NIST opens annual grant application for small business


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The National Institute of Standards and Technology opened its annual round of small business research grant contests this week, looking to fund companies developing new technology in a range of areas like manufacturing, cyber-physical systems and cryptography

The NIST Small Business Innovation Research program will award up to $100,000 for researching and developing 19 specific technological projects, according to a press release. NIST chose a broad spread of subtopics for the businesses to work towards, such as research on personal data stores to put users in charge of their own information, smart manufacturing visualization and more.

“Our solicitation subtopics identify a scientific problem. We look for applicants to provide innovative solutions,” NIST SBIR Program Director Mary Clague said.

NIST will also award grants for developments in advanced sensing for manufacturing, throughput bio-manufacturing, labs to market, materials genome and quantum-based sensors, and measurements.

The program consists of three phases, starting with phase I to measure the research’s technical feasibility for possible commercialization. Phase I will close April 14. Afterwards, awardees will be allowed to move onto Phase II in the next fiscal year, which will focus on developing a prototype. Last year’s Phase I winners will begin the second phase on Feb. 15.

Established in 1982, the SBIR program requires federal agencies with research and development budgets over $100 million to provide 2.8 percent of that amount to fund small businesses, according to SBIR’s website.  Currently 11 agencies participate in the SBIR program including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and NASA, whose Phase I solicitation ended Monday.

With these grants, NIST SBIR’s goal is to encourage future scientific and engineering-innovation for research and development among start-ups or growing businesses. The NIST also gives high priority to projects with energy efficient or renewable energy systems and manufacturing-related projects, according to the program document.

“We don’t want to eliminate the one-person business,” Clague said. “They are some of the most successful companies that participate.”

Last fiscal year, the NIST awarded phase I grants to 14 out of 74 proposals it received and took six of those to phase II. 

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Agencies, Cybersecurity, Small Business Administration, Small Business Innovation Research Grant, Tech
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