Funds given to small businesses by a government organization for a specific purpose are called small business grants. These grants are available to small business owners during the startup phase, for research and development, and for company expansion. Unlike loans or credit cards for small businesses, these grants don’t need to be repaid. They don’t hurt your business credit score and you don’t have to worry about lender fees while getting your money. However, these grants do come with restrictions, you need to spend the money as outlined by the grant provider, or you could face serious penalties.
Types of Small Business Grants
Each grant can either be private or government. Government grants are further categorized into federal and state grants. Though you can browse through government databases, those websites are not very organized and tend to be outdated. This blog will teach you about the available government grants for small businesses. There are some corporations that provide small business grant programs as well. Though you may face a less rigorous application process for private funds, you are probably going to face more competition.
You can also apply for a foundation grant which means you’ll get your money from a charitable organization.
Federal Small Business Grants
Federal agencies give out several grants to small businesses especially those in specific industries like technology, conservation, and scientific research. They also provide funding for non-profit organizations, local governments, and educational institutions. Though federal grants will not cover the cost of starting up a business or operational expenses, they can thoroughly back research and development projects.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG)
The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant is a grant program specifically administered by the Small Business Administration. The grant provides emergency financial assistance to eligible shuttered venues that have been affected by the pandemic. Venues eligible for the small business relief program include live performing arts organization operators, live venue operators or promoters, and relevant zoos and aquariums.
Grants.gov is an official access point for government grants for small businesses. It has a comprehensive amount of information about the federal grant process. You can start your search for government grant opportunities and check “small businesses” in the eligibility section. You’ll need to register an account first to read the full eligibility criteria for each grant and apply through Grants.gov.
Challenge.gov is a concise list of creative, scientific, and technical competitions and prizes run by agencies associated with the federal government in order to enhance innovation. You can use their homepage to search through various competitions. These competitions will contain a host agency, prize amount, and type of challenge. You may come across a competition that catches your eye, and you can simply register for an account and submit your entry for that competition.
GrantWatch is a website build for small businesses. This website lets you locate funding through state, local, or federal governments. The site is based in the US and Canada and can give you options for foundation and corporation grants. You can easily filter your search to make it specific to the grants your small business needs or go to a specific section for businesses. However, it is important to note that you have to become a member and pay a membership fee to access GrantWatch.
Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR)
SBIR is a grant program with a competitive nature. It encourages US-based small businesses to engage in research and development projects for federal agencies. It is an awards-based program made for high-tech innovation with the potential for commercialization. SBIR is under the US Government, specifically the Small Business Administration (SBA). To qualify, you need to operate a for-profit business with a workforce of less than 500 employees and fulfill other eligibility requirements as well. One notable example of the SBIR grant is the one run by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). They provide ten grants of up to $100,000 for research and development projects in the field of accessibility.
Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR)
The STTR program is a federal competitive grant program that focuses on research and development projects and gives out funding opportunities for these projects. What the SBIR and STTR programs have in common is that they encourage research partnerships. But what they don’t have in common is that STTR requires individuals to collaborate with a non-profit research institution at least for the first two phases of the program. The other requirements are the same as SBIR.
The SBIR program for grants is open to all types of small businesses. On the other hand, the STTR program is reserved for specific research-based businesses that collaborate with a research institution like a laboratory or a university. To apply for an SBIR or STTR grant, you need to submit a proposal outlining your research and development project, what its based on, and how it will benefit society. However, there is a condition for getting funding through an SBIR or STTR grant. If you receive the grant, you will need to match the funds with your personal financial resources. For example, if you are awarded a grant of $100,000, you will need to contribute $100,000 from your personal funds as well.
If you feel like feel like there’s no chance of your small business getting a grant, we hope this list was of help. There are lots of funding options for small businesses like SBA loans and bank loans. If grants through the SBIR or STTR don’t work out for you but you want a grant instead of a loan, you can opt for other agencies and programs like the Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. One other program is the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Technology Transfer program. We hope this blog helped you understand more about the places to obtain government grants for small businesses. Just make sure your proposal is unmatched and you’re good to go!