within that movement came an opportunity for innovative minds to let their entrepreneurial spirit shine. As a result, anti-Hustle groups were founded, giving other entrepreneurs the resources necessary to reclaim their life without sacrificing all of the benefits inherent in a healthy measure of work hustle. Within the last few years, Anti-Hustle Groups have popped up on Facebook—The Anti-Hustle Club and The Anti-Hustle Academy, for example—with the expressed purpose of giving entrepreneurs the resources they need to avoid the pitfalls of Hustle Culture.

These groups are populated by entrepreneurs doling out advice—nuggets of wisdom, including how to fund an entrepreneurial project, gather human capital, network, and gain the education necessary to arm oneself with knowledge.  Back To Top


Let’s take a look at some of their secrets here:

How to Get Funding for Your Entrepreneurial Idea

Every year, we all gripe about having to hand over our hard-earned money to the government in the form of taxes—but did you know that certain government agencies are holding funds that they have to give to small businesses by law?

That’s right. Federal agencies with research and development (R&D) budgets that exceed $100 million are required to allocate a certain percentage of their funds. These funds, doled out in grants and other financial awards, are initiated through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA works with 11 specific government agencies, facilitating Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Netting funds via this process can be difficult, with plenty of hustle required, but once achieved, it releases you from the constant worry of disappearing cash.

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Government Agencies that Participate in SBIR/STTR

Innovative ideas that are also marketable run the gamut from environmentally-minded to defense-related. As such, the 11 federal agencies that participate in SBIR/STTR are just as varied as the innovative minds of entrepreneurs.

Here are the government departments that could fund your next big idea:

  1. Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers grants to qualified small businesses supporting research related to scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture, particularly those that significantly benefit the public. 

  1. Department of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) engages with businesses, communities, universities, and workers to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved living standards. 

  1. Department of Defense 

The Department of Defense provides high-tech, small businesses with the opportunity to propose innovative research and development solutions in response to critical defense needs. 

  1. Department of Education

The Department of Education (ED) funds for-profit technology firms to research, develop, and evaluate commercially viable education technology products. 

  1. Department of Energy

The Department of Energy (DOE) selects topics spanning the fields of energy production and use, fundamental energy sciences, energy storage and security, environmental management, and defense nuclear nonproliferation.

  1. Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) seeks paradigm-shifting expertise that can be applied to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. 

  1. Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides qualified small business concerns with opportunities to propose innovative ideas that meet specific homeland security research and development technology needs. 

  1. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awards contracts to domestic small businesses working on research and development to solve the country’s transportation woes. 

  1. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) searches for entrepreneurs who utilize innovative technologies in the stewardship of the environment, with the mission of protecting human health and the environment. 

  1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) inspires generations of geniuses to investigate impossibly far-away lands by funding the development of space-age technology. 

  1. National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) develops scientific and engineering innovations into products and services with a societal impact.



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Other Types Of Funding For Entrepreneurs 

Funding can come from a variety of sources outside of the federal government. Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Crowdfunding. Online crowdfunding sites are all the rage these days. Used to assist businesses in raising money to launch a specific product, crowdfunding is also an excellent way to pre-sell while gathering capital to develop and build products.
  • Bank Loans. Also known as a line of credit, a bank loan requires proof that you have a history of paying back debt. You’ll also need to deliver a business plan, a financial forecast, and perhaps some collateral.
  • Angel Investors. These are high-net-worth individuals who receive an equity stake in return for financing. They are often profiteers who are business savvy and not afraid to share their knowledge with you. While they ultimately want your business to grow, angel investors are not shy about scrutinizing your business plan.
  • Venture Capital. Similar to angel investors, venture capitalists receive equity in exchange for financing. And like mutual funds, venture capital funds pool money together from an array of investors. This means you’ll likely have to cede some control and equity.

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What is Human Capital and the Gig Economy?

A business is only as good as the people it employs—this is true for small businesses, large enterprises, and everything in between. 

All of us possess intangible talents and traits that are not listed on a company’s balance sheet. These unquantifiable qualities are collectively known as Human Capital and include valuable assets such as intelligence and education, training and skills, health, loyalty, and punctuality. All of these qualities add up to equal Human Capital or the economic value of each worker. 

Human Capital is out there, in the workforce, waiting to be scooped up and utilized by employers. A massive amount of talent exists in the Gig Economy, a labor market full of independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers, and temporary workers. 

Flexibility is inherent in the Gig Economy. Independent contractors choose the jobs they want to take on, often collecting multiple gigs at once. As a result, the Gig Economy makes valuable Human Capital more available to employers while giving workers the power to build an ideal work-life balance—it all comes together to fly in the face of Hustle Culture.

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Gig Economy Resources For Entrepreneurs

Whether you’re an independent contractor looking for work or a recruiter looking to fill a vital role, several companies have become a driving force of the Gig Economy. Here are a few companies ensuring the Gig Economy keeps chugging along. 

  • Fiverr: was started in 2010 offers the opportunity for freelancers in just about any digital creative field to provide their services to a global marketplace.
  • Upwork: One of the largest freelance marketplaces trusted by millions of businesses, including Microsoft, Airbnb, and GoDaddy. Upwork serves both entry-level and experienced freelancers equally.
  • Freelancer: The world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace, connects 60 million employers and freelancers from 247 countries. 
  • TaskRabbit: Connecting people who need help with odd jobs and errands with local people who have the time and skills to do them, TaskRabbit offers flexible, local, one-off, or ongoing jobs to suit anyone’s schedule.  
  • Guru: Boasting hundreds of thousands of clients worldwide, $250 million paid to freelancers, and a high client satisfaction rate, Guru targets professionals rather than entry-level freelancers and offers paid memberships to help users rank higher on the site’s search results.

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Why Networking Is Crucial For Entrepreneurs?

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that “burnout culture” is a more straightforward way of describing the truth behind Hustle Culture. Burnout decimates creativity and stifles a small business’s ability to move beyond the initial stages of entrepreneurship and into the realm of paradigm-shifting success.  

Avoiding burnout will always be one of the top priorities of anyone making their way through the workforce—and networking is one of the best ways to soothe a flare-up of burnout.

A dynamic network of industry peers helps entrepreneurs learn about various topics from a global perspective. Populated by experts in multiple fields, counterparts in your chosen sector, and motivational individuals dispensing sage advice, a good networking connection opens entrepreneurs to a rich bastion of knowledge and opportunity. 

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Remember: you’ve yet to receive the best advice you’ll ever get. That valuable knowledge waits for you when you build a network of like-minded individuals. Here are the best ways for an entrepreneur to build a robust and beneficial network:

  1. Stay In Touch

You’ve already made the trek through schools and various places of employment—these stops along the way to your own business are dotted with people who can become valuable assets. They are your connection to new clients and customers, as well as potential team members. Keep these people in life through simple means: Drop them an email to check-in, engage with them on social media (in a positive way), send them a holiday card, or invite them to a networking meeting you plan on attending. 


  1. Organize or Attend a Meeting

Networking events are everywhere, even online in a virtual world. Plan to attend, volunteer, or organize a network meeting. These events bring all of the important, valuable minds into one place and encourage them to share their knowledge with other attendees. You’ll never know just how beneficial these networking events can be until you attend one! And to organize your own, check out some options on social media platforms, as well as helpful sites such as 


  1. Get Your Name Out There

And finally, make yourself a valuable source of information. This will inspire people to seek you out. If you’re an entrepreneur, you hold a treasure trove of information to help others in your exact situation. Get your name out there by sitting on panels, speaking at public events, doing a podcast interview, or even starting your own podcast. You can also create an entrepreneurial-themed blog, publish articles in various trade publications, or, as mentioned earlier, plan a networking event of your own.

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Grow Your Entrepreneurial Leadership Skills Through Education

Skilling up expands your knowledge and equips you with the tools you need to become a thought leader in your field. Thought leaders offer unique guidance and inspire innovation based on their expertise and perspective built from years of continuing education. 

Often, those providing education for entrepreneurs were once new to their chosen field. They’ve been there, done that. So your best bet is to absorb their knowledge and apply it to your own anti-hustle lifestyle. 

Check out this handy list of 25 podcasts, books, and other resources for entrepreneurs!


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Accounting For Entrepreneurs: Stop Guessing & Know Your Numbers

Fighting the good fight as an entrepreneur is an endeavor that requires all of your attention. Throw in accounting, and you can quickly devolve into a new level of frazzled. Accounting is a daily task vital to your survival as a small business. But, unfortunately, the time it takes to do it right can take you away from other things that need your attention.

Partnering with an accounting firm is one of the most significant steps you can take in the Anti-Hustle Movement. Bookkeeping, monthly accounting, cash-flow forecasting, operational support, and even out-sourced CFO functionality are all enormous responsibilities—and Team 80 is not only highly skilled at these tasks, but it’s also why we’re here. So make the right choice in work-life balance and find out how you fit in with the crew at Team 80.

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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

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

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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: SBIR Requirements

The Department of Defense’s DARPA—Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—boasts a specific set of SBIR requirements.

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program seeks advanced technology for use within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). DARPA awards funds to small businesses that research and develop operationally ready technology that reaches beyond current military capabilities.

At times, innovation is all that stands between us and unimaginable threats. 

The challenge is cultivating these innovative ideas and funding them into reality. This is where the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) comes into play. 

A research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), DARPA targets emerging technologies for use by the military—developing everything from precision guidance and navigation, to stealth and uncrewed aerial vehicles, to night vision, communications, networking, and so much more.

DARPA utilizes the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) opportunities to inspire innovation among the best and brightest minds to keep pace with the changing face of defense, science, and technology worldwide.

In this blog, we’ll dig into the details of DARPA SBIR, uncovering everything you need to know to find a topic, navigate the phases, and procure the funding you need.

Why is DARPA Important to the Department of Defense?

DARPA catalyzes the development of technologies that maintain and advance the capabilities and technical superiority of the U.S. military. Research funded by DARPA contributes crucial advancements that are applied in real-world situations, from the battlefield to the boardroom. Military and commercial technologies such as precision-guided missiles, stealth, and personal electronics have all been conjured into existence by DARPA DoD.

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As it is in other government agencies, the DARPA SBIR program is the principal, set-aside program for small businesses to participate in federal research and development funding for an array of projects.

DARPA’s SBIR program is unique compared to other government agencies’ SBIR programs. In the name of innovation and defense, there is a culture of risk-taking deeply embedded in the fabric of DARPA. 

Leaders in the agency are willing to cast a wide net searching for science and technology that can be applied for defense purposes. As such, there is a high tolerance for failure. While this might sound like a negative, it actually means that the DARPA SBIR program stands as the model for inspiring innovative minds to flex their creative muscles.

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What are the Phases of DARPA SBIR?

DARPA’s SBIR program consists of three distinct phases.

Phase I kicks off after the Department of Defense announces that the agency is seeking contract proposals to conduct feasibility, experimental, or theoretical research and development projects related to the agency’s mission. These projects, defined by topics in a program announcement, can be narrow or general in scope.

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The object of Phase I is to determine the scientific and technical merit of the proposal while measuring the value and quality of performance of the small business concern. To work in Phase I, the small business is awarded a relatively small agency investment. Proposals are evaluated competitively using the criteria published in the agency’s program announcement.

