About the Spark Plug Program

The SBIR/STTR programs are a critical mechanism for advancing research commercialization efforts through research-based startup companies to the next phase of technology and business development. NC State startups have successfully leveraged the Federal SBIR/STTR programs to fund their research commercialization efforts winning 196 SBIR awards and 52 STTR awards totaling $91M in non-dilutive funding to date. The biggest driver of this success has been the persistence and determination of the individual researchers and the companies that they create. The creation of the SBIR/STTR Spark Plug program is a coordinated and formalized strategy to assist researchers in NC State startup companies help write the SBIR/STTR proposals.


The Office of Research Commercialization in collaboration with the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science at NC State have established a formalized support process to enable our researchers who are seeking to leverage SBIR/STTR funding by a two-pronged approach to maximize potential success:

  • The SBIR/STTR Spark Plug program will provide funding to enable grant writing efforts
  • ORC will conduct quarterly roundtable meetings where lunch will be provided to discuss best practices, tips and tricks, gotchas, and highlight successes from the participants of the SBIR/STTR Spark Plug Program as well as other experienced teams that have won SBIR/STTR awards.



NCSU Startup that has licensed NCSU Intellectual Property (IP)

Startup must have been formed within the last 3 years

Is not a previous SBIR/STTR Spark Plug winner

Timeline/Review Process:

From submission of the application by the startup to ORC reviewing the application – within 45 days.

Application will be reviewed by experts in the field of commercialization and entrepreneurship with experience in judging SBIR/STTR applications.

Award Amount:

If the NCSU Startup company gets selected the award can be up to  $5,000 depending on availability of matching funds from Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science and from Departments associated with Principal Investigator(s).  For Startup companies that are selected to receive the award, the award will only be made if the Startup provides confirmation of submission of the SBIR/STTR proposal with the relevant agency. The proposal does not have to be funded by the federal agency in order to receive the Spark Plug funding, this program incentivizes the writing of the proposal.

How to Apply:

You will need to apply through the website and we accept applications anytime as this is a rolling application process.

Apply Here