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About NIA Small Business Funding

Overview of NIA's Small Business Programs

Each year, NIA provides more than $140 million in no-strings-attached, non-dilutive funding through programs that support small businesses, including the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The NIA Small Business Programs are looking for groundbreaking ideas in healthy aging and in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (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

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 of AD/ADRD-focused products or services.

What Are the SBIR and STTR Programs?

The SBIR and 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 applicants are expected to develop, implement, and test the effectiveness of their products and services. The exact duration, budget, and requirements for each type of award depend on the specific funding opportunity.

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.

What Are the SBIR and STTR Program Phases and Funding Levels?

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Phase I: Discovery and Feasibility
  • Typically up to 1 year, or up to 2 years for AD/ADRD
  • Awards up to $400,000, or up to $500,000 for AD/ADRD
  • Establish technical merit, feasibility, and potential for commercialization
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Phase II: Development and Full R&D
  • Typically up to 2 years, or up to 3 years for AD/ADRD
  • Awards up to $2.25 million, or up to $2.5 million for AD/ADRD
  • Continues Phase I R&D efforts
  • Requires a commercialization plan
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Fast Track
  • One combined application for Phases I and II
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Direct-to-Phase II
  • Apply directly for Phase II funding (SBIR only)
  • Demonstrated feasibility through other funding sources
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Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program
  • Funding for late-stage R&D and technical assistance for commercialization
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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. Awards are always made to the small business.

Differences Between SBIR and STTR



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 about 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

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