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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

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

Small Business Research

Program staff encourage potential applicants to contact us in the early stages of application planning to determine programmatic fit and to provide support in preparing a strong application. Please email a draft Specific Aims page to help us connect you with the appropriate staff and ensure efficient communication.

The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.

The goal of the NIMH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs is to support small businesses to develop technologies that can advance the mission of the Institute, including:

  • Basic neuroscience research
  • Translational and clinical research
  • Clinical diagnosis and treatment
  • Dissemination and implementation of evidence-based research on mental disorders.

NIMH SBIR/STTR Program Staff are committed to working with applicants and awardees to support research and development of innovative technologies by small businesses that have the potential to succeed commercially or to provide significant societal benefits, in the areas of neuroscience and mental health. The NIMH has a commitment to supporting a sustainable and diverse biomedical research workforce, see Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031) .

What are the SBIR & STTR programs?

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs are one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States. These programs support research and development by small businesses of innovative technologies that have the potential to succeed commercially or provide significant societal benefits. To learn more, visit the SBIR Program website .

Difference between SBIR and STTR

Partnering RequirementPermits partneringRequires a non-profit research institution partner
Principle InvestigatorPrimary employment (>50%) must be with the small businessPI may be employed by either the research institution partner or small business
Work RequirementSubcontracts generally up to:
33% (Phase I)
50% (Phase II)
40% Small Business
30% Research Institution Partner

The small business is ALWAYS the applicant and awardee.