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Program Structure

Both the NCI SBIR and STTR programs are divided into three phases listed below. NIH has special Technical Assistance Programs to help small businesses move their technologies from the lab into the hands of customers. The NIH Niche Assistance Program is for active Phase I awardees, and the NIH Commercialization Assistance Program is for Phase II or Phase IIB awardees. 
 
NIH also has a Fast-track application that allows small businesses to submit one application for Phase I and Phase II, and has a pilot Direct SBIR Phase II solicitation which permits small businesses to receive a Phase II award even if they have not previously received a Phase I award for the research/research and development of their technology.
 
Phase I: Feasibility and Proof of Concept. The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further federal support in Phase II. Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs for 6 months (SBIR) or 1 year (STTR).
 
Phase II: Research/Research and Development. The objective of Phase II is to continue the R/R&D efforts initiated in Phase I. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. SBIR/STTR Phase II awards normally do not exceed $1,000,000 total costs for 2 years.
 
Phase II Bridge. The NCI SBIR Program has created the Phase II Bridge Award for previously funded NIH SBIR Phase II awardees to continue the next stage of research and development for projects in the areas of cancer therapeutics, imaging technologies, interventional devices, diagnostics and prognostics. The objective of the Phase II Bridge Award is to help address the funding gap a company may encounter between the end of the Phase II award and the commercialization stage. Budgets up to $1 million in total costs per year and project periods up to three years (a total of $3 million over three years) may be requested from the NCI. To incentivize partnerships between awardees and third-party investors and/or strategic partners, competitive preference, and funding priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate the ability to secure substantial independent third-party investor funds (i.e., third-party funds that equal or exceed the requested NCI funds). This funding opportunity is open to current and recently expired NIH SBIR Phase II projects.
 
Phase III: Commercialization. The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. The NIH SBIR/STTR programs do not fund Phase III, and NIH does not provide any Phase III funding to small businesses.
 
Check out a great overview graphic on the NIH SBIR/STTR website.
Updated: July 1, 2015