To find the right agency to contact to discuss your project, look at what they funded in the past. For the NIH, if you still are not sure, write a brief description to the SBIR office. Each agency (HHS, NSF, Education, Navy, Department of Energy, NASA, etc.) has a different way of submitting and reviewing proposals. Review the website of the agency you choose and learn their specific process.
Tips on identifying which NIH agency to contact:
You should apply for funding from the NIH institute with a mission that aligns with your research. There are 27 institutes at the NIH, for example, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).
- Look up your topic in the NIH RePorter, a searchable database of NIH-funded projects, to find related research that is already funded and what institutions funded them. Several search approaches are available; the Matchmaker is particularly useful and versatile:
- NIH Matchmaker to conduct a keyword search of your topic or research area. Put text from your abstract and aims in Matchmakers’ search box and you will get a match to which institute funds projects like yours and learn about specific projects already funded like yours. Aside from identifying which agency or project official to contact, you may use this resource to think about how to distinguish your project from others or find collaborators.
- Also, use Grants.gov’s Search Grants and NIH’s Find Grant Funding to learn about other grant opportunities (Funding Opportunity Announcements – FOAs). Grants.gov includes funding opportunities outside of NIH.
- Or review the NIH Institute and Center Contact Information looking for the best fit.
- Review the potential agency’s website for its mission, strategic plans, portfolio areas, and research priorities. Look at what types of applications they do and do not want, and what they have funded in the past. This information is on their websites, in webinars they host, and also in the Omnibus Solicitation.
- Choose an agency/center/institute that seems to fit your subject area. Also, consider your customer: the right customer varies by agency.
Which Program Officer to Contact
- Find the Program Officials (POs) at each institute. After identifying an agency that is a good fit:
- Using the NIH’s Matchmaker database search tool, search within that agency to find Program Officials who manage proposals similar to yours.
- You may also find PO contact information through “Engage and Connect“.
- POs are also listed on Funding Opportunity Announcements.
- Reach out to the agency you are considering. Start your contact at the start of the grant process and continue through submission. Also, sign up for any newsletter or social media information, such as Twitter, offered by the agency related to your research.
- You can email program officials and send a 1-page executive summary, abstract, and or a specific aims page from your proposal – whatever will give them an overview of your project and its commercial potential. Some agencies, such as the Department of Education or the National Science Foundation, consider this step a requirement.
Tip: When to start a proposal? Ideally, start writing a proposal at least 6 months or more before the due date. Start contacting an NIH program officer around the same time.
Did You Know? There may be other agencies interested in funding your research besides the obvious ones. For example, aside from the NIH for healthcare-related funding, consider that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Department of Defense also sponsor some healthcare research.