If your small business achieves its goals in Phase I, you can move on to Phase II. In the second phase of this journey, your small business continues the research and development effort completed in Phase I. All small businesses that win a Phase I award receive a notice describing when to submit their Phase II proposal. The agency bases its decision on the results of the work completed in Phase I, along with the scientific, technical, and commercial potential of the Phase II proposal.

After Phase II is awarded and completed, your small business concern moves on to Phase III, which is typically oriented toward the SBIR-funded research or technology commercialization. Phase III generally refers to work that extends or completes any efforts made under prior SBIR funding agreements but is funded by sources other than the SBIR program, such as private investors.

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Who is Eligible for DARPA SBIR?

To be eligible for the DARPA SBIR program, applicants must follow specific criteria.

Eligible applicants MUST:

  • Be independently owned and operated
  • Organized for-profit
  • Conduct their principal business in the U.S.
  • Be a small business with 500 or fewer employees, including affiliates
  • Meet the benchmark requirements for progress toward commercialization
  • Perform a minimum of two-thirds of the effort in Phase I and half of the effort in Phase II
  • Have the principal investigator spend more than half of the time employed by the proposing firm

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What is the DARPA SBIR/STTR Enhancement Program?

The DARPA SBIR/STTR Enhancement Program is a golden opportunity for any small business that reaches Phase II. Through the Enhancement Program, the DARPA Small Business Programs Office provides small businesses with up to $500,000 of matching funds IF they obtain a commitment of non-SBIR/STTR funding from a DARPA technology office, Department of Defense component, other federal agency, or commercial investor.

Enhancement funding applies to an active Phase II contract, which extends the performance period by up to one year. However, a new Phase II contract may be awarded if appropriate. Applications for the Enhancement Program are reviewed for overall merit, transition potential, commercialization strategy, and the value to the DARPA mission.

Check out this document for more information on the DARPA SBIR/STTR Enhancement Program.

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What are the DARPA SBIR Topics?

Active and archived DARPA SBIR topics can be accessed via the portal found at, which features a complete listing of potential project topics related to the Department of Defense and, more specifically, to DARPA itself. On that page, click on the DARPA tab to view the active DARPA topics and read the application instructions.

There are currently five active DARPA topics:

  1. Innovative Fabrication Techniques for Millimeter-wave Linear Beam Vacuum Electron Devices
  2. Readout Integrated Circuit Development for 2-micron Cutoff Linear Mode Staircase Avalanche Photodiodes
  3. Hardening Aircraft Systems through Hardware (HASH)
  4. Ontology-Based Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Tools
  5. Advanced Intuitive Interfaces

Closing Dates vary from on June 15, 2022 – July 14, 2022
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What are Some of the DARPA SBIR Winners?

Though some of the agency’s ongoing projects are kept secret for national security reasons, a list of successful DARPA SBIR award winners reads like a collection of plot devices from sci-fi, action-adventure films.

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Nextgen Aeronautics, Inc. was awarded funding in 2014 to develop a sonar-based miniature navigation sensor system for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV). With a Phase II award of more than $1.4 million, the solution combined advanced sonar technology with software modules capable of learning positioning and velocity in real-time. 

SecondWave Systems, Inc. developed the SecondWave MINI™, a noninvasive device that can reduce chronic and acute inflammation using focused ultrasound energy for its SBIR award. According to the company’s research, military veterans suffer from the onset of inflammatory diseases at twice the rate of the civilian population. 

The SecondWave MINI™ uses a phased array ultrasonic system with advanced steering and focusing and intelligent, adaptive targeting. Worn on a patient’s torso, it delivers targeted ultrasound that modulates the spleen, causing an anti-inflammatory effect to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions. 

And finally, Firefly Aerospace launched its SBIR project through DARPA to enable the next generation of space access. The small business developed a simple, efficient, and streamlined pump-fed engine system explicitly designed to provide cost-feasible access to space for small payload vehicles—taking full advantage of the newfound fascination with low-Earth orbit space travel.

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What are the Six Technology Offices That Manage DARPA’s Research Portfolio?

DARPA’s research programs are conducted under the oversight of six technical offices, each charged with developing breakthrough technologies in the name of defense.

The six offices under the DARPA umbrella include:

  1. Defense Sciences Office (DSO). Identifies and pursues high-risk, high-payoff research initiatives across a broad spectrum of science and engineering disciplines. DSO themes include math, computation, sensing and sensors, complex social systems, and anticipating surprise. 
  2. Information Innovation Office (I2O). Technical core work ranges from artificial intelligence and data analysis to secure engineering and formal methods. The office endeavors to address network security, cyber-, and multi-domain operations, human-system interaction, and assured autonomy. 
  3. Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). Develops high-performance intelligent microsystems and next-generation technological components in a vast array of defense concerns, including command, control, communications, computing, surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence. 
  4. Strategic Technology Office (STO). Focuses on technologies that enable fighting as a network to increase military effectiveness, cost leverage, and adaptability. Using a strategy called “Mosaic Warfare,” STO seeks to develop fast, scalable, and adaptive joint multi-domain fighting techniques. 
  5. Tactical Technology Office (TTO). Another high-risk, high-payoff research office, TTO, works to provide or prevent strategic and tactical surprises. The office develops and demonstrates revolutionary new platforms in-ground, maritime, air, and space systems. 
  6. Biological Technologies Office (BTO). Embracing the properties of biology—adaptation, replication, and complexity—BTO revolutionizes how the U.S. defends itself and protects soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. 

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Accounting Requirements of the DARPA SBIR Program

Much like other federal agencies, DARPA SBIR solicitations must be led by an acceptable accounting system and cost data, including procedures for pricing prototyping requirements and time record keeping. Anything less than stellar will not net DARPA SBIR awards. 

Team 80’s accounting experts are well versed in the many crucial details involved in both SBIR and STTR project efforts. So as you work on perfecting your project proposal, we’ll deploy our accounting tools and ensure your team can defend against any scrutiny of your numbers.


