Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Funding Opportunity Title

NINDS Renewal Awards of SBIR Phase II Grants (Phase IIB) for Exploratory Clinical Trials and Clinical Research (R44)

Activity Code

R44 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant - Phase II only

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-12-075

Related Notices
  • June 4, 2014 - Notice NOT-14-074 supersedes instructions in Section III.3 regarding applications that are essentially the same.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-14-208

Companion Funding Opportunity

PAR-14-209 R44 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant - Phase II only

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.853  

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) applications from small business concerns (SBCs) that seek additional funding to support exploratory clinical trials for projects that were previously funded by NIH SBIR and STTR Phase II awards. The projects must focus on products related to the mission and goals of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and may evaluate drugs, biologics, devices, or diagnostics, as well as surgical, behavioral or rehabilitation therapies. Since conducting the clinical trials needed for commercialization may be capital-intensive, the FOA aims to facilitate the transition of SBIR Phase II projects to the commercialization stage by promoting partnerships between NIH’s SBIR/STTR awardees and third-party investors and/or strategic partners. Consistent with the goals of this funding initiative and as required by the SF424 instructions for all SBIR Phase II applications, applicants must submit a Commercialization Plan, which should include details on any independent third-party investor funding that has already been secured or is anticipated during the project period. It is expected that the level of this independent third-party funding will equal or exceed the NINDS funds being requested throughout the SBIR Phase IIB project period.    

Key Dates
Posted Date

May 7, 2014

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

July 5, 2014

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days before application due date  

Application Due Date(s)

Standard dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Standard AIDS dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

Scientific Merit Review
Advisory Council Review
Earliest Start Date
Expiration Date

May 8, 2017

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.


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Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information


Part 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose

NINDS is committed to advancing diagnostics and treatments for people burdened by neurological diseases and the NINDS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs have provided the small business community with critical seed funding to support the development of a wide variety of technologies and therapeutics for the treatment of neurological diseases. The SBIR/STTR Programs are structured in three phases. The main objective in SBIR/STTR Phase I is to establish the technical merit and feasibility of the proposed research and development (R&D) efforts, whereas in SBIR/STTR Phase II it is to continue the R&D efforts to advance the technology toward ultimate commercialization. At the conclusion of an SBIR/STTR Phase II, it is expected that the SBC will fully commercialize their product or technology using non-SBIR/STTR funds in Phase III.

Some projects initiated with SBIR or STTR funding require considerable financing beyond the SBIR/STTR Phase II award to achieve commercialization. The development of medical biotechnology products is often impeded by a significant funding gap, known as the “Valley of Death,” between the end of the SBIR/STTR Phase II award and the commercialization stage. In particular, the development of therapeutics and medical devices often requires several years and substantial capital investments, due in part to the costs associated with conducting clinical trials. Traditionally, large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as venture capital firms, have provided the resources needed to conduct the clinical studies required to fully develop and commercialize biomedical products and technologies initiated with SBIR/STTR funding. More recently, however, many investors in life science technologies have shown a bias toward financing the continued development of relatively mature technologies at established companies, rather than the higher-risk, emerging technologies under development at many small businesses.

This FOA supports SBIR Phase IIB applications from Small Business Concerns (SBCs) for exploratory clinical trials that contribute to the justification for a future trial to establish efficacy (such as a Phase 3 trial or a Pivotal device trial). This includes Phase 1 and 2 studies of drugs and biologics, feasibility studies of devices, as well as preliminary studies of surgical, behavioral or rehabilitation therapies. A wide range of trials at different stages of development are allowed, including first-in-human (as defined by the Food and Drug Administration), Phase 1 and 2 single-site studies, and Phase 2b multicenter studies.  Applications must aim to generate data that inform further clinical development of the proposed intervention or diagnostic. The earliest studies should be designed to provide important initial information regarding the intervention (e.g., safety, tolerability, dosing). Later-stage studies will generally include randomization and blinding and should yield data that allow a clear go/no-go decision regarding whether the intervention should proceed to an efficacy trial. All applications must outline specific plans for future development in the event of promising results.

Since conducting the clinical trials needed for commercialization may be capital-intensive, the FOA aims to facilitate the transition of SBIR Phase II projects to the commercialization stage by encouraging business relationships between NIH’s SBIR/STTR awardees and third-party investors and/or strategic partners. In particular, this FOA will give competitive preference and funding priority to applications deemed likely to result in a commercial product as indicated by an applicant's ability to secure substantial independent third-party funds (i.e. third-party funds that equal or exceed the NINDS funds being requested throughout the Phase IIB project period).

These funds can come from a variety of sources and a number of public and private organizations are taking steps to provide additional resources to advance a greater number of early-stage technologies toward commercialization. Importantly, many of these organizations are not only providing financial support but also establishing programs to provide commercialization guidance. For example, in the area of drug development, a number of major pharmaceutical firms have developed corporate venture funds focused on supporting projects in the pre-clinical stages of development, and some of these firms have established technology incubators to provide regulatory guidance. In addition, a growing number of universities are creating venture funds to support innovative technologies developed by their resident investigators, and numerous state-sponsored technology funds have also been created across the U.S. to support start-up companies. Taken together, these programs can provide additional financing and commercialization support for SBIR awardees that have received initial seed funding and a rigorous technical evaluation through the NIH peer review process. As such, a major goal of this FOA is to provide a platform to incentivize partnerships between NIH-funded SBIR/STTR awardees and a broad range of potential third-party investors.

Definitions

For this funding opportunity announcement Phase I and II clinical studies or trials refer to the common phases of a clinical trial. SBIR Phase I and II refer to the project phases of the SBIR program. SBIR Phase IIB awards must be based on a previously successful SBIR or STTR Phase II award.

Specific Objectives

Independent Third-Party Investor Funds

This FOA is specifically intended to encourage business relationships between applicant SBCs and third-party investors/strategic partners who can provide substantial financing to help accelerate the commercialization of promising new products and technologies initiated with NIH SBIR or STTR funding. In particular, applicants are expected to leverage their previous NIH SBIR or STTR support, as well as the opportunity to compete for additional NINDS funding under this FOA, to negotiate and attract third-party financing needed to advance a product or technology toward commercialization. The applicant’s ability to secure independent third-party investor funds that equal or exceed the total amount of the NINDS funds being requested over the entire Phase IIB project period will provide a measure of the commercial potential that is essential for the SBIR applications submitted in response to this FOA. This potential will be strongly considered in making funding decisions. It is anticipated that many of the partnerships between applicant SBCs and third-party investors will involve a considerable level of project due diligence by the private sector, thereby increasing the likelihood of commercial success for the funded projects. In light of these goals, the NINDS strongly encourages applicants to establish business relationships with investors and/or strategic partners that have appropriate prior experience in the commercialization of emerging biomedical technologies.

Scientific/Technical Scope

The technical and commercial objectives described in the SBIR Phase IIB application must represent an extension of the development efforts that were pursued in a previously funded NIH SBIR or STTR Phase II grant.

Examples of appropriate studies under this FOA include, but are not limited to, those designed to:

  • Evaluate and optimize the dose, formulation, safety, tolerability or pharmacokinetics of an intervention in healthy volunteers or the target population.
  • Evaluate whether an intervention produces sufficient evidence of short-term activity (e.g., target engagement, dose-response trends, pharmacodynamic response) in a human “proof of concept” trial.
  • Select or rank the best of two or more potential interventions or dosing regimens to be evaluated in a subsequent trial, based on tolerability, biological activity, or preliminary clinical efficacy (e.g., futility trials).

NINDS recognizes that devices can differ greatly in terms of basic form and function, physiological bases for therapy, degree of invasiveness, etc. A Pivotal device study, for example, could potentially be used in support of an off-label indication of an existing market approved device, or to provide evidence for a novel device design in support of a Pre-Market Approval (PMA), Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE), 510(k) or 510(k) De Novo submission. Due to the broad scope of possible medical devices and the varied nature of the regulatory path, investigators considering applications to evaluate devices are strongly encouraged to contact Scientific/Research Staff as early as possible to discuss these issues and determine the suitability of their project for this funding mechanism.

Applicants should take note of the following:

(1) Other Relevant Programs:

NINDS has a network called NeuroNEXT specifically designed to implement multi-site exploratory clinical trials (see http://www.neuronext.org/) and when appropriate, it is strongly preferred that such trials be performed within this network. Therefore, before submitting an application to this FOA, applicants should follow the instructions on the above website to obtain feedback on the suitability of their trial for NeuroNEXT. An important advantage of NeuroNEXT is that it can provide clinical, statistical and logistical expertise in developing study protocols as well as a standing national network of experienced clinical sites prepared to enroll study participants.

NINDS has also recently initiated a network to advance stroke research through multi-site clinical trials focused on key interventions in stroke prevention, treatment and recover www.nihstrokenet.org. The NETT (Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials) is available to support large simple trials to reduce the burden of very acute injuries and illnesses affecting the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system (http://www.nett.umich.edu/nett/welcome).

(2) Efficacy: This FOA is not intended to support the conduct of a clinical trial where the primary aim is to establish or confirm definitive efficacy. Applications to implement definitive efficacy trials (e.g., Phase 3 trials of drugs or Pivotal device trials) should be submitted to PAR-13-278, NINDS Investigator-Initiated Phase 3 Clinical Trials.

(3) Effect Size: A trial will not be considered under this FOA when its primary objective is to estimate intervention effect size to be used in power calculations for a future efficacy clinical trial. Effect size estimates based on small or short-term studies are often unreliable. Power for an efficacy trial should be based on the smallest clinically meaningful effect size.

4) Secondary Aims: For drugs and biologics, issues of study feasibility and refinement of study procedures may be addressed as secondary aims in an exploratory clinical trial, but not as the primary aim. Examples of such secondary aims include:

  • Determining the optimal measure (endpoint), its variability, and/or the optimal timing of outcome evaluations in the context of the intervention
  • Collecting information on the utility of questionnaires, rating scales, or biomarkers
  • Developing and refining data collection procedures
  • Optimizing the administration of the study intervention
  • Developing and refining standardized methods of assessing outcome
  • Optimizing methods for identifying, recruiting, and retaining study participants
  • Creating clinical trial infrastructure.

(5) Multiple Trials: There may be multiple questions remaining to be answered before a Phase 3 trial can be designed and conducted. The proposed study is not required to address all potential questions.

(6) Exploratory IND/Early Feasibility studies: Applicants may propose Exploratory IND studies as defined by the FDA (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm078933.pdf) or early feasibility studies of devices as defined by the FDA (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/medicaldevices/deviceregulationandguidance/guidancedocuments/ucm279103.pdf).

(7) Biomarkers:

  • Applicants are encouraged to evaluate preliminary efficacy based on early signals of activity on biomarkers or clinical endpoints, or mechanistically test the activity of an intervention in terms of its presumed target(s). However, in the absence of a suitable biomarker, clinical outcomes may be used.
  • It is not the purpose of this FOA to encourage applications to discover biomarkers.

(8) Adaptive Designs: The use of innovative and efficient study designs is encouraged, such as adaptive dose-finding designs, designs incorporating plans for sample size recalculation, and futility designs. Applications for Phase 1 trials in the patient population are encouraged when appropriate, as are applications that encompass Phase 1 and Phase 2a studies (early proof of mechanism or proof of concept). For a Phase 2 trial of a drug or biologic, specific plans for the next steps of the therapy's development (such as a future efficacy trial) must be succinctly stated. Applications for seamless Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials should be submitted to PAR-13-278, NINDS Investigator-Initiated Phase 3 Clinical Trials. For medical devices, Early Feasibility and Traditional Feasibility study designs may include single-arm case series, on-off interventions (patients as own controls), device-device comparisons, comparisons to historic controls, comparisons to performance controls, or adaptive/Bayesian designs.

(9) Simulations: Computer simulations are sometimes used to investigate the operating characteristics of complex clinical trial designs (such as adaptive designs), to choose between alternative outcome measures, or to determine sample size, by taking into account the impact of noncompliance, missing data, and subject eligibility criteria, etc.

(10) Pharmacometrics: Applications seeking to obtain data needed for pharmacometric modeling are encouraged, with the ultimate aim of enabling the optimal design of a future efficacy trial of an intervention.

(11) Rare Diseases: Trials in rare diseases are encouraged, and it is recognized that available patient pools may not be adequate to meet the sample size requirements typically seen in Phase 3 trials. Innovative trial designs, including crossover designs and adaptive designs, may allow for the most efficient evaluation of the limited subjects available for study. For trials in rare diseases, it is especially important to ensure that the study design will meet the stated objectives, and the approach should carefully be justified. Applicants proposing Phase 3 studies aiming to demonstrate evidence of efficacy to support a licensing application are encouraged to contact the FDA to gain concurrence on the trial design. Applicants are also advised to contact NINDS Scientific/Research staff early in the planning process.

(12) Patient Groups: Applicants are strongly encouraged to establish relationships with patient groups and solicit their input on recruitment, the clinical meaningfulness of the question under study, the relevance of the proposed clinical outcomes, and approaches to minimizing the burden on study subjects.

