NASA SBIR/STTR Program Solicitation Details | 1. Program Description

1. Program Description

1.1 Introduction

This document includes two NASA program solicitations with separate research areas under which small business concerns (SBCs) are invited to submit proposals:  the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program. Program background information, eligibility requirements for participants, information on the three program phases, and information for submitting responsive proposals are contained herein. The fiscal year 2015 Solicitation period for Phase I proposals begins November 14, 2014 and ends January 28, 2015.

The NASA SBIR/STTR programs do not accept proposals solely directed towards system studies, market research, routine engineering development of existing product(s), proven concepts, or modifications of existing products without substantive innovation.

It is anticipated that some SBIR and STTR Phase I proposals will be selected for negotiation of firm-fixed-price contracts approximately during the month of April2015. Historically, the percentage of Phase I proposals to awards is approximately 13-15% for SBIR and STTR, and approximately 35-40% of the selected Phase I contracts are competitively selected for Phase II follow-on efforts. 

Under this Solicitation NASA will not accept more than 10 proposals to either program from any one firm in order to ensure the broadest participation of the small business community. NASA does not plan to award more than 5 SBIR contracts and 2 STTR contracts to any offeror.

Proposals must be submitted online via the Proposal Submissions Electronic Handbook at and include all relevant documentation. Unsolicited proposals will not be accepted.


1.2 Program Authority and Executive Order

SBIR and STTR opportunities are solicited annually pursuant to the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982, P.L. 97-219 (codified at 15 U.S.C. 638) as amended by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, Extension, P.L. 99-443 which extended the program through September 30, 1993. On October 28, 1992, through the Small Business Innovation Research and Development Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-564), Congress reauthorized and extended the SBIR Program for another seven years (2000). Subsequently, on December 21, 2000, through the Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-554) Congress again reauthorized the SBIR Program. With the approval of H.R. 2608, Continuing Appropriations Act 2012, the SBIR Program was authorized through December 31, 2011. On December 31, 2011, the President signed into law the National Defense Reauthorization Act of 2012 (Defense Reauthorization Act), P. L. 112-81, Section 5001, Division E of the Defense Reauthorization Act contains the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 (SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act)), which extends both the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs through September 30, 2017.

1.3 Program Management

The Space Technology Mission Directorate provides overall policy direction for implementation of the NASA SBIR/STTR programs. The NASA SBIR/STTR Program Management Office, which operates the programs in conjunction with NASA Mission Directorates and Centers, is hosted at the NASA Ames Research Center. NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) provides the overall procurement management for the programs. All of the NASA Centers actively participate in the SBIR/STTR programs; and to reinforce NASA’s objective of infusion of SBIR/STTR developed technologies into its programs and projects, each Center has personnel focused on that activity.

NASA research and technology areas to be solicited are identified annually by the Agency’s Mission Directorates. The Directorates identify high priority research and technology needs for their respective programs and projects. The needs are explicitly described in the topics and subtopics descriptions developed by technical experts at NASA’s Centers. The range of technologies is broad, and the list of topics and subtopics may vary in content from year to year. See section 9.1 for details on the Mission Directorate research topic descriptions for the SBIR Program.

The STTR Program is aligned with the priorities of NASA’s Space Technology Roadmaps, as well as the associated core competencies of the NASA Centers as described in section 9.2.

As technological innovation is at the core of the SBIR/STTR program it is critical to NASA’s Technology Transfer efforts that any new innovation derived from an SBIR/STTR award is reported to NASA in accordance with its New Technology Reporting Requirements.

Information regarding the Mission Directorates and the NASA Centers can be obtained at the following web sites:

Space Technology

Space Technology Roadmaps


NASA Mission Directorates

Aeronautics Research

Human Exploration and Operations


Space Technology


NASA Centers

Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC)

Ames Research Center (ARC)

Glenn Research Center (GRC)

Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Johnson Space Center (JSC)

Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

Langley Research Center (LaRC)

Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)

Stennis Space Center (SSC)

1.4 Three-Phase Program

Both the SBIR and STTR programs are divided into three funding and development stages.

Maximum value and period of performance for Phase I and Phase II contracts:

Phase I Contracts



Maximum Contract Value



Period of Performance

6 months


Phase II Contracts



Maximum Contract Value



Maximum Period of Performance

24 months

24 months

Phase I

The purpose of Phase I is to determine the scientific, technical, commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation, and the quality of the SBC’s performance. Phase I work and results should provide a sound basis for the continued development, demonstration and delivery of the proposed innovation in Phase II and follow-on efforts. Successful completion of Phase I objectives is a prerequisite to consideration for a Phase II award.

Phase II

The purpose of Phase II is the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovation. Only SBCs awarded a Phase I contract are eligible to submit a proposal for a Phase II funding agreement. Phase II projects are chosen as a result of competitive evaluations and based on selection criteria provided in the Phase II Proposal Instructions and Evaluation Criteria.

Opportunities for Continued Technology Development Post-Phase II

Phase II Enhancement (Phase II-E) Option

The objective of the Phase II-E is to further encourage the advancement of innovations developed under Phase II via an option of R/R&D efforts underway on current Phase II contracts.  Eligible firms shall secure an external investor to partner with and invest in enhancing their technology for further research, infusion, and/or commercialization.

Under this option, NASA will match external investor funds with SBIR/STTR funds to extend an existing Phase II project for a minimum of 4 months to perform additional R/R&D.

New work proposed under a Phase II-E effort must build upon and demonstrably advance the R/R&D conducted during Phase II, and should therefore lead to new outcomes not achievable with Phase II funding alone.

Eligible external investors include a NASA project, NASA contractor, a non-SBIR/non-STTR government program or a commercial investor.

The non-SBIR/non-STTR contribution is not limited since it is regulated under the guidelines for Phase III awards.

The matching levels SBIR/STTR will provide will depend on matching levels offered at time of the Phase II-E proposal.

Please refer to for matching levels and other related information.

Phase II eXpanded (Phase II-X) Option

The objective of the Phase II-X Option is to establish a strong and direct partnership between the NASA SBIR/STTR Program and other NASA projects undertaking the development of new technologies and innovations for future use.  Under a Phase II-X option, innovations developed in Phase II are to be advanced via an extension of R/R&D efforts to the current Phase II contract. There are two specific requirements to be met for firms to be eligible for a Phase II-X option.

  • First, eligible firms must secure a NASA program or project (other than the NASA SBIR/STTR Program) as a partner to invest in enhancing their technology for further research or infusion.
  • Second, there is a minimum funding requirement for Phase II-X, as eligible firms must secure at least $75,000 in NASA program or project funding.

Contributions from other NASA programs or projects are not limited since it is regulated under the guidelines for Phase III awards. Under a Phase II-X option, the NASA SBIR/STTR Program will match, on a 2-for-1 basis at the SBIR/STTR matching levels offered at time of the Phase II-X proposal.

Please refer to for matching levels and other related information.

Phase III

NASA may award Phase III contracts for products or services with non-SBIR/STTR funds, however, under the NASA CRP program NASA is permitted to use a limited amount of SBIR/STTR funds. The competition for SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards satisfies any competition requirement of the Armed Services Procurement Act, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, and the Competition in Contracting Act. Therefore, an agency that wishes to fund a Phase III project is not required to conduct another competition in order to satisfy those statutory provisions. Phase III work may be for products, production, services, R/R&D, or any combination thereof that is derived from, extends, or concludes efforts performed under prior SBIR/STTR funding agreements. A Federal agency may enter into a Phase III agreement at any time with a Phase I or Phase II awardee.

There is no limit on the number, duration, type, or dollar value of Phase III awards made to a business concern. There is no limit on the time that may elapse between a Phase I or Phase II and a Phase III award. The small business size limits for Phase I and Phase II awards do not apply to Phase III awards.

1.5 Eligibility Requirements

1.5.1 Small Business Concern 

Only firms qualifying as SBCs, as defined in section 2.26, are eligible to participate in these programs. Socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned SBCs are particularly encouraged to propose.

1.5.2 Place of Performance 

R/R&D must be performed in the United States (section 2.31). However, based on a rare and unique circumstance (for example, if a supply or material or other item or project requirement is not available in the United States), NASA may allow a particular portion of the research or R&D work to be performed or obtained in a country outside of the United States. Proposals must clearly indicate if any work will be performed outside the United States, including subcontractor performance. Prior to award, approval by the Contracting Officer for such specific condition(s) must be in writing.

