September 17, 2020
Sometimes a small business has ideas for multiple products or services and has more than one potential research project in the pipeline. For example, if a small business has a drug or molecule that can be applied to treat more than one disease or a platform technology that can be used for more than one application, they might want to pursue more than one SBIR or STTR proposal simultaneously. Can it be done?
For the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is allowable to submit more than one SBIR/STTR proposal for the same deadline. However, if you do submit two or more proposals at once, it is better if they are different enough that they will be reviewed by different study sections. If your proposals will likely be reviewed by the same study section, we suggest submitting them to sequential deadlines rather than submitting both for the same deadline. Note that scientific review groups (SRGs) will review proposals from multiple Institutes or Centers (ICs), and targeting different ICs does not mean your proposals will go to different SRGs (see our post on the review process).
For the National Science Foundation (NSF), you cannot submit more than one SBIR/STTR proposal during the same submission window. Additionally, you cannot submit a second proposal until the first proposal has completed the review process. So, it is not possible to submit more than one proposal at the same time to NSF, even if you have two Project Pitches that have been approved for submitting full proposals.
For the Department of Defense (DOD), you are allowed to submit one or more SBIR/STTR projects to as many topics as you would like. If you feel that your technology will meet the metrics described in more than one topic, you may submit to more than one topic with the same project, or you may submit to multiple topics with multiple projects. The review process at DOD is different from that of NIH, and it is not likely that the same reviewers will see multiple proposals that were submitted to different topics.
An insider trick for maximizing your shots-on-goal is to consider submitting the same (or similar) project to multiple agencies. While you cannot submit the same project to the same agency, you can submit the same project to multiple agencies, as long as you indicate that you have multiple submissions in-review with overlapping scope. For example, you may have a health platform that would be applicable to NIH, NSF, and DOD topic areas, and so you can increase your odds of obtaining funding by submitting proposals to all of these agencies simultaneously. If you are selected for funding by multiple agencies on the same project, you can only accept funding from one agency. However, this is a good problem to have! Stay tuned for our next post for more details about using a multiple submission strategy to maximize your opportunities for non-dilutive funding!