Grants for Small Businesses – Overview
Small businesses often need a financial boost to get on par with the competition. However, not all business owners may qualify for an affordable commercial loan. To remedy this, there are several sources where you can receive small business grants.
If you are eligible for these grants, you can receive a significant investment into your business.
The grant is considered financial aid and the recipients do not need to worry about repaying the amount, as opposed to a loan.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular sources for business grants and learn how to apply for small business grants in the US.
Sources for Government Business Grants
First, we will look at the most efficient and convenient ways to secure government grants for business development.
1 – Start a SUD Startup Challenge
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsors the SUD Startup Challenge, offering financial support to encourage research and innovation in substance use disorder prevention and treatment. Specific award amounts and the number of recipients can vary. Under this initiative, NIDA supports research for new startups focusing on preventing drug abuse.
The organization offers awards to selected applicants, with the number of recipients and award amounts determined by the challenge’s specific requirements and funding availability each year. Once you receive this grant, you also become eligible for the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and the NIDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants.
2 – Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) initiative offers grants to small businesses. This grant is aimed at helping small businesses to participate in federal-funded research and development (R&D) programs with commercialization potential.
This highly competitive, awards-centric program assists business owners in achieving commendable technological innovations and scientific excellence.
To qualify for the SBIR grant, your business must be a for-profit, small business located in the US with the principal researcher employed by the business, among other eligibility criteria.
To learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process for the SBIR program, you can visit the official website at – https://www.sbir.gov/about.
3 – Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program
The STTR program, while similar to the SBIR program, uniquely requires small businesses to partner with a nonprofit research institution for the R&D phase, emphasizing technology transfer. Under this program, the funding aims to facilitate better research in the R&D field.
In contrast to SBIR, the STTR initiative requires the applicant to collaborate formally with a research institution.
To qualify for this grant, you must own a for-profit company and fulfill other criteria. For details on specific criteria and the application process, visit their official website at – https://www.sbir.gov/about.
Sources for Government Contract Assistance and Grants
Let’s take a look at some of the latest initiatives from the government that support the growth of small businesses.
The federal government spends millions of dollars annually on improving goods and services. The majority of the funding is disbursed through competitive bidding.
Several programs assist small business owners with this process. This gives small businesses a better chance to compete for larger federal funding initiatives.
1 – Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program is a federal government initiative that aims to allocate at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses each year. This grant comprises 3% of the annual federal contracting budget for small business growth.
This initiative has helped hundreds of small businesses to get a clear edge over their bigger competitors in the market.
Under this initiative, the federal government assists small business owners classified as service-disabled veterans under federal law.
The eligibility criteria for this grant dictate that the applicant should be a service-disabled veteran who owns a small business.
The small business should be controlled or owned over 50% by service-disabled veteran(s). They should be engaged in daily operations and make long-term business decisions.
For additional details on this program, visit their official website at – https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/veteran-assistance-programs.
2 – Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program
The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program aims to enable women-owned small businesses to compete for federal contracts, with the federal government aiming to awarding at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to WOSBs annually.
This SBA-supported program, in collaboration with the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, offers eligible women entrepreneurs professional training, counseling, access to federal capital and credit, and offers them federal contracts.
This grant program aims to ensure equal opportunities for women in business within the United States.
To learn more about eligibility criteria and the application process, please visit their official website at – https://wosb.certify.sba.gov/.
3 – HUBZone Program
The HUBZone Program helps businesses in underutilized areas by boosting their competitiveness with government contracts. If you are a member of the HUBZone program, you can bid for set-aside contracts and receive preference from others.
This also includes receiving a 10% price evaluation preference during open-contract biddings.
To learn more about this initiative, such as eligibility criteria and application process, visit their official website at https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/hubzone-program.
Where to Get Grants for Small Businesses in the US?
Here’s a list of some of the top sources that offer relief to entrepreneurs with grants for small businesses in the US:
Stimulus Grants for Small Businesses
1 – Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Grant
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which includes an emergency advance (grant) feature for eligible businesses, with details and availability subject to change based on congressional appropriations and program rules.
This advance is turned into a grant by the SBA if you plan to use it to maintain payroll, paid leaves, rising costs, lease or mortgage payments, or other similar financial purposes.
