Tips for Success

First Time Applicants 

  1. The first step is to reach out to the NIAAA SBIR Coordinator or a NIAAA Program Officer. Program Officers at NIAAA are considered subject-matter experts and will be able to provide you with advice about your application and whether the proposed research aligns with NIAAA Research Priorities.
  2. Applications that don’t demonstrate the need or potential for commercialization frequently don’t score well. Here are some additional points to address in your application:
    • Significance. Be sure your application addresses a how the product/science will move the field forward and include the societal impact if successful.
    • Feasibility. Ensure the feasibility is adequately defined.
    • Innovation. What differentiates your product or technology from the current market?
    • Research Plan. Provide a research plan that is succinct, yet in-depth and well-defined. Reviewers look for clear specific aims.
    • Expertise. The application must fully demonstrate the expertise of the team, subcontractors and consultants. Provide a vision of how the expertise behind the application will ensure success.

You can find several examples of successful small business grant applications on a variety of topics on the NIH website.

  1. Start early. It can take between one and two months to complete all of the application requirements and registrations. You will need to register in five systems before you can submit your application. You can use NIH ASSIST, a program that will walk you through the entire application. Check out our fact sheet on what you need to do to apply.

Use the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide (Version F), and the Annotated SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Form Set (FORMS-F) for step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application. Be mindful that the electronic submission process for HHS SBIR and STTR grants is multi-step, and can take six to eight weeks to complete the five registrations required prior to submission.

Mandatory Registrations

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS). All registrations require a DUNS number before beginning the remaining registrations.
  • System for Award Management (SAM.gov). This government website consolidates all business registrations in a government vendor database so that payments can be made more efficiently.
  • Grants.gov. This portal lists all available federal grants and is used by all 26 federal grant-making agencies, including NIH.
  • Electronic Research Administration (eRA Commons). This NIH system allows applicants, grantees and NIH staff to access, share and transmit their application and grant information. You can learn more about the top five errors people make when registering for this system.
  • SBA Company Registry. You must attach proof of your SBA Company Registry to your SBIR/STTR application.

Technical and Business Assistance & Needs Assessment

The NIH Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) helps small businesses make better technical decisions, solve technical problems, minimize technical risks, and develop and commercialize new products and processes.

All applicants can request additional funding for technical and business services, such as access to technologies or support on product sales, intellectual property protections, market research, and planning. Requests should be made within the application under “F. Other Direct Costs, lines 8-10” and labeled “Technical and Business Assistance” on the budget.

  • Phase I has a cap of $6,500 per year
  • Phase II has a cap of $50,000 for the life of the project

For grantees who have not applied for TABA in their initial Phase I submission, the TABA Needs Assessment Report provides a third party, unbiased assessment of your progress in 10 technical and business areas that are critical to success in the competitive healthcare marketplace:

  • Target Market Attractiveness (Need/Size)
  • Ability to Address Market Need
  • Regulatory Path
  • Business Model Profitability
  • Competition and Intellectual Property
  • Sales and Marketing Strategy
  • Management Team
  • Strategic Partners
  • Funding Status/Financial Plan
  • Potential Exit Plan

The report will also suggest the highest priority steps you can take to improve the commercial potential of your product or service. There is no cost for this report and the time commitment for participation is minimal. Needs Assessment Reports will be completed in 2-3 months.

Eligibility: Applicants must have had an active NIH SBIR or STTR Phase I or Phase I Fast-Track award (grant or contract) within the past two years. For companies with multiple awards, only one project will be considered for the program. Small businesses that have received TABA funding within their Phase I award are not eligible to participate.

Deadline: The Needs Assessment Program will be open throughout the year. Requests will be reviewed on a monthly basis with notification of status within 60 days of submission.

NIAAA SBIR and STTR Factsheet (PDF, 1,339 KB)