(13) Regulatory Approvals: As per NINDS policy (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-11-018.html), at the time of grant submission, if the intervention is a drug, biologic, or device, applicants must provide documentation from the FDA providing information on one of the following three scenarios:

(a) The protocol has been submitted under an open IND/IDE and the IND/IDE is not under full or partial hold. Under this scenario, applicants must provide documentation such as a "may proceed" email or letter from the FDA.

(b) The protocol has been submitted under an IND/IDE and is on full or partial hold. Under this scenario applicants must provide full documentation from the FDA on the reasons for hold and the FDA recommendations.

(c) The protocol is exempt from an IND/IDE. Under this scenario applicants must provide a copy of the exemption letter from the FDA. For devices, if the IRB has determined that the device is Non-Significant Risk, documentation from the IRB is acceptable.

Applications that do not include this information will be considered incomplete. Prior to grant award, awardees who do not have an exemption from the FDA must provide any additional FDA correspondence regarding the status of the protocol to the NINDS, especially if the trial has been placed under full or partial hold.

IRB approval is not required at the time of application submission, but is required prior to funding. As such, NINDS encourages investigators to begin these processes as early as possible. NINDS also will require documentation of any other necessary regulatory approvals (e.g., Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee) prior to funding.

(14) NIH Resources: As appropriate, applicants are encouraged to make use of the following resources for clinical research including:

(15) Mobile Technologies: Applicants are encouraged to consider utilizing (at least experimentally) mobile technologies to facilitate data collection and protocol adherence on the part of research participants and study site staff.

(16) Consultation with NINDS: Applicants are encouraged to consult with NINDS Scientific/Research staff as plans for an application are being developed (see Section VII, Agency Contacts). This early contact will provide an opportunity to clarify NINDS policies and guidelines as well as to discuss how to develop an appropriate project timeline and milestone plan, which is subject to peer review. As well, discussions regarding strategies for recruitment and inclusion of women and minorities are available.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed
 

Resubmission (all phases)
Phase IIB Competing Renewal (Phase IIB)
Revision (Phase IIB)

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

According to statutory guidelines, total funding support (direct costs, indirect costs, fee) normally may not exceed $150,000 for Phase I awards and $1,000,000 for Phase II awards. With appropriate justification from the applicant, Congress will allow awards to exceed these amounts by up to 50% ($225,000 for Phase I and $1,500,000 for Phase II). NIH has received a waiver from SBA, as authorized by the statute, to exceed the hard cap for specific topics. The list of approved topics can be found in Appendix A at the end of PHS 2014-2 SBIR/STTR Program Descriptions and Research Topics for NIH, CDC, FDA and ACF. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NIH program officials prior to submitting any application in excess of the guidelines. In all cases, applicants should propose a budget that is reasonable and appropriate for completion of the research project.  

Award Project Period

Durations up to 3 years for Phase II may be requested.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Only United States small business concerns (SBCs) are eligible to submit applications for this opportunity. A small business concern is one that, at the time of award of Phase I and Phase II, meets all of the following criteria:

1. Is organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States, which operates primarily within the United States or which makes a significant contribution to the United States economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor;

2. Is in the legal form of an individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture, association, trust or cooperative, except that where the form is a joint venture, there must be less than 50 percent participation by foreign business entities in the joint venture;

3. (i) SBIR and STTR.  Be a concern which is more than 50% directly owned and controlled by one or more individuals (who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States), other business concerns (each of which is more than 50% directly owned and controlled by individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States), or any combination of these; OR

(ii) SBIR-only.  Be a concern which is more than 50% owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, or any combination of these.  No single venture capital operating company, hedge fund, or private equity firm may own more than 50% of the concern; OR

(iii) SBIR and STTR.  Be a joint venture in which each entity to the joint venture must meet the requirements set forth in paragraph 3 (i) or 3 (ii) of this section. A joint venture that includes one or more concerns that meet the requirements of paragraph (ii) of this section must comply with § 121.705(b) concerning registration and proposal requirements.

4.  Has, including its affiliates, not more than 500 employees.

If the concern is more than 50% owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, or any combination of these falls under 3 (ii) or 3 (iii) above, see Section IV. Application and Submission Information for additional instructions regarding required application certification.

If an Employee Stock Ownership Plan owns all or part of the concern, each stock trustee and plan member is considered an owner.

If a trust owns all or part of the concern, each trustee and trust beneficiary is considered an owner.

Definitions:

  • Hedge fund has the meaning given that term in section 13(h)(2) of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1851(h)(2)). The hedge fund must have a place of business located in the United States and be created or organized in the United States, or under the law of the United States or of any State.
  • Portfolio company means any company that is owned in whole or part by a venture capital operating company, hedge fund, or private equity firm.
  • Private equity firm has the meaning given the term “private equity fund” in section 13(h)(2) of the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1851(h)(2)). The private equity firm must have a place of business located in the United States and be created or organized in the United States, or under the law of the United States or of any State.
  • Venture capital operating company means an entity described in § 121.103(b)(5)(i), (v), or (vi). The venture capital operating company must have a place of business located in the United States and be created or organized in the United States, or under the law of the United States or of any State.

SBCs must also meet the other regulatory requirements found in 13 C.F.R. Part 121. Business concerns, other than investment companies licensed, or state development companies qualifying under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, 15 U.S.C. 661, et seq., are affiliates of one another when either directly or indirectly, (a) one concern controls or has the power to control the other; or (b) a third-party/parties controls or has the power to control both. Business concerns include, but are not limited to, any individual (sole proprietorship) partnership, corporation, joint venture, association, or cooperative. The SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide should be referenced for detailed eligibility information.

Small business concerns that are more than 50% owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, private equity firms, or any combination of these are NOT eligible to apply to the NIH STTR program.

Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate Benchmark

In accordance with guidance from the SBA, the HHS SBIR/STTR Program is implementing the Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate benchmark required by the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011.   This Transition Rate requirement applies to SBIR and STTR Phase I applicants that have received more than 20 Phase I awards over the past 5 fiscal years, excluding the most recently-completed fiscal year.  For these companies, the benchmark establishes a minimum number of Phase II awards the company must have received for a given number of Phase I awards received during the 5-year time period in order to be eligible to receive a new Phase I award.  This requirement does not apply to companies that have received 20 or fewer Phase I awards over the 5 year period. 

