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eRA Commons

Did you know that there are five top eRA Commons errors that account for approximately 80% of the total errors for SBIR & STTR grant submissions? The tips below will help you avoid these mistakes.

Developing an NIH SBIR or STTR grant application requires a lot of hard work and multiple steps. Once you've written your application, you must be able to successfully submit it electronically and error–free so NIH can review it.

Take some time to review these top five eRA Commons Submission tips in advance of the next NIH SBIR & STTR deadline. Doing so will help save precious time and ensure your application moves forward for review.

We encourage you to utilize ASSIST to complete your application. Review the User Guide or archived informational webinar to learn more.

You may also use the Annotated SF424 Form set for SBIR & STTR applications along with these tips to guide you during the electronic submission process. The annotated form set provides step-by-step instructions of which fields to complete and aligns with the information below.

Top Five eRA Commons Submission Tips

Tip #1: Each Senior/Key Person listed must include effort of value > 0 in calendar months, or academic and summer months

  • It's okay to put 0 dollars (no salary), but NOT 0 effort
  • Be sure to describe the source of key personnel funding in the Budget Justification if $0 salary is listed

Tip #2: All application attachments must be in PDF format

  • Use simple PDF–formatted files (no Word files)
    • Do not use Portfolio or similar feature to bundle multiple files into a single PDF
    • Disable security features such as password protection
  • Keep file names to 50 characters or less and use only letters, numbers, underscore, hyphen, space and period
  • Use meaningful file names and follow guidelines for fonts and margins
  • Do not include headers or footers

Tip #3: eRA Commons username must be supplied in the Credential field of Senior/Key Person Page

  • For multiple PD/PI applications, select the PD/PI role for each PI and provide their eRA Commons username in the Credential field of Senior/Key Person Page
Tip #4: NIH requires the Organization name for all Senior/Key listed. The application pre-populates for PI, but NOT other key personnel
Tip #5: The Federal Identifier on the Cover Page should include only the IC and serial number of the prior grant number
  • Federal Identifier: If box 1=Application and box 8=New, then leave blank
  • If box 1=Changed/Corrected and box 8=New, then enter previous tracking number
  • Otherwise, use Institute and serial # of previous NIH grant/app (e.g., use CA987654 from 1R01CA987654-01)
Other helpful tips to remember:
  • Corrective submissions must be made BEFORE the submission deadline and overwrite previous submissions
  • Errors stop application processing and must be corrected
  • Warnings do not stop application processing and are corrected at the discretion of the applicant
  • Talk to an NCI SBIR Program Director about your application and SUBMIT EARLY (days not hours and minutes)
  • If you have questions, please contact the eRA Commons Help Desk:
    • Toll–free: 1–866–504–9552
    • Phone: 301–402–7469
    • Hours: Mon–Fri, 7a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
  • Don't wait until the last minute to try and submit your application electronically. Registration itself can take between 6–8 weeks, and any application submission error can keep your application from processing. Plan ahead to ensure your application moves forward successfully and reduce last minute submission stress.

Good luck!

Updated Date: 
June 6, 2016