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How to Apply

Several online resources are available across the National Institutes of Health to assist small businesses in preparing their grant applications and contract proposals. First-time applicants to the SBIR & STTR Programs are encouraged to review these resources before submitting an application.

Registration Requirements Prior to Submitting SBIR/STTR Applications to HHS

If you are considering applying for an SBIR/STTR award, check that your registrations are all completed. It is never too early to start the registration process, as the registration process alone may take 6–8 weeks.

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take six weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. 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 begin SAM, SBA Company, and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) – The NIH requires both the EIN and a DUNS number prior to the issuance of a funding award. The EIN base for the organization is the IRS Tax ID number, for individuals it is their social security number, both of which are nine-digit numbers. Organizations and individuals submitting their applications must correctly identify the EIN from the DUNS since both are 9-digit numbers.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – 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 which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • – As part of the process, applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the registration.
  • SBA Company RegistryNew requirement. For instructions on how to register and how to attach proof of registration to your application package, See SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide for NIH and Other PHS Agencies, Section 4.4, page I-81. Applicants must have a DUNS number to complete this registration. SBA Company registration is NOT required before SAM,, or eRA Commons registration.

If you have difficulties with the submission process, please contact the eRA Commons helpdesk:

Toll-free: 1-866-504-9552
Phone: 301-402-7469
TTY: 301-451-5939
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time (Except for federal holidays)

Electronic Submission Process and Resources

SF424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission Information

Annotated SF424 Form

Note: Contract proposals are received via paper submission only.

Tips for Applying

Nature Biotechnology Publishes Article on the SBIR & STTR Programs

In an article published in Nature Biotechnology, SBIR & STTR Development Center staff discuss the application process and provide tips for applying for funding through the SBIR & STTR Programs. The article highlights the important steps to consider in the process of writing a competitive application that will best showcase your products and technologies for the cancer community. Please click here to read the article and learn about how the SBIR & STTR Programs not only provide funding, but also help small businesses find ways to connect and collaborate with potential investors.

Please click here to download presentations from the NCI SBIR & STTR Programs that will help small businesses prepare and submit successful applications for funding.

Understanding the NIH Peer Review Process

Peer review mostly happens at NIH Center for Scientific Review:

Tips on writing a cover letter:

Finding a study section: