SBIR/STTR Glossary of Terms

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Administrative Contacting Officer

A contracting officer assigned to perform administrative functions after a contract is awarded.

Additionally Eligible State

A State in which the total value of funding agreements awarded to SBCs (as defined in this section) under all agency SBIR Programs is less than the total value of funding agreements awarded to SBCs in a majority of other States, as determined by SBA's Administrator in biennial fiscal years and based on the most recent statistics compiled by the Administrator.


Business concerns, organizations or individuals that control each other or that are controlled by a third party.

Allowable Costs

Those costs that are reasonable, comply with generally accepted accounting procedures or the Cost Accounting Standards, comply with the terms and conditions of the contract, and comply with Part 31 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.


The organizational entity that, at the time of award, will qualify as an SBC and that submits a contract proposal or a grant application for a funding agreement under the SBIR Program.


The organizational entity receiving an SBIR Phase I, Phase II, or Phase III award.

Basic Research

Scientific study and experimentation to provide fundamental knowledge required for the solution of problems.


The process of developing marketable products or services and delivering products and services for sale, whether by the originating party or by others, to government or commercial markets.

Commercialization Achievement Index (CAI)

A CAI is calculated for firms with four or more completed Phase II awards; firms with fewer than four awards will have a CAI of "N/A," or not-applicable. Think of the CAI as a gauge of how successful a firm has been in transferring the technology from previous SBIR and STTR projects into the commercial sector.

Commercialization Pilot Program (CPP)

Each department is developing criteria and processes to identify projects with the potential for rapid transition to Phase III and that are expected to meet high priority needs of their Department. A project's inclusion in the CPP is by invitation and at the discretion of the Departments. CPP participants may receive a variety of assistance services and/or opportunities to facilitate the transition of their projects. Participation in the CPP may also include modifications to existing Phase II contracts with additional non-SBIR funding, as well as additional SBIR funding beyond the normal SBIR funding guidelines, to enhance ongoing projects with expanded research, development, test, or evaluation to accelerate transition and commercialization. Additional reporting on CPP participants and results achieved is required.

Commercialization Plan

Helps organizations and entrepreneurs to evaluate the commercialization alternatives for their technology, product, or service, such as:
• Identify, contact, and negotiate with potential licensees
• Evaluate feasibility of a new start-up company; develop a preliminary business plan to identify resource needs
• Identify and qualify outside vendors for product development or testing, manufacturing, regulatory approval
• Identify channels of distribution and negotiate distribution agreements
• Evaluate and contact potential strategic partners


A mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish supplies or services, including construction, and the buyer to pay for them.


Purchasing, renting, leasing, or otherwise obtaining supplies or services from nonfederal sources. Contracting includes the description of supplies and services required the selection and solicitation of sources, the preparation and award of contracts, and all phases of contract administration. It does not include grants or cooperative agreements.

Contractor Team Arrangement

An arrangement in which two or more companies form a partnership or joint venture to act as a potential prime contractor or an agreement by a potential prime contractor with one or more other companies to have them act as its subcontractors under a specified government contract or acquisition program.

Cooperative Agreement

A financial assistance mechanism used when substantial Federal programmatic involvement with the awardee during performance is anticipated by the issuing agency. The Cooperative Agreement contains the responsibilities and respective obligations of the parties.


Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)

The agency that establishes the accounting systems required for Phase II awardees. You must be audited and approved by DCAA prior to a DOD Phase II award.

Direct Cost

Any cost that is associated specifically to the project (i.e., labor, travel, material, etc.) being proposed. A direct cost is an expense that is incurred to support a specific contract, job, or project.

Eligible State

A State where the total value of SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program awards made to recipient businesses in the State during fiscal year 1995 was less than $5,000,000 (as reflected in SBA's database of fiscal year 1995 awards), and that certifies to SBA's Administrator that it will, upon receipt of assistance, provide matching funds from non-Federal sources in an amount that is not less than 50 percent of the amount of assistance provided.

