Small Business Research Initiative

Small Business Research Initiative

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a programme that brings innovative solutions to specific public sector needs, through engaging a broad range of companies in competitions for ideas that result in short-term development contracts.

It can be difficult and confusing for companies to access government departments and obtain simple contracts with them. Equally, government departments have no easy means of access to the innovative companies that might provide new solutions, services and products to help them run more smoothly.

The UK public sector spends around 175 billion a year on goods and services. SBRI provides a way to enable departments to use some of this money to drive innovation. It enables the departments to procure new technologies faster, and with limited risk, and also provides vital funding for the critical stage of technology development.

Benefits to business

SBRI creates opportunities for businesses to engage with a specific department need and prove their technology or idea. Successful companies will gain a lead customer for development and will receive a contract for the full cost of demonstrating the feasibility of their technology, leading to subsequent prototype development. This provides a potential route to market and establishes credibility for further investment. It is particularly suitable for early stage companies and SMEs.

Benefits to government

SBRI supports the public sector to procure the development of innovative solutions that address current significant departmental needs. It enables departments to appeal for a wide range of ideas and evaluate these through short-term, simplified research contracts and a two-stage development cycle. This allows departments to engage with a broad spectrum of industry and bring new technologies into market faster and with managed risk.

How does it work?

The process starts with a government department or other public body identifying a specific challenge. This is then turned into an open competition for innovation, appealing to the broader business community. Companies with potentially interesting technologies and ideas submit an application. These ideas are all received and assessed and a number of companies are given contracts to develop the product ideas through feasibility and evaluation and ideally into procurement. The Technology Strategy Board acts as the bridge which brings the companies and government departments together through the SBRI programme.

Who is it for?

SBRI is aimed at businesses working on the development of an innovative process, material, device, product or service.

Successful businesses will be those whose technology addresses specific needs identified in the competitions, and which could make a measurable improvement to what is currently being procured by the target government department. SBRI projects are intended to achieve major milestones on the route to commercialisation, including prototyping and demonstration, and to be particularly helpful to early stage companies.

The Technology Strategy Board has been given the role of championing the SBRI programme and expanding SBRI to a wide range of government departments.

Current competitions

All lower-value SBRI opportunities are available to view for free online by logging in to and also by visiting