Small Business Programs (SBIR/STTR)
Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, NIEHS helps small businesses develop innovative applications to translate and communicate environmental health research to improve public health.
NIEHS supports small business grants in several program areas. These grants have helped bring to market products that detect environmental hazards, provide alternative test systems to understand effects of toxicants, remove contaminants from soil, water or air, and improve worker health and safety.
SBIR/STTR program areas include:
- Technology transfer and communication for environmental health science
- Innovation in worker education and training
- Commercialization of research for use at Superfund sites
Technology transfer and communication for environmental health science
NIEHS-funded researchers have made tremendous progress in developing technology to investigate environmental factors that threaten public health, examine how toxicants interact with genes and other factors to cause harm, and evaluate how harmful environmental exposures might be avoided. SBIR/STTR grants help small businesses develop and bring to market products that apply the latest research findings to help identify or detect environmental hazards, prevent exposures, or treat their health effects.
Many of these innovations capitalize on advances in exposure biology. For example, SBIR/STTR grants support the development of devices and methods to precisely measure environmental contaminants, track the body’s response to exposures, and detect the internal levels of toxicants to which a person has been exposed. In addition, SBIR/ STTR grants support efforts to communicate about environmental hazards with the public to help people protect themselves from harmful exposures.
Daniel Shaughnessy, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Innovation in worker education and training
Proper training can mean the difference between life and death for workers who handle hazardous materials or help with emergency response when hazardous materials are released. Although training for such workers has traditionally required physical classrooms and educational materials, recent technological advances have opened opportunities for providing accessible, accurate, and interactive training through electronic channels.
Through the Worker Training and Education Program, NIEHS supports the development of e-learning tools that assist both students and instructors and that use a wide array of delivery platforms including computer and web-based applications, interactive DVDs, and cellphone and smart phone communications. In general, the tools provide a solution to specific training problems and for specific training audiences; they can be instructor led, utilized in traditional classroom settings, and often assist in preparation for critical ‘hands-on’ training. These new approaches help to rapidly and effectively equip workers with the skills and knowledge to protect themselves and their communities from hazards.
Commercialization of research for use at Superfund sites
The Superfund Research Program, through its SBIR/STTR program, supports small businesses to foster the commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and devices that can be used at Superfund sites (or other contaminated sites) for the detection and remediation of hazardous materials. These commercial products benefit public health by making new methods of measuring or cleaning up environmental health hazards, such as contaminated groundwater, more widely available for communities located near hazardous waste sites.