Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

How to Apply for an SBIR Contract

Use this guide to learn more about the program and guide you through the EPA SBIR application process.

Getting Started

Develop an Innovative Research Idea
Have a ground-breaking idea that can be commercialized?

The topics below describe research priority areas for EPA’s SBIR program in 2016. While the SBIR research topics may change from year to year, the list below provides a guide to the type and specificity of topics that will continue to be addressed in future solicitations.

Air and Climate

  • Inexpensive Indoor Formaldehyde Sensor
  • Low-cost Sensor for Fugitive Methane Emissions


  • Greener Manufacturing of Plastics
  • Greener Plastic Materials and Products

Toxic Chemicals

  • Cleaner Manufacturing Processes for Dyes, Paints
  • Technologies to Help Consumers Understand the Chemical Composition of Products


  • Non-Reverse Osmosis Desalination Units for Small Communities
  • Non-Toxic Coatings for Water Pipes that Prevent Biofilms, Corrosion, Scaling and Leaching
  • Simple Lead Test for Tap Water

Water and Homeland Security

  • Water Pipes that Prevent Biofilms, Corrosion and Scaling

Greener Buildings

  • Non-Toxic Interior Construction Materials
  • Greener Exterior Construction Materials

Eligibility Requirements
Learn about the eligibility requirements by visiting the Small Business Administration SBIR website.

Frequently Asked Questions
Visit frequently asked questions on the Small Business Administration SBIR website.

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Registration Requirements

The registration process may take 6 – 8 weeks, so it’s important to start early. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted.

Registration and application instructions are found in the SBIR Phase I Solicitation. Also, check out the FedConnect Ready, Set, Go! Exit to guide you through the registration process.

Please contact FedConnect support Exit if you have problems:
Toll-free: (800) 899-6665
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time (except for federal holidays)

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) – The EPA requires both the EIN and a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number prior to the issuance of a funding award. The EIN base for the organization is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Identification (ID) number, for individuals it is their social security number, both of which are nine-digit numbers.
  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System Exit – All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin System for Award Management (SAM) and Small Business Administration (SBA) Company registrations.
  • System for Award Management – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration.
  • Exit – FedConnect is a web portal to find and apply for opportunities for federal contracts, grants, and other types of assistance funding.
  • SBA Company Registry – All applicants are required to register at the SBA Company Registry prior to application submission and attach proof of registration to their application.

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Proposal Submission

Submit to FedConnect Exit
Proposals must be accepted through FedConnect by the required deadline. EPA does not allow corrections after the deadline.

Review Process

External Peer Review Evaluates Your Proposal on Technical and Commercialization Potential
EPA uses a rigorous peer review system to ensure the most meritorious proposals are recommended for funding. For SBIR proposals, both a technology’s technical and commercial potential are evaluated during the review process.

All proposals are reviewed by external (non-EPA) peer reviewers. These peer reviewers are selected so they include an equal balance of experts with technical expertise related to the topic and experts with relevant commercialization experience.

The peer reviewers use the following criteria to evaluate each proposal. The criteria are of equal importance.

  • Phase I Commercialization Criteria
    • Identified Need, Widespread Utilization and Business Strategy
    • Management Capabilities and Principal Investigator (PI) Experience and Commitment
    • Market Disruption Potential and Platform Technology Potential
  • Phase I Technical Criteria
    • Technical Soundness and Research Plan
    • Demonstrations Capability and Performance Evaluation Criteria
    • Life Cycle Analyses and Quality Assurance Plan

All applicants will receive a copy of their peer review results. For Phase I, companies that receive an “excellent” or “very good” rating will move forward in the review process and are considered for funding. Companies that receive a “good,” “fair” or “poor” rating will not be considered for funding.

For Phase II, companies that receive a “highly recommended” or “recommended” rating will move forward in the review process and be considered for funding. Companies that receive a “not recommended” rating will not be considered for funding.

Internal Programmatic Review
Following the peer review process, EPA will conduct an internal evaluation of the proposals that passed peer review. The internal reviewers use the following criteria, which are equally weighted.

  • The potential of the technology to meet Agency program priorities.
  • The potential of the technology to advance sustainability including environmental, economic and societal benefits.
  • The potential of the technology to be widely used, have broad application and/or to impact large segments of the population.

The proposals are ranked including considerations of programmatic balance, Agency priorities and available funding.

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Awards Timeline

If the proposal is selected for funding, the small business will be contacted by EPA’s Contracts Office. If the proposal is not funded, the applicant will receive a declination letter. All applicants will receive a copy of their peer review results.

Feasibility Study for 6 Months - $100K (Phase I)
The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed Research and Development (R&D) efforts prior to further federal support in Phase II. SBIR Phase I contracts are up to $100,000 for six months.

Full R&D Toward Commercialization for 2 Years - $300K (Phase II)
The objective of Phase II is to continue the R&D efforts initiated in Phase I. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I, the scientific and technical merit, and commercial potential of the projects proposed in Phase II. SBIR Phase II contracts are up to $300,000 for two years.

Further Funding - $100K (Phase IIB)
EPA offers a “commercialization option” of $100,000 for companies that secure third-party investment of $100,000 or more.

Commercialization – Non-SBIR Funds (Phase III)
The objective of Phase III is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I and II R&D activities. The EPA SBIR program does not fund Phase III.

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