Non-dilutive R&D funding for deep tech startups

By:  Ben Schrag, SBIR/STTR Program DIrector and Policy Liaison, U.S. National Science

NSF helps companies move innovative technology out of the lab

Supporting the most innovative ideas in science and engineering, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded technologies like LASIK eye surgery, Doppler radar, bar codes, magnetic resonance imaging, 3D printing and tissue engineering that spur economic activity and improve the quality of life for all Americans. 

NSF-funded startups and small businesses have made notable moves in the market:  During fiscal years 2016 to 2021, NSF-funded startups have logged around 200 exits and more than $14 billion in private investments*. 

America’s Seed Fund, powered by NSF, is a program that funds small businesses and startups to create the next game-changing technologies. NSF focuses on transforming scientific and engineering discoveries into products, services, and other scalable solutions with commercial and societal impact.

Each year, NSF funds roughly 400 companies across nearly all technology areas and market sectors, including energy and the environment, health care and medical devices, manufacturing and materials, robotics and other computer hardware, space technologies, artificial intelligence, and software, communications technologies, and more. Most of the startups NSF funds have fewer than five employees, are recently formed, and haven't received funding from the government before. Learn how startups can get NSF funding for research and development:

The U.S. National Science Foundation is a federal agency that supports research and education across all fields of science and engineering, currently with an $8.5 billion budget.

(*These figures were pulled from Pitchbook from 10/01/2015 to 09/30/2021 and include companies that received NSF funding prior to 2016.)