The NIH defines what products they want for contract proposals in contrast to grants, which are investigator-initiated and based on the investigator’s interests. The NIH sets aside funds for contracts to achieve specific goals. You apply for a contract if it fits your research and interests. Another difference between contracts and grants is that with the contract, the government purchases and owns the product, and with grants, the business owns the product and must find customers.
Contact the contracting officer before submitting a proposal to let them know of your interest. The NIH only does SBIR contracts, not STTR contracts. Unlike SBIR grants, which can be submitted three 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 that of a grant.
Grant and Contract Solicitations
Omnibus Solicitations and Other Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)
For all SBIR/STTR funding, whether a grant or a contract, you must respond to a solicitation where the government agency describes what it wants. You supply the reference number for that solicitation as part of your application. Find the solicitations and learn about the Health and Human Services (HHS) SBIR/STTR funding opportunities through the Omnibus Solicitation, which is a funding opportunity announcement (FOA). The Omnibus Solicitation describes funding opportunities for small businesses that have the technical ability to do research meeting the agency’s mission. Be sure to read the full announcement, especially Section IV, Application and Submission Information. There are versions for SBIR and STTR and for whether or not a clinical trial is required or not allowed. There are three types of initiatives:
- Parent Announcements – These are investigator-initiated and unsolicited. They are posted for three years at a time and often renewed. Standard receipt dates apply.
- Program Announcements – These highlight an area of focus, usually posted for three years and using standard receipt dates. Apply if it fits your area of interest. Special announcements called 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 narrow scope, set-aside funds, and usually 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 grant opportunities can be found by searching on Grants.gov.