Ben Smith Photo

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

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

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The Anatomy of a Winning DOE SBIR Grant

As one of 11 federal agencies participating in the Small Business Innovation Research program, the U.S. Department of Energy has a unique metric for success.

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The Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is a highly competitive three-phase process. Small businesses seeking DOE SBIR award funds must propose innovative ideas that meet the federal government’s specific research and development needs.

So you’ve got your amazingly innovative idea ready for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at the federal government’s Department of Energy (DOE). Now what? How can you increase your chances of actually scoring funds?

This blog will look to answer that grand question and a few more minor queries along the way. But first, let’s define the basics.

What Does DOE SBIR Stand For?

DOE SBIR stands for “Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research.” Established by Congress, SBIR programs at the DOE support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds, with the expressed purpose of meeting critical needs and helping build a robust national economy.

Beyond the DOE, the government program consists of 11 federal agencies with considerable research and development (R&D) budgets. These agencies set aside a fraction of their budgets for competition among small businesses, who keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology, should they win the award.

What Is STTR?

STTR stands for “Small Business Technology Transfer” and refers to another type of competitive awards-based program sponsored by federal government agencies.

How is STTR Different from SBIR?

The STTR program focuses primarily on expanding public-private partnerships to include collaboration with nonprofit research institutions, particularly research universities. STTR projects require that any efforts in R&D are divided between the small business and its research partner. What’s more, STTR projects allow small companies to appoint a principal investigator who the nonprofit research partner employs.

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How Many Program Offices Are Involved in the STTR/SBIR DOE Program?

Thirteen total program offices work collaboratively with the SBIR/STTR programs throughout the DOE. 

Each of these program offices considers its own high-priority research needs and program mission and the goals for the program in developing research topics.

The DOE SBIR/STTR Program Offices are as follows:

  • Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR): Discovers, develops, and deploys computational and networking capabilities to analyze, model, simulate, and predict complex phenomena important to the DOE.
  • Environmental Management (EM): Manages one of the world’s most significant groundwater and soil remediation efforts. Seeks to eliminate threats to human health and the environment and prevent pollution from ongoing government activities.
  • Basic Energy Sciences (BES): Supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels. Thus providing the foundation for new energy technologies and supporting DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security.
  • Fossil Energy (FE): Helps the country meet its continually growing need for secure, reasonably priced, and environmentally sound fossil energy supplies. Ensures the nation can rely on traditional resources for clean, secure, and affordable energy.
  • Biological and Environmental Research (BER): Supports transformative science and scientific user facilities to achieve a predictive understanding of complex biological, earth, and environmental systems for energy and infrastructure security and resilience.
  • Fusion Energy Sciences (FES): Expands the fundamental understanding of matter at high temperatures and densities, building the foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source. The office achieves this by studying plasma, the fourth state of matter, and how it interacts with its surroundings.

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  • Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER): Leads emergency preparedness and coordinates responses to disruptions to the energy sector, including physical and cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and manufactured events.
  • High Energy Physics (HEP): Provides humankind with new insights into the fundamental nature of energy and matter, along with the forces that control them.
  • Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D (DNN R&D): Reduces the threat to national security by advancing capabilities to detect and monitor foreign nuclear fuel cycle and weapons development activities, special nuclear material movement or diversion, and nuclear explosions.
  • Nuclear Energy (NE): Advances nuclear power as a resource capable of meeting the country’s energy, environmental, and national security needs by resolving technical, cost, safety, proliferation resistance, and security barriers through research, development, and demonstration.
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Supports early-stage R&D of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that seek to make energy more affordable while strengthening the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.
  • Nuclear Physics (NP): Researches ways to understand the structure and interactions of atomic nuclei and nature’s fundamental forces and particles as manifested in nuclear matter.
  • Electricity, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE): Provides national leadership to ensure that the country’s energy delivery system is secure, resilient, and reliable. Develops new technologies to enhance the infrastructure that brings electricity into every aspect of American life.

Why Does DOE Use a Letter of Intent?

A Letter of Intent (LOI) is a document that outlines the preliminary commitment of one party to conduct business with another. 

It declares and makes official the main terms of the prospective deal. 

The DOE uses a Letter of Intent during the SBIR/STTR process mainly because of a Congressional requirement to shorten the review process. An LOI gives DOE program managers the power to identify appropriate technical reviewers before submitting the complete application.

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How Do I Prepare a DOE SBIR/STTR Phase I Grant Application?

The Phase I Grant Application process for the DOE can seem like a daunting prospect at first glance—and for the most part, it is.

The keyword to remember is “competitive,” in that netting an SBIR grant from the DOE is highly competitive. As such, the application process should be slow and methodical.

You should take each step as seriously as possible, researching and reviewing your work closely.

If your grant application is completed in a week or two, that almost certainly means it’s under-developed and poorly prepared.

For a well-thought-out DOE SBIR Phase I grant application, you and your team should dedicate at least 300 hours for completion, with a skilled grant writer leading the way.

As luck would have it, the DOE recently updated its instructions for completing an SBIR Phase I grant application. Read through the document before even starting the process—it will give you a leg up on the competition!

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What is an SBIR DOE Project Narrative?

Essentially, the SBIR DOE Project Narrative is the heart of your proposal. 

This research proposal tells the story of your innovation, from research tactics down to the nuts and bolts of your project. It’s generally broken down into the following outline:

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  • Cover Page
  • Proprietary Data Legend
  1. Identification and Significance of the Problem or Opportunity, and Technical Approach
  2. Anticipated Public Benefits
  3. Technical Objectives
  4. Work Plan
  5. Performance Schedule
  6. Facilities/Equipment
  7. Research Institution
  8. Other Consultants and Subcontractors
  9. Bibliography and References Cited

Before you begin working on your Project Narrative, you must be working from the DOE’s most recent Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), a notice on of a federal grant funding opportunity. As the DOE often updates its FOAs, always check the DOE website and download the most recent PDF.

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What is an SBIR DOE Commercialization Plan?

The Commercialization Plan requires you to describe your company’s strategy for commercializing the technology you develop for the DOE SBIR. 

To achieve this, you must provide specific information on the need within the market for your technology and the size of the market you intend to target. You should also include a schedule that demonstrates the quantitative commercialization results your company expects to achieve. 

For SBIR Phase I, the DOE requires a two-page Commercialization Plan uploaded through in a specific section referred to as “Other — Phase I Commercialization Plan” in the DOE FOA. 

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In recent years, the DOE has placed an increased emphasis on commercialization in Phase I, stating that “if the Commercialization Plan is not included at the time of application submission, your application will be administratively declined without review.”

What are the Topics for SBIR DOE Phase I?

SBIR DOE Phase I topics include an exhaustive list of possible grant projects in the scientific and engineering field. 

A recent release by the DOE communicates a plethora of topics, running the gamut from “Technologies for Managing and Analyzing Complex Data in Science and Engineering” to “Technology to Facilitate the Use of Near-Term Quantum Computing Hardware.”

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Who is Eligible for SBIR DOE Phase I?

Only small businesses in the U.S. are eligible to participate in SBIR DOE Phase I.

Applicants for DOE SBIR/STTR must meet the following criteria at the time of their Phase I awards:

  • Independently owned and operated
  • Organized for-profit
  • Principal place of business in the U.S.
  • Small businesses structure with 500 or fewer employees, including affiliates
  • Meet the benchmark requirements for progress toward commercialization
  • Present ideas that align with the DOE’s mission

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Who Can be a Principal Investigator in an SBIR DOE Phase I?

Every DOE SBIR/STTR proposal must designate a single individual who will serve as Principal Investigator (PI) on the proposed project.

This person takes on the overall responsibility for the project—as such, they must possess the education, work ethic, and project management experience to complete the job.

As for official eligibility, the PI must be primarily employed by the small business during the SBIR award period.

This means the PI cannot be full-time employed anywhere else during the DOE SBIR award process.

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How Much Are SBIR DOE Phase I Awards?

The DOE’s SBIR Phase I awards fall into two monetary categories: $150,000 or $225,000, depending on the project. DOE SBIR Phase I awards have project periods of six to 12 months, with the final timeframe contingent on the scope of the feasibility effort.

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Who Has Won SBIR DOE Phase I?

Though the DOE’s SBIR Phase I awards constitute an extremely competitive process, plenty of small businesses have walked away with substantial grants that have helped to fund an array of successful projects. 

These DOE success stories can inspire small businesses on the hunt for project grants.

One such success story comes from Heliotrope Technologies, an Alameda, CA-based small business with 40 employees. 

Working on the next generation of smart glass, Heliotrope developed Universal Smart Window Coating, designed to limit heat gain generated from the sun without blocking visible light. This technology allows building owners to reduce energy usage by 50 percent. 

Guillermo Garcia, co-founder and Chief Science Officer at Heliotrope, said that SBIR/STTR grants help advance the technology through funding while also putting the company in a position to attract future investment through private financing. 

Guillermo Garcia, co-founder and Chief Science Officer at Heliotrope

Guillermo Garcia
co-founder and Chief Science Officer at Heliotrope

Photo Credit

“[SBIR funding] was critical in the early stages of the company because it was a reliable source of capital that helped us address technical risk flagged by future investors,” said Garcia, whose company received a combined $1,150,000 in phase I and II awards. “With these funds, we were able to mitigate the technical risk and land private investment. Without this aid, we would have never de-risked the product and landed future [quality] investment.”

The same can be said for NanoGraf Technologies, an even smaller company of 15 employees (at the time of their grant application), based out of Chicago, IL. Formerly known as SiNode Systems, they developed battery anode material to overcome existing limitations on energy and power density while minimizing costs. 

After receiving Phase I and II funds totaling $1,150,000, SiNode was able to form NanoGraf Technologies with JNC Corporation, a Tokyo-based specialty chemical manufacturer. The $4.5 million joint venture now focuses on commercializing materials for the lithium-ion battery industry. 

Amazingly, Samir Mayekar, Co-Founder & CEO of NanoGraf, was part of a team that applied for an SBIR grant while still graduate students.

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Samir Mayekar
 Co-Founder & CEO of NanoGraf

Photo Credit

“One of our entrepreneurship professors encouraged us to look at the SBIR program, and we immediately applied for a Phase I award when we found a topic that was directly related to our technology area,” said Mayekar. “We learned how to communicate our technology roadmap and critical milestones, found a lab space outside of Northwestern University where we would spin out if awarded an SBIR, and assembled a qualified team to advance the company.”

Then there’s Energy Sense Finance (ESF), a company that proves you only need a handful of dedicated team members to win a grant and make a difference. Based out of Tampa, FL, ESP boasted a mere four employees at the time of its award, which helped them develop technology to help realtors, appraisers, lenders, insurance companies, solar installers, homeowners, and home buyers calculate the value that solar adds to a home. 

As a matter of chance, ESF founder and CEO Jamie Johnson had signed up for the DOE SBIR newsletter and saw the funding opportunity for a solar subtopic. That chance reading eventually led to a combined $1,725,000 in Phase I and II awards.

Headshot of Jamie Johnson - CEO of Energy Sense Finance

Jamie Johnson
Energy Sense Finance Founder and CEO

Photo Credit

“Getting SBIR grant funding from DOE gets you an audience. It shows the world that we’re innovating,” said Johnson. “Getting direct funding from DOE increased the size and depth of our network. For example, by working with DOE, we established deep connections with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and had great discussions with Solar City, SunPower, and other installers.”

Team 80 Clears A Path To Success with DOE SBIR Phase I Awards

The DOE’s stated mission is to “ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.” Team 80 believes in this mission and knows that innovative small businesses are strapped for cash, time, and work power. That’s why we step in to manage your accounting concerns—so that you can focus on the task at hand and energize your team on the way to securing that all-important SBIR grant money.

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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

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

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Everything You Need To Know About Winning An NSF SBIR Government Grant

Take the mystery and headaches out of the NSF SBIR application and post-award process. 

Powered by the National Science Foundation (NSF SBIR), America’s Seed Fund supports startups and small businesses with research and development funding to make innovative ideas possible. The NSF SBIR program focuses on transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial potential.

The federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is designed to expand, diversify, and accelerate innovation in a host of areas. Of the 11 federal agencies that partake in SBIR, the National Science Foundation (NSF) boasts a program that’s perhaps most worthy of a closer inspection.

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What Does NSF SBIR Stand For?

NSF SBIR stands for National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research. The NSF small business innovation program has significantly evolved over the last 20 years, turning its attention toward commercializing innovations derived from federal research and development (R&D). And since 2015, small businesses on the receiving end of the NSF SBIR STTR program have realized more than $6.5 billion in private investments.

Why is it Called America’s Seed Fund?

America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF is the more modern, less academic official name for NSF SBIR. Officials at the NSF changed their program’s name to America’s Seed Fund because they felt the moniker more accurately conveys the program’s benefits. Seed funding, or seed capital, is the amount of money used to start a business, fund research, or develop a product. “America’s Seed Fund” expresses the importance of the program in the context of the country at large.

Do You Need a Ph.D. to Get an NSF SBIR?

Every project has a Principal Investigator (PI). Also called the technical lead, this is the person capable of tracking and communicating any progress made in pursuit of the NSF SBIR award. The PI stays in contact with the federal program director during the process, monitoring the performance and ensuring performance goals are met on time. The PI is also responsible for submitting the required reports to the NSF.

The PI is not required to have a Ph.D. or any other degree. However, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers can be the PI on an NSF SBIR Phase I proposal. In fact, many NSF SBIR awards also have PIs with no graduate training.

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What is a Project Pitch?

The Project Pitch is the written document you and your team put together to attempt to get funding from the NSF SBIR program. This process helps startups learn if their proposal is a good fit for America’s Seed Fund. There are generally four critical components of the project pitch:

  1. The Technology Innovation (Up to 500 words): A general description of the technical innovation of your Phase I project, with a brief rundown of the origins of the innovation and how it meets the program’s mandate of supporting the R&D of high-impact ideas.
  2. The Technical Objectives and Challenges (Up to 500 words): A discussion of how and why the R&D, or technical work, will prove that the project is technically feasible. In this step, you must also describe how your work will make your product commercially viable and impactful.
  3. The Market Opportunity (Up to 250 words): Illustrate the profile of the intended customer and any pain points that will be the commercial focus of your project.
  4. The Company and Team (Up to 250 words): Characterize the background and current status of your small business, including team members who intend to lead the technical and commercial efforts of your project. 

What Are the SBIR NSF Topics?

Topics for the NSF SBIR program include a broad range of technological applications intended to help people while also proving to be commercially viable innovations. For a complete list of NSF SBIR topics and subtopics, start your research here. Here are the main topics for the NSF SBIR:

  • Advanced Analytics 
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Advanced Materials 
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality 
  • Biological Technologies 
  • Biomedical Technologies 
  • Chemical Technologies 
  • Cloud and High-Performance Computing 
  • Cybersecurity and Authentication 
  • Digital Health 
  • Distributed Ledger 
  • Energy Technologies 
  • Environmental Technologies 
  • Human-Computer Interaction 

  • Instrumentation and Hardware Systems 
  • Internet of Things 
  • Learning and Cognition Technologies 
  • Medical Devices 
  • Mobility 
  • Nanotechnology 
  • Other Topics
  • Pharmaceutical Technologies 
  • Photonics 
  • Power Management 
  • Quantum Information Technologies 
  • Robotics
  • Semiconductors
  • Space 
  • Wireless Technologies

What are the NSF SBIR Deadlines?

Small businesses can submit a Project Pitch for an NSF SBIR program award at any time during the submission window. Submission windows are rolling and occur throughout the year. Generally speaking, submission windows are as follows:

  • February 14 — March 5
  • March 6 — June 4
  • June 5 — September 3
  • September 4 — December 3

Contact the federal representative with the NSF SBIR program for specific details regarding all upcoming deadlines.

How Do You Apply for an NSF SBIR Phase I Award?

NSF proposals must be submitted through either the NSF FastLane System,, or NSF SBIR program applicants are required to submit the aforementioned Project Pitch outlining the project objectives, technical innovation, and associated technical risks. Projects that seem to be a good fit will be officially invited to submit a full proposal.

How Long is NSF SBIR Phase I?

NSF SBIR Phase I funding is intended to support projects from six to 12 months in duration. Small businesses are typically notified of the award decision between four to six months after the submission deadline. 

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How Much is the NSF SBIR Phase I Award?

Having recently adjusted for inflation, NSF increased the SBIR Phase I funding amount to a maximum of $256,000 to better support the nation’s startups and small businesses.

What Do I Need To Do To Revise My Phase I Budget?

Budgeting can be a fluid process in the world of NSF SBIR programs. Projects expand or contract, team members come and go, unforeseen breakthroughs happen—it all means you’ll need to submit a revised budget. To do so, both a project’s PI and sponsored research office must send in a revision.

