Up to $2 million in non-dilutive seed funding

  • Program Type
  • Grant Award
    Phase I: $256,000 (up to $2M+ total if Phase II awarded)
  • Submission Deadline
    Rolling Deadline
  • Grant Duration
    6-24 Months
  • Supplemental Funding Available (Y/N)
  • Eligibilty Requirements (Y/N)

We fund startups to create the next game-changing technologies — often based on fundamental science or engineering — in need of research and development to create new products, services, and other scalable solutions. The project we fund must have the potential to positively benefit society and to lead to significant outcomes in the commercial market. Most of the startups we fund have fewer than five employees, are recently formed and haven’t received funding from the government before.

Between fiscal years 2016 and 2020, America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF made 2,200+ awards to startups and small businesses.  Each year, we fund roughly 400 companies across nearly all technology areas and market sectors (with the exception of clinical trials and schedule I controlled substances).   NSF-funded startups and small businesses saw around 200 exits and more than $14 billion in private investments during fiscal years 2016 to 2021.

Make the impossible possible with NSF funding for startups

Hundreds of deep tech startups are funded annually by the National Science Foundation. Each startup can receive up to $2 million to support translational R&D. Learn more about NSF funding for startups at seedfund.nsf.gov

Funding Details

Up to $2M / 36+ months

Receive up to $256,000 in non-dilutive funding for research and development (R&D) to build your prototype or proof-of-concept over six to 12 months. During this period, your company will receive guidance from NSF program directors who are seasoned entrepreneurs and technologists. After you complete your Phase I award, you’re welcome to apply for Phase II, which can be up to $1,000,000 over the course of 24 months. During that second award, you can apply for supplements that may add up to more than $500,000.

0% equity

Our awards are grants and cooperative agreements. You retain full ownership over your company and intellectual property. And because our awards aren’t loans, there’s nothing to pay back.

Supplemental Funding Opportunities

America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF is committed to assisting Phase II awardees to successfully commercialize their innovation research, grow their company, and create jobs by attracting new investments and partnerships. To reinforce these commitments, the program supports a broad number of supplements and other opportunities available for active Phase II SBIR/STTR awardees.

NSF’s Merit Review Process

Every proposal is evaluated by a group of technical and commercial experts, who provide detailed feedback to all reviewed applications; even companies that don’t receive awards get valuable, actionable feedback. An NSF award is more than just funding. Being selected by experts out of thousands of applicants signals that your technology and expertise have strong technical and commercial merit with potential for broad impact.

Future Phases

Check out an overview of each competition phase below - complete rules for each phase will be released as the competition progresses.


NSF-Funded Startups

Let’s Get Started.

To apply or join the program, please submit an application.