How one NIH SBIR grant project lasted 10 years

by Tom Hollon

The power of post-Phase II SBIR grants

There’s a special place in NIH’s heart for SBIR research to develop drugs, medical devices and other products that require FDA approval. For these capital intensive products where time horizons for market entry are long, many NIH institutes offer extra millions and extra years of SBIR grant support after Phase II ends.

For most institutes, SBIR Phase IIB Competing Renewal grants are the vehicle for giving extra money. At NCI and NHLBI, Bridge grants do the same thing.

Typically a Phase IIB Competing Renewal grant can pay $1 million per year for three years. Depending on the institute, the yearly amount may be more or the grant’s duration less. If you are completing Phase II research on a project, investigate a Phase IIB grant as a way to keep your project alive.

As an example of what post-Phase II grants make possible, the table shows long-term SBIR grant support for a malaria vaccine project at Sanaria.  Funding began in mid-2003 and is budgeted to continue at least until mid-2013. By 2011, NIH had spent more than $7 million. By mid-2013, it may be close to $10 million.

From 2003 to 2013 is 10 years of SBIR grants for one project! Bravo, Sanaria, for an outstanding example of using post-Phase II grants to keep a research project from dying for lack of cash.

Funding for Sanaria’s attenuated malaria vaccine project began with a Phase I grant in mid-2003 and is currently scheduled to continue through Phase II funding until mid-2013 — 10 years! Bravo, Sanaria!

Table notes

  • The data comes from NIH’s public grants database, the NIH Reporter. Sanaria’s project, “Attenuated Malarial Sporozoite Vaccine,” began in June, 2003. The common serial number, 55229, shows that all grants here are for the same SBIR project. All grants were from NIAID.
  • The project started in 2003 as a new Phase I grant. In 2004 the grant was renewed for a second year of Phase I (probably based on a good progress report) without having to compete against other SBIR applications for money. (In NIH jargon, this is called a non-competing renewal.)
  • In 2005, to get a third year of support Sanaria competed for Phase II and won. Phase II was then renewed without competition in years four and five.
  • The table shows no funding for 2008. My guess is that the money gap occurred while Sanaria was gathering data needed to compete for post-Phase II renewal.
  • In 2009 Sanaria’s post-Phase II competing renewal application succeeded and the project entered its sixth year of SBIR support.
  • In year six Sanaria also received an extra $993,000, probably as a supplemental award. Not being privy to details about this award, I will guess that it was made to allow Sanaria to pursue a new opportunity that arose in the course of the project.
  • Following the seventh year (another noncompeting renewal), in 2011 Sanaria won a Phase II competing renewal for the second time.
  • The table shows two years of Phase I funding and six years of Phase II. Total funding over these years, including the supplement in the sixth year, is $7,507,249.
  • And there’s more: NIH’s database shows funding on the 2011 Phase II renewal is scheduled to last through mid-2013. That’s 10 years of support for one SBIR research project, from 2003 to 2013.

Is there a SBIR Phase IIB Competing Renewal grant in your future?

If you’re thinking about these grants and where your research could go with their help, here are two things to know:

  • Not every institute makes Phase IIB awards after Phase II ends. Among those that do are: NIA, NIAAA, NIAID, NCI, NICHD, NIDA, NIDCD, NICCK, NEI, NIGMS, NHLBI, NIMH, and NINDS. NCI and NHLBI call their post-Phase II grants Bridge awards.
  • Eligibility rules, program details, project durations and amounts differ by institute. Contact your friendly SBIR program officer at your institute for details.


Previous post:

Next post: