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News Release 96-062

NSF Slated to Invest $50 Million in SBIR Program in 1997: Success Stories Demonstrate Pay Off

October 22, 1996

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will invest over $50 million in the NSF Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) in 1997--a 50% increase in award amounts since 1994.

The program helps fund firms with 500 or fewer employees to perform cutting-edge research addressing the nation's most critical science and engineering needs. By supporting high-risk research projects at the earliest stages of development, SBIR has led to the creation of high-tech businesses and the development and commercialization of scientific innovations.

SBIR was initiated at NSF in 1977. It expanded as a federal program to 11 principal research and development agencies in 1982. Kesh Narayanan, director of NSF's Industrial Innovation Programs, pointed out that the program spans all disciplines, "a microcosm of the entire National Science Foundation, in terms of the education and research we support."

NSF was willing to fund high-risk research concepts that otherwise could not have been pursued, Narayanan said. As a result, "NSF support made a big difference at a very early stage, before these companies could get start-up capital." The following success stories are examples of companies funded by NSF's SBIR Program which are pursuing technological innovation and commercial applications of scientific research.

  • Scientific Computing Associates, Inc. New Haven, CT
    This company has been a pioneer in high performance software development for supercomputers and parallel programming. It has made a number of breakthroughs in commercial parallel computing software, including "Network Linda," the first software to make use of idle cycles on PCs; and "Paradise," software which allowed the use of the supercomputers by smaller computers.

  • Brewer Science, Inc, Rolla, MO
    Brewer Science was the first to develop thin anti-reflective coatings, which are important for enhancing high speed processing and increasing memory density of electronic circuits. Brewer also believes it is the only company in the world, except Japan, that has developed color filters and coatings technology which are important to the flat-panel-display industry. Brewer now has more than 20 patents and collaborations which can be traced to start-up funding provided under the NSF SBIR program.

  • Altus Biologics, Cambridge, MA
    Researchers at Altus Biologics are stabilizing catalysts for the chemical/biochemical reactions which create most drugs and contribute to industrial chemical processing. The research funded under the NSF SBIR project was one of the most significant breakthroughs in biocatalysts in the last ten years, and has been used to create a new anti-cancer drug.

  • Browning Engineering, Hanover, NH
    Browning Engineering is an example of NSF's support of an individual inventor who licensed his SBIR developed technology to major US aircraft engine manufacturers and others. The researcher explored innovative ideas for bonding high density refractory layers of materials into a stainless steel surface. The technology is now the dominant method for increasing the high temperature, abrasion and stiffness resistance of most jet engine compressor blades.

  • Key Curriculum Press, Inc, Berkeley, CA
    This company has introduced a revolutionary approach to teaching geometry into 10,000 schools in 8 languages. It has conducted 7-10 day courses for 7,000-8,000 teachers who have taught "Geometry Sketchpad" to over one million students in grade schools. The innovative technique involves teaching geometry on computers that have unique capabilities to show relationships.


Media Contacts
Cary Lee Hanes, NSF, (703) 306-1070, email:
George Chartier, NSF, (703) 306-1070, email:

Program Contacts
Sherrye L. McGregor, NSF, (703) 292-5003, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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