Applicant Assistance Program (AAP)
NIH’s 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 under-represented groups (women, minorities, and iDea states) achieve SBIR/STTR funding.
- You must be a business with no previous NIH funding.
- Available at certain NIH institutes.
- Application deadline is several months ahead of the proposal deadline.
- It is a short, simple application.
Tip: Before applying for the Applicant Assistance Program, email a brief description of your research/product idea to the program officer at the institute(s) where you think your idea may fit before applying.
NIH Institutes Participating in AAP
- The National Cancer Institute (NCI SBIR)
- The National Institute on Aging (NIA SBIR)
- The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI SBIR)
- The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS SBIR)
- The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR SBIR)
- The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH SBIR)
- The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS SBIR)
- The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS SBIR)
- The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD SBIR)
- The 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 post-doc.
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 do you think they are 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 10-week program that helps investigators applying as a business for the first time, especially from under-represented groups. It was easy to apply. You have to apply in time for the proposal deadline, around 5 months in advance. 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, that I included in my proposals: Technical and Business Assistance (TABA).
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 is intended to support minority and other under-represented 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 gain my key investors.
Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) Programs
NIH’s Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) program provides administrative and general management consulting services to SBIR/STTR awardees in the form of:
- TABA Needs assessment and report on commercialization areas from a life science industry or technology perspective.
- TABA 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/barriers to entry
- Regulatory, manufacturing, and/or clinical plan
- Market needs/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