Companies that apply for a Phase I award and do not meet or exceed the benchmark rate will not be eligible for a Phase I award for a period of one year from the date of the application submission.  The Transition Rate is calculated as the total number of SBIR and STTR Phase II awards a company received during the past 5 fiscal years divided by the total number of SBIR and STTR Phase I awards it received during the past 5 fiscal years excluding the most recently-completed year.  The benchmark minimum Transition Rate is 0.25.   

SBA calculates individual company Phase I to Phase II Transition Rates daily using SBIR and STTR award information across all federal agencies.  For those companies that have received more than 20 Phase I awards over the past 5 years, SBA posts the company transition rates on the Company Registry at SBIR.gov.   Information on the Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate requirement is available at SBIR.gov. 

Applicants to this FOA that may have received more than 20 Phase I awards across all federal SBIR/STTR agencies over the past five (5) years should, prior to application preparation, verify that their company’s Transition Rate on the Company Registry at SBIR.gov meets or exceeds the minimum benchmark rate of 0.25. 

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, may be allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (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 6 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 both SAM, SBA Company registry, and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • 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.
  • SBA Company RegistryNew requirement.  See Section IV. Application and Submission Information, “SF424(R&R) Other Project Information Component” for instructions on how to register and how to attach proof of registration to your application package.  Applicants must have a DUNS number to complete this registration.  SBA Company registration is NOT required before SAM, Grants.gov or eRA Commons registration.
  • 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 Grants.gov 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.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

Under the SBIR program, for both Phase I and Phase II, the primary employment of the PD/PI must be with the small business concern at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed project. For projects with multiple PDs/PIs, at least one must meet the primary employment requirement. Occasionally, deviations from this requirement may occur.

The SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide should be referenced for specific details on eligibility requirements. For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, see Multiple Principal Investigators section of the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility

Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

NIH will not accept similar grant applications with essentially the same research focus from the same applicant organization. This includes derivative or multiple applications that propose to develop a single product, process, or service that, with non-substantive modifications, can be applied to a variety of purposes. Applicants may not simultaneously submit identical/essentially identical applications under both this funding opportunity and any other HHS funding opportunity, including the SBIR and STTR Parent announcements.

NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed within the past thirty-seven months (as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement), except for submission:

  • To an RFA of an application that was submitted previously as an investigator-initiated application but not paid;
  • Of an investigator-initiated application that was originally submitted to an RFA but not paid; or
  • Of an application with a changed grant activity code.

A Phase I awardee may submit a Phase II application either before or after expiration of the Phase I budget period, unless the awardee elects to submit a Phase I and Phase II application concurrently under the Fast-Track procedure. To maintain eligibility to seek Phase II support, a Phase I awardee should submit a Phase II application within the first six due dates following the expiration of the Phase I budget period.

Contractual/Consortium Arrangements

In Phase II, normally, a minimum of one-half or 50% of the research or analytical effort must be carried out by the small business concern. The total amount of consultant and contractual arrangements to third parties for portions of the scientific and technical effort generally may not exceed 50% of the total Phase II amount requested (direct, F&A/indirect, and fee).

A small business concern may subcontract a portion of its SBIR or STTR award to a Federal laboratory within the limits above.  A Federal laboratory, as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 3703, means any laboratory, any federally funded research and development center, or any center established under 15 U.S.C. §§ 3705 & 3707 that is owned, leased, or otherwise used by a Federal agency and funded by the Federal Government, whether operated by the Government or by a contractor.

The basis for determining the percentage of work to be performed by each of the cooperative parties in Phase I or Phase II will be the total of the requested costs attributable to each party, unless otherwise described and justified in “Consortium/Contractual Arrangements” of the PHS 398 Research Plan component of SF424 (R&R) application forms.

Additional details are contained in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide, except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Stephanie Fertig
6001 Executive Blvd. Room 2142
Bethesda, MD 20892-9527
Telephone: 301-496-1779
Email: fertigs@ninds.nih.gov

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Required and Optional Components

The forms package associated with this FOA includes all applicable components, required and optional. Please note that some components marked optional in the application package are required for submission of applications for this FOA. Follow all instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide to ensure you complete all appropriate “optional” components.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF 424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Other Attachments:

1. SBA Company registry

All applicants to the SBIR and STTR programs are required to register at the SBA Company Registry prior to application submission and attach proof of registration.  Completed registrations will receive a unique SBC Control ID and .pdf file.  If applicants have previously registered, you are still required to attach proof of registration.  The SBA Company Registry recommends verification with SAM, but a SAM account is not required to complete the registration. In order to be verified with SAM, your email address must match one of the contacts in SAM. If you are unsure what is listed in SAM for your company, you may verify the information on the SAM site. Confirmation of your company's DUNS is necessary to verify your email address in SAM. Follow these steps listed below to register and attach proof of registration to your application.

a. Navigate to the SBA Company Registry.

b. If you are a previous SBIR/STTR awardee from any agency, search for your small business by Company Name, EIN/Tax ID, DUNS, or Existing SBIR/STTR Contract/Grant Number in the search fields provided.  Identify your company and click “Proceed to Registration”.

c. If you are a first time applicant, click the "New to the SBIR Program?" link on lower right of registry screen.

d. Fill out the required information on the “Basic Information” and “Eligibility Statement” screens.

e. Press “Complete Registration” on the lower right of the “Eligibility Statement” screen and follow all instructions.

f. Download and save your SBA registry PDF locally.  The name will be in the format of SBC_123456789.pdf, where SBC_123456789 (9 digit number) is your firm’s SBC Control ID.  DO NOT CHANGE OR ALTER THE FILE NAME.  Changing the file name may cause delays in the processing of your application.

g. When you are completing the application package, attach this SBA registry PDF as a separate file by clicking "Add Attachments" located to the right of the Other Attachments field on the “Research and Related Other Project Information” form.

For questions and for technical assistance concerning the SBA Company Registry, please contact the SBA at http://sbir.gov/feedback?type=reg.

2. SBIR Application Certification for small business concerns majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms

Applicant small business concerns that are majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies, hedge funds, or private equity firms (e.g. majority VCOC-owned) are required to submit a Certification at time of their application submission per the SBIR Policy Directive.  Follow the instructions below. 

Applicants small business concerns who are more than 50% directly owned and controlled by one or more individuals (who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States), other business concerns (each of which is more than 50% directly owned and controlled by individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens of the United States), or any combination of these (i.e. NOT majority VCOC-owned) should NOT fill out this certification and should NOT attach it their application package.

a. Download the “SBIR Application VCOC Certification.pdf” at the NIH SBIR Forms webpage. 

b. Answer the 3 questions and check the certification boxes.

c. The authorized business official must sign the certification.

d. Save the certification using the original file name.  The file must be named “SBIR Application VCOC Certification.pdf”.  DO NOT CHANGE OR ALTER THE FILE NAME.  Changing the file name may cause delays in the processing of your application.

e. When you are completing the application package, attach this certification as a separate file by clicking "Add Attachments" located to the right of Other Attachments field on the “Research and Related Other Project Information” form.

