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Federal Grants

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Awards

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) is another program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development (R&D) arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. The unique feature of the STTR program is the requirement for the small business to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II.

STTR differs from SBIR in three important aspects:

  1. The Small Business Concern (SBC) and its partnering institution are required to establish an intellectual property agreement detailing the allocation of intellectual property rights and rights to carry out follow-on research, development or commercialization activities.
  2. STTR requires that the SBC perform at least 40% of the R&D and the single partnering research institution to perform at least 30% of the R&D.
  3. Unlike the SBIR program, STTR does not require the Principal Investigator to be primarily employed by the SBC.

SBIR/STTR Updates – To receive email updates on SBIR/STTR programs including open proposals, go to then click “E-Mail Updates” in the top right corner. Also, provides a table of open/released solicitations. See table here:

11 Federal Agencies with SBIR include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

5 Federal Agencies with STTR include:

  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

To learn more about SBIR/STTR program, visit

State Grants

Recipients of a SBIR phase 1 in FY2016 are eligible for the State’s matching fund program. However, funds are only available until they run out. Companies receive the funding on a first come, first serve basis. To learn more about One N.C. Small Business Program, visit:

One N.C. Small Business Program

  • SBIR/STTR Phase 1 Incentive Funds Program reimburses qualified N.C. businesses for a portion of the costs associated in preparing and submitting Phase 1 SBIR/STTR proposals.
  • Under the current (FY 2017) solicitation, the maximum grant award is 50% of the Federal SBIR/STTR Program award, not to exceed $65,000.
  • Applicants must apply within 45 days of receiving official notification of Phase 1 award by federal SBIR/STTR agency.
  • The current solicitation period is July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.

University Grants

Technology Commercialization Carolina

The Technology Commercialization Carolina, funded by the EDA and Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, offers two consulting services award including:

  • MicroStart Awards are small grant awards made to 3rd party consultants with the goal of having the consultant build a business case for commercialization of the technology being evaluated. This is meant to serve as a rough “go/no-go” evaluation for early-stage technologies or as a validation of the business case for more established technologies. The TCC will accept application for MicroStart Awards on a rolling basis and evaluate them on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Commercialization Grants are awards made to faculty founders or university startup companies that have identified discreet scopes of work that could lead to a defined deliverable such as proof-of-concept, prototype development, or a go/no-go decision on commercialization. The faculty founder/startup must identify a 3rd party vendor that can complete the work and provide a letter of support and sample invoice from the vendor. The TCC will send out one Request For Proposals per year and will accept one or two awardees per RFP. The amount of funding provided per proposal will be predicated on the strength of the application and the amount of funding available but it is predicted that we will make awards of $5,000 – $ 30,000.

To learn more, visit or contact Jason Doherty at

The North Carolina Translational & Clinical Sciences Institute (UNC TraCS)

TraCS’ mission is to accelerate clinical and translation research from health science to discovery to dissemination to patients and communities. TraCS has two programs that award grant funding to aid in commercializing UNC technology, including Carolina Kickstart and Drugs, Devices and Diagnostics Development (4D) strategic initiative.

Carolina KickStart

Carolina Kickstart provides support for faculty in commercializing biomedical technologies through startup generation. Carolina Kickstart offers several grants including:

  • The Carolina KickStart Commercialization Award Program offers opportunities to connect new knowledge to societal benefit through translational research efforts and/or partnerships that encourage, enhance and accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • KickStart MicroStart Projects are short duration projects (3-6 months) to help enhance the commercialization of novel science or technology. Carolina KickStart will match entrepreneurs with a specific technology and faculty inventor. The program is structured to encourage engagement of local entrepreneurs to ‘test’ out a startup idea, and potentially take a more active role in launching the company, while still delivering value to the new venture. Successful applicants will be awarded up to $5,000, paid upon completion of project-specific deliverables.