1.5.3 Principal Investigator (PI) Employment Requirement

The primary employment of the Principal Investigator (PI) shall be with the SBC under the SBIR Program, while under the STTR Program, either the SBC or RI shall employ the PI. Primary employment means that more than 50% of the PI’s total employed time (including all concurrent employers, consulting, and self-employed time) is spent with the SBC or RI at time of award and during the entire period of performance. Primary employment with a small business concern precludes full-time employment at another organization. If the PI does not currently meet these primary employment requirements, then the offeror must explain how these requirements will be met if the proposal is selected for contract negotiations that may lead to an award. Co-Principle Investigators are not allowed.

Note: NASA considers a fulltime workweek to be nominally 40 hours and we consider 19.9-hour or more workweek elsewhere to be in conflict with this rule. In rare occasions, minor deviations from this requirement may be necessary; however, any minor deviation must be approved in writing by the contracting officer after consultation with the NASA SBIR/STTR Program Manager/Business Manager.




Primary Employment

PI shall be primarily employed with the SBC

PI shall be primarily employed with the RI or SBC



The offeror must certify in the proposal that the primary employment of the PI will be with the SBC at the time of award and during the conduct of the project

The offeror must certify in the proposal that the primary employment of the PI will be with the SBC or the RI at the time of award and during the conduct of the project


Not Allowed

Not Allowed

Misrepresentation of Qualifications

Shall result in rejection of the proposal or termination of the contract

Shall result in rejection of the proposal or termination of the contract

Substitution of PIs

Requires an prior approval from NASA

Requires an prior approval from NASA


1.5.4 Restrictions on Venture Capital-owned Businesses

As set forth in the SBIR Reauthorization Act of 2011, small businesses owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms may be eligible for SBIR awards. SBA's regulations of 13 CFR part 121 sets forth the eligibility criteria for SBIR applicants that are owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms. Please note that SBIR agencies must submit a written determination (to the SBA, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the House Committee on Small Business, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology) at least 30 calendar days before it begins making awards to SBCs that are owned in majority part by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms. At the current time, NASA is not considering this change. Currently, such firms are not eligible to submit proposals to the NASA SBIR, STTR, and SBIR Select solicitations.

1.5.5 RequiredBenchmark Transition Rate

The Phase I to Phase II Transition benchmark requirement applies to SBIR and STTR Phase I applicants that have received more than 20 Phase I awards over the past 5 fiscal years, excluding the most recently-completed fiscal year.  For these companies, this benchmark rate establishes a minimum number of Phase II awards the SBC must have received for a given number of Phase I awards received during the 5-year time period. The required benchmark Transition Rate is 0.25. Additional information can be found at:

Companies with more than 20 Phase I awards during the past 5 years can view their Transition Rate if they log onto their Company Registry account at

1.6 NASA SBIR/STTR Technology Available (TAV)

All subtopics have the option of using Technology Available (TAV) with NASA IP (defined below), which may also include NASA non-patented software technology requiring a Software Usage Agreement (SUA) or similar permission for use by others. All subtopics address the objective of increasing the commercial application of innovations derived from Federal R&D. While NASA scientists and engineers conduct breakthrough research that leads to innovations, the range of NASA's effort does not extend to commercial product development in any of its intramural research areas. Additional work is often necessary to exploit these NASA technologies for either infusion or commercial viability and likely requires innovation on behalf of the private sector. NASA provides these technologies "as is" and makes no representation or guarantee that additional effort will result in infusion or commercial viability.

The NASA technologies identified in a subtopic or via the NASA Technology Transfer Portal are protected by NASA-owned patents, (2) are non-patented NASA-owned or controlled software, or (3) are otherwise available for use by the public. In the event an offeror requests to use NASA owned or controlled technologies, which are not NASA patents or NASA software, NASA shall consider such request and permit such uses as NASA, in its sole discretion, deems appropriate and permissible. If a proposer elects to use a NASA patent, a non-exclusive, royalty-free research license will be required to use the NASA IP during the SBIR/STTR contract performance period.

Similarly, if a proposer wishes to use NASA software, the parties will be required to enter into a Software Usage Agreement on a non-exclusive, royalty-free basis in order to use such NASA software for government purposes and “Government-Furnished Computer Software and Related Technical Data” will apply to the contract. As used herein, “NASA IP” refers collectively to NASA patents and NASA software. Disclaimer: All subtopics include an opportunity to license or otherwise use NASA IP on a non-exclusive, royalty-free basis, for research use under the contract. Use of the NASA IP is strictly voluntary. Whether or not a firm uses NASA IP within their proposed effort will not in any way be a factor in the selection for award. NASA software release is governed by NPR 2210.1C. 

Use of NASA Software

Software identified and requested under a SBIR/STTR contract shall be treated as Government Purpose Rights. Government purpose releases includes releases to other NASA Centers, Federal government agencies, and recipients who have a government contract. The software may be used for "government purposes" only. Non U.S. citizens will not be allowed access to NASA software under the SBIR/STTR contract.

A Software Usage Agreement (SUA) shall be requested after contract award from the appropriate NASA Center Software Release Authority (SRA). The SUA request shall include the NASA software title, version number, requesting firm contract info including recipient name, and SBIR/STTR contract award info. The SUA will expire when the contract ends.  

Use of NASA Patent

All offerors submitting proposals citing a NASA patent must submit a non-exclusive, royalty-free license application if the use of a NASA patent is desired. The NASA license application is available on the NASA SBIR/STTR website: NASA only will grant research licenses to those SBIR/STTR offerors who submitted a license application and whose proposal resulted in an SBIR/STTR award under this solicitation. Such grant of non-exclusive research license will be set forth in the successful offeror’s SBIR/STTR contract. License applications will be treated in accordance with Federal patent licensing regulations as provided in 37 CFR Part 404.

SBIR/STTR offerors are notified that no exclusive or non-exclusive commercialization license to make, use or sell products or services incorporating the NASA patent will be granted unless an SBIR/STTR offeror applies for and receives such a license in accordance with the Federal patent licensing regulations at 37 CFR Part 404. Awardees with contracts that identify a specific NASA patent will be given the opportunity to negotiate a non-exclusive commercialization license or, if available, an exclusive commercialization license to the NASA patent.

An SBIR/STTR awardee that has been granted a non-exclusive, royalty-free research license to use a NASA patent under the SBIR/STTR award may, if available and on a non-interference basis, also have access to NASA personnel knowledgeable about the NASA patent. The NASA Intellectual Property Manager (IPM) located at the appropriate NASA Center will be available to assist awardees requesting information about a patent that was identified in the SBIR/STTR contract and, if available and on a non-interference basis, provide access to the inventor or surrogate for the purpose of knowledge transfer.

Note: Access to the inventor for the purpose of knowledge transfer, will require the requestor to enter into a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), the awardee “may” be required to reimburse NASA for knowledge transfer activities.  For Phase I proposals this is a time consuming process and is not recommended.

1.7 Commercialization Technical Assistance

In accordance with the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632), NASA will authorize the recipient of a Phase I SBIR award to purchase technical assistance services, such as access to a network of scientists and engineers engaged in a wide range of technologies, or access to technical and business literature available through on-line data bases, for the purpose of assisting such concerns in:

Making better technical decisions concerning such projects.

  1. Solving technical problems which arise during the conduct of such projects.
  2. Minimizing technical risks associated with such projects.
  3. Developing and commercializing new commercial products and processes resulting from such projects.

If you are interested in proposing the use of a vendor for technical assistance, you must complete the “Technical Assistance” section located under Other Direct Costs (ODCs) in the Budget Summary (Form C). You must provide the vendor name and contact information, the proposed amount not to exceed $5,000, and a detailed explanation of the services to be provided. You must also upload a price quote from the vendor including their DUNS number.  Approval of technical assistance is not guaranteed and is subject to review by the contracting officer. Please note that this commercialization assistance does not count toward the maximum award size in either Phase I or Phase II.

1.8 General Information

1.8.1 Means of Contacting NASA SBIR/STTR Program

(1) NASA SBIR/STTR Website:

(2) Help Desk: The NASA SBIR/STTR Help Desk can answer any questions regarding clarification of proposal instructions and any administrative matters. Please contact the NASA SBIR/STTR Helpdesk at

The requestor must provide the name and telephone number of the person to contact, the organization name and address, and the specific questions or requests.

(3) NASA SBIR/STTR Program Manager: Specific information requests that could not be answered by the Help Desk should be mailed or e-mailed to:

NASA SBIR/STTR Program Management Office

MS 202A-3, Ames Research Center

Moffett Field, CA  94035-1000

1.8.2 Questions About This Solicitation 

To ensure fairness, questions relating to the intent and/or content of research topics in this Solicitation cannot be addressed during the Phase I solicitation period. Only questions requesting clarification of proposal instructions and administrative matters will be addressed.