3. Supplemental Information: Documents related to third-party-investors and their commitment (to be included in support of the Commercialization Plan)

Include documentation of support from third-party investors, such as term sheets or redacted bank statements or other appropriate documents (other than letters of support). Collate all such documents in one pdf file (with the list of attached documents at the beginning). Use filename "Third-Party Investors". (Note that this filename will become a bookmark in the application.

4. Clinical Trial Information: The following additional documents must be included in the order listed below:

  • Clinical Protocol. The final version of the study protocol must be included as Appendix I. Applications that do not include a full protocol will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
  • Informed consent form(s) (ICFs) and, if applicable, assent form(s). The applicant should consider including language in the ICF to allow broad data and specimen access for subsequent research in order to maximize the value of subject samples and data and accelerate progress beyond the trial itself. (See http://www.ninds.nih.gov/research/clinical_research/application_process/index.htm for suggested ICF language)
  • Listing of clinical sites, pharmacies, and laboratories
  • Copy of the Investigator’s Brochure or equivalent for the study product
  • Documentation of availability of investigational agent(s) as well as plans and support for acquisition and distribution of investigational agent(s)
  • Documentation of availability of eligible subjects at clinic sites, presented in tabular format. As required by the NINDS Guidelines for Enrollment of Subjects into NINDS-Funded Clinical Trials (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-05-010.html), the application must include relevant information that addresses the feasibility of recruiting participants who are eligible for the clinical trial. Specifically, applicants must provide evidence that each recruiting center in the trial has access to a sufficient number of study participants who meet the eligibility criteria as defined in the submitted protocol. For multi-site applications, information must be provided for each site participating in the trial. This information must be included in the Research Strategy section of the application, as well as the appendix.
  • Documentation from the FDA: As per NINDS policy (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-11-018.html), at the time of grant submission, if the intervention is a drug, biologic, or device, applicants must provide documentation from the FDA providing information on one of the following three scenarios:

(a) The protocol has been submitted under an open IND/IDE and the IND/IDE is not under full or partial hold. Under this scenario, applicants must provide documentation such as a "may proceed" email or letter from the FDA.

(b) The protocol has been submitted under an IND/IDE and is on full or partial hold. Under this scenario applicants must provide full documentation from the FDA on the reasons for hold and the FDA recommendations.

(c) The protocol is exempt from an IND/IDE. Under this scenario applicants must provide a copy of the exemption letter from the FDA.

Prior to grant award, awardees who do not have an exemption from the FDA must provide any additional FDA correspondence regarding the status of the protocol to the NINDS, especially if the trial has been placed under full or partial hold.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile Expanded

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed.  

R&R Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Cover Letter

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Specific Aims: The specific aims of the exploratory clinical trial must be clearly and concisely presented. The primary and major secondary hypotheses to be evaluated must be clearly stated.

Research Strategy:

Significance and Biological Relevance:

The significance and, when applicable, the biological relevance of the proposed clinical trial must be clearly stated. It is particularly important that there be discussion of how the trial will test the primary hypothesis and how the results of the trial (positive or negative) will advance the field. The application should explain why the proposed trial is necessary to plan for subsequent studies.

Prior Studies and Rationale for Development:

Pilot studies that show the need for and the feasibility of the trial should be discussed. The rationale for an exploratory trial must be based on (1) an unmet medical need; (2) a plausible biological mechanism; (3) non-clinical (in vivo and/or in vitro data); and (4) preliminary clinical data. Although all of these criteria may not be met, the applicant should demonstrate that there is an adequate scientific foundation to justify the proposed trial. Applicants citing preclinical research should ensure it meets the high scientific rigor guidelines published by NINDS (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-11-023.html). If research does not meet the criteria outlined to an acceptable degree, applicants should consider not including it as evidence in support of the trial rationale. If the data are included, then the applicants should discuss the limitations. Likewise, any prior clinical research cited should be scientifically rigorous.

Applications should address the reasons for consideration of the intervention. This may include preclinical in-vitro and in-vivo data. Animal efficacy data should be included in the rationale only when the model and read-out are considered sufficiently associated with the human condition, and only if the experiments sufficiently meet criteria outlined in the aforementioned NINDS guidelines. Other considerations are toxicology data (e.g., whether the FDA has found the toxicology data to be acceptable to proceed with the proposed trial); medicinal chemistry/pharmacology data (e.g., whether the formulation is feasible and the pharmacokinetics acceptable for use as intended in the trial); regulatory considerations (e.g., details on FDA, European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other agencies’ evaluations; discussion of the likelihood of regulatory approval based on acceptability of endpoints, orphan drug status, etc.); public health impact if subsequent efficacy trials are conducted and positive; ethical dimensions; and patient perspectives on acceptability of the proposed intervention. Characteristics of any preliminary research results provided in support of the proposed project, whether conducted by the applicant or others, should be described in the application so that peer review may evaluate the strength of the supporting evidence (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-11-023.html and http://www.ninds.nih.gov/funding/transparency_in_reporting_guidance.pdf). If preclinical data (e.g., animal studies) do not meet the rigor guidelines, the applicant should discuss the limitations of those data.

Study Design:

Study conceptualization and planning must be at a stage sufficient to allow for an assessment of the likelihood of trial success.

A summary of the trial protocol should be presented in the Research strategy and must include the items listed below.

  • A description of the study design (e.g., dose-escalation, crossover, futility) and the rationale for this choice.
  • A description of the target population, and why it is an appropriate group to address the hypotheses.
  • A list of participant eligibility criteria or group eligibility criteria for group-randomized trials.
  • Participant recruitment and retention plans, including a discussion of the availability of participants for the proposed study and the ability of enrollment sites to recruit and retain the proposed number of participants, including women and minority participants. Data supporting recruitment and retention estimates must be provided. Evidence should be provided that relevant stakeholders (e.g., potential participants, referring and treating physicians, patient groups) have sufficient equipoise, consider the question to be important and the study acceptable.
  • A description of the intervention to be tested and how it will be administered.
  • A description of all assessments including clinical, laboratory, physiological, behavioral, patient-centered, or other outcomes addressing the primary and secondary research questions. Use of patient reported outcomes, including those available through PROMIS and NeuroQoL as well as non-traditional data collection approaches (e.g., telephone, mobile devices, or web-based systems) should be considered.
  • Discussion of the potential biases in the study and how they will be addressed.
  • Statistical Methods: Discussion of sample size and power calculations; study outcome measures; plans for interim and final analyses; methods of bias control; and methods for handling missing data.
  • Data Management and Quality Control: Details of efficient data management and methods for monitoring quality; methods for monitoring the quality and consistency of intervention administration; and methods for ensuring participant confidentiality. Applicants are expected to incorporate data elements from the NINDS Common Data Elements (CDE) Project in their data collection forms (see http://www.nindscommondataelements.org/).
  • Discussion of the challenges expected in implementing the trial and how these might be overcome.

