Applicant Assistance Program (AAP)
The NIH’s Applicant Assistance Program (AAP) helps small businesses write and submit Phase I grant proposals, providing coaching and guidance on application needs assessment, preparation, and review.
- Aims to help businesses headed by underrepresented groups (women, minorities, and IDeA states) achieve SBIR/STTR funding
- Must be a business with no previous NIH funding
- Available at certain NIH institutes
- Application deadline is several months ahead of the proposal deadline
- Short, simple application
Tip: Before applying for the Applicant Assistance Program, email a brief description of your research and product idea to the program officer at the institute(s) your idea may fit with before applying.
NIH Institutes Participating in the AAP
- National Cancer Institute (NCI SBIR)
- National Institute on Aging (NIA SBIR)
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI SBIR)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS SBIR)
- National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR SBIR)
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH SBIR)
- National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS SBIR)
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS SBIR)
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD SBIR)
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA SBIR)
Case Example: Sasha Thomas, PhD and Entrepreneur, Uses the AAP
Description: 31-year-old Sasha Thomas is a molecular geneticist who founded a company with several partners she met during a postdoc.
Scenario, Part 2: Dr. Thomas is being interviewed by Entrepreneurs in Biotech, a fictional publication, as part of an article on women business founders in the biotechnology industry. (Review Part 1)
Entrepreneurs in Biotech (EIBT): There are companies that you can pay to help you write your grant proposal. Have you ever used one, and are they a good idea?
Sasha Thomas (ST): I think it’s a good idea to ask people from different areas to read your proposal and give you feedback. They can help you make sure what you are trying to say is coming across clearly. Someone with some SBIR experience can help you make sure you covered everything. I was fortunate to get help with my Phase I SBIR proposal from the NIH’s Applicant Assistance Program (AAP), a ten-week program that helps investigators who are applying as a business for the first time, especially if they are from underrepresented groups. It was easy to apply. Submit your application around five months in advance of the proposal deadline. They didn’t write my proposal for me, but they assessed what I needed and provided tailored mentoring.
EIBT: Like what guidance, for example?
ST: For me, that included helping me complete the required registrations and reviewing my application to make sure it was complete. The AAP helped me to clearly explain my concept and plans so that someone not as familiar with the science would understand. The mentor they assigned helped me put my application together. They also helped me understand another very helpful program for developing commercialization: the Technical and Business Assistance program (TABA). I got a needs analysis from them during my Phase I award, and then I wrote a request for TABA funding in my Phase II proposal.
EIBT: What did TABA do for you?
ST: TABA helped me with needs assessment and developing my commercialization plan during Phase I. They also let me know about an NIH administrative research diversity supplement that supports minorities and other underrepresented groups, which I applied for and received. Then, during Phase II, a second TABA award helped me take steps to better secure my intellectual property and conduct more complete market research that helped attract my key investors.
Technical and Business Assistance Program (TABA)
The NIH’s Technical and Business Assistance program (TABA) provides administrative and general management consulting services to SBIR/STTR awardees in the form of. . .
- Needs assessment and report on commercialization areas from a life science industry or technology perspective.
- Funding to achieve identified commercialization needs, which may include access to subject experts, assistance with product sales, intellectual property protection, market research, regulatory or manufacturing planning, or access to online technical or business resources.
For a Phase I TABA award, a company contracted by the NIH provides a needs assessment regarding. . .
- Intellectual property and barriers to entry
- Regulatory, manufacturing, and/or clinical plan
- Market needs and competitive advantages
- Business model profitability
For Phase II, TABA provides up to $50,000 for the life of the project, which can be used for intellectual property protection, product sales, market research, etc.
View Part 1 of this case