NIH Applicant Assistance Program


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Applicant Assistance Program (AAP) is designed to assist small businesses with an interest in preparing and submitting a Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) application to any of the following Institutes:

  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI SBIR)
  • The National Institute on Aging (NIA SBIR)
  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI SBIR)
  • The National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS SBIR)

The AAP is currently accepting applications for the April 6, 2020 submission cycle (see below for more details). The application period closed on December 12, 2019 at 5PM EST.

Please note that this service is NOT available to companies who have a current SBIR/STTR application under review (for the January 6, 2020 due date) with the same scope of work or to support preparation of a Fast Track or Phase II application.

The goal of this program is to increase the number of applications submitted by underrepresented small businesses and to increase the number of these applications that are free of errors or omissions and are deemed complete, compliant and responsive to the review criteria.


AAP services are FREE to the small businesses who are accepted into the program. Each AAP participant will be assigned to a coach from Eva Garland Consulting who has expertise in preparing NIH SBIR/STTR applications. Over a 10-week period, the coach will provide customized assistance to the AAP participant, using the book Winning SBIR/STTR Grants: A Ten Week Plan for Preparing Your NIH Phase I Application 2nd Edition as a guide. A free copy of the book will be provided to all participants.

The following topics will be covered each week:


  • Develop a project scope and Specific Aims that are appropriate for a NIH Phase I SBIR/STTR application.
  • Download the Application Guide.
  • Initiate all registrations.


  • Prepare an initial outline of your budget, and identify all work that will be done at outside institutions.
  • Finalize your team of researchers and consultants, and begin preparing Biographical Sketches.
  • Request letters of support from consultants, key opinion leaders and/or potential customers.
  • For STTR proposals, arrange for a letter from the partnering research institution.


  • Identify the most appropriate Scientific Review Group (SRG) for your proposal.
  • Familiarize yourself with ASSIST.
  • Begin filling out the administrative sections of the application.
  • Finalize your Specific Aims.


  • Identify references to include in your Significance and Innovation sections.
  • Identify references to include in your Approach section.
  • Contact your Program Officer (PO) to discuss your Specific Aims.


  • Prepare to write your Research Plan.
  • Write the Significance section of your Research Strategy.
  • Write the Innovation section of your Research Strategy.
  • Follow up on quotations, Biographical Sketches and letters of support.


  • Write the Approach section of your Research Strategy.
  • Complete the Specific Aims page of your Research Plan.


  • Have your proposal reviewed.
  • Confirm that you received all materials requested from external sources.
  • Write your Facilities and Equipment sections.
  • Prepare your Budget.
  • Complete your Vertebrate Animals, Human Subjects, Authentication of Key Resources and/or Select Agents sections.


  • Make final corrections to your Research Plan.
  • Write your Project Summary.
  • Write your Project Narrative.
  • Fill out the PHS Assignment Request form.
  • Compose your Title.


  • Collect and complete any outstanding items from previous weeks.
  • Assemble and systematically review your final application.


  • Submit your proposal.
  • Review your submitted application in the eRA Commons.


You must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The company has not received an NIH SBIR/STTR award.*
  • The company does not have a current NIH SBIR/STTR application under review (from the January 6, 2020 submission) with the same scope of work.
  • The company intends to submit a Phase I NIH SBIR/STTR application for April 6, 2020.
  • The research area of interest aligns with the mission of the participating Institutes (see list above).
  • The company is seeking support for the preparation of a Phase I SBIR or STTR application only. Fast Track and Direct-to-Phase II applicants are not eligible.
  • Each company may submit only one application to the AAP.

* Companies who received their most recent SBIR/STTR award prior to 2010 may be considered for the AAP.


Submission Portal Opens: November 13, 2019

Applications Due: December 12, 2019 (5PM EST)

Successful Applicants Notified: January 6-17, 2020

Applicant Assistance Program: January 21, 2020 – March 30, 2020

SBIR/STTR Submission Deadline: April 6, 2020

The current application period is closed.

If you have any questions or would like to receive information about the program, please email us at