As part of the Research Strategy, the application should include:

  • A summary of the Program Director’s/Principal Investigator’s experience in leading clinical trials and expertise in the content area of the trial. Most clinical trials will require a multidisciplinary team (clinician, statistician, data manager, study coordinator, etc.) and the application should reflect their hands-on involvement in the design and implementation of the study protocol.
  • Descriptions of the organization of the study and how the trial will be managed; the role of any internal and external committees (e.g., executive committee, endpoint adjudication committee), and the responsibilities and oversight of any central laboratories/reading centers or resource centers (e.g., drug distribution center).
  • A timeline and milestones for completion of key stages of the trial, especially participant accrual.
  • For a Phase 2 trial, specific plans for the next steps of the therapy's development (such as a future efficacy trial) must be succinctly stated.

Protection of Human Subjects:

NIH’s policy requiring education on the protection of human research participants must be followed for all key personnel (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-039.html).

Applicants should refer to Part II of the SF424 Application Guide, “Supplemental Instructions for Preparing the Human Subjects Section of the Research Plan” (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/SF424_RR_Guide_General_Adobe_VerB.pdf).

Data and Safety Monitoring Plan:

Applicants must include a Data and Safety Monitoring (DSM) Plan that is commensurate with the risk level of the proposed clinical trial (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-084.html). For exploratory clinical trials it generally will be acceptable for the data and safety monitoring to be conducted by an investigator-appointed Study Monitoring Committee (SMC), an Independent Medical Monitor (IMM), or, for single-site trials involving low risk, the Program Director/Principal Investigator and his/her IRB. However, NINDS may decide to establish an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) depending on the score and risk of the trial. Applicants should refer to NIH’s policy on data and safety monitoring (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-038.html) as well as the NINDS Guidelines for Data and Safety Monitoring (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/research/clinical_research/policies/data_safety_monitoring.htm).

Inclusion of Minorities and Women in Clinical Trials:

NIH policy requires that women and minorities be included in clinical trials, unless it is not scientifically justifiable. Applicants must include a plan to enroll women and minorities. Considerations that may contribute to successful inclusion are: appropriate site-selection, patient or community-engagement for the major elements of the project, use of focus groups to address barriers to inclusion, etc. As well, applicants should include a discussion of how the gender and minority findings will be reported to the NINDS.

Letters of Support:  

Applicants are encouraged to include letters from patient organizations or other supporting documentation to show that patients were included as partners in the concept development and design of the trial.

Applicants are also encouraged to include documentation of the commitment of any subcontractors and consultants as well as service agreements for personnel or facilities. Letters of commitment must be co-signed by the business official of the collaborating center.

In addition to standard letters of support documenting collaborations and access to expertise or unique research resources, include letters of support documenting commitments from third-party investors.  Letters of support from these institutional partners should indicate any actual or planned/conditional financial commitment as a specific dollar figure or range, consistent with the instructions provided under Section IV.2, Other Attachments, “Fundraising Plan”. Appropriate documentation of third-party investor commitment(s) may include a conditional letter of support stating that the third-party funding is contingent upon NIH selecting the application for an award.

SBIR-eligible public companies may include as part of their fundraising plan the issuance of stock. In such a case, the preferred documentation is a letter of support, signed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, which stipulates the following: (1) the amount of capital raised from the issuance of stock; (2) the amount of capital that will be dedicated to the proposed project under this FOA; (3) sufficient information regarding the use of the dedicated capital to demonstrate a substantial, value-added contribution toward the development and commercialization of the product or service to be developed under this FOA.

All letters should be combined into a single PDF and uploaded as the Letters of Support attachment.

Resource Sharing Plans

Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans (Data Sharing Plan, Sharing Model Organisms, and Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)) as provided in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide, with the following modifications:

All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a Data Sharing Plan. Investigators are expected to include a brief one-paragraph description of how final research data will be shared, or explain why data-sharing is not possible. Applicants are encouraged to discuss data-sharing plans with their NIH program contact (see the NIH Data Sharing Policy, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/).

To increase the value of its funded research, NINDS will serve as a repository for de-identified datasets. For Phase 2 trials, the expectation is that a complete de-identified dataset containing all variables collected in the trial and a data dictionary will be submitted to NINDS for data sharing within an agreed upon timeframe, ideally within one year of publication of the primary outcome paper. Please refer to the NINDS website for details, http://www.ninds.nih.gov/research/clinical_research/toolkit/data_sharing.htm. Applicants are encouraged to describe the process in their data sharing plan (or explain why this is not possible) and to budget for the preparation and submission of the dataset as described.

Appendix

Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. The instructions for the Appendix of the Research Plan are described in the SF424 (R&R) with the following additional instructions:

If computer simulations were performed to aid in the design of the trial, sufficient details about the simulations should be provided as a separate appendix for peer review. It is particularly important to discuss the range of conditions that were considered in the simulation and why this range was considered appropriate, how robust the findings were across the range of conditions considered, and how the study will adjust for any design deficiencies (e.g., bias, loss of power) the simulations revealed.

SBIR/STTR Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions: 

Commercialization Plan: All applicants are expected to describe a realistic plan (extending beyond SBIR Phase IIB), which outlines how and when full commercialization can be accomplished. The full commercialization of the product/technology should be carried out with non-SBIR funds.

The following subsections with the headings should be included within the Commercialization Plan, in addition to the requirements listed in the SF424 Application Guide:

1) Statement of Need

Applicants must provide a concise “Statement of Need”. This statement is expected to provide answers to the questions listed below:

  • What is the perceived “Valley of Death” for the product/technology under development?
  • Why is additional government funding critically needed to accelerate the development of the product or technology toward commercialization? Specifically, what activities are being proposed under this FOA that would not otherwise be possible through independent third-party investments OR would be significantly delayed without additional NIH support?
  • To what extent would a possible award under this FOA advance the product or technology far enough to attract sufficient, independent third-party financing and/or strategic partnerships to carry out full commercialization?

