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How to Apply for SBIR Funding

Below are general instructions for submitting a proposal when there is an open U.S. DOT Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) solicitation.

Registration Requirements

There are multiple registrations required prior to submitting a U.S. DOT SBIR proposal. The registration process may take several weeks, so it’s important to start early. 

  • System for Award Management (SAM) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active SAM registration before being awarded an SBIR contract. SAM registration requires annual renewal. Please note that the renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration.
  • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) – All applicants are required to obtain a UEI, which is a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned to an entity by As of April 4, 2022, the unique entity identifier used across the federal government changed from the DUNS Number to the Unique Entity ID. Existing registered entities can find their Unique Entity ID on
  • SBA Company Registration – All applicants are required to register with the SBA Company Registry prior to proposal submission. Completed registrations will receive a unique small business concern (SBC) Control ID to be used for submissions at any of the 11 participating agencies in the SBIR or STTR programs.

Phase I Proposal Submission

Phase I proposals (also known as “offers”) can be submitted when U.S. DOT has an open solicitation. U.S. DOT issues one solicitation per year. 

Unsolicited proposals will not be accepted.

General Guidelines

Be sure to review the following before submitting your proposal:

  • Read all of the information available in the open solicitation—not just the topic descriptions.
  • Carefully follow the requirements and guidelines for preparing your proposal. If your proposal does not include the labeled sections and is not organized in the order of the requirements document, it may not be considered for SBIR funding.
  • Ensure that you understand the problem described in the topic and that you demonstrate that knowledge in your proposal.
  • Document the expertise and credentials of the principal investigator.
  • Include a detailed work plan and schedule that demonstrates how you will accomplish your proposed goals.
  • Consider and describe the potential commercialization options and avenues for your proposal.
  • Complete all appendices, including the cost proposal template provided in Appendix C.

Phase II Proposal Submission

After successful completion of a Phase I contract, all U.S. DOT SBIR Phase I awardees are eligible to submit a Phase II proposal for evaluation.

U.S. DOT will provide Phase I awardees specific details on the due date, content, and submission requirements for Phase II proposals approximately 30 days prior to the end of Phase I efforts.

Phase II proposal materials include the following:

Supplemental Phase II awards, known as Phase IIB awards, may be considered for further follow-on work towards commercialization. Phase IIB participation is by invitation only.

Phase III Proposal Submission

Phase III awards are designed to advance previous SBIR R/R&D to commercialization and often includes the production or purchase of the SBIR award’s solution. Phase III awards do not use the SBIR set-aside funding and therefore require other Departmental funding sources.

Phase III participation is by invitation only.

SBIR: America's Seed Fund. Powered by the Department of Transportation.