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About NIA Small Business Funding

NIA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs support small businesses and research organizations seeking to bring to market innovative treatments and technologies that address aging and aging-related conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and AD-related dementias (AD/ADRD). Each year, NIA provides more than $100 million in no-strings-attached, non-dilutive funding for small businesses through SBIR/STTR.

The SBIR-STTR programs target early-stage research and development (R&D) and encompass a broad range of research topics and types, including translational and secondary R&D. All NIA research divisions participate in the SBIR/STTR programs. All applicants are expected to develop, implement, and test the effectiveness of their products and services.

The Office of Small Business Research is looking for groundbreaking ideas in aging and AD/ADRD research:

  • INNOVATION to support healthy aging and aging in place
  • INTERVENTIONS to help people with aging-related diseases
  • SOLUTIONS for aging-related challenges and needs
  • TOOLS to efficiently assess and diagnose aging-related diseases
  • TECHNOLOGY to reduce burden and improve care and services

Special Focus on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias

As the lead federal agency addressing research on AD/ADRD, NIA has an unprecedented R&D budget to address and develop interventions and therapeutics that prevent the onset of AD/ADRD or that may lead to a cure.

NIA is seeking new and different ideas and approaches that focus on commercialization—including drug development—of AD/ADRD-focused products or services. NIA’s SBIR/STTR programs have funding up to $500,000 for Phase I and $2.5 million for Phase II in AD/ADRD topics. NIA seeks AD/ADRD research focusing on:

  • Prevention
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Care and Caregiving
  • Research and Clinical Tools
  • Analytical Tools
  • Digital Health
  • Novel Devices

Overview of the SBIR and STTR Programs

Small businesses and research organizations participating in NIA’s SBIR and STTR programs retain intellectual property rights for their innovations. NIH’s rigorous peer-review process lends validation and visibility to early-stage companies, and the prestige associated with these awards can help attract more funding from other partners and investors.

SBIR & STTR Program Phases and Funding Levels

Phase I: Discovery & Feasibility
  • Up to 1 year
  • Awards up to $300,000, or up to $500,000 for AD/ADRD
  • Establish technical merit, feasibility, and potential for commercialization
Phase II: Development & Full R&D
  • 2 years
  • Awards up to $2 million, or up to $2.5 million for AD/ADRD
  • Continues Phase I R&D efforts
  • Requires a commercialization plan
Fast Track
  • One combined application for Phases I and II
Direct-to-Phase II
  • Apply directly for Phase II funding (SBIR only)
  • Demonstrated feasibility through other funding sources
Commercialization Readiness Pilot
  • Funding for late-stage R&D and technical assistance for commercialization
Phase IIB: Competing Renewal
  • Up to 3 years
  • Awards up to $3 million

How Do the SBIR and STTR Programs Differ?

Although the SBIR and STTR programs are similar in many respects, they differ in the make-up of participating organizations. SBIR grants incentivize commercialization by primarily funding the R&D stage of bringing a product or service to market. By contrast, the STTR program aims to expand public-private partnerships by allowing small businesses to partner with non-profit research organizations such as universities. Awards are always made to the small business.

Supports small businesses conducting early-stage R&D to commercialize innovations in healthy aging and diseases of aging Supports small businesses that are formally collaborating with a research institution (e.g., universities) in R&D to commercialize innovations
PERMITS research institution partnerships REQUIRES research institution partnerships
The small business may outsource ~33% of Phase I activities and 50% of Phase II activities The for-profit small business should conduct a minimum of 40% of the work, and a non-profit U.S. research institution should conduct a minimum of 30% of the work
The Project Director/Principal Investigator’s primary employment (>50%) must be with the small business for the duration of the project period An agreement providing necessary intellectual property (IP) rights to the small business is required to carry out follow-on R&D and commercialization

NIA strongly encourages small businesses that have not previously considered or participated in AD- or ADRD-targeted therapeutic drug development to contact Dr. M-D Kerns to discuss their research approach.

Return to the NIA Small Business Main Page.