The SBA provides targeted EIDL funds to small businesses, especially those operating in low-income communities, and suffered at least a 30% reduction in revenue from March 2, 2020.
To be eligible for the EIDL assistance, your business should have received an advance of US$ 10,000 under the initiative or applied for an EIDL advance but failed to receive it due to insufficient program funds.
You don’t have to take the initiative as the SBA reaches out to potential awardees.
If you receive an email about an SBA grant, ensure it is sent from an address ending in @sba.gov and avoid potential scams.
2 – Corporate Relief Grants
Like local, state, and federal governments, many renowned corporations, such as Verizon, offer relief grants for small businesses.
The company has committed US$ 10 million for small business grants.
As the application windows for corporate grants are small, we urge you to regularly check the Local Initiatives Support Corporation website for funding opportunities.
Federal Business Grants for Small Businesses
Most federal business grants aim to boost small businesses engaged in science, technology, or healthcare.
If your business is involved in research and development programs, including environmental and climate science, a federal grant for small businesses can help you cover most expenses.
Some of the top federal-funded grants for small businesses include:
1 – Small Business Innovation Research Program
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is aimed at helping small businesses engage in commercially viable research and development activities.
This grant is designed to boost scientific entrepreneurship and innovation in businesses.
There are 11 government agencies currently involved in this program. Each state has eligibility criteria, grant topics, and an application reviewing process.
Under the SBIR program, small business owners can receive grants between US$ 25,000 and US$ 250,000.
However, if your business shows remarkable growth potential, you can receive grants worth over US$ 1 million.
Visit the official SBIR website to learn specific eligibility criteria for your state and the entire application process.
2 – Small Business Technology Transfer Program
The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is similar to the SBIR program but requires small business owners to collaborate with research institutes.
Five federal agencies participate in this program and offer grants ranging from US$ 25,000 to US$ 1 million.
The five agencies involved in these grants for the small business program include:
3 – National Science Foundation
The NSF accepts grant applications in areas of science, medicine, or engineering, although specific topics are subject to change every year.
To learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process, we urge you to visit the official NSF YouTube channel and learn the details.
4 – NASA
There is a process of collaborating with NASA, too. Space organizations are always looking to make developments in technology sectors, especially related to energy efficiency, renewable and alternate energy sources, and finding more efficient ways to build spacecraft.
5 – National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health is a sub-section of the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and offers grants for small businesses to conduct research and develop innovative, commercially viable biomedical technologies and techniques.
Suppose your company is involved in research and development in the biomedical field. In that case, you can apply for the grant by logging in to the official website of the National Institutes of Health.
6 – Department of Energy
The Office of Science under the Department of Energy (DoE) also offers grants to small businesses.
You can apply for this grant if your business is involved in clean energy, environmental science, or material science research.
To learn more about the eligibility criteria and application process, it is best to visit the official website of the Department of Energy and check its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.
7 – Department of Defense
Suppose your business aims to develop innovative technologies for the US Army, Navy, or Air Force. In that case, the Department of Defense will help you with grants for small businesses and commercialize your products.
To learn the specific eligibility criteria for this program, it is recommended to check the official website of the Department of Defense.
Numerous sources in the US are ready to provide monetary assistance to small businesses.
Many of these initiatives are part of the company’s program to boost research and development in their respective industries.
Besides, many smaller but noticeable initiatives offer grants for small businesses of all types.
Verifying the eligibility criteria and application details from their official websites is imperative to avoid scams and mistakes.
Interactive U.S. Map for Small Business Grants
Are small business grants free of charge?
Most small business grants are free of cost. However, you must research extensively to find an appropriate grant to fulfill your business requirements. Some small business grants also provide comprehensive guidance on how to use the money.
Is there any non-government grant available for small businesses?
Small business grants are available from multiple commercial firms and nonprofit organizations besides government agencies. Well-known non-governmental organizations that provide grants to small businesses include the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, Halstead Grant, and Street Shares Foundation.
Are there any grants available for women who own small businesses?
Several organizations have special programs that provide grants for women-owned small businesses. Some of these popular organizations are the Women Who Tech Grants Program, I Fund Women, Foundation for a Just Society, WomensNet, etc.
State-by-State Small Business Grants in the US
Below are state-specific small business grants in the United States
|State by State Small Business Grants