There are many grant opportunities available for small businesses in the federal sector. A good source to get started includes Grants.gov, a central information storehouse on more than 1,000 federal grant programs totaling approximately $500 billion in annual awards.
Small Business Innovation Research
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants fund research and development efforts of a high risk nature that may have excellent commercial potential.
Apply for SBIR grants if your small business will be engaged in federal R&D, with the potential for commercialization. SBIR grants are offered by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health*, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.
*If you are awarded a phase one NIH SBIR grant, you may be able to double the award amount through a Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund award.
Small Business Technology Transfer
STTR grants are designed to facilitate cooperative R&D between small businesses and U.S. research institutions, where the outcome has the potential for commercialization. If you are collaborating with a non-profit university or federal lab, you may qualify to apply for SBTT grants from federal agencies such as NASA, the Department of Education, or the Department of Health and Human Services.
For local assistance with SBIR and SBTT grants, visit the Center for Innovative Technology.
Unfortunately, most grants are for nonprofit organizations, not small businesses. Be very careful of advertisements promoting “free money for your business.” These ads can be very misleading, often suggesting that you can receive a list of many grant sources for a fee of a few hundred dollars.
Use the federal government’s free, official website, Grants.gov rather than commercial sites that may charge a fee for grant information or application forms. Grants.gov centralizes information from more than 1,000 government grant programs to help states and organizations find and apply for grants.