Policy Directive

The Small Business Act (the Act) requires that the SBA issue a policy directive setting forth guidance to the Federal Agencies participating in the SBIR and STTR programs (Participating Agencies).

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The SBIR/STTR Policy Directive outlines how agencies must generally conduct their programs. When incorporating SBIR/STTR policy into agency-specific regulations and procedures, Participating Agencies may develop and apply processes needed to implement the policy effectively; however, no Participating Agency may develop and apply policies, directives, or clauses, that contradict, weaken, or conflict with the policy as stated in the directive.


  1. Sections 9(j) and 9(p) of the Small Business Act (the Act) require that the Small Business Administration (SBA) issue Policy Directives for the general conduct of the SBIR and STTR programs within the Federal Government.
  2. This Policy Directive fulfills SBA's statutory obligation to provide guidance to the participating Federal agencies for the general operation of the SBIR and STTR programs. Because most of the policy for the SBIR and STTR program is the same, SBA issues a single Policy Directive for both programs. Unless one of the programs is specifically mentioned, the term “program” or “programs” refers to both the SBIR and STTR programs. In addition, “SBIR/STTR” is used throughout to refer to both programs.
    1. The following sections pertain only to the STTR program: § 3(cc) - Definition of “Research Institution,” § 7(k) - Management of the STTR Project, § 8(c) - Allocation of Intellectual Property Rights in STTR Award, and § 12(e) - Phase 0 Proof of Concept Partnership Pilot Program.
    2. The following sections pertain only to the SBIR program: § 3(b) - Definition of “Additionally Eligible State,” § 3(l) - Definition of “Covered Small Business,” § 4(b)(1)(ii) – Direct to Phase II Awards, § 6(a)(6) – Majority-Owned by Multiple VCOCs, Hedge Funds or Private Equity Firms, § 6(b)(1)(iii) – Registration and Certifications for Proposal and Award for Majority-Owned by Multiple VCOCs, Hedge Funds or Private Equity Firms, and Appendix I - Certifications for Proposal and Award for Majority-Owned by Multiple VCOCs, Hedge Funds or Private Equity Firms.
    3. Additional or modified instructions may be issued by SBA as a result of public 52 comment or experience. With this directive, SBA fulfills the statutory requirement to simplify and standardize the program proposal, selection, contracting, compliance, and audit procedures for the programs to the extent practicable, while allowing the Participating Agencies flexibility in the operation of their individual programs. Wherever possible, SBA has attempted to reduce the paperwork and regulatory compliance burden on small business concerns (SBCs) applying to and participating in the SBIR/STTR programs, while still meeting the statutory reporting and data collection requirements.
  3. The statutory purpose of the SBIR program is to strengthen the role of innovative SBCs in Federally-funded research or research and development (R/R&D). Specific program purposes are to: (1) stimulate technological innovation; (2) use small business to meet Federal R/R&D needs; (3) foster and encourage participation by socially and economically disadvantaged SBCs (SDBs), and by women-owned SBCs (WOSBs), in technological innovation; and, (4) increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from Federal R/R&D, thereby increasing competition, productivity and economic growth.
  4. In addition to the broad goals of the SBIR program, the statutory purpose of the STTR program is to stimulate a partnership of ideas and technologies between innovative SBCs and non-profit Research Institutions. By providing awards to SBCs for cooperative R/R&D efforts with Research Institutions, the STTR program assists the U.S. small business and research communities by supporting the commercialization of innovative technologies.
  5. Federal agencies participating in the programs (Participating Agencies) are obligated to follow the guidance provided by this Policy Directive. Each Participating Agency is required to review its rules, policies, and guidance on the programs to ensure consistency with this Policy Directive and to make any necessary changes in accordance with each agency's normal procedures. This is consistent with the statutory authority provided to SBA concerning the SBIR/STTR programs.

Effective Date: October 1, 2020