Funding News Edition: December 15, 2021 See more articles in this edition
Not exactly. As a small business, you may request and receive a fee of up to seven percent of your total costs (direct plus indirect) for the project. The fee is intended to be a reasonable profit factor available to for-profit organizations, consistent with normal profit margins provided to profit-making firms for research and development work.
You can use that fee for any purpose, including expenses not allowed in the grant budget such as foreign consultants, marketing research, and patent applications. Thus, you can't include the consulting fee in the application's project budget, but there is a path to pay the expert if your application is funded.
To learn more about this fee, read “What is the ‘Fee’? How should a small business justify the fee in its application to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) program?” in section V. Budget of NIH's SBIR/STTR Frequently Asked Questions page.