International Awards—Part I. Determining Eligibility

Funding News Edition: February 15, 2023
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With this article, we kick off a three-part series on International Awards. We begin with a look at how to determine eligibility for a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) or Notice of Special Interest (NOSI).

Note that the eligibility of a principal investigator (PI) differs from that of an institution. This is particularly important in the context of fellowships and career development awards, where non-citizens may be working at U.S. institutions, or U.S. citizens may be working at international institutions. Applicants should refer to the eligibility requirements for the specific announcement they are interested in.

FOA Eligibility

If you find a FOA to which you want to apply, go to Section III Eligibility Information where you’ll find a section on Foreign Institutions. As an example, you may see one or more of the following:

  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
  • Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statementare allowed. 

If you are ineligible to apply for an opportunity but the opportunity allows foreign components, consider seeking a partner in the United States with whom you could collaborate. Foreign investigators can identify potential U.S. collaborators by using the “Matchmaker” search on NIH RePORTER to view scientists conducting similar research.

NOSI Eligibility

You should find eligibility information within a NOSI, such as the Notice of Special Interest (NOSI)—Research on Gender Measurement (Admin Supp, Clinical Trial Optional).

Its Eligibility section states: Individual(s) must hold an active grant or cooperative agreement from NIH. This NOSI will support supplements for all activity codes. Individuals are encouraged to work with their organizations to develop applications for support. Only electronically submitted applications will be accepted.

As another example, the Notice of Special Interest (NOSI)—Administrative Supplement for Continuity of Biomedical and Behavioral Research Among First-Time Recipients of NIH Research Project Grant Awards has the section heading Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator).

If the NOSI does not have eligibility information, check the eligibility information of the FOA through which the NOSI directs applications.

Small Business Opportunities

Foreign institutions are not eligible to apply for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards. Foreign components collaborating with U.S. organizations are also not eligible to be included in the application.

All work on SBIR or STTR projects must be conducted in the United States, per statute. However, in rare or unique circumstances, NIH may allow a small portion of the research work to be performed outside of the United States when it is not possible to perform domestically. Some examples might include supplies, materials, or patient populations that are not available in the United States.

The approval of foreign involvement will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be thoroughly justified in the application. Whenever possible, non-SBIR or non-STTR funds should be used for work outside of the United States that is necessary to the overall completion of the project.

Keep in mind that international commercial organizations may be eligible to be a foreign component for research grants (e.g., P01) based on the FOA eligibility criteria.

Additional Information

Check the following webpages:

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