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Dec 17, 2018

As a sourcer, one of my favorite sites to search for technology leads, including companies and employees, is the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). SBIR is a government program that supports research and development (R&D) and financing for cutting-edge technologies.

SBIR is a program for those who meet federal research and development needs for private-sector commercialization, and its funds help stimulate technological innovation. In other words, I have been able to use this site for biopharmaceutical and technology research with great success. What I find impressive about SBIR is that is lists 450,000 engineers and scientists who are involved with the program make-up of one of the largest STEM talent concentrations worldwide. Cha-ching – potential leads for my clients.

Various government agencies that participate in SBIR include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce – National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Department of Commerce – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation

Getting started

There are many sections you can explore in SBIR. For this article, I will focus on the awards section.

Many options are available under the Awards tab, such as List, Chart, Map, Company Listing, Annual Reports, Dashboard, and Reports.

Let’s explore the company listing section, which contains company profile data submitted by company employees. Searching for a project manager in New Mexico, someone with aeronautical experience is preferred by my client.

I start with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and select those having 11 – 50 awards in the filter sections. My returned results are 276.

One of my results, Adherent Technologies, Inc., is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I want to see if there are any company contacts affiliated with Adherent Technologies Inc. that may be a project manager. Selecting the company leads me to uncover some company data. The first half of the results lead me to Company Information, such as address, number of employees, ownership information and awards chart (outlines a history of the program and the phase, year and agency for the company).

The Awards Listing shows results for awards given by the agency, the year given, what phase and the program type. (An option is available for download.)

I choose to review the first option to see if I can uncover employees and contact information.

I use LinkedIn to see if I can find out their job titles. While the Principal Investigator has moved on to another company (he was the R&D manager), I can see that the business contact is listed on LinkedIn as the administrative project’s manager. I was able to review other awards and find other contacts, such as the President of the company, should I want to establish a relationship with that company for recruiting efforts.

Download Option

A bonus of the download option is seeing contacts affiliated with the company and the awards it has received. The download option allows you to retrieve data quickly via a user-friendly spreadsheet, which can be formatted to upload into your database. I was also able to identify another project manager quickly from the spreadsheet.

Boolean & SBIR

Let’s say you need to find business contacts affiliated with polymers. You can do a Boolean search (polymer OR polymers) “business contact” which returns twenty-one results.

I open the link to the first one and come across a company with awards from 2007. Looking Mariano Velez up in LinkedIn, the first company contact on my results, I find that he is open to new opportunities and is a glass science engineer. Maybe he might be a lead for one of your positions?

If I want to find company contacts from Advanced Cooling Technologies located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and I have their website information, I can create a simple Boolean search to try and find contacts for the company “”My results yielded 146, and twenty potential company contacts with email and phone number.


Zora Neale Hurston, an American anthropologist, once said “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Poking around government sites, such as SBIR, can lead to some doors that could have a hidden talent for your opportunities.

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