The NIST – Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program (N-STEP) encourages passionate NIST researchers to explore entrepreneurial careers by commercializing NIST research and technologies. Our goal is to support motivated individuals in building successful companies that benefit the public.
N-STEP offers grants of up to $112,000 to fund projects related to NIST's mission, focusing on translational research and development. The aim is to bring NIST technologies to market as innovative products or services. Funding may be provided for projects that can be completed within 12 months.
Who Can Apply
N-STEP is open to NIST associates, researchers previously employed by NIST, and current employees nearing the end of their term employment at NIST.
To be eligible for an N-STEP award, the applicant's company must meet the following criteria:
- The company must be less than five (5) years old.
- The N-STEP award recipient must be a U.S. start-up company founded or managed by an "Eligible N-STEP Applicant."
- No N-STEP award may be made to a company owned and/or managed by any person that is a Federal employee at the time of the award.
- Other factors may be taken into consideration.
Ethics and Guidance
Current NIST employees seeking N-STEP awards should seek guidance from the Ethics Law and Programs Division of the Department of Commerce before submitting an N-STEP Whitepaper. This is to ensure compliance with government ethics statutes and regulations, especially regarding their research's relationship to NIST-developed technology.
For ethics rules guidance, contact: Ethics Law and Programs Division
Assistance and Mentorship
TEDCO and local economic development organizations collaborate to facilitate the creation of start-up companies that license and commercialize NIST's inventions. Each N-STEP awarded company is eligible to apply for support from a TEDCO Network Advisor who helps identify technical and business milestones.
Accessing NIST Resources
Eligible businesses can receive a no-cost, non-exclusive Research License for NIST technologies during the N-STEP award period. Additionally, NIST resources such as competencies, equipment, facilities, and materials may be made available to companies needing access through agreements like Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) and Patent License Agreements (PLA).
Guidance and Workshops
Mentors are available to assist eligible N-STEP applicants in identifying commercial opportunities for NIST inventions and preparing proposals. TEDCO collaborates with economic development organizations and business incubators to host roundtable meetings and workshops, enhancing start-up entrepreneurs' business skills.
When to Apply
Initial N-STEP submission
Follow the RFA guidelines at the link below. For those interested in N-STEP project funding but not ready to prepare a full proposal, submit an N-STEP Whitepaper. The whitepaper should provide an overview of the envisioned company, technology, customer problem, proposed solution, and N-STEP project with mid- and final milestones. Whitepapers can be submitted via email to email@example.com at any time.
Applying for an N-STEP Grant
Completed applications for an N-STEP Grant can be submitted to TEDCO at any time through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through N-STEP, TEDCO strives to foster innovation and entrepreneurship while leveraging the brilliance of NIST research for the betterment of society.