2) SBIR/STTR Commercialization History

Applicants should provide an SBIR/STTR Commercialization History that addresses the questions listed below. The following questions should be addressed for all SBIR/STTR awards received from ANY Federal agency:

  • Has the company gone through any name changes within the past five years? If so, then all previous company names should be listed in the application.
  • Is the company a subsidiary or a spin-off? If so, then the name of the parent company should be provided.
  • What percentage of the company’s revenue was derived from SBIR/STTR funding during each of the past 5 years, including both Phase I and Phase II awards? Applicants should report a percentage value for each year individually.
  • What is the total number of SBIR/STTR Phase II awards that the company has received from the Federal government? For each award, companies should provide the award number, the award amount, project duration, and the name of the awarding agency.
  • What are the total revenues that have been generated to date as a result of the commercialization of the SBIR/STTR projects funded within the past 5 years?

3) Fundraising Plan

Applicants are expected to provide a Fundraising Plan. This plan is expected to include the following information:

  • A detailed and specific plan for securing substantial, independent third-party investor funds. Any third-party investment support received up to one year prior to the application due date may be counted toward the total.
  • The type(s) of independent third-party investor funds (i.e., cash, convertible debt, etc.) that will be secured during the project period.
  • The source(s) of independent third-party investor funds (e.g., venture capital, state funds) that will be secured during the project period.
  • The total amount of independent third-party investor funds that will be secured during the project period.
  • The anticipated schedule for receiving independent third-party investor funds, including any relevant terms and conditions if available.

The NINDS considers the raising of independent third-party investor funds to be an important means to facilitate and accelerate the capital-intensive steps that are required to commercialize new products/technologies emerging from NIH-funded SBIR/STTR Phase II projects. As such, the NINDS expects that applicants for the SBIR Phase IIB will secure substantial independent third-party investor funds, generally at least $750,000 in total third-party investor funds over the entire project period. If the project period spans multiple years, the NINDS expects that the third-party portion of the total investment received in any given year will represent a substantial portion of the total investment, generally at least $250,000 in any given year. In all cases, it is expected that the level of this independent third-party funding will equal or exceed the NINDS funds being requested throughout the project period.

Examples of third-party investors include, but are not necessarily limited to, another company, a venture capital firm, an individual “angel” investor, a foundation, a university, a research institution, a State or local government, or any combination of the above. Third-party investors generally should not include owners of the applicant SBC, their family members, and/or “affiliates” of the applicant SBC. Preferred independent third-party investor funds under this FOA include cash, liquid assets, and/or convertible debt. Independent third-party investor funds generally should not include in-kind support, intangible assets, self-funding, and/or other debt. Applicants should clearly indicate within their third-party fundraising plan the total amount of funding that will be secured from the preferred sources listed above.

SBIR-eligible public companies may include as part of their fundraising plan the issuance of stock. In such a case, the preferred documentation is a letter of commitment, signed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, which stipulates the following: (1) the amount of capital raised from the issuance of stock; (2) the amount of capital that will be dedicated to the proposed project under this FOA; (3) sufficient information regarding the use of the dedicated capital to demonstrate a substantial, value-added contribution toward the development and commercialization of the product/technology to be developed under this FOA (see instructions below under, “Use of Third-Party Investment Funds”).

Applicants are expected to document their matching funds (or plans for raising them) as concretely as possible. For example, plans to raise additional funds from venture capital companies and/or other pharmaceutical companies should name specific partners and investors. Documentation should be included in the Appendix materials.

It is likely that several months will have elapsed between the time an application is submitted and the time it is peer reviewed and subsequently considered for possible funding. Accordingly, applicants should present a detailed summary of all past and/or planned (i.e., future/expected) third-party investor funds which clearly shows, relative to the estimated award date, when these funds have been and/or will be secured. For example, if the fundraising efforts of the SBC are in progress, and/or if the third-party investment is contingent upon NIH selecting the application for funding, then such plans should be clearly described in the Fundraising Plan.

Applicants seeking further information regarding preferred sources and/or types of support that would demonstrate a third-party investor commitment are strongly encouraged to communicate with the Scientific/Research Contact(s) listed under Section VII.

4) Use of Third-Party Investment Funds

The Federal funds provided by a SBIR Phase IIB award can only be used for advancing the research-related elements of the project. The use of any third-party investor funds will be at the discretion of the SBC. Applicants should provide sufficient information regarding the use of any third-party support to demonstrate a substantial, value-added contribution toward the development and commercialization of the product/technology. In particular, applicants are expected to address the following questions regarding the use of third-party funds.

  • What are the specific activities that the third-party investor funds will support?
  • Have the investors attached any restrictions/triggers/milestones to future payments (i.e., tranches)? If so, what are they?
3. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Instructions. Paper applications will not be accepted. 

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management (SAM). Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.   

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?  If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved?  How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field? Does the proposed project have commercial potential to lead to a marketable product, process or service? (In the case of Phase II, Fast-Track, and Phase II Competing Renewals, does the Commercialization Plan demonstrate a high probability of commercialization?)

FOA Specific Criteria: Is there a sufficient body of preclinical or clinical research of high scientific rigor to support the study rationale? Is there compelling justification for the development of the proposed intervention in terms of potential advances in clinical practice, public health, and/or patient quality of life? Is there convincing evidence that there is equipoise in the medical and patient communities and the intervention is ready for clinical development? Is it clear why the proposed exploratory trial is essential to inform the design and implementation of subsequent steps in the evaluation of the intervention?

Is the proposed project likely to yield clear answers needed to proceed to the next step of the therapeutic development of the intervention as proposed in this application?   

Investigator(s)

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?  

FOA Specific Criteria: To what extent do the prior experience and qualifications of the project team members lend confidence that the team will be successful in commercializing the proposed product/technology? For example, how successful have the PD(s)/PI(s) been in commercializing other SBIR/STTR supported technologies and discoveries in the past?  

Innovation

Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?   

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? 

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

FOA Specific Criteria: Are the outcome measures, dose/duration of study, appropriateness of inclusion/exclusion criteria, sample size, power calculations, clearly justified and explained in the application? Are there adequate plans for management and quality control of data collected at clinical sites or measured at central laboratories and reading centers? Does the data collection process utilize the NINDS Common Data Elements (CDE) to the extent possible, or are the data elements compatible with the NINDS CDE? Is the proposed design feasible and adequate to provide interpretable results?

Is there adequate consultation with patients and other stakeholders in study design (e.g., inclusion of a patient representative on the Steering Committee)? 

