Ohio State nav bar

Innovation Funding

Several federal funding programs designed to foster technological innovation are available.  Many of these opportunities encourage or require joint participation of industry and academic partners.  Our departmental Grants Specialists are ready to help locate suitable opportunities and assist with application and submission of collaborative proposals in which the academic partner serves as lead PI.  A summary from NSF of the various innovation funding programs can be found in the following document.

NSF Funding Summary


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program encourages businesses to engage in federal research/research and development. It operates a three phase program to provide entrepreneurs with funding to establish technical merit/feasibility, furthering technical development, and promoting commercialization of new technology.

Like the SBIR program, the Small Business Innovation Technology (STTR) program also provides funding opportunities in the area of federal innovation research and development.  The focus of STTR is expansion of the public/private sector partnership by requiring collaboration between small businesses and nonprofit research institutions.  The STTR program requires the business to establish an intellectual property rights agreement with the research institution. 

The federal government awards more than $2.5 billion annually through these programs to assist the development of groundbreaking, high-risk technologies. Federal agencies with R&D budgets exceeding $100 million annually are required to allocate 3.2% of their R&D budgets to SBIR/STTR programs. Currently, these eleven federal agencies participate in the SBIR program.

To view available solicitations by agency, click on the agency of interest listed above.

SBIR businesses must meet the following criteria.

  1. Organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States;
  2. More than 50 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States, or by another for-profit business concern that is more than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States; and
  3. No more than 500 employees, including affiliates
  4. For awards from agencies using the authority under 15 U.S.C. 638(dd)(1), an awardee may be owned and controlled by more than one VC, hedge fund, or private equity firm so long as no one such firm owns a majority of the stock.
  5. Phase I awardees with multiple prior awards must meet the benchmark requirements for progress toward commercialization.

Find further information about SBIR/STTR programs at www.sbir.gov


Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) is an NSF initiative designed to stimulate collaboration between academic research institutions and industry. 

A proposal with the GOALI designation in the title should feature the following:

  • University-industry teams conducting collaborative and interdisciplinary research which is more likely to succeed due to the participation of the industry partner
  • The opportunity for university researchers, including faculty, postdocs and students, to conduct research in an industrial environment
  • The opportunity for scientists and engineers to bring industrial expertise and perspective to academic researchers

GOALI-designated proposals are reviewed by the programs to which they are submitted.  In addition to meeting program-specified goals, these proposals should be transformative in nature and have the potential to further interaction between academia and industry.

Learn more about the GOALI program.


Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) is an NSF program that funds the translation and development of technology based on prior NSF-funded research projects.  The program seeks to address critical needs of society through technology innovation while fostering project-based academic-industrial collaborations, providing training for academic researchers, and broadening the participation of women and individuals from underrepresented groups in technology development.

The PFI program consists of two tracks:

  1. PFI-Technology Translation -The PFI-TT  track encourages translation of  prior NSF-funded research innovations at academic research institutions into technological innovations with societal and economic benefits.
  2. PFI-Research Partnerships - The PFI_RP track also strives to convert technological innovation to commercial and societal success, however, PFI-RP supports complex, multi-faceted projects that require creation of partnerships between academic researchers and non-academic research organizations such as federal laboratories, industry and public or non-profit technology transfer organizations.     

Both tracks share the same four intended outcomes, namely the commercialization of intellectual property derived from NSF-funded projects, the creation of productive interactions between academic and industrial researchers, the licensing of NSF-funded technologies to start-ups or companies involved in PFI teams, and imparting innovation and entrepreneurship skills to researchers. More information is available through NSF.

For university level expertise with SBIR/STTR and NSF PFI programs, contact Art Gooray in the Ohio State Technology Commercialization Office.