Office of Investment and Innovation


Mission statement

The U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Investment and Innovation (OII) leads programs that provide the high-growth small business community with access to two things: financial capital and R&D funds to develop commercially viable innovations. Our work is underpinned by public-private partnerships that help small businesses on their trajectory from idea to initial public offering (IPO).

About our office

The Office of Investment and Innovation (OII) supports high growth small businesses through the following four programs:

  • Small Business Investment Company (SBIC): Since 1958, the mission of the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program has been to stimulate and supplement the flow of private equity capital and long-term debt financing that American small businesses need to operate, expand and modernize their businesses.

    SBA does this by licensing and providing capital to professionally managed equity and debt investment funds as Small Business Investment Companies. SBA capital comes in the form of a government-guaranteed loan to the fund to match privately raised capital. The SBA-guaranteed loan, paired with private capital, increases access to financing for qualifying U.S. small businesses and startups while potentially improving risk-adjusted returns for private investors.
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR):  Established in 1982, the mission of the SBIR program is to stimulate technological innovation in the U.S. economy through the investment of federal research and development (R&D) funds into innovative high-tech US small businesses.  The SBIR statute requires federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets over $100 million to set aside a percentage of their annual extramural R&D budget for small businesses.
  • Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR):  Established ten years after the SBIR program, STTR is similar to SBIR, except that STTR awards are made to small businesses that pursue technological innovation through cooperative research and development with non-profit scientific and educational research institutions.  STTR requires federal agencies with extramural budgets exceeding $1 billion to set aside a percentage of their annual extramural R&D budget for SBCs that work in cooperation with universities, federally funded research and development centers, and other non-profit scientific and educational institutions.
  • Growth Accelerator Fund Competition: SBA created the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition in 2014 to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.  From an operational support and development perspective, SBA awards $50,000 cash prizes to accelerators to help support their organizations so that they can enlist the manpower and/or enable programmatic support in helping provide and locate access to capital, mentorship networks, and workspace support for high growth start-ups to scale up and grow sustainably.

    • The 2019 Competition focused on accelerators that work with high-tech entrepreneurs that are potential Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Tech Transfer (STTR) program applicants.
    • The 2020 award recipients focused at least 60% of their competition-related work to entrepreneurs who represented one of the following groups: women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals or entrepreneurs living in or whose businesses are located and operate in states with a lower number of SBIR/STTR awards, or in an Opportunity Zone.  
    • The 2023 Competition will increase the pipeline and success of STEM/R&D-focused, prospective SBIR companies, innovators, and entrepreneurs via the facilitation of partnerships and relationships between ESO stakeholder groups.

    The recipients, representing accelerators and incubators across 39 states and territories, focus on a broad set of industries and sectors, receiving a total of $3 million in awards to support startups and entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations. 

  • Regional Innovation Clusters (RICs): RICs are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, universities, and other organizations with a specific industry focus. These dense networks can go by a variety of names, but their goal is to leverage a region’s assets to create economic opportunity and catalyze innovation.

    SBA’s RIC initiative aims to create pipelines for small businesses to tap into these regional assets. RICs focus on providing business training, commercialization and technology transfer services, counseling, mentoring, and other services that support the growth and development of small businesses in the cluster region.


Contact us

Office of Investment and Innovation
409 3rd St. SW, Suite 6300
Washington, DC 20416

Phone: 202-205-6510

Last updated November 14, 2023