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Compare NIAID Small Business Programs

This page offers details on NIAID SBIR and STTR program structure, which funding mechanisms we use to support small businesses, and a comparison of SBIR grants and contracts.

For small business funding opportunities, high priority areas, the application process, success stories, and more, see the main Small Business Programs page.

Program Structure

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs both seek to stimulate technological innovation and increase private-sector commercialization of technologies developed through federal research and development (R&D) funding and other support initiatives.

The major difference between the two programs is that STTR requires the small business to formally collaborate with a non-profit research institution during the first two Phases of the program, with the goal of fostering cooperation and technology transfer between small businesses and research organizations. SBIR does not have this requirement, though it does allow it.

Some other differences appear in the rules governing the role of the principal investigator and subcontractors. See NIH Small Business Eligibility Criteria for more details and Section III. Eligibility Information in the FOA to which you are applying.

Both programs are structured in three Phases. Note that the stated Phase I and Phase II award levels and project periods are statutory guidelines, not ceilings. The budgets of SBIR and STTR applications will be evaluated to assess the appropriateness of the budget to the timeliness of the research goals and may be reduced on a case-by-case basis as recommended by NIAID reviewers. For more information on each of the Phases, see the NIH Three Phase Program page.

Small Business Sample Applications
See sample SBIR (R43/R44) and STTR (R41/R42) grant applications and summary statements. Other sections there offer example forms, data sharing and model organism sharing plans, biographical sketches, and more.

For more detail on the different types of small business applications, see NIH SBIR and STTR Application Types.

For NIAID-specific information on funding support and research topics, see NIAID’s section of the current Program Descriptions and Research Topics document for the SBIR and STTR Omnibus Grant Solicitations for the NIH, CDC, FDA, and ACF. As described on that page, NIAID received a budgetary guideline waiver from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to exceed the hard cap for a limited list of specific topics.

No funding is available for Phase III of the program. Phase III may involve R&D or production contracts for products, processes, or services intended for use by the U.S. government. The NIH Commercialization Accelerator Program (CAP) or the Regulatory Affairs Support Program in the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases may be helpful for small businesses that reach Phase III.

Funding Mechanisms

The SBIR and STTR programs award funding through several mechanisms: 

  • Approximately 85 percent of NIH SBIR awards are made through grants, whose topics and research are driven by the awardee.
  • Additional awards are established through contracts, which are procured based on the sponsor’s (NIAID's) needs.
  • A cooperative agreement is another form of funding award that is similar to a grant but includes a high level of involvement from the sponsor.

The table below outlines the differences between grants and contracts in the SBIR program. (The STTR program does not award contracts.)

SBIR Grants and Contracts Comparison

  SBIR Grants SBIR Contracts
Scope of the proposal

Investigator-defined within the mission of NIAID

Defined (narrowly) by NIAID

Questions During Solicitation Period

May speak with any program officer

Must contact the contracting officer

Receipt Dates

Three times each year for Omnibus

Only once each year

Peer Review Locus

NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

NIAID Scientific Review Program

Basis for Award

Peer review score/program assessment

Peer review score/negotiation of technical deliverables, budget


One final report (Phase I),
annual reports (Phase II)

Kickoff presentation, quarterly progress reports, final report, commercialization plan

Set-Aside Funds for Particular Areas



Program Staff Involvement



See the main Small Business Programs page for funding opportunities, high priority areas, the application process, success stories, and more.

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