External link, please review our disclaimer.

Tips to Improve an SBIR/STTR Application

Read and Follow the Instructions in the SBIR/STTR Solicitations

  • Important information on the first page of the Solicitation: Clarifications and Changes
  • Bold-Face Type Instructions
  • "Type Size" Specifications
  • Page Limitations
  • Budget Section: Justification
  • Human Subjects/Vertebrate Animals: Definitions, Assurances, Exemptions
  • Other Grant and Contract Support
  • Revisions and Resubmission of Grant Applications
  • Receipt Deadlines: SBIR-Apr. 5, Aug. 5, Dec. 5; STTR-Apr. 5, Aug. 5, Dec. 5

Use the Fewest Words to Communicate a Well-Designed Research Procedure

  • Write clearly
  • Organize your ideas and experiments
  • Never assume reviewers will "Know what you mean!"
  • Support your ideas using references to literature or similar work done by the P.I. or others

Have Someone Read the Abstract Aloud So You Can Evaluate Its Content

  • State the problem or hypothesis
  • Describe its solution

Focus on Achievable Goals

  • Do not become overambitious
  • State specific aims explicitly
  • Present specific aims in a logical order and discuss why each aim is important

Include Well-Designed, Readable Tables and Figures

  • Check to be sure all figures photocopy well

Select Collaborators Who Are Leaders in the Field of Your Research

Focus on the Product

  • Cost benefits, Commercialization plan: Provide a framework for bringing products to the market in a certain time-frame
  • Be a Salesman: Provide convincing arguments that your innovative idea is worth funding

Ask a Colleague to Read/Edit the Final Draft

  • Typographical Errors?
  • Missing figures?
  • Missing biographical sketches, letters from consultants and budget justification?

Write a Definitive Phase I Progress Report for Phase II Applications

  • Demonstrate to the reviewers that the Phase I goals were complete

Contact Program Staff for Pre-Application Guidance

  • (Optional, but feel free to call for clarification of any issues).

Specifically Identify in the Abstract or in a Cover Note the Institute You Would Like Your Application Assigned to

  • e.g., NIDA

Material adapted from materials created by the National Cancer Institute

10 Steps To Improve Your Funding Potential

  1. Develop an innovative idea and document how it differs from other products.
  2. Select experienced investigators in the cited field of endeavor.
  3. Document secured technical support.
  4. Base the significance of your proposal on a complementary literature review and market evaluation and indicate how it meets a NIDA research need.
  5. Establish a subject-matter review board with appropriate credentials.
  6. Outline a detailed, well-designed procedure for research.
  7. Conduct focus group testing that addresses ethnic and socioeconomic diversity issues.
  8. Outline a detailed evaluation plan.
  9. Use statistically valid measures to evaluate effectiveness.
  10. Compare cost benefits of your product with existing products (include a commercialization plan and secure a letter(s)) of collaborative interest).


Most Common Reasons For Not Recommending Further Consideration

  • Lack of Innovative Ideas
  • Lack of Sufficient Experimental Data
  • Lack of Knowledge of Published Relevant Work
  • Lack of Experience in Essential Methodology
  • Uncertainty Concerning Future Directions
  • Questionable Reasoning in Experimental Approach
  • Unfocused, Diffuse or Superficial Research Plan
  • Absence of Acceptable Scientific Rationale
  • Overambitious

Search for Funding

Featured Publication

Mentoring, A Guide for Drug Abuse Researchers publication cover

Mentoring: A Guide for Drug Abuse Researchers

Discusses the importance of quality mentorship in drug abuse research and offers suggestions for creating a successful mentor and mentee relationship.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health

National Institute on Drug Abuse   |   6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 5213   |   Bethesda, MD 20892-9561

Questions for our staff? E-mail information@nida.nih.gov or call 301-443-1124 (240-221-4007 en español).

Mobile Site