SBIR Land Home Forums Institute & Agency Questions National Science Foundation (NSF)

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  • #320

    What questions do you have about the NSF?

    #402
    SBIR newbie
    Participant

    I just submitted my project pitch. Does anyone know how long it usually takes to hear back?

    #497
    Wout@EGC
    Moderator

    Hi!

    Responses to project pitches typically come in within 3 weeks of submission.
    More information on pitch guidelines can be found here:
    https://seedfund.nsf.gov/project-pitch/

    Let me know if there are any other questions, happy to help!

    #498
    Lu@EGC
    Moderator

    Usually, you will hear back from NSF within three weeks.

    #698
    JoshKim599
    Participant

    From my understanding, NSF has changed their perspectives/focus over the past decade. NSF used to be focused on driving fundamental understanding/science, but now it seems now they have shifted that perspective – one of which is venturing into Biomedical Technologies.

    A few questions:
    1. How do we write a proposal to differentiate from the NIH SBIR proposals? Would adding small clinical studies be okay to solve an engineering problem, or should we keep that off the proposal?
    2. What sorts of specific aims would the NSF like to see?
    – One specific aim focuses on standard engineering efforts which just requires cash. Straightforward and clear path to complete – but absolutely essential.
    – Other specific aims are developing something new and novel.

    #700
    Stacey@EGC
    Moderator

    Hi Josh,

    These are excellent questions. In addition to Biomedical Technologies, NSF has also creased a Pharmaceutical Technologies topic area.

    1. Given the broadening of the topic areas of interest for NSF, there will begin to be more overlap with NIH. The best way to find out if a small clinical study would be appropriate for these new topics areas would be to reach out to the program officers: Henry Ahn (hahn@nsf.gov) for BT and Alastair Monk (amonk@nsf.gov) for PT. We highly recommend talking to program officers well in advance of submission to ensure your proposal aligns with the agency’s goals, as they can change.

    2. NSF SBIR proposals are structured by Technical Objectives (similar to Specific Aims with NIH). Again, talk with the program officer about your project’s goals. Typically, NSF proposal include engineering objectives, but it is also paramount for the technology to be novel and innovative. Combining basic engineering to push your innovative technology toward commercialization is one option (ie. using traditional methods to create a novel device).

    Please let me know if you have additional questions!

    #733
    rupijochus
    Participant

    I am preparing an NSF Phase I SBIR application and am concerned whether any parts of the application will be made publicly available. Can you provide information on whether the application is completely confidential or if parts will be disclosed to the public?

    #734
    Stacey@EGC
    Moderator

    Hello! According to the NSF solicitation, “A proposal is confidential and will only be shared with a small number of reviewers and NSF staff (as appropriate). Proposals to NSF do not constitute a public disclosure. If chosen for a Phase I award, a company will be prompted to write a project summary and description of intellectual merit and broader impact for the public. Proposals WILL NOT be shared.”

    #945
    Shoba
    Participant

    Hello – I’m following up on the May 1st message exchange above. I’m still trying to understand how NSF proposals would be written differently from an NIH proposal given that both are so similar. For example, if one was to write a proposal for a novel point of care device for molecular diagnostics, what would one emphasize in an NSF proposal vs. an NIH proposal?

    It sounds like both NSF & NIH accept engineering improvements and testing the device with clinical samples, which implies that essentially the same proposal would be submitted to both agencies (apart from the different app formats of course). How would this be presented to NSF vs NIH?

    Thanks for your advice.

    #948
    nitesh@EGC
    Moderator

    Hi Shoba,

    You are right – both NSF and NIH have similar interests in some areas.

    The NIH is more focused on the application of devices towards specific indications aligned with the mission of a particular Institute/Center. Thus, NIH often supports or even requires clinical trials. On the other hand, NSF generally does not support clinical trials and validation of medical devices.

    #959
    Lu@EGC
    Moderator

    Hi Shoba,

    I completely agree with Nitesh. Just to add that for the SBIR/STTR Phase I proposals, other than the research strategy, NSF requires the applicants to spend a significant amount of effort on the commercial opportunity, including the impact, market, business model, commercialization risk, commercialization approach, and resources. You will be able to see the detailed requirements in the solicitation: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2020/nsf20527/nsf20527.htm#. Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.

    #969
    Shoba
    Participant

    Hello
    Thanks for all the helpful replies. It appears that STTR rules are different for NSF vs. NIH.

    1) Unlike NIH STTR, it appears the NSF STTR PI cannot be a university professor – am I correct? The NSF STTR PI has to be an employee of the smallbiz. A senior university prof will not do that. Then would the uni prof be a Co-I or an additional PI ?

    2) Does NSF allow additional investigators to create a solid team? The solicitation is confusing. It only talks about a PI with no mention of Co-Investigators, etc. How does one show a ‘team’ with just 1 PI?

    3) NSF STTR allows only 50% for the university (vs 60% in NIH STTR) – am I correct?

    Thanks
    Shoba

    #970
    Wout@EGC
    Moderator

    Hi Shoba,
    I am responding to your questions in the same order as you posted them:

    1) For NSF STTR, the submitting organization has to have a PI from the small business, but the subaward must have a co-PI from the partnering institution listed on the cover page and on the subaward budget. (see question #35 here)

    2) Yes, NSF definitely allows for teams, and the team strengths are one of the scoring factors in the proposal review process. Just as NIH, NSF allows for Key or Senior Personnel members, all of which require a biosketch to be submitted with the proposal, as well as having a section within the proposal where you highlight the team’s strengths. For minor tasks, you can also use “other personnel” and have them included on the budget.

    3) NSF STTR requires a minimum of 40% of the budget to be for the small business, at least 30% of the budget for the partner research institution, and the remaining 30% can be used toward each of these, or any other consultants or fee-for-service providers you require. So NSF STTR also allows up to 60% for the partnering institute.

    Let us know if you have any other questions!

    #971
    Shoba
    Participant

    Hello
    Thank you for your reply. Can you tell me if the Project Pitch can include images/figures or deos it have to be only text? The instructions merely say number of words per section but do not specify if any figures can be included.

    Thanks,
    Shoba

    #972
    Wout@EGC
    Moderator

    Hi Shoba,

    While not that often done, NSF pitches can include images. Be sure to include a proper caption with your figure.

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