Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will you fund my project? Does my project fit within the NICHD mission?

You can email the NICHD SBIR Program Coordinator for assistance in determining if your application is appropriate for the NICHD, questions regarding the application process, or clarification on SBIR/STTR policy.

Can you provide advice on my project?

If you want advice on a proposed project and whether or not it fits into the NICHD mission, please submit a ONE-PAGE summary of your project via email. Generally, the abstract and specific aims are sufficient for making a determination about the appropriateness of a project for the NICHD portfolio.

How do I apply to the NIH Small Business Program?

To learn more about applying for NIH funding, including what forms are necessary, important deadlines, a general timeline, and guidelines for tracking your application through the process, visit

What do I need to submit an application?

The SF424 SBIR/STTR (R&R) Application Guide (PDF - 2.25 MB) contains registration and application instructions. We strongly recommend that you use the SBIR/STTR Annotated Form Set (PDF - 2.6 MB) to guide you step-by-step through the submission process.

What should I do if I have problems submitting my application electronically?

If you have questions about submitting your grant electronically, please contact at 1-800-518-4726 or at Be sure to document your issues with case/incident numbers. Please note: they are closed on federal holidays.

Please contact the eRA Commons helpdesk if you have problems with any of the registration steps. Once again, please document your issues with case/ incident numbers.
Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552; Phone: 301-402-7469; TTY: 301-451-5939

What happens if my application is submitted after the deadline?

Please note: Beginning on January 25, 2011, all applications submitted after 5 p.m. local time of the applicant organization on the due date will be subject to the NIH late policy and may not be accepted for review (NOT-OD-10-123). In addition, any post-submission application materials will be subject to the new policy detailed in NOT-OD-10-115.

What if I have questions about SBIR/STTR Grants Policies?

There are many resources related to the SBIR/STTR program policies at

Where can I find more information about policy, eligibility, and application submission for the NIH Small Business Program?

NIH has a comprehensive FAQ with answers to SBIR/STTR policy, eligibility, and application questions. It includes answers to common questions about eligibility, budgets, foreign involvement, application scoring, and human and animal research, among other topics.

What constitutes primary employment under the SBIR rules?

Under the SBIR Program, the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) must have his/her primary employment with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the project. This means that more than one-half of the PD/PI’s time or hours worked is spent in the employ of the SBC. Typically, this is more than 20 hours per week.

For multi-PD/PI applications only the Contact PD/PI must be from the SBC and meet the primary employment requirement. 

My small business is not doing the human subject work for the project; it is being done elsewhere. Why, then, does my company need to obtain a human subjects Federal Wide Assurance (FWA)?

An institution is automatically considered to be engaged in human subjects research if it receives a direct award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for human subjects research, regardless of whether the activity is being conducted elsewhere.

An FWA is required for all entities on that award. The awardee institution is ultimately responsible for protecting human subjects under an HHS award.

To obtain an FWA, visit the HHS Office of Human Research Protections website:

What are the distinctions between the SBIR and STTR programs?

There are two primary distinctions between the SBIR and STTR programs.

  • Program Director (PD)/Principal Investigator (PI) Employment:
    • For the SBIR program, the PD/PI must be primarily employed (greater than half time) with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the project period.
    • For the STTR program, the PD/PI may be primarily employed either by the small business concern or the collaborating non-profit research institution.
  • Work Requirement:
    • The SBIR program allows and encourages research partnerships. However, the small business typically performs a minimum of 67% of the work supported by the award in Phase I, and a minimum of 50% of the work supported by a Phase II award.
    • Under the STTR program, the small business must perform at least 40% of the work and the research institution must perform at least 30% of the work. The remaining 30% may be done by the small business concern, the non-profit research institution partner, or an additional third party.

Can you switch between the SBIR and the STTR programs?

Yes. NIH SBIR and STTR applicants may now switch programs at Phase II or Phase IIB to any active and open NIH SBIR or STTR solicitation, including SBIR and STTR Omnibus Solicitations and any SBIR or STTR targeted funding opportunity. Applicants must follow all the rules and policies for the program and solicitation for which they are applying. They must also adhere to requirements on the employment status of the PI, subcontracting rules, etc., for the Phase II or IIB application to the opposite program. Applicants are also strongly advised to discuss this option with their Program Officer well in advance of any due date.

This means that:

  • Phase I STTR Awardees may apply for NIH SBIR or STTR Phase II.
  • Phase I SBIR Awardees may apply for NIH SBIR or STTR Phase II.
  • Phase II STTR Awardees may apply for NIH SBIR or STTR Phase IIB.
  • Phase II SBIR Awardees may apply for NIH SBIR or STTR Phase IIB.

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