To learn more, visit

Drugs, Devices and Diagnostics Development (4D)

4D offers pilot funding awards between $5,000 to $50,000 to help further innovation toward an eventual commercial endpoint, being either launching of a company or licensing to an established company. To learn more about the 4D pilot awards, visit:

Regional Organizations Grants

North Carolina Biotechnology Center

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has both grant programs and loan options for emerging NC life science companies. Funding options include:

  • Technology Enhancement Grant Program provides non-repayable grant funding to North Carolina universities or other NC research institutions through their respective technology transfer offices. Under this program, awards of up to $50,000 are available to fund a commercially-focused research study to enhance the university’s licensing position for a commercially promising technology.
  • The Collaborative Funding Grant (CFG) supports a university-company partnership that will advance a company’s technology toward the marketplace. This grant provides funds for a post-doctoral fellow or technician in a university lab to conduct research on a project of commercial interest. University investigators and companies first form the collaboration and then apply together through the university. The maximum award amount is $100,000.
  • Biotechnology Innovation Grants support studies at North Carolina research institutions that enable commercialization of early-stage university life science inventions. The maximum award amount is $100,000.
  • The NC Biotechnology Center awards low-interest loans designed to help recipients meet research and commercial milestones. The three types of loans include Company Inception Loan (CIL), Small Business Research Loan (SRL), and Strategic Growth Loan (SGL).

To learn more about NC Biotechnology grants and loans, visit:


NC IDEA provides grants up to $50,000 to high-tech startup companies in North Carolina. The grant funds must be used for business related expenses and the funds must help companies achieve significant milestones. NC IDEA makes grant solicitations twice a year, and typically opens applications in mid-February and mid-August. To learn more, visit

Business Case Competitions

Carolina Challenge

During the spring semester, UNC Kenan-Flagler hosts the Carolina Challenge, a business case competitions for UNC-affiliated startups. There are various events leading up the Challenge finals, each with potential to win prize money.

Applications due in February, with the Carolina Challenge taking place in late March/Early April. To learn more, visit:

Charlotte Venture Challenge

The Charlotte Venture Challenge is a start-up competition for early-stage high growth companies. The competition has a history of producing and showcasing some of the Southeast’s most successful early-stage companies. In the last three years, over 300 start-up companies entered the competition for the opportunity to present to potential investors, first customers, and the chance to win over $150,000 in cash prizes. The competition includes a series of workshops to prepare teams for the various rounds of competition. Over the course of three months, participants will learn about opportunity assessments, receive mentoring and connect with other entrepreneurs. During the final rounds of competition the finalists present to Angel and Venture Capital Investors and large potential customers (Fortune 500 Corps.). There is a “graduate Student Ventures” category for entry eligibility.

Events leading up to the finals start in early February, with the finals being held late March/early April. To learn more, visit:

Kauffman Foundation Startup Compete

Startup Compete is a global networking site and competition platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors and advisors to connect with each other and bring potential business ideas to market. This site keeps a list of national business competitions.

To learn more, visit:

Small Business Resources

* These agencies do not provide grant funding but they do offer a wide range of small business services and support.

Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network

The Network’s mission is to help catalyze the regional development of the Triangle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and thereby strengthen economic development in the area. Entrepreneurs-in-Residence work one-on-one and as a team to mentor local entrepreneurs and help them achieve business milestones, make connections to their network of experts and funders, and provide access to the broader Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. For more information, visit

North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED)

CED is a nationally connected network that helps Triangle entrepreneurs build and grow their companies. They provide education, mentoring and capital formation resources to technology-based, high-growth entrepreneurs.
Learn more at

North Carolina Small Business & Technology Development Centers (SBTDC)

SBTDC provides management counseling and educational services to small and mid-sized businesses. To learn more, visit:


SCORE offers the nation’s largest, network of free, expert business mentors. To learn more, visit

Small Business Administration

The Federal Government’s Small Business Administration has several loan programs for small businesses. To learn more, visit: