NIH awards grants under the Small Business Technology Transfer Program for research or research and development of new technologies and methodologies that have the potential to succeed as commercial products. This support is provided to small business concerns in collaboration with U.S. research institutions because innovative technologies and methodologies fuel progress in biomedical research and represent an increasingly important area of the economy.
The applicant organization must be the small business concern, which must perform at least 40 percent of the project. At least 30 percent of the project is to be performed by the college, university or other research institution.
Potential STTR applicants often assume that, like some other federal agencies, NIGMS will be an end user of the tools, devices, products or services being created under the grant or will play an active role in their ongoing development toward eventual commercialization. As a result, potential applicants may ask questions like:
- How can I ensure that my project offers what NIGMS needs?
- Can NIGMS provide technical and/or regulatory assistance to help my project obtain FDA approval?
- What clinical trial/technology development expertise does NIGMS have that I may access?
These assumptions are not correct. Like the vast majority of NIGMS-funded research, its STTR program is investigator-initiated. Applicants propose what to do, how to do it and the best path toward commercialization. Although NIGMS may occasionally issue or participate in STTR funding opportunity announcements targeted to stimulate activity in a specific area, these are still independent projects because the Institute does not prescribe what the activity should be or how it should be pursued.
The goal of NIGMS is to support innovative STTR projects that could benefit the broader research and development communities and/or directly impact human health.
The STTR program consists of three phases:
Phase I (R41) determines the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed cooperative effort and the quality of performance of the small business concern, prior to providing further federal support in Phase II.
Phase II (R42) continues the research or research and development (R&D) efforts initiated in Phase I. At this time, only Phase I awardees are eligible to apply for Phase II funding.
The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is to pursue with non-STTR funds the commercialization of the results of the research or R&D funded in Phase I and Phase II.
According to statutory guidelines, total funding support (direct costs, indirect costs, fee) normally may not exceed $150,000 for Phase I awards and $1,000,000 for Phase II awards. With appropriate justification from the applicant, Congress will allow awards to exceed these amounts by up to 50 percent ($225,000 for Phase I and $1,500,000 for Phase II, a hard cap). NIGMS will not accept applications with budget requests exceeding this hard cap with the exception of projects fitting within the list of SBA-approved topics for awards over the statutory budget limitations; the entire list for NIH (including NIGMS) may be found in Appendix A of the PHS 2015-2 SBIR/STTR Program Descriptions and Topics [PDF, 1.6MB]). If considering a project with a budget exceeding the hard cap, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NIGMS program officials prior to submission, and preferably earlier during application preparation. In all cases, applicants should propose a budget that is reasonable and appropriate for completion of the research project.
Grant solicitation announcements and additional information are available on the NIH Small Business Funding Opportunities Web site. To discuss NIGMS program interests, e-mail Dr. Scott Somers or call 301-594-3827.
List of NIGMS funding announcements (program announcements, requests for applications and notices) for the SBIR and STTR Programs.