Are the plans for 1) protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion of minorities and members of both sexes/genders, as well as the inclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

How promising are the outcomes of the previously-funded NIH SBIR or STTR Phase II project upon which the proposed SBIR Phase IIB is predicated? To what extent does the progress justify the continuation of the development efforts?

How appropriate are the proposed milestones for the SBIR Phase IIB in determining whether the awardee has successfully reached the specified goals (e.g., IND filing)? If the proposed project involves advancing the product/technology through the Federal regulatory approval process, how sound is the proposed plan to meet these requirements?

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangement?   

FOA Specific Criteria: Does the information provided in the application give reasonable assurance that the target sample size can be enrolled in the timeframe proposed? Have necessary agreements with participating industry partners, if necessary for the clinical trial, been established? Is there documentation of the commitment of any subcontractors and consultants as well as service agreements for personnel and facilities?

To what extent does the applicant SBC have the ability to address regulatory issues, either through their own staff members or through appropriate arrangements with external regulatory consultants? If the SBC has received previous SBIR/STTR funding from ANY Federal agency, then how successful is the company’s track record in commercializing prior SBIR/STTR projects?

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Additional Clinical Trial Specific Criteria

Is there evidence that all necessary regulatory approvals have been obtained or are being sought? Are the proposed project milestones (particularly regarding participant accrual goals) and timeline feasible and appropriate for the timely completion of the trial?

Clinical Trial Documentation

Are the materials complete, appropriate, and adequate for the study proposed? Are all the clinical trial documents compliant with Good Clinical Practice (GCP)?

Plans for Patient Recruitment/Retention

Does the application document the following?

  • Availability of the requisite eligible subject pool in proposed clinical center(s);
  • The status of evidence showing whether or not clinically important sex/gender and race/ethnicity differences in the intervention effect are to be expected (see Inclusion of Women and Minorities in Clinical Research below);
  • Are the sites and are the plans presented appropriate for the inclusion of minorities and women?
  • Plans for recruitment outreach and, as appropriate, follow-up procedures to ensure collection of data at stated intervals; and
  • Retention plans and practices?

Market, Customer, and Competition

How compelling is the value proposition, and to what extent does the application demonstrate a substantial market-pull for the technology under development? How well has the applicant described the market niche(s) for the product/ technology, and how urgent is the unmet need(s) being addressed? To what extent has the applicant identified realistic, market-based milestones that can be achieved over the next five years?

How well has the applicant demonstrated an understanding of the competitive environment in which they plan to sell their product? To what extent has the applicant identified their customers and demonstrated a clear understanding of their needs? How well has the company addressed potential hurdles that may delay or prevent acceptance of their product? How reasonable are the applicant's plans for generating a revenue stream, and how realistic are the revenue projections?

Company

How well can the applicant SBC sustain itself and grow as a business? To what extent will the applicant's business alliances and/or corporate partnerships help in facilitating commercialization? For example, will third-party investors play an active role in facilitating the commercialization of the product/technology, and if so to what extent?

Intellectual Property (IP)

How strong is the applicant's intellectual property (IP) portfolio/position (pertinent to the proposed project), and to what extent does the company have a reasonable strategy to protect its IP going forward?

Fundraising Plan

How well does the application support the ability of the SBC to secure substantial independent third-party investor funds (i.e., third-party funds that equal or exceed the requested NINDS funds), including the preferred types of liquid, third-party investor funds (i.e., cash, liquid assets, and/or convertible debt), as expected under this FOA?

How detailed is the documentation (e.g., term sheet) that has been provided by the applicant to corroborate the Fundraising Plan? To what extent has the applicant demonstrated that the third-party investor support will provide a substantial, value-added contribution toward the development and commercialization of the product/technology? For example, has the applicant described the specific activities that the third-party investor funds will support?

If the third-party investors have attached restrictions and/or triggers and/or milestones to future payments, then to what extent have these restrictions been clearly stipulated in the application? In general, have the terms of the future investment rounds been sufficiently described, thus demonstrating a high level of confidence in the SBC’s ability to execute the overall fundraising plan? 

Phase II Applications

For Phase II Applications, how well did the applicant demonstrate progress toward meeting the Phase I objectives, demonstrating feasibility, and providing a solid foundation for the proposed Phase II activity?

Phase I/Phase II Fast-Track Applications

For Phase I/Phase II Fast-Track Applications, reviewers will consider the following:

1. Does the Phase I application specify clear, appropriate, measurable goals (milestones) that should be achieved prior to initiating Phase II?

2. To what extent was the applicant able to obtain letters of interest, additional funding commitments, and/or resources from the private sector or non-SBIR/STTR funding sources that would enhance the likelihood for commercialization?

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.

Phase IIB Competing Renewals

For Phase IIB Applications, the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period.

Revisions

For Revisions, the committee will consider the appropriateness of the proposed expansion of the scope of the project. If the Revision application relates to a specific line of investigation presented in the original application that was not recommended for approval by the committee, then the committee will consider whether the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group are adequate and whether substantial changes are clearly evident.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS).

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the CSR, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a committee process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, SAM Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.

Report fraud, waste and abuse

The Office of Inspector General Hotline accepts tips from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement in Department of Health & Human Services programs.  The reporting individual should indicate that the fraud, waste and/or abuse concerns an SBIR/STTR grant or contract, if relevant. Report Fraud.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

NIH requires that SBIR/STTR grantees submit the following reports within 90 days of the end of the grant budget period unless the grantee is under an extension.

Failure to submit timely final reports may affect future funding to the organization or awards with the same PD/PI.

For details about each specific required report, see the section on “Award Guidelines, Reporting Requirements, and Other Considerations,” in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement. 

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone: 301-435-0714
TTY: 301-451-5936
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

eRA Commons Help Desk (Questions regarding eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application , documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/index.html
TTY: 301-451-5939
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

SBA Company Registry (Questions regarding required registration at the SBA Company Registry and for technical questions or issues)

Website to Email: http://sbir.gov/feedback?type=reg.

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Stephanie Fertig, MBA
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-1779
Email: fertigs@ninds.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Joseph G Rudolph, Ph.D.
Center for Scientific Review
Telephone: 301-408-9098
Email: josephru@mail.nih.gov.

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tijuanna E. DeCoster, MPA
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-9231
Email: decostert@mail.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.

The SBIR Program is mandated by the Small Business Innovation Development Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-219), reauthorizing legislation (P.L. 99-443) P.L. 102-564, and P.L. 112-81 (SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011). The basic design of the NIH SBIR Program is in accordance with the Small Business Administration (SBA) SBIR Policy Directive.

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