Contracts vs. Grants: What's the difference?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports research using both grants and contracts. About 95% of NIH SBIR awards are made through the grant (assistance) mechanism, and about 5% of NIH SBIR awards are made through the contract (procurement) mechanism.
Small business concerns are invited to submit Phase I grant applications in any area within the mission of the awarding components identified in the SBIR/STTR Grant Solicitation. Contract proposals are accepted only if they respond specifically to a research topic within the Contract Solicitation. The topics are not the same as those in a grant solicitation. They are much more focused and specific. Also, not all Institutes/Centers (ICs) within NIH post topics to the Contract Solicitