SBIR: Helping Entrepreneurs Commercialize New Technologies

The Small Business Innovation (SBIR) Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provides federal support to encourage small business research, development, and commercialization of promising technologies. It is a competitive awards-based program administered by each federal agency in coordination with the Small Business Administration.

Federal agencies with extramural research and development (R&D) budgets exceeding $100 million are required to allocate 3.2% of their R&D budget to SBIR programs.

SBIR awards can be transformative opportunities for clean energy businesses to secure non-dilutive capital, refine and vet their innovations with the technical expertise of federal agency officials, and attract follow-on funding from investors. For examples of CEBN members who have benefitted from these programs, read more here.



Congressional action is expected in 2020 on reauthorization of the SBIR program and potential refinements. As the small business voice for the clean energy economy, CEBN seeks to engage members in shaping recommendations to Congress and federal agencies.

Working with experts in federal programs along with entrepreneurs and incubators who have worked with SBIR programs previously, CEBN developed proposed improvements to make these valuable programs even more impactful and accessible to small businesses.

CEBN conveyed these recommendations to policymakers in a group business letter initially signed by nearly 50 companies (House letter; Senate letter). The letter remains open for additional signatures ahead of Congressional action in 2020.

Additionally, CEBN President Lynn Abramson and member Gary Cola, Founder of Flash Steelworks, conveyed highlights of these recommendations in an oped published October 3, 2019 in Morning Consult.



CEBN is continuing to solicit business engagement and feedback on ways to improve the SBIR program. Here are some ways to get involved:

  1. READ & SIGN OUR LETTER: CEBN is circulating a business sign-on letter to Congress outlining proposed improvements to SBIR programs.
  2. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES: Please complete our brief, 10-question survey to share your experiences navigating, applying to, or working with SBIR and other federal R&D programs. Your feedback will inform any final revisions to the letter above (which we will review with you) and help us prioritize these proposals in follow-up discussions with policymakers.
  3. WATCH OUR SBIR WEBINAR RECORDING: In case you missed it, download the slide deck and view the webinar recording below providing an overview of SBIR programs, how to apply, and proposed improvements. This recording is from a 9.4.19 presentation by Doug Rand, former Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.