Research grants are one of the most common types of government grants. These grants are available from the majority of federal agencies and departments. Various types of entities including individuals, businesses, universities, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive research grants.
Federal research grants are the predominant source of grant money outside of national foundations that focus on research projects. Research topic areas include medical, technological advances, military tactical, energy, and education. Grants for research are available from multiple federal agencies.
Individuals and small businesses are able to apply directly for federal research grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Designed to facilitate research and development activities in targeted industries, SBIR/STTR provides grant funding in multiple phases depending on the success of each initial phase. Total grant funds can exceed $1 million for a given research project.
Additionally, the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers government research grants for individuals. The majority of these are for individuals associated with universities and other institutional research facilities. Individuals awarded these research grants are required to conduct high-level research projects and create reports that can be published in academic and peer-reviewed journals.
When conducting grant research to determine available grants for your project, carefully review the eligibility requirements. Federal research grants are designed to produce results that benefit a large constituency. They are not intended for insular projects that only benefit the individual or entity conducting the research. The government supports research that can dramatically improve technologies, processes, and communities.
State governments offer research grants on occasion. Typically, these grants are intended to address a particular issue or situation unique for that state. It is not uncommon for these particular government research grants to be related to health, economic, or workforce concerns. Not all state research grants will be open to proposal submission by the general public. States can enter into cooperative agreements with research organizations as allowed by state law.
Many national foundations support research activities. They do this by providing research grants to qualified individuals and organizations. It is likely that each foundation focuses research areas by awarding grants for specific research topics. Research outcomes are intended to support the overall strategic plan of the foundation as well as its stated mission.
Large local foundations may provide research grants to identify possible solutions to problems facing nearby communities. These will be considered special projects and the foundation may decide to pre-select grant awardees rather than making the grant available to the public. They are likely to work with local colleges and universities or other established research organizations.