Commercial grants from Federal funding are very limited, but can be available for small businesses meeting the posted criteria. These grants are known as SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) or STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) grants.
One example of the boilerplate criteria requirements for an SBIR grant may be found under current postings at the government website http://www.grants.gov (this one happens to be from Posting No. 11-577) and reads as follows:
“The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting Federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.The SBIR program solicits proposals from the small business sector consistent with NSF’s mission. The program is governed by Public Law 112-17. A main purpose of the legislation is to stimulate technological innovation and increase private sector commercialization.”
This type of commercial grant is highly structured in the application process and is offered through multiple government agencies. They are often a by-product of technology transfers from the government to the private sector. As with all government grants, you must first register and receive your unique identifying number to access the grant application.
Commercial grants offered under the SBIR and STTR programs require the services of an extremely qualified grant writer. Fortunately, these grants usually allow some portion of the grant funding to be used for consultancy purposes, which may offset the cost of employing a trained grant writer experienced in the complexities of this type of grant. These commercial grants are definitely not recommended for the business owner with no previous experience in grant writing.
Commercial grant funding other than through the Federal government may also be indirectly available through city, state or county small business incubation centers (BIC). Although the funds are initially granted to the nonprofit that formed the BIC, it can often be accessed when starting a small business by applying for assistance through the BIC.