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Tips for Small Business Grant Applicants

What Does a Successful Submission Look Like?

  • It offers Innovative solutions to a significant unmet clinical need
  • It provides solutions that have significant commercial potential
  • The project should:
    • Leverage the expertise of the company/founder
    • Seek funding to produce feasibility data (Phase I) or conduct product-focused development activities (Phase II)

Who Should Apply for Small Business Grants?

We encourage proposals from:

  • Start-up companies too early for private investment
  • Established small businesses seeking to pursue new projects

NIA wants to help you move the needle on treatments and solutions, particularly for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (ADRD). We strongly encourage applicants looking to commercialize new and different ideas and approaches, including applicants who have never considered or participated in NIA’s Small Business Programs or have not previously considered AD/ADRD-targeted drug development.

Read more about program eligibility and how to determine if your idea is a good match for NIA.

Tips for Applying to NIA Small Business Programs

  1. Start Early. Strong proposals take time to develop.
  2. Complete Required Registrations. Sign up for DUNS, SAM.gov, Grants.gov, eRACommons, and SBA Registry as soon as possible to avoid delays. (See next section for more information.)
  3. Refine Your Vision.Talk to others including program staff, technical experts, customers and current and former SBIR/STTR grantees to clarify your product idea. 
  4. Build the Right Team.Select a Principal Investigator with the right expertise and fill in gaps with other partners with the right experience. 
  5. Draft a Clear Application.Explain up front the unmet need and how your idea meets it and provide the evidence to back that up. You can share your Specific Aims page with NIA staff for feedback. Be sure to follow the application carefully and provide each component. Before submission, your team should read the application as if they were peer reviewers. 

Required Registrations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an SBIR/STTR award. All registrations must be completed prior to submitting the application. It can take up to 4 weeks to complete all five registrations. Applicants should begin the registration process well in advance of the application deadline. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS)
    All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can register in other systems. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM)
    Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations that have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • Grants.gov
    Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration to complete the Grants.gov registration.
  • eRA Commons
    Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registrations. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator account to submit an application.
  • SBA Company Registry
    See PA-14-071, Section IV. Application and Submission Information, “SF424(R&R) Other Project Information Component” for instructions on how to register and how to attach proof of registration to your application package. Applicants must have a DUNS number to complete this registration. Registration in the SBA Company Registry can be completed before SAM, Grants.gov, or eRA Commons registrations.

Additional Resources for Small Business Applicants

Visit the NIH SBIR-STTR website for additional information and guidance.

Return to the NIA Small Business Main Page.