On the Road to NIH SBIR/STTR Grant Success- Mining Grant Preparation Gems from the NIH RePORTER Database
March 14 2021
The NIH has recently modernized RePORTER, a database of funded research projects, with welcome enhancements in speed and ease of interaction. The NIH RePORTER site has a preview version, but the older ‘Classic’ RePORTER site is still accessible with a direct click from the main page. In addition to entries from intramural and extramural NIH grants, there is also information on projects from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (AHRQ), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Administration for Children and Family (ACF) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For NIH Institutes, the database also includes information about publications (only those in PubMed or PubMed Central) and patents resulting from the research. The NIH RePORTER is updated weekly, with entries appearing about one week after the Budget Start Date.
The information provided by RePORTER is especially helpful to entrepreneurs preparing SBIR/STTR applications as highlighted below.
From the landing page, it’s easy to do a Quick Search with a keyword, or the name of a principal investigator (PI), institution or agency. For a filtered search, click on ‘All Search Fields’ button and type in or use the pull down menus for the additional desired search items. The initial search results will be a spreadsheet-like listing of projects that can be sorted with a click on the header column description. Click on the project number to open a screen with the grant abstract and numerous details about the organization, PI, start/end dates and funding level.
Who are my competitors?
Companies that are working in a similar area and have been awarded NIH funding can be identified with a search that includes relevant keywords and restricting the Funding Mechanism to ‘Research Project Grants SBIR/STTR’. Each listing in the initial search output has a ‘Similar Projects’ column that can lead to additional companies working in the area of interest. This is helpful information to prepare the Commercialization Plan section of a Phase 2 SBIR/STTR application that must include an analysis of competitor activities. Investors will also want to know about the competitive landscape for your company’s product.
Who are my potential collaborators?
It may be helpful to identify potential academic collaborators or subject matter experts such as clinicians with searches using keywords and an open search for Funding Mechanism but without ‘SBIR/STTR Research Project Grants’ and ‘SBIR/STTR Contracts’. The resulting list will include grants awarded to academic researchers doing work in your area of interest, or using similar techniques.
How do I find a Program Official and Study Section for my SBIR/STTR application?
Identifying a suitable Program Official and Study Section is important to getting your application in front of the most appropriate audience for review. The easiest way to do this is with the Matchmaker button on the landing page and selecting the ‘Program Official’ option. Insert text relevant to your work such as a draft abstract or Specific Aims (up to 15,000 characters) and hit Search. Add a secondary filter of Activity Codes R41, R42, R43 and R44 for Phase 1 and 2 SBIR/STTR applications. The final list of Program Officials will include their Institute and contact information. With the same search entries, Matchmaker also supplies a list of awarded SBIR/STTR projects (in the Projects tab) that match your keyword search. Click on the individual Project Numbers to get details about the Program Official and Study Section that handled the review. Prior to submitting an SBIR/STTR application, discuss your project with one or more Program Officials to be sure your research is a priority for their Institute, and seek their guidance about selecting an optimal Study Section from the options uncovered by Matchmaker.
These are only a few examples of the search capabilities for NIH RePORTER, and an intuitive interface makes further exploration easy. The information uncovered can be useful for both grant preparation as well as identifying individuals who can enhance your research and help your company achieve its goals.