NSF SBIR budget revisions must include a Revised Budget Justification, uploaded or entered via a Budget Impact Statement Module. To submit a revised budget, follow the steps presented by America’s Seed Fund.

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What is NSF’s Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP)?

The NSF SBIR program offers plenty of support for first-time applicants and awardees who need continued assistance during the funding process. One such support system is the Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP). 

A free program, CAP offers additional resources and significant one-on-one guidance from seasoned advisors in developing the business strategy associated with the Phase I research and preparation of Phase II proposals.

What are the NSF SBIR Phase I Reporting Requirements?

NSF SBIR Phase I awardees must provide formal reports when the Phase I award period ends and when it’s time to submit their Phase II proposal (more on that later). Phase I reporting requirements are as follows:

  1. Cover Page
  2. Technical Narrative
  3. Report Submission via

America’s Seed Fund has all the details you need to complete each step!

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How Do You Apply for an NSF SBIR Phase II Award?

The purpose of the NSF SBIR Phase II award is to provide the necessary funds you need to continue the R&D that began in Phase I. Only recent NSF SBIR awardees may apply for Phase II funding, and you are permitted to submit only one Phase II proposal per Phase I award. And finally, if your Phase II application is declined, you will not be able to resubmit it

Check out the NSF SBIR Phase I and II Road Map for all the details you need to apply.

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How Long is NSF SBIR Phase II?

SBIR Phase II projects typically run for 24 months, though deviations are possible depending on the circumstances of the proposer and the research project.

How Much is the Phase II NSF SBIR Award?

As of summer 2020, Phase II awards are funded up to $1 million. This amount includes up to $50,000 to be used by the Phase II awardee for commercial assistance.

What are the NSF SBIR Phase II Reporting Requirements?

NSF SBIR Phase II reporting requirements include the submission of your Phase II proposal through FastLane. One specific requirement of this process is an updated Technical Narrative (no more than 15 pages). You must include this narrative as a supplementary document to your Phase II proposal. Check out these instructions from America’s Seed Fund. 

How Long Does it Take to Hear Back from NSF SBIR?

Typically, the process can take anywhere from three to 12 months. The time to hear back about an NSF SBIR application is highly variable, as most NSF grants are peer-reviewed by a panel of academics. This process ensures a significant length of time is naturally built into the system.

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Why Do You Need an Accountant for Your NSF’s Awardee Cash Management Service (ACM$)?

The Award Cash Management $ervice (ACM$) manages NSF awards payments and the post-award process. Each time funds are requested, ACM$ requires the submission of award-level payment amounts. 

An accountant is crucial when approaching ACM$. A trained accountant (or team of accountants) helps you if you receive an error message when attempting to add ACM$ user permissions, answers all general post-award financial questions, addresses concerns related to payment requests or refunds, and determines if there’s any discrepancy between the total award value stated and the total federal funds displayed in ACM$.

In general, an accountant shepherds you through what can be a confusing and harrowing post-award process. 


What is a No-Cost Extension?

A no-cost extension allows an awardee to extend the project period end date and budget period by up to 12 months for the sole purpose of completing grant activities.

Dig Deep Into America’s Seed Fund With Help from Team 80

As you can tell, there’s a lot to manage when submitting proposals for NSF SBIR phases I and II. The writing, research, and development are all daunting steps in the journey toward funding your innovative idea. Team 80 relieves some pressure by taking your accounting worries out of the equation. We’ve seen many small businesses through the wilderness of financial doubt and uncertainty—contact us today, and we’ll do the same for you.

Sarah Sinicki Photo

Sarah Sinicki

Partner at Team 80 LLC


Sarah Sinicki is a Partner and Director of Business Development with Team 80 in Colorado where 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.

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The Top 20 Questions People Ask About SBIR Phase 1

Learn as much as possible about SBIR Phase 1 before moving through the application process.

Innovation requires an agile mind that can pivot quickly from a dynamic speed to a more methodical pace. In the case of courting funds from the various Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) federal programs, it pays to be slow, steady, and inquisitive. 

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Getting your hands on that sweet government funding takes time and a gauntlet of no less than three gated phases. Each phase bears its own unique requirements, and to increase your chances of successfully moving through the process, it’s essential to ask all the necessary questions along the way. 

This blog will review the most critical questions associated with Phase I of the SBIR program across all involved government agencies.

Table of Contents

  1. What is SBIR Phase I?

Kicking off the proceedings, Phase I is mainly the research component to the funding process. Phase I could have some prototyping involved, but it’s essentially a feasibility study to evaluate an idea’s scientific and technical merit. 

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  1. What is the Timetable for Phase I SBIR, and How Much Does it Award?

Depending on the government agency you’re working with, a Phase I award is typically six to nine months and awards $50,000 to $250,000.

  1. Who Qualifies for SBIR Phase I?

Small businesses that operate entirely in the U.S.—outside of a small number of subcontractors or consultants—with fewer than 500 employees qualify for SBIR Phase I. 

The company must also be majority-owned by U.S. citizens. These requirements are the same across all three phases and all government agencies.

  1. Can I Skip Phase I and Go Directly to Phase II?

No. The SBIR program was established to create new innovations that meet existing federal research and development needs. The results of Phase I determine whether or not there will be a Phase II award to continue your efforts.

  1. Can Nonprofits Participate in SBIR Phase I?

No. Because of the ultimate goal of commercialization, nonprofits are not eligible for SBIR Phase I or any other phase of the SBIR program. 

  1. What Government Agencies Participate in SBIR Phase I?

Eleven government agencies grant SBIR funding. These include: 

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

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  1. Who is the SBIR Phase 1 Contact for Each Agency?

Each agency has multiple contacts that can help you navigate the application process. 

