Leveraging NASA's Intellectual Property in your SBIR/STTR Proposal

January 12,2023
Cory Abercrobmie
Cory Abercrombie
Agency Licensing Concierge
Marshall Space Flight Center
Innovations funded by NASA

Every year, the NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program releases new solicitations to identify and fund innovative technologies that address the agency's high-priority needs. The 2023 Phase 1 Solicitation is open, providing small businesses and non-profit research institutions the opportunity to submit their cutting-edge ideas for funding. The deadline for proposal submissions is March 13, 2023, so now is the time for those working on developing relevant technologies to take advantage of this opportunity to secure seed funding and bring their ideas to fruition.

Did you know that the NASA Technology Transfer program enables SBIR/STTR proposals to include the use of NASA patents and NASA software, with no cost to the company? Many companies propose their own in-house solutions to these solicitations, but if you recognize a potential solution within NASA’s existing technology portfolio, you can submit an SBIR/STTR proposal and be funded to further develop that NASA technology to address the need described in the solicitation.

  • What are SBIR/STTR?

This program provides seed funding for the research, development, and demonstration of technologies that have the potential to be commercialized and fulfill NASA needs as described in annual solicitations.

This NASA program is better suited for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, or non-profit research institutions such as universities or research laboratories, who are looking for a way to finance the development of their cutting-edge technologies. The program has a great track record of funding technology that have a significant potential for successful commercialization. It's a great way to start developing your ideas and turn them into products that can make an impact in industry. It's also a great opportunity to connect with NASA and potentially have your technology infused into a NASA mission.

So, if you're working on developing a technology that could have an impact in the aerospace or other industries, don't hesitate to learn more about the NASA SBIR/STTR program and see if it's the right fit for your project. It might just be the funding opportunity you need to turn your innovation into a reality.

Your journey starts with a Phase I, but the ultimate goal is to reach Phase III where you get infused into a NASA mission and/or commercialize.

  • What patents and software are available through the NASA Technology Transfer Program?

Patents can be searched at https://technology.nasa.gov/patents and software can be searched at https://software.nasa.gov/

  • If I want to use a NASA patent or software as part of my SBIR/STTR proposal, what is the process and what is NASA offering?

Once you have identified the technology you want to include in your proposal, you should submit a license application or software request around the same time you submit your SBIR/STTR proposal. Each technology’s page on the NASA Tech Transfer website includes a link to apply for a license (patents) or request the software (software release).

The Evaluation/Research Licenses offered for NASA patents in this scenario will give your company the IP rights necessary to develop the technology in line with your SBIR proposal, for the length of your SBIR/STTR contract. Software access granted will apply for the purpose of your SBIR/STTR contract. Supporting documentation for technologies varies on a case-by-case basis. NASA cannot guarantee documentation or technical support beyond the patents, or the materials described in a software listing, so you should assume the patents on the technology page or the software given on the technology listing are what you will use as your starting point unless specified otherwise. Additional documentation will be provided to licensees if it is available.

License agreements may take some time to execute after an application is received, so it is important to apply for a license well before an SBIR/STTR contract is granted. To minimize delays, be detailed & specific in your license application and include any relevant context about your SBIR proposal.

You will find more specifics in the NASA SBIR/STTR solicitation language.

  • I have more questions, who can I talk to about this opportunity?

               For questions about the NASA SBIR/STTR program:


               For questions about utilizing a NASA patent or software in your SBIR/STTR proposal:

               e-mail Agency-Patent-Licensing@mail.nasa.gov

               For questions about patent licensing or a license application:

               e-mail Agency-Patent-Licensing@mail.nasa.gov

              For questions about Software Release & software requests:

              e-mail NASA-Software-Usage-Agreement-Team@mail.nasa.gov and/or the contact listed on the software’s web page.

If you're working on developing a technology that could have an impact in the aerospace or other industries, don't hesitate to learn more about the NASA SBIR/STTR program and see if it's the right fit for your project. With the potential for commercialization and infusion into NASA's mission, this could be the opportunity your business has been looking for to take your innovation to the next level.

Want to learn more about companies that have created products and services with the help of SBIR/STTR funding? Check them out here.

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