For entrepreneurs, two of the most coveted sources of funding are the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The goal of these highly competitive, federally funded programs is to help small businesses pursue the commercial potential of technological products and services.

The key differentiation between the two grants is that the STTR program requires a partnership between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions for the first two phases of the funding. Companies in the Ann Arbor region often collaborate with the University of Michigan, the country’s foremost public research university. 

The SBIR/STTR website offers significant information and resources aimed to help innovators navigate the grant application process. 

The Pursuit of Innovation

Ann Arbor SPARK entrepreneurial services clients may be eligible for additional support as they pursue SBIR or STTR funding. Through our business accelerator program, clients may apply to receive a grant that they can use to work with SPARK-approved SBIR/STTR Support Organizations

In addition to SBIR/STTR support, the business acceleration grant program can help eligible technology startups with mentorship, skills training, and access to a network of business leaders and experienced entrepreneurs. Additionally, businesses looking for support with seed fund development can turn to our capital programs team.

To become a SPARK client, complete our application to join our incubator.

The Three Phases of SBIR/STTR

  • Phase I: Awards ranging from $50,000 – $250,000 for six months (SBIR) or one year (STTR) are used to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed innovation.
  • Phase II: SBIR/STTR awards are generally $750,000 for two years and are used to continue the efforts initiated in Phase I. Typically, only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award.
  • Phase III. The SBIR/STTR programs do not fund Phase III. At some Federal agencies, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR/STTR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes, or services intended for use by the U.S. Government.

U.S.-based companies interested in submitting an SBIR or STTR proposal can learn more at, including details about Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III. The Small Business Innovation Research program is coordinated by the Small Business Administration. 

With funds earmarked by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and budget oversight provided by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), Ann Arbor SPARK’s entrepreneurial programs, services, tools, and resources support the growth of a vibrant startup ecosystem.