New NSF SBIR/STTR Information for 2020

Just when you think you have figured out NSF’s SBIR program, they change it. There are some new changes you should be aware of for 2020.

First of all, there are four Phase I submission windows for this year and additional funding has been added so the award ceiling is increased to $256,000 from $225,000.

  • December 18, 2019 – March 5, 2020
  • March 6, 2020 – June 4, 2020
  • June 5, 2020 – September 3, 2020
  • September 4, 2020 – December 3, 2020

Proposals submitted to the SBIR solicitation that are fundable and meet the requirements of the current STTR solicitation may, at NSF’s discretion, be shifted to an STTR Phase I project. That means that a company could apply to both, sort of like DOE, but there is no check box.  You are still submitting an SBIR with a STTR-like sub-award to a University or Non-Profit research organization.

Finally, some new guidance has emerged in the areas of indirect costs.  There are new “safe rate” options available. Experts don’t necessarily think “safe rates” are good but if you have no financial data whatsoever, it’s at least somewhat “safe” in that you won’t have to negotiate the rate.  You should know that this route does not preclude you from being audited. It can still happen. That being said, here are the two new options:

  1. Up to 50% of the total Direct Labor (key persons + other)
  2. NEW: 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC). MTDC = all direct salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each sub-award.

The SBDC can help with all facets of the submission and it’s all FREE.  Just go to and sign up; or if you are already a client and haven’t been here for a while, call us and make an appointment.

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