SBIR/STTR Accelerator Goals     

                                              Our success are measured by these metrics:

  • Submit ~$20M in funding requests
  • Assist ~120 startup and existing companies
  • Assist in the preparation and submission of ~75 Phase I and Phase II proposals
  • Anticipated results of 5-8 Phase I awards totaling $5M within 12-18 months
  • Transition of 5-8 Phase II applications to 3-4 Phase II awards of $6M within 24-36 months

Is your company and project a good fit for the programs? 

The SBIR/STTR Accelerator application is used to determine if your company and project(s) are a good fit for the programs.  Based on our years of knowledge and experience, we will evaluate whether your company and proposed project(s) show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk that is required to be competitive in the programs.

Read about the cohort descriptions to select the cohorts that align with your company’s business strategy and project goals.

How is R&D defined?  Each of the agencies fund costs related to research and development (R&D) tasks only. In this context, R&D is defined as:

  1. A systematic, intensive study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the subject studied;
  2. A systematic study directed specifically toward applying new knowledge to meet a recognized need; or
  3. A systematic application of knowledge toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.

Application Directions

For DOD Accelerator applicants:  The DOD is a contracting agency.  They release three Broad Agency Announcements throughout the year, highlighting their targeted research topcis. We understand the Accelerator application asks questions not commonly required of the DOD; however, please share as much information as you can about your R&D plans and your commercialization strategy.

For all other Accelerator applicants: please respond in sufficient detail to determine your readiness to prepare and submit a research proposal.  Use subheadings for each of the italicized words or phrases.

  1. The Technology Innovation. (Up to 500 words): Describe the technical innovation that would be the focus of a project, including a brief discussion of the origins of the innovation as well as explanation as to why it meets the program’s mandate to focus on supporting research and development (R&D) of unproven, high-impact innovations.
  2. The Technical Objectives and Challenges. (Up to 500 words): Describe the R&D or technical work to be done in a project, including a discussion of how and why the proposed work will help prove that the product or service is technically feasible and/or significantly reduce technical risk. Discuss how, ultimately, this work could contribute to making the new product, service, or process commercially viable and impactful. This section should also convey that the proposed work meets the definition of R&D, rather than straightforward engineering or incremental product development tasks.
  1. The Market Opportunity. (Up to 250 words): Describe the customer profile and pain point(s) that will be the near-term commercial focus related to this technical project. (For Department of Defense SBIR/STTR projects add what you know about the dual purpose of the technology (military and commercial).
  1. The Company and Team. (Up to 250 words): Describe the background and current status of the applicant small business, including key team members who will lead the technical and/or commercial efforts.  Include your corporate and intellectual property counsel, accounting firm, and any other business or scientific advisors.
  1. Scientific or Technical Publications/Articles: List three to five relevant peer reviewed scientific or technical publications that support your technological innovation and its commercial potential.  All SBIR/STTR proposals include either a reference list or a bibliography.

Your application will be reviewed to ensure the proposed research and development project with strong commercialization potential is a good fit for the programs.  Keep in mind, there may be two or more agencies that have an interest in your technology area. There is no limit to the number of awards or dollars a small business can be awarded under the programs as long as the firm is an eligible small business.


  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH) (biomedical research, animal studies, clinical trials, IND, IDE, etc.), three cohorts;
  • Department of Defense (DOD) (national security across the spectrum of science, technology, engineering and manufacturing), two cohorts;
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) (broad technology areas), individual and customized assistance;
  • General Cohorts; two cohorts; these agencies: EPA, DOC, USDA, DOT, DHS, DoEdu and NASA; and
  • Department of Energy (DOE); referral to the DOE Phase 0 Technical Assistance Program.


The NIH and DOD cohorts are delivered in-person, multi-week, coaching sessions, taught by knowledgeable and experienced professionals who understand the requirements of the programs.

DHHS NIH SBIR/STTR Cohort:  Your attendance in the NIH SBIR/STTR Cohort is a strategic business decision.  By participating in the cohort training and coaching sessions, you will get the guidance and direction from experts to prepare and submit a high-quality research proposal.  The course content includes:

  • DHHS NIH SBIR/STTR General Overview
  • Funding Opportunity Announcements
  • Electronic Registrations
  • Program Director Communications
  • Institute/Study Section Selection
  • Research Area – Topic Selection (Waived vs Non-Waived)
  • Clinical Trial vs Non-Clinical Trial
  • Planning the R&D Project
  • Proposal Requirements
  • Project Narrative
  • Project Summary
  • Specific Aims
  • Research Strategy
  • Biographical Sketches
  • Indirect Cost Rate Determination
  • MIN-Corps Overview (NSF I-Corps)
  • U of M Tech Transfer Opportunities
  • Working with the U of M
  • Intellectual Property/SBIR Data Rights/Technical Data

DOD SBIR/STTR Cohort:  Your attendance in the DOD SBIR/STTR Cohort is a strategic business decision.  The DOD is a contracting agency that is highly complex and competitive, and that has the largest SBIR/STTR budget exceeding $1.5B in FY2020!  The DOD is seeking small high technology firms with the R&D capabilities, internal and external, to deliver a technologically advanced solution for their expressed need.  It is vitally important to understand this landscape before investing time and money to seek funding for a defined need.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other large prime contractors often seek to partner with small businesses on SBIR/STTR opportunities. They publish their research interests along with the point of contact with technology topics. Boeing and Lockheed Martin SBIR/STTR interest lists will be shared during the course. Others will be available upon request.

DOD SBIR/STTR topics fall into one of the DOD 10 Technology Focus Areas:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Improve algorithms, address data quality, optimize human-machine coordination and disrupt adversaries’ efforts.
  • Autonomy: Address teaming of autonomous systems; machine perception, reasoning and intelligence; human and autonomy systems trust and interaction.
  • Communications: Addressing high-performance, low power embedded processing and developing algorithms for self-configuring, self-healing and resource allocation.
  • Cyber: Address behavioral issues, develop self-securing networks and develop methodologies to assess cyber effects and consequences.
  • Directed Energy: Address power scaling, jitter reduction, laser size and weight, adaptive optics, beam propagation, and target tracking.
  • Hypersonics: Address high-temperature materials, hypersonic vehicle manufacturing, air-breathing propulsion, and hypersonic guidance and control systems.
  • Microelectronics: Develop economically competitive domestic manufacturing capabilities, improve radiation hardening and develop radio frequency (RF) technologies for specialty applications with nuclear, space and electronic warfare capabilities.
  • Quantum Sciences: Address quantum clocks and sensors, quantum communications technologies and develop enabling technologies for quantum computing in the areas of cryogenics and photon detection.
  • Space: Developing low earth orbit nano-satellites for missile warning, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, and communications.
  • Biotechnology: applications related to disease prevention and mitigation, rapid emergency medical response and trauma management, environmental remediation, and advanced materials.

The DOD course content includes:

  • Prerequisite Requirement:
  • Program Description
  • Definitions
  • Proposal Fundamentals
  • Phase I Proposal and Evaluation
  • Phase II Proposal and Evaluation
  • Phase II Enhancement
  • Commercialization Readiness Program
  • Contractual Requirements
  • U of M Min-Corps Overview
  • U of M Tech Transfer Opportunities
  • Working with the U of M

National Science Foundation SBIR/STTR Cohort:  NSF accepts proposals on a rolling basis; however, you must be invited by NSF to submit a full proposal. The NSF SBIR/STTR Cohort curriculum is delivered on an individual and customized basis.  The business and technical assistance addresses these proposal requirements:

  • NSF SBIR/STTR General Overview
  • Electronic Registrations
  • Biographical Sketches
  • Proposal Elements
  • Broader Impacts
  • Intellectual Merit
  • Project Description
  • Project Summary
  • The Elevator Pitch
  • The Commercial Opportunity
  • The Innovation
  • The Company/Team
  • The Technical Discussion/R&D Plan
  • Budget and Subaward Budgets
  • Budget Justification
  • Indirect Cost Rate Determination
  • Collaborators and Other Affiliations
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources
  • Market Validation Letters
  • Working with the U of M
  • MIN-Corps (NSF I-Corps)
  • U of M Tech Transfer
  • Intellectual Property Considerations/SBIR Data Rights/Technical Data

General SBIR Cohorts include these agencies:  EPA, DOC, USDA, DOT, DHS, DoEdu and NASA (SBIR/STTR).  Accelerator assistance is delivered on an individual and customized basis depending on the targeted federal agency.  The assistance will cover the technical and budget proposal, commercialization advice and other requirements.

Department of Energy:  Minnesota firms interested in DOE SBIR/STTR funding are strongly encouraged to apply to the DOE SBIR/STTR Phase 0 Assistance program.  The Phase 0 Technical Assistance Program is aimed at increasing the number of high-quality SBIR/STTR proposals submitted by first-time applicants to the DOE by eligible small businesses in selected states.  Minnesota is an eligible state.  Dawnbreaker, a third-party provider to the DOE SBIR/STTR Program Office, delivers the assistance eligible small businesses.

Cohort Calendar

Cohort Accelerator
Due Date
Course Dates
(Subject to change)
DHHS, NIH Cohort 2 1/5/2020 1/9/2020,   9 am – 5 pm
1/16/2020, 9 am – Noon
1/23/2020, 9 am – Noon
1/30/2020, 9 am – Noon
2/6/2020,   9 am – Noon
2/13/2020, 9 am – Noon
DHHS, NIH Cohort 3 5/15/2020 6/4/2020 – 9/5/2020

6/4/2020,   9 am – 5 pm
6/11/2020, 9 am – Noon
6/18/2020, 9 am – Noon
6/25/2020, 9 am – Noon
7/9/2020,   9 am – Noon
7/16/2020, 9 am – Noon

NSF Cohort Anytime 10/1/2019 – 9/29/2020
Your participation in the NSF Cohort is automatic based on a NSF invitation to submit a full proposal. Firms will receive  individual and customized assistance to prepare a competitive Phase I proposal.
DOD Cohort 1 Anytime 12/10/2019 – 2/12/2020
DOD Cohort 2 Anytime 5/1/2020 – 6/17/2020
General Cohort 1 Anytime Assistance provided on-demand: EPA, DOC, USDA, DOT, DHS, DoEdu, NASA
General Cohort 2 Anytime Assistance provided on-demand: EPA, DOC, USDA, DOT, DHS, DoEDU, NASA