Federal small business grants and startup grants
The American government rarely conducts research or creates new technologies on its own. That’s why—when a political platform promises dedication to something like environmental sustainability or curing diseases—government agencies award grants to small businesses already striving to meet these goals. The same is true for growth grants meant to fuel innovation through startup businesses.
Federal grants typically fall into one of three main categories:
- Research and development grants
- Exporting grants for selling internationally
- Nonprofit or local government work grants
1. Research and development grants
Many government goals require research and development. From health care to the environment, the government needs private businesses and organizations to conduct research and develop products, services, and programs to address problems.
Take a look at some of the programs below to see how the government works with small businesses to efficiently research problems and develop responsive solutions.
- Small Business Innovation Research Program: The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awards grants to U.S.-based small businesses. According to the program’s website, these businesses “engage in federal research/research and development with the potential for commercialization.”
- Small Business Technology Transfer Program: The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is similar to the SBIR program in that it funds research and development projects that meet federal needs. A vital component of the STTR program is the “expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions,” according to the SBA website.
- National Science Foundation: America’s Seed Fund: Through America’s Seed Fund, the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides grants to startups and small businesses that concentrate on high-risk, high-impact technologies. These technologies include promising concepts whose success is not yet known.
2. Exporting grants for selling internationally
The federal government is always interested in increasing exports. Therefore, grants are available to organizations dedicated to decreasing barriers for small businesses to export out of the country.
In fact, the federal government manages a specific program that increases the export capacity of U.S.-based small businesses.
- Small Business Administration’s State Trade Expansion Program: The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is a three-year pilot program that helps U.S. small businesses enter the international marketplace. The federal government partners with state and local governments to facilitate the program.
3. Nonprofit or local government work grants
Because nonprofits are issue-driven, their goals often align with federal government goals. However, nonprofits typically have shoestring budgets and less ability to raise money from outside investors and banks.
That’s exactly why the federal government funds many nonprofits on either a one-time or renewal basis through various grant programs. Here are a few of many examples.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants: Both for-profit and not-for-profit research institutions receive grants continuously to research health issues that are critical to the U.S. and the broader world. Grant types include research grants, career development awards, research training and fellowships, program project or center grants, resource grants, and trans-NIH programs.
- Environmental Protection Agency Grants: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards more than $4 billion annually to fund environmental projects. These grants are typically awarded to nonprofit organizations and state governments.
- U.S. Department of the Interior Federal Grants Program: The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) oversees domestic lands, water, wildlife, and energy through scientific study and projects. Through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Indian Affairs, and National Park Service, the DOI manages an extensive grant program that helps fund nonprofit work in these areas.
Additional federal grants
The federal government offers a wide array of small business grants that can apply to a variety of industries. Federal agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy, for instance, have their own federal small business grants. Some examples of federal grants include: