The Small Business Program at the National Institute of Nursing Research
By: Kristopher Bough, PhD, Program Director
Turning Your Healthcare Technology Idea Into A Business Can Be Difficult Where can you find seed funding to get your concept off the ground? What steps do you need to take to register your start-up? How do you advance product development and grow your business? What are key steps you need to tackle to commercialize your product and advance it into the marketplace? If you are uncertain where to find support for the development of your healthcare product and business, the small business program at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) can help.
How NINR Can Help
The NINR is one of 27 Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Each year, NINR’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs invest over $5 million into health and life science companies that are creating innovative technologies that align with the mission of NINR to improve healthcare and promote wellness. The SBIR/STTR small business program allows US-owned and operated small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has a strong potential for commercialization. One of the program’s priorities is to encourage nurse entrepreneurs from socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses (SDB) and women-owned small businesses (WOSB) to innovate and participate.
NINR supports businesses that are developing technologies and digital interventions to reach diverse and underserved populations and promote health, prevent illness, and improve health-related quality of life across the lifespan. This includes general topic areas such as:
- Self-management of acute and chronic conditions to improve quality of life,
- Symptom management and personalized health strategies,
- Promotion of wellness and disease/disability prevention, or
- Tools that enhance end-of-life care and palliative care across the lifespan.
We have supported a diverse array of products and services to achieve this goal.
Small Business Support for Businesses is Broken Down by Stage of Development
There is the early proof-of-concept stage (Phase I SBIR/STTR awards) and an advanced R&D / business development stage (Phase II SBIR/STTR awards). Financial as well as technical resources can be leveraged during each stage to enable commercial success.
- Phase I SBIR/STTRs. Funding and support for startup businesses and early product development. NINR provides preliminary support to entrepreneurs through Phase I small business grants. The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further federal support in Phase II. Phase I small business grants typically amount to between $150-225K for 1 year. While writing a grant for the first time can seem daunting, the NIH and NINR offer several resources to help you put together a grant application. This useful infographic can help you navigate through the various registration processes and the granting process. In addition, there are also grant writing resources, sample applications and a personalized applicant assistance program to help you get started.
- Phase II. Funding and support for advanced R&D and business growth. With a potential product in hand, it’s time to seek the resources that you will need to get you into the marketplace. The objective of Phase II is to continue the R/R&D efforts initiated in Phase I. Funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I and the scientific and technical merit and commercial potential of the project proposed in Phase II. Only Phase I awardees are eligible for a Phase II award. NINR offers Phase II small business grants that are typically $1–1.6M for 2-3 years. In addition, the NIH/NINR also provides technical assistance, pitch coaching and other resources to help you commercialize your product and prepare your business for outside investments.
The NINR is committed to providing support for the development of innovative, new healthcare products, especially those from nurse entrepreneurs. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Kristopher Bough, PhD
Program Director, Small Business Innovation Research & Technology
NIH l National Institute of Nursing Research
6701 Democracy Blvd – Rm 727
Bethesda, MD 20892-4870
Office: (301) 496-2604