On the Road to SBIR/STTR Grant Success-
Your Company Just Won an Award. But Wait There’s More: TABA!
May 4, 2021
SBIR/STTR grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other institutes are an excellent source of non-dilutive funds for small businesses to perform research used to develop drugs, devices, and diagnostics to improve human health. However, the funds (other than the 7% ‘Fee’) cannot be used for business development expenses that are essential for successful commercialization. Fortunately there are supplemental funding programs that work with the STTR/SBIR program and can help address this gap. One such program is Technical and Business Assistance (TABA), that was authorized in Fiscal Year 2019 as part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. We’ll be taking a closer look at the NIH implementation of TABA, but the program is also available from other agencies including the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense.
What are the business needs for my company?
One new and important aspect of TABA is the availability of a no-cost third party needs assessment to help prioritize small business operations that require attention in the context of the research supported by an SBIR/STTR grant. The NIH for example has engaged with a contractor to handle the evaluation of your company’s business needs in these areas:
– Target Market, Ability to fill Market Need
– Clinical/Regulatory strategy
– Business Model/Financial Plan
– Competition and Intellectual Property
– Sales and Marketing
– Management Team
– Strategic Partners/Potential Licensees
– Funding Status/Exit Strategy
A request for a TABA Needs Assessment is very easy from the website here, but there are some company eligibility requirements. The small business must have an active Phase I or Phase II SBIR/STTR award or have completed a Phase I grant/contract within the past two years. The online application is simple to complete, and it’s essential to include the SBIR/STTR award number. Companies that have already received TABA funding through the designated SBIR/STTR application are not eligible for the Needs Assessment Program. There is no fee for the company to participate in this program, and only a small amount of time is required. Company submissions are taken throughout the year by way of a competitive process and monthly reviews of applications. If selected, company phone interviews are arranged with commercialization experts, and a completed Needs Assessment Report is delivered in 2-3 months followed by a post-report meeting. Ideally, a company can complete this process during/after a Phase I SBIR/STTR award, and then based on the evaluation results, apply for TABA funding directly in a subsequent Phase II application as described below. It’s important to note that the information provided by the Needs Assessment Report can significantly strengthen the required Commercialization Plan section of an SBIR/STTR Phase II application.
Direct Request for TABA Assistance
TABA funding to enhance the commercialization of a company’s product/technology can be directly requested in the SBIR/STTR application process. Funds are limited to $6500/year for a Phase I award and $50,000/project for a Phase II award; a Fast Track Application has the same caps for each corresponding Phase. TABA Funding is also available for those Institutes that support SBIR/STTR Phase IIB awards. As the TABA and SBIR/STTR programs may have NIH Institute/Center-specific funding guidelines, it is best to talk with an SBIR/STTR Program Official to see what are the financial limits of a TABA request from a particular Institute/Center, and if it impacts the SBIR/STTR ceiling. Acceptable business services to be supported by TABA funds include:
– Assistance with product sales
– Intellectual property protection (including development of applications, patentability and freedom-to-operate searches related to the NIH funded program)
– Market research
– Development of regulatory plans
– Development of manufacturing plans
– Access to technical and business literature available through on-line databases
Note that these services may not be provided by company employees, affiliates, or investors. Additionally, requests for support of contractors or consultants under TABA may not be funded through other parts of the grant application. Funds should be requested as “Technical Assistance” under Section F (Other Direct Costs, lines 8-10) in the SBIR/STTR FORMS-F Series application package. The Budget Justification attachment should include the vendor(s) name, contact information, qualifications and capabilities; a detailed description of the business assistance/deliverables the vendor(s) will provide; cost of services; and the expected benefits of the assistance.
If a small company has already been awarded a Phase I or Phase II SBIR/STTR without a TABA request, an Administrative Supplement can be used to apply for supplemental funding. The small company should notify the appropriate Institute Program Contact in advance to facilitate processing of the request.
SBIR/STTR and TABA- A Perfect Pair
The commercialization support of TABA funds neatly complements the research support of SBIR/STTR grants. ScienceDocs grant preparation specialists, commercialization plan writers and business consultants can provide a wide range of services to effectively leverage a Needs Assessment Report to obtain TABA funding and use it to enhance your company’s financial success.
HHS SBIR/STTR Agency Contact Information
Request a TABA Needs Assessment
Eligibility for TABA Needs Assessment Program
Instructions for Technical Assistance Costs within SBIR/STTR application (page B-78)
Administrative Supplement for Providing TABA Funding
NEXT BLOG POST: Keep an eye out for our upcoming Commercialization Plan Writing blog post series!
SBIR Commercialization Service, SBIR Commercialization Support, NIH SEED support, NIH TABA, Needs Assessment Report