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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

About NCCIH’s Small Business Program

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) offers two distinct funding mechanisms that advance small businesses:

  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program
  • The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program

Understanding the SBIR/ STTR Programs

Both the SBIR and STTR programs are divided into the three phases listed below. NIH has special Technical Assistance Programs to help small businesses move their technologies from the lab into the hands of customers. The NIH Niche Assistance Program and the I-Corps at NIH program are for Phase I awardees, and the NIH Commercialization Accelerator Program is for Phase II or Phase IIB awardees.


Phase I: Feasibility and Proof of Concept The objective of Phase I is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed research/research and development (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. Click on 'See More' below to view NCCIH-Specific Budget and Duration Policies.


Phase II: Research/Research and Development 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. Click on 'See More' below to view NCCIH-Specific Budget and Duration Policies.


Phase III: Commercialization The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I/II R/R&D activities. The NIH SBIR/STTR programs do not fund Phase III, and NIH does not generally provide any Phase III funding to small businesses.

SBIR and STTR Research Priorities

The mission of NCCIH is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care. The following narrative indicates the scope of projects suitable for the SBIR/STTR program that fit within the mission of NCCIH.

For additional information about areas of interest to NCCIH, please see the examples below, which were taken primarily from PHS 2020-2 SBIR/STTR Program Descriptions and Research Topics for NIH, CDC, and FDA (search the text for “NCCIH”) and NIH SBA-Approved SBIR/STTR Topics for Awards Over Statutory Budget Limitations. 

Examples of NCCIH Non-Clinical Trials Topics

Examples of NCCIH Clinical Trials Topics

For information regarding FDA approval of a drug indication for a natural product, please see the FDA website for the Investigational New Drug (IND) or Device Exemption (IDE) Process (CBER).

For applications involving clinical studies that fall within the NIH definition of a clinical trial, NCCIH will not support clinical trials aiming to test efficacy/effectiveness (meaning the study is powered on a primary outcome that is a clinical assessment used in clinical diagnosis of disease or monitoring of disease severity) of an intervention as a part of an SBIR/STTR Phase I application. Applicants seeking to conduct efficacy or effectiveness clinical trials should pursue funding via other FOAs such as the Omnibus SBIR/STTR Phase II and Fast-Track.

Not sure if your research is a clinical trial? The NIH definition of a clinical trial is, “A research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions (which may include placebo or other control) to evaluate the effects of those interventions on health-related biomedical or behavioral outcomes.” For additional information on NCCIH’s clinical trial policy, visit our Clinical Trials section.

Resources for Technical Assistance

  • i-Corps at NIH  A competitive 8-week, hands-on program that provides funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help commercialize your promising biomedical technology.
  • Applicant Assistance Program  - A competitive, no-cost 10-week customized coaching program to help small businesses apply for Phase I SBIR/STTR funding.
  • Technical and Business Assistance Program -  Helps small businesses identify and address product development needs.

Contact Information

Merav Sabri, Ph.D.

Merav Sabri, Ph.D.
Program Director
Division of Extramural Research
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
6707 Democracy Boulevard II, Suite 401
Bethesda, MD 20892
(Courier Service - 20817)

Merav Sabri, Ph.D., joined NCCIH as a program director in 2017. She oversees and develops a portfolio with a focus on mechanistic studies of manual therapies (e.g., massage, spinal manipulation, joint/spine mobilization, and connective tissue stimulation) as well as the development of technologies and methods to monitor or enhance mind and body interventions through small business funding mechanisms. Dr. Sabri’s role with the Small Business program is to advise applicants about the alignment of their project with NCCIH’s mission/announcements and provide feedback on their Specific Aims page. Dr. Sabri is also instrumental in identifying next steps for applicants after an application has been reviewed.

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For updates about the NCCIH SBIR/STTR Program, please subscribe to our listserv by filling out the online form.