The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the related Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Program are congressionally mandated for all federal funding agencies, funded by a small percentage of their total research budget. These grants are vital to many startup companies, help to commercialize university technology and often bring research funding into universities.
SBIR grants are fairly competitive. SBIRs go through an initial phase of funding at, at least, $200,000. Phase 2 grants can be into the millions of dollars, so this is a funding source worth pursuing.
It is necessary to have a corporate partner to apply for an SBIR or STTR. A university-derived startup company based on the research of a particular laboratory is an ideal partner for that laboratory. Note that a company receiving an SBIR or STTR grant must have at least one employee who devotes 51% of their time to the company. It is not allowable for the same person to be the PI on both the company and the university sides of an SBIR/STTR application. Startup companies funded by SBIR/STTRs must also have a place to exist. Neither of these are required at the time of the application and they can be put in place upon successful receipt of the funds.