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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contracts

While most awards are in the form of grants, roughly 5-10% of NIH and CDC SBIR awards are made through contract procurement. There are three key things to remember when applying to a contract solicitation:
  • The NIH STTR program does not currently utilize the contract mechanism.
  • Contract proposals must respond to a specific topic.
  • Only select Institutes and Centers participate in the contract mechanism.

How Do I Apply?

NIH SBIR contract funding opportunities reflect specific need areas (referred to as Contract Topics). These topics are identified by NIH Institute or Center (IC) staff. To submit a contract proposal, your small business must respond to one of these topics.

The contract application process differs from the grants application process because:

  • A proposal in response to the Contract Topic requires its own separate proposal to the IC that created it; grant funding announcements allow for a response to multiple IC-identified priorities (or even one not specifically named) in one application.
  • Contract proposals must be submitted through the electronic Contract Proposal Submission (eCPS), a component of NIH’s integrated, secure system for the electronic submission, capture, tracking, and review of contract proposals.

As in the case of grants, contracts allow for Phase I, Fast Track, and Direct to Phase II proposals (as allowed by the topic). When Fast Track proposals are accepted, both a complete Phase I proposal and a separate, complete Phase II proposal must be submitted; the Phase I proposal and Phase II proposal will be evaluated and scored individually.