The USDA has one of the most accessible and unique SBIR programs, even among the granting agencies. See how well you know USDA in these True/False questions:

  1. A USDA Rural Development SBIR proposal does not necessarily need to have a science or technological innovation to be awarded, as long as the project will benefit rural communities (T/F)

  2. USDA has an STTR program. (T/F)

  3. USDA has more relaxed rules on capital equipment purchases than many other SBIR agencies allow in an SBIR budget (T/F)

  4. Since the USDA includes the US Forest Service and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USDA SBIR research topic areas include forestry & related resources as well as food safety. (T/F)

  5. USDA SBIR Phase 1 proposals must include a field trial on farm or a food processing facility.

scroll down for the answers…


  1. True- Rural development SBIR projects do not have to include scientific research.  Past awards include novel education services, medical access and training for rural communities.

  2. False- USDA does NOT have an STTR program since its budget is below the congressionally mandated minimum that requires STTR ($100M annually)

  3. True - As long as there is sufficient justification for the research need for the equipment, a small business can use SBIR funds for capital equipment (unlike NSF, for example)

  4. False- While USDA does have SBIR research topic areas for food science, nutrition and safety, this isn’t driven by the FDA, which is NOT at USDA.

  5. False – A field trial is not necessary in a Phase 1 SBIR, and is more appropriate in a Phase II proposal if needed at all.