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The U.S. DOT's SBIR program wants to fund Phase I proposals that:
- Respond to topics listed in the active solicitation
- Improve some aspect of the national transportation system or enhance the ability of U.S. DOT to perform its mission
- Address advanced innovative concepts from small business concerns (SBC) with strong capabilities in applied science or engineering
- Demonstrate a sound approach to the investigation of specific transportation-related technological, scientific or engineering problems as described in each solicitation’s research topics
- The U.S. DOT SBIR program does not accept unsolicited proposals--all proposals must respond to a specific research topic listed in the open solicitation
To learn more about the SBIR program structure, how and when to submit a proposal, and other helpful details, continue reading or select a topic in the left navigational menu.
The U.S. DOT SBIR Program awards contracts in two phases and recognizes a follow-on Phase III.
- Phase I contracts seek to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposal. Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs for 6 months.
- Phase II contracts are only available to small businesses that have successfully completed Phase I. Phase II seeks to develop and commercialize the Phase I technologies. Contracts awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years.
- Phase III is for small businesses to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I and Phase II activities. The SBIR program does not fund Phase III. Where applicable, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes, or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.
Only United States small businesses are eligible to participate in the SBIR program. Businesses must meet all of the following criteria at the time of Phase I and II awards:
- Organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States
- No more than 500 employees, including affiliates
- The principal investigator must have primary employment with the small business
- At least 51 percent owned and controlled by either one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States OR by another for-profit business concern that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States
In 2020, DOT introduced new features to the SBIR program:
- Pre-Solicitation Interchange: Small businesses have the opportunity to review the technical topics and submit clarifying questions to the Technical Experts/Topic Authors at the Operating Administrations during this period.
- Streamlined Solicitation Process: The solicitation period is shortened to 30 days and the offer requirements are streamlined, reducing page requirements for the technical section.
- Evaluation Down-Selection: DOT evaluation teams down-select the finalists being considered for awards. Finalists will be invited to participate in DOT's Pitch Day.
- Pitch Day: Following on the success of the U.S. Air Force's SBIR Pitch Day, DOT created a virtual Pitch Day event for SBIR finalists. The event will allow DOT evaluators to interact with the finalists to both hear their 15-minute "pitch" and engage in a Q&A session. Real-time evaluation enables quicker decision-making and streamlined Phase I awards.