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  • Department of Agriculture

  • Department of Education

  • Department of Energy

  • Department of Health & Human Services
    • Stephanie Fertig, Small Business Program Lead
    • Email:
    • Phone: 301-435-2688

  • Department of Transportation

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • National Science Foundation

  1. Does the Small Business Administration (SBA) Contribute Awards in SBIR Phase I?

No. While the SBA itself doesn’t award funds, the federal agency monitors and coordinates all activities of the SBIR program, reporting the results to Congress across all three phases. 

  1. Can I Submit an Unsolicited Proposal for SBIR Phase I?

No. SBIR programs across all agencies require you to respond to one of their current topics.

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  1. What are Appropriate Topics for SBIR Phase I?

All agencies that offer SBIR programs list appropriate topic opportunities in their solicitation or Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). The only exception to this rule is the Department of Energy, which publishes a separate topic list several weeks before it releases its FOA.

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  1. How Can I Find Funding Opportunity Announcements for SBIR?

Back in the day, you had to read actual paper copies of solicitations from beginning to end to see if there were any topics relevant to your field of expertise. 

Today, with the help of the internet, all solicitations are distributed electronically—making the entire process faster, easier, and more conducive to results. 

You can find topics via a collection of search engines set up by the federal government. Type in your keywords, and the search engine goes through the topics that are currently open or recently closed. 

  1. What Are the Best Search Engines for Finding SBIR Phase I Opportunities? can be used to search across all federal agencies offering all types of awards, including SBIR. But remember, less than half of all SBIR awards are made as grants, with the rest made as contracts. 

To search SBIR contract opportunities, go to Along with these two resources, many individual government agencies have their own search engines associated with their SBIR program. 

Meanwhile, some cross-agency search engines focus strictly on the SBIR programs. Some of these search engines are free, while others are only available for a charge. Of the free search engines, the best is

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  1. What Are The Submission Dates For SBIR Phase I?

Submission dates for Phase I of SBIR programs vary depending on the agency. To stay on top of your SBIR potential, you must keep track of four sets of dates: Release Date, Open Date, Due Date, Close Date. 

These denote the period for the different stages of an SBIR Phase I lifecycle, giving you a timeline and a good old-fashioned motivational deadline. This searchable page on the SBIR website lists ALL upcoming submission dates for every federal agency. 

  1. How Can I Win SBIR Phase I?

There is a lot of competition for SBIR grants and contracts. As such, you need to set your small business up for success to have the best chances of winning. Follow these basic tips:


  • Study The Details.

    Know your innovation front to back, which agency would show the most interest, and what that specific agency requires in its applications. 


  • Communicate.

    Remember that list of contacts from question #7? Reach out to the appropriate agency contact and start a dialogue. These agencies want to award funding the best possible innovation. So let them know you exist! Eventually, you should prepare a 1-2 page summary of your idea and email it to your point of contact. 


  • Take Your Time.

    As we stated earlier, the SBIR program is highly competitive. Put in the necessary time to correctly complete the application. This is not a process that only takes an afternoon—it should represent hundreds of hours of hard work! Consider hiring an SBIR grant writer. 


  • Read Proposal Samples.

    No one dives into the complicated world of SBIR program applications without a healthy dose of research and know-how. Search for successful proposals from other companies and reverse engineer their results into manageable goals. 

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  1. What are the Performance Benchmark Requirements for SBIR Phase I?

Small businesses with multiple SBIR awards must meet minimum performance requirements to be eligible for a new Phase I award. This ensures that all Phase I applicants are working toward commercializing their work. There are two main requirements:


  • Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate:

    An awardee must have received an average of one Phase II for every four Phase I awards received during the most recent 5-year period.


  • Commercialization Benchmark:

    This applies to SBIR Phase I applications that have received more than 15 Phase II awards over the last ten fiscal years (excluding the last two years). It’s required that these companies achieve the minimum levels of commercialization actively from their past Phase II work to be eligible to submit a new Phase I proposal.

  1. What are the Consequences of Failing to Meet Phase I Benchmarks?

The consequences of failing to meet Phase I benchmarks are rather severe. On June 1 of each year, the Small Business Association identifies the companies that failed to meet the minimum performance requirements. These companies will lose eligibility to submit a Phase I proposal for one year from that date. 

  1. How Long do SBIR Phase I Contracts Last?

SBIR Phase I contracts last for six to nine months. 

  1. Are SBIR Phase I Proposals Public Record?

SBIR data is protected from disclosure by the participating agencies for no less than 20 years, with the protection period beginning at the time of the Phase I award. This is also true for phases II and III.

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  1. What If I Have Questions Specific to a Particular Government Agency?

You SHOULD have specific questions for the federal department that’s the object of your application.
You can contact the department using the directory we provided in question #7 or review the “Frequently Asked Questions” pages for each agency:

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  1. What Are The SBIR Phase I Accounting Requirements?

Before netting any awards or contracts, you’ll need an accounting professional to review the integrity of your financial statements. The terms and conditions of the SBIR Phase I program require that you use best accounting practices to track how you spend your Phase I funds. This includes keeping track of timesheets for all employees whose wages or salaries are charged to your SBIR award. 

The expectations for a small business’ accounting system changes between phases I and II. While you need to demonstrate that you have a robust and meticulous accounting system for Phase I, the drastic funding increase between phases—from $150,000 to $1 million—equals much higher expectations from the federal government. 

Assisting you in all aspects of your SBIR accounting system is part of Team 80’s mission to end small business failure. We know the policies inside and out, and we can provide a team of professionals to help you meet all the accounting requirements for any federal agency during any phase of the SBIR process.

If you’ve been awarded an SBIR Phase I Grant or you’re looking for exceptional small business accounting 

Sarah Sinicki Photo

Sarah Sinicki

Partner at Team 80 LLC


Sarah Sinicki is a Partner and Director of Business Development with Team 80 in Colorado where 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.