Small Businesses

Small Businesses

We welcome entrepreneurs and small business leaders to explore grant and contract funding opportunities and engage in collaboration with NIAID.

For current opportunities, see NIH’s SBIR/STTR Funding page and list of Targeted SBIR/STTR Funding Announcements. See a complete list of FOAs that NIAID participates in at NIAID Funding Opportunities.

For more information, see the sections below and the following NIAID pages:


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are some of the largest sources of early-stage technology financing for domestic small businesses. They use set-aside funds mandated by Congress to help bridge the gap between basic science and commercialization.

Both programs seek to increase small business participation and private-sector commercialization of technology developed through federal research and development. The SBIR program funds early-stage research and development at small businesses. The STTR program has the unique feature of requiring the applicant organization to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phases I and II.

NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. To help speed the commercialization of new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests, and other technologies, NIAID funds more than $100 million  each year in SBIR and STTR awards. Both small business programs are currently reauthorized through FY 2017.

Small Business Program Structure and Funding Mechanisms

Program Structure

Both SBIR and STTR programs 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’s 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 NIH’s Three Phase Program page.

For details about 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.

NIAID received a budgetary guideline waiver from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to exceed the hard cap for a limited list of specific topics. For details and NIAID-approved topics, see the SBA-approved topics list for budget waivers at SBIR and STTR Omnibus Grant Solicitations for the NIH, CDC, FDA, and ACF.

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 or the Regulatory Affairs Support Program in the 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 95 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



For more information, see the following NIAID pages:

Content last reviewed on : 

August 20, 2016
Content last reviewed on August 20, 2016

Have Questions?

If you have questions about the NIAID SBIR/STTR program, email