NINDS Small Business Program Funding Plan

  • The NINDS Small Business program utilizes SBIR and STTR funding to support commercial development of technology in support of our mission.
  • SBIR and STTR awards are funded through a Congressionally mandated set-aside of 3.65% of the overall NINDS budget, at a total of over $70M annually.
  • The annual SBIR and STTR set-aside budgets must be spent in full each year.

Budget Considerations

The SBIR and STTR set-aside budget for a given fiscal year comprises three categories:

NINDS SBIR Funding Obligations
  • Obligated funds are reserved to fund previously awarded projects that have multiple years of funding.
  • Uncertain funds are not available to spend at this time but may become available within the fiscal year. This category includes funds that are reserved to support transitions of previously funded milestone-based projects. Should these projects fail to meet their milestones within the fiscal year, funds reserved for these projects become available for new awards. This category also includes anticipated changes in federal funding which may not yet be approved. As the fiscal year progresses, uncertain funding is resolved and converted to either obligated or available funds.
  • Available funds are available to support new SBIR and STTR awards within the fiscal year

Funding Plan Development

The NINDS Small Business program does not utilize paylines. Each council round, a zone of Priority Scores is considered for each program announcement for which applications are further considered for a funding recommendation based on said budgetary considerations. Applications within these Zones of Consideration are further evaluated internally by Program staff and NINDS leadership. A final proposed zone is then presented externally at NINDS Council in accordance with the NINDS Small Business Program Priority Statement and NIH policy on the Second Level of Review. While Priority Score is not the only factor considered in funding plan development, it remains a significant component as identified in the program’s Priority Statement.

Zone of Consideration Method of Determination
For each of the three annual SBIR/STTR funding council rounds, the Zone of Consideration is set at a Priority Score level in which, for all applications at that Priority Score or lower, the total first year funding will meet or exceed the sum of the available and uncertain SBIR/STTR funds allocated to that round. In addition, the Zones of Consideration set for prior rounds within a fiscal year may be considered to provide consistency throughout the fiscal year. The Zone of Consideration is approved by NINDS Leadership following peer review and scoring of all SBIR/STTR applications for that round.

Historical Zone of Consideration Ranges
The Zone of Consideration fluctuates based on the number and scores of applications in a given round, variability in available and uncertain funds, and the overall federal funding levels of a given fiscal year. Historically, the Zone of Consideration has roughly extended down to Priority Scores between the low 20s and the mid-30s. Additional information on historical funding rates is available within the NIH SBIR/STTR Portfolio Overview.

Please note that not all applications scoring within the Zone of Consideration are recommended for funding by NINDS. Applications scoring outside the Zone of Consideration are rarely further considered for funding by NINDS. For additional information on funding consideration factors, please see the NINDS Small Business Program Priority Statement.

Communications During Funding Plan Development
Each council round, investigators of applications falling within the Zone of Consideration are contacted by SBIR Program staff and offered an opportunity to respond to reviewer comments outlined in the Summary Statement. This response will be utilized for internal review in consultation with Subject Matter Experts across NINDS extramural programs. If questions arise from Program staff and NINDS leadership, investigators may be contacted to address raised concerns. Outside of these invited communications, Investigators should not communicate with Program staff about their application. Program staff are not authorized to discuss funding recommendations or likelihood of funding with applicants until after the NINDS Council meeting has been held and the NINDS Director has officially approved NINDS SBIR/STTR funding plans.

Funding Recommendation Outcomes

Recommendation Types
Official NINDS SBIR/STTR funding recommendations are typically released by NINDS within 3 weeks following the NINDS Council meeting. Applications may be recommended by NINDS as “intend to fund”, “deferred”, or “not recommended for funding” as follows:

NIH Funding at a Glance

Intend to Fund
Applications that are indicated under "intend to fund” proceed forward for pre-award due diligence conducted by Program and Grants Management staff.

  • Please note an “intend to fund” recommendation DOES NOT guarantee funding, as this is indicated though the issuance of a Notice of Award. Instead, “intend to fund” indicates that NINDS staff will initiate review to ensure all relevant NIH, NINDS, and SBIR/STTR policies are adhered to. Concerns raised by peer reviewers, NINDS Council, Program staff, Grants Management Staff, and/or NINDS Leadership may need to be resolved before an award can be issued.
  • An NINDS SBIR/STTR application will only be recommended for funding if there are sufficient available funds to make the award.
  • Applicants who receive a funding recommendation should complete “Just-in-Time” document submission. Please contact your Grants Management Specialist for guidance.

Applications that have been indicated as deferred may be moved to “intend to fund” when sufficient funds become available for various reasons including but not limited to discontinuations of existing awards. Deferred applications are eligible for funding any time during the fiscal year. NINDS Leadership must approve moving a deferred application forward for funding.
The following factors are considered in moving a deferred application for funding:
1) budget availability;
2) priority score;
3) program priorities (see the NINDS Small Business Program Priority Statement);
4) resolution of policy, review, program, leadership, and Council concerns;
5) time since application.

Investigators of deferred applications are welcome to resubmit their projects for funding through the normal grant submission process. Please note resubmission does not impact the deferred funding recommendation of the original submission. The original submission does not need to be withdrawn to resubmit the project. Please reach out to your Program Officer to discuss whether resubmission of a deferred application is recommended.

Not recommended for funding
If an application has not been approved by NINDS to move forward for funding, an SBIR Program Officer can be reached to discuss details of the Summary Statement and potential next steps including resubmission of the application.


NINDS Small Business Program Contact Information

Sign up for the Division of Translational Research Listserv to stay up to date with the latest news and funding opportunities!

Emily Caporello, Ph.D. Director
Taryn Aubrecht, Ph.D. Program Director, Clinical and Research Tools
Annette Gilchrist, Ph.D. Program Director, Drug Development
Jessica Forbes, Ph.D. Health Program Specialist
Sara Sameni, Ph.D. Health Program Specialist
Sara Dauber, MBA Strategic Consultant