Like any industry, grants can be confusing simply because of the terminology. Here's a helpful list of common terms and acronyms.
A sum of money given by a government or other organization for a particular purpose.
Money for your business or project that does not require you to give up equity/ownership of your company or project. It does not "dilute" your position.
Where the U.S. government lists and manages federal grant opportunities. The Grants.gov program management office was established in 2002 as a part of the President's Management Agenda. Managed by the Department of Health and Human Services, Grants.gov is an E-Government initiative operating under the governance of the Office of Management and Budget. Under the President's Management Agenda, the office was chartered to deliver a system that provides a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities.
Small Business Administration (the agency that manages the SBIR/STTR programs).
Created in 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to help small business owners and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream. The SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses.
Small Business Development Centers. Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can go to their local SBDCs for free face-to-face business consulting and at-cost training, on topics including business planning, accessing capital, marketing, regulatory compliance, technology development, international trade and much more. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private sector partners, and funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. With nearly 1,000 centers across the nation, there is an SBDC near you.
Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (aka America's Seed Fund). The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated, and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.
Department of Energy (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.
United States Department of Agriculture (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The USDA vision is to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation's natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.
Department of Commerce (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The mission of the Department is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity. The Department of Commerce promotes job creation and economic growth by ensuring fair and reciprocal trade, providing the data necessary to support commerce and constitutional democracy, and fostering innovation by setting standards and conducting foundational research and development. Through our bureaus and 46,608 employees (as of January 31, 2018) located in all 50 states, every U.S. territory, and more than 86 countries, we provide U.S.-based companies and entrepreneurs invaluable tools through programs such as the Decennial Census, the National Weather Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Foreign Commercial Service. Among many other functions, the Department oversees ocean and coastal navigation, helps negotiate bilateral trade agreements, and enforces laws that ensure a level playing field for American businesses and workers.
Department of Defense (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government directly related to national security and the United States Armed Forces.
National Science Foundation (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." NSF supports the research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future. This type of support is a primary driver of the U.S. economy, enhances the nation's security, and advances knowledge to sustain global leadership. With an annual budget of $8.3 billion (FY 2020), the NSF is the funding source for approximately 25 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity. With an annual budget of $23.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2021, which is less than 0.5% of the overall U.S. federal budget, NASA supports more than 312,000 jobs across the United States, generating more than $64.3 billion in total economic output (Fiscal Year 2019).
National Institutes of Health (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The National Institutes of Health is made up of 27 different components called Institutes and Centers. Each has its own specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems. All but three of these components receive their funding directly from Congress, and administrate their own budgets. NIH leadership plays an active role in shaping the agency's research planning, activities, and outlook.
Department of Transportation (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The DOT's mission is to ensure America has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world, which boosts our economic productivity and global competitiveness and enhances the quality of life in communities both rural and urban.
Environmental Protection Agency (SBIR/STTR participating agency). Every year, EPA awards more than $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. From small non-profit organizations to large state governments, EPA works to help many visionary organizations achieve their environmental goals. With countless success stories over the years, EPA grants remain a chief tool to protect human health and the environment.
Department of Health and Human Services (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans, by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.
Department of Homeland Security (SBIR/STTR participating agency). The Department of Homeland Security has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, and our goal is clear - keeping America safe.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need, when they need it. NOAA’s mission to better understand our natural world and help protect its precious resources extends beyond national borders to monitor global weather and climate, and work with partners around the world.
Economic Development Administration. The U.S. Economic Development Administration's investment policy is designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States. This foundation builds upon two key economic drivers - innovation and regional collaboration. Innovation is key to global competitiveness, new and better jobs, a resilient economy, and the attainment of national economic goals. Regional collaboration is essential for economic recovery because regions are the centers of competition in the new global economy and those that work together to leverage resources and use their strengths to overcome weaknesses will fare better than those that do not. EDA encourages its partners around the country to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions.
Federal And State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program. The Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program provides funding to organizations to execute state/regional programs that increase the number of SBIR/STTR proposals leading to an increase in the number of SBIR/STTR awards from women, socially/economically disadvantaged individuals, and small businesses in underrepresented areas - typically rural states.
Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The winners of the GAFC are accelerators and incubators who proposed targeted assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, rural, and veteran entrepreneurs. The GAFC prize winners support a broad range of industries including clean energy, supply chain resilience, and infrastructure. Many accelerators and incubators also work to expand the participation of innovation-focused small businesses located in HUBZones. GAFC winners will each receive a $50,000 prize.