Tips for Small Business Applicants
What Does a Successful Submission Look Like?
Review our sample applications to see examples of successful submissions, which incorporate these key elements:
- Offers Innovative solutions to a significant unmet clinical need
- Provides solutions that have significant commercial potential
- Corresponds to one of NIA’s research priorities
- Leverages the expertise of the company/founder
- Seeks funding to produce feasibility data (Phase I) or conduct product-focused development activities (Phase II)
A successful application incorporates answers to each of the following questions. Potential applicants can share draft answers with the NIA Small Business Programs team for feedback prior to submission:
- The technology prototype or therapeutic to be developed;
- The technical innovation the development would represent, the unmet need it addresses, and technical challenges to overcome;
- The value proposition and competition, and how the technology builds on current scientific premise and/or preliminary data;
- The proposed specific research aims, including key models, assays, metrics, and quantitative performance milestones; and
- The relevance of the research and development to NIA’s mission.
Who Should Apply for Small Business Funding?
NIA wants to help you move forward on treatments and solutions, particularly for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (ADRD). We strongly encourage proposals from applicants who:
- Are too early in product development to obtain private investment.
- Represent an established small business seeking to pursue new product development.
- Have never considered or participated in NIA’s small business programs.
- Have not previously considered AD/ADRD drug development.
- Represent entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups in biomedical research.
- Meet the program eligibility criteria.
Tips for Applying to NIA Small Business Programs
Strong proposals take time to develop.
Refine Your Vision.
Talk to others including program staff, technical experts, customers and current and former SBIR/STTR grantees to clarify your product idea.
Build the Right Team.
Select a Principal Investigator with the right expertise and fill in gaps with other partners with the right experience.
Draft a Clear Application.
Explain the unmet need, how your idea meets it, and the evidence to back that up. Share your Specific Aims page with NIA staff for feedback. Follow the application instructions carefully and address each component. Before submission, your team should read the application as if they were peer reviewers.
Follow the Strict Hyperlink Policy.
As you prepare your application, adhere to NIH’s hyperlink policy and remove any website links to avoid rejection of your submission.
- NIH Applicant Assistance Program (AAP)
Apply for a free 10-week coaching program that provides customized assistance for each step and section of the SBIR or STTR application.
- NIA Small Business Spotlight: BioSensics
Learn how NIA funding is enabling innovation at BioSensics, a small business developing tools that support independence for older adults.
- More Small Business Stories from NIH
Visit the NIH SBIR/STTR website and select “Aging” under the Funding Institute filter to see more stories of success from NIA-supported companies.
- SBIR/STTR Application Process
View an interactive flowchart showing each step of the application process.
- SBIR/STTR Application Guide (PDF, 4.43M)
Download the full NIH manual to guide you through the application process.
- SBIR/STTR Local Resources
Access resources in your community that can help guide you through the application process.
- Annotated Form Set for NIH SBIR Grant Applications (PDF, 4.05M)
Get guidance on filling out the application forms for SBIR and STTR applications.
- NIH RePORTER
Use the database of NIH-supported research to see what has already been funded.
Ready to apply?
- Find open funding opportunities.
- Review frequently asked questions.
- Contact the NIA Small Business Programs to discuss fit.
Return to the NIA Small Business Main Page.