The DOT in one of the twelve federal departments that participates in the SBIR program.

Under the program, DOT funds projects that aim to increase research on and develop innovative solutions to our nation’s transportation challenges. The U.S. DOT SBIR program favors research that has the potential for commercialization through products and applications sold to the private sector transportation industry, state departments of transportation, U.S. DOT, or other federal agencies. Over the past five years, the U.S. DOT SBIR program has invested $50 million in qualified small businesses.



DOT carries no additional requirements for SBIR eligibility beyond the SBA requirements. A small business must submit the proposal through the DOT SBIR submisssion portal https://hostedsites.volpe.dot.gov/SBIR/SubmitProposal.aspx. This portal requires no registrations though, as it is simply a package upload mechanism. When a proposal is successfully received an automated email is sent by the system. You can find out more about this process via our YouTube video on registration requirements.

Mechanics of the Program

Under the SBIR program, DOT will fund Phase I projects that seek to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposal. Phase I funding is limited to $150,000 for 6 months of work, and if the project is successful, you can apply for Phase II funding. Phase II project funding is limited to $1,000,000 for 24 months of work, and is largely designed to develop and commercialize the Phase I technologies.

DOT also has a portal for recommending a topic area. If a small businesses is working on an idea that is germain to the DOT mission, and is not included in their current (or latest) round of topic areas, one can fill out an online form about the idea and why it aligns with DOT priorities. If the proposed research area is relevant to DOT and its mission, critical agency requirements, uniqueness of the research topic, and other programmatic priorities, then the topic might be selected for inclusion in the next solicitation.

Additionally, DOT allows for technical and administrative questions to be submitted for a short period between solicitation opening and closing. As the actual dates will be determined at the time of solicitation issue, offerors should pay close attention to this annually updated information. Questions are limited to technical information related to improving the understanding of a particular topic’s requirements, and any questions or inquiries seeking advice or guidance on a solution approach are unacceptable and will not receive a response.

Additional Funding

Under SBIR Program Policy Directive, agencies are permitted to issue one additional sequential Phase II award to supplement or extend the work of an initial Phase II  award. These awards are referred to as Phase IIB awards and can be awarded for a period up to 24 months, typically not exceeding the amount of the previous Phase II award. A small business may receive no more than two SBIR Phase II awards (the initial Phase II award and a sequential Phase IIB award) for the same R/R&D project, and the awards must be made sequentially. SBIR Awardees must be invited by the U.S. DOT to submit Phase IIB proposals. The same requirements for a Phase II proposal apply when submitting a Phase IIB proposal.

However, awardees are always encouraged to seek other funding mechanisms to transition their work into a Phase III.



For a full listing of agency resources and NM FAST resources, relevant to an SBIR submission to DOT, please visit this link: