Federal business grants are usually found under one of two program headings. The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and the STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) program are both targeted at specific types of businesses.
Federal business grants, like all Federal grants, have a long life cycle between the time the RFP is announced and the time funds are awarded. For instance, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) posted an RFP which closed for application in December 2010. The first awards were made on September 16, 2011 (PAR-10-279, found on the http://www.sbir.gov/ website). Such announcements may have significant time between the time the announcement is made and the time the project opens for bidding (See the above website, click on announcements) . One federal business grant listed was announced on January 24, 2011, opened for applications on March 5, 2011, and closes January 8, 2012. The award date is likely to be late in 2012.
Given this long time cycle, making sure your business conforms to the requirements for application is a necessity. While Federal business grants may be listed under several agencies, the enabling law will always fall under one of the two programs above. Most of the time, Federal business grant money is funneled through state agencies. Many times, companies which “spin-off” from Federal installations as private “for-profits”, as part of the government’s technology transfer policies will stand a good chance of receiving Federal business grants.
This type of funding often falls under the STTR programs. These programs may require awardees to be affiliated with a nonprofit entity. An excellent resource for FAQ’s concerning this type of Federal business grant in this sector may be found at these links:
If you personally plan on writing a significant number of Federal business grants, you may want to take a grant writing course specifically targeted to this area of grant writing. This is no place for on-the-job training. There is too much money involved, and the life cycle of the application process is too long, to invest the time and money only to have the grant denied due to a procedural error. If you only plan to apply once, hiring an experienced grant writer will probably provide the best ROI you will ever experience.