Essentially Equivalent Work

This occurs when: substantially the same research is proposed for funding in more than one contract proposal or grant application submitted to the same Federal agency; substantially the same research is submitted to two or more different Federal agencies for review and funding consideration; or a specific research objective and the research design for accomplishing an objective are the same or closely related in two or more proposals or awards, regardless of the funding source.

Exploratory Development

A study, investigation or minor development effort directed toward specific problem areas with a view toward developing and evaluating the feasibility and practicability of proposed solutions.

Extramural Budget

The sum of the total obligations for R/R&D minus amounts obligated for R/R&D activities by employees of a Federal agency in or through Government-owned, Government-operated facilities. For the Agency for International Development, the "extramural budget" must not include amounts obligated solely for general institutional support of international research centers or for grants to foreign countries. For the Department of Energy, the "extramural budget" must not include amounts obligated for atomic energy defense programs solely for weapons activities or for naval reactor programs.

Federal Acquisition Regulation

The rules which govern all purchases made by the government. Defense-related provisions augmenting the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) are contained in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).


The practical extent to which a project can be performed successfully.

Federal Agency

An executive agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105, or a military department as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102, except that it does not include any agency within the Intelligence Community as defined in Executive Order 12333, Section 3.4(f), or its successor orders.

Funding Agreement

Any contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into between any Federal agency and any SBC for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work, including products or services, funded in whole or in part by the Federal Government.

Funding Agreement Officer

A contracting officer, a grants officer, or a cooperative agreement officer.

Full and Open Competition

With respect to a contract action, full and open competition means that all responsible sources are permitted to compete.

General and Administrative Expenses

The costs of a firm's general and executive offices, staff services (e.g., legal, accounting, public relations), and other activities related to the function of the business as a whole.


A financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity. A grant is used whenever the Federal agency anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the awardee during performance.

Indirect Costs

Expenses which a contractor incurs that cannot be attributed to any one particular contract.


Something new or improved, having marketable potential, including development of new technologies, refinement of existing technologies, or development of new applications for existing technologies.

Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP)

Provides the organizational structure for acquiring, maturing, infusing and commercial technology and capabilities for NASA's Mission Directorates, Programs and Projects through investments and partnerships with Industry, Academia, Government Agencies and National Laboratories.

Intellectual Property

The separate and distinct types of intangible property that are referred to collectively as "intellectual property," including but not limited to: patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, SBIR technical data, ideas, designs, know-how, business, technical and research methods, other types of intangible business assets, and all types of intangible assets either proposed or generated by an SBC as a result of its participation in the SBIR Program.

Joint Venture

An association of concerns with interests in any degree or proportion by way of contract express or implied, consorting to engage in and carry out a single specific business venture for joint profit, for which purpose they combine their efforts, property, money, skill, or knowledge, but not on a continuing or permanent basis for conducting business generally. A joint venture is viewed as a business entity in determining power to control its management.


The process by which the contracting officer and the offeror establish the contract requirements and determine a fair and reasonable price for the performance of the contract.


The measures of long-term, eventual, program impact.


The measures of near-term program impact.

Overhead Rate

A ration of the contractor's projected indirect costs and direct costs. It is a method that ensures a fair share of the indirect cost is charged to each contract.


A mutually beneficial business-to-business relationship based on trust and commitment and that enhances the capabilities of both parties.

Phase IB - NSF

An option that helps bridge the gap in funding between Phase I and Phase II. The Phase IB Option will provide additional funds to Phase I grantees that obtain third party funds.

Phase IIB - NSF

An option that helps bridge the gap in funding between Phase II and Phase III. The Phase IIB Option will provide additional funds to Phase II grantees that obtain third party funds. The objective of the Phase IIB Option is to extend the R&D efforts beyond a current grant to meet the product/process/software requirements of a third party investor to accelerate the Phase II project to the commercialization stage and/or enhance the overall strength of the commercial potential of the Phase II project.

Pre-Solicitation Announcement

An announcement which provides summary information on SBIR solicitation topics. It is updated quarterly by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and can be found on the SBA web site.

Pre-Solicitation Release

A document or electronic file which contains full descriptions of the SBIR topics expected to appear in the final solicitation. The PSR lists the technical point of contact (TPOC) for each SBIR topic. The PSR gives the small business time to ask technical questions of the TPOC before the formal solicitation is issued.

Prime Contract

A contract awarded directly by the Federal government.

Principal Investigator/Project Manager

The one individual designated by the applicant to provide the scientific and technical direction to a project supported by the funding agreement.

Program Solicitation

A formal solicitation for proposals whereby a Federal agency notifies the small business community of its R/R&D needs and interests in broad and selected areas, as appropriate to the agency, and requests proposals from SBCs in response to these needs and interests. Announcements in the Federal Register or the GPE are not considered an SBIR Program solicitation.


A written offer to perform a contact. It explains how the offeror intends to meet the government's requirements, and how much it will cost the government for contract performance.


A model of something to be further developed, which includes designs, protocols, questionnaires, software, and devices.

Request for Proposal

A document outlining a government agency's requirements and the criteria for the evaluation of offers.

Research (or Research and Development)

Any activity which is: (1) a systematic, intensive study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the subject studied; (2) a systematic study directed specifically toward applying a new knowledge to meet a recognized need; or (3) a systematic application of knowledge toward the production of useful materials, devices, and systems or methods, including design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet requirements.

SBIR Participants

Business concerns that have received SBIR awards or that have submitted SBIR proposals/applications.

SBIR Technical Data

All data generated during the performance of an SBIR award.

SBIR Technical Data Rights

The rights an SBC obtains in data generated during the performance of any SBIR Phase I, Phase II, or Phase III award that an awardee delivers to the Government during or upon completion of a Federally-funded project, and to which the Government receives a license.

Small Business

A firm that at the time of award of a Phase I or Phase II contract meets the following criteria: (1) it is organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States, which operates primarily within the United States or which makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials, or labor; (2) it is in the legal form of an individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture, association, trust or cooperative, except that where the form is a joint venture, there can be no more than 49 percent participation by foreign business entities in the joint venture; (3) it is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States, except in the case of a joint venture, where each entity to the venture must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens.

Small Business Innovation Research

The federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was created in 1982 to stimulate research and development activity among small businesses while providing the government innovative solutions to challenging technical and scientific problems. The SBIR program offers qualified small businesses funding for high risk research as well as the opportunity and encouragement to commercialize the results of the SBIR project.

Small Business Technology Transfer

The federal Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program encourages small businesses to partner with universities or research institutions for research and technology development. The goals of STTR are to spur economic growth and strengthen industrial competitiveness.

Socially and Economically Disadvantaged SBC

See 13 CFR Part 124 -- 8(A) Business Development/Small Disadvantaged Business Status Determinations, §§124.103 (Who is socially disadvantaged?) and 124.104 (Who is economically disadvantaged?).


The document prepared by a SBIR participating organization which outlines the rules for submission of Phase I proposals concerning specified SBIR topics. The Program Solicitation file on the DOD SBIR/STTR website contains the proposal preparation instructions and requirements, program description, definitions, methods of selection and evaluation criteria, and contracting information.


Any agreement, other than one involving an employer-employee relationship, entered into by a federal government contract awardee calling for supplies or services required solely for the performance of the original funding agreement.

Technology Infusion

For NASA, the process of strategically binding technical needs and potential solutions. These innovative solutions, must all be managed through some aspect of transition from their originating source to the targeted challenges within NASA's programs and projects. Comparable to “Commercialization Plans” within other agencies.

Technology Transfer

The Technology Transfer program assures that, i.e. Air Force science and engineering activities promote the transfer and/or exchange of technology with state and local governments, academia and industry to create jobs, improve productivity, and increase competitiveness while supporting the Air Force mission.


Technology Investment Plan

Unallowable Costs

Contractor costs which the government is not permitted by law to pay or which are prohibited by terms of the contract. Complete listing of these costs is contained in Federal Acquisition Regulation, Part 31.

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