The Funding Rates of NIH SBIR Grant Applications Are Plummeting

Yesterday a fellow medical writer queried our listserv asking for advice about whether to take on her first SBIR grant application. Many other medical writers encouraged her to take the project, citing their success with this funding mechanism in recent years. I was the lone voice of dissent. I am loathe to work with clients on this funding mechanism due to its poor funding rate at the moment. According to the NIH Reporter website, funding rates over the past four years have dropped precipitously:

YEAR Phase I Phase II Fast Track
2008 27.1% 47.7%
2009 21.9% 40.5% 23.1%
2010 13.7% 33.5% 15.6%
2011 11.5% 29.8% 10.3%

It is widely believed that the 2012 numbers have continued to plummet, with funding lines for the Phase I and Fast Track SBIRs dipping into the singe digits for the first time.  One can see that over the past four years, the number of applicants to the combined SBIR/STTR program has increased sharply, while the total funding and the number of awards has gone down:

YEAR Total # SBIR/STTR Applications Reviewed Total # SBIR/STTRApplications Awarded Total Funding SBIR/STTR
2008 4356 1242 $341,059,957
2009 4529 1108 $339,594,601
2010 6338 1079 $334,370,963
2011 6415 902 $311,127,665

One must exercise caution when investing a large amount of time and energy into applying for this funding mechanism.

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