Who is included in the small business peer-review study sections?

Small business study sections in the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) are specific to SBIR and STTR applications, meaning that SBIR and STTR applications are not reviewed in NIH’s standard academic study sections alongside R01s and R21s. The make-up of the small business study sections includes both academic and industry professionals who have a robust knowledge about the SBIR and STTR programs. CSR aims to have around 25 – 50 percent representation of industry professionals on the review panel. The academic professionals on the panel are also very familiar with the SBIR and STTR programs and frequently collaborate with small businesses on SBIR and STTR awards.

What are the differences between the SBIR and STTR programs?

There are 2 major differences- one relates to the PI and the other relates to a research partner. Under SBIR, the PI must be primarily employed with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the project period, unless a waiver is granted by the NIH. Under the STTR Program, primary employment is not stipulated so the PD/PI may be from the small business or the collaborating non-profit research institution.

With regard to the research partner, SBIR permits, and in fact, encourages, research partnerships. However, STTR requires that the small business concern formally collaborate with a non-profit research institution. Under STTR, the SBC must perform at least 40 percent of the work and the research institution must perform at least 30 percent. The remaining 30 percent may be with the SBC, the single collaborating non-profit research institution, or an additional third party. The basis for determining the percentage of work to be performed by each of the cooperative parties will be the total of direct and F&A/indirect costs attributable to each party, unless otherwise described and justified in “Consortium/Contractual Arrangements” of the PHS398 Research Plan component of the SF424 SBIR/STTR (R&R) Application Forms, located here.

What is a Fast-track award?

Fast-track incorporates a submission and review process in which both Phase I and Phase II grant applications are submitted and reviewed together as one application. Because both phases undergo review at the same time, the NIH Fast-track mechanism can reduce or eliminate the funding gap between phases.

How do I become an NIH SBIR/STTR application reviewer?

The NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) organizes peer review groups that evaluate the majority of NIH’s applications, including SBIR/STTR. CSR welcomes researchers who volunteer to serve on peer review groups. Small business applications are reviewed by special SBIR/STTR panels.

The process for becoming a CSR reviewer is the same for academic grants and SBIR/STTR grants. If you are an established investigator, the best way to become an SBIR/STTR reviewer is to send your CV to a CSR Scientific Review Officer or email sbir@od.nih.gov. A CSR Scientific Review Officer will contact you if there is an opportunity for you.

Please review CSR’s “Become a Reviewer” for more information.