The NIH defines the product they want made for contract proposals, in contrast to grants, which are investigator-initiated and based on the interests of the investigator. The NIH sets aside funds for contracts to achieve specific goals. You apply for a contract if it is a good fit with your research and interests. Another major difference between a contract and a grant is that with the contract, the government purchases and owns the product.
You must contact the contracting officer before submission to let them know of your interest. The NIH grants only SBIR contracts and not STTR contracts. Unlike SBIR grants, which can be submitted 3 times per year, there is only one receipt date per year for contracts. If you receive a contract, deliverables (goals met) and quarterly progress reports are required. The time involved to complete a contract is similar to a grant.
Grant and Contract Solicitations
Omnibus Solicitations and Other Funding Opportunities Announcements (FOAs)
For all SBIR/STTR funding, whether a grant or a contract, you must be responding to a “solicitation” in which that the government agency wants is described. You supply the reference number as part of your application. Learn about the Health and Human Services (HHS) SBIR/STTR funding opportunities through the Omnibus Solicitation, which is a funding opportunity announcement (FOA). This document describes the funding opportunities for small businesses having the technical ability to do research that meets the agency’s missions on the topics described. Be sure to read the full announcement, especially Section IV. Application and Submission Information. There are versions for SBIR vs. STTR and for whether or not a clinical trial is not allowed vs. required. Types of initiatives:
- Parent Announcements – These are investigator-initiated and unsolicited. They are posted for 3 years at a time and often renewed. Standard receipt dates are used.
- Program Announcements – Highlight an area of focus, usually posted for 3 years and using standard receipt dates. Apply if it fits your area of interest. Notices of Special Interest (NOSIs) are increasingly being used instead.
- Requests for Applications (RFAs) – These grants are given to advance a particular area of research deemed important by an agency or group of agencies. Money is set aside for funding the RFAs. They often have different due dates from regular grants or contracts. They have a narrowly defined scope, set-aside funds, and often a single receipt date. They may be a one-time opportunity.
For contracts, a separate document is published once per year around October. View Current Contract Topics.
Other SBIR & STTR funding and other grant opportunities are available and can be found by searching Grants.gov’s Search Grants.