NIH success rate

  • May 23rd, 2022

Many clients interested in SBIR are curious about the success rates of various agencies as well as the overall success rate of the Small Business Innovation Research program. These rates vary by year, but we make an effort to complete ongoing research regarding success rates so we can provide the most up-to-date information to our clients. We published a post about the NIH SBIR success rate in 2016 (https://www.ebhoward.com/success-rates-for-the-department-of-health-and-human-services-sbir/) and another about chances of winning an NIH SBIR award (https://www.ebhoward.com/likelihood-winning-nih-sbir/).

At that time the NIH success rate was 14%, the average number of awards for NIH Phase I was 728. Phase II awards numbered 427 per year. The NIH generally awards $843.4m overall with $212.7m allocated to Phase I and $630.7m allocated to Phase II.

The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) program is a federal grant opportunity released annually to fund high-risk, innovative research and development programs. There are 11 agencies that participate in the program.

Each of the 11 agencies releases its own topics and subtopic and has a unique success rate. The success rate of each agency indicates the percentage of applicants that are awarded funds, on average. This measurement relates to how large the overall funding pool is for that agency as well as how many applications the agency receives. Programs with large funding purses and fewer applicants per round tend to have a higher percentage of awarded proposals, while programs with less funding or a higher number of applicants are more competitive.

Today in 2021, the statistics are a little different. Official data reports for the 2020 fY indicate the success rate has increased slightly over 2 percentage points to 16.4% with a total of 1,121 proposals accepted of the 6,841 received. The total funding for FY 2020 was $557,369,913. Despite the increase in the NIH success rate, it is still critical to research and understands what can give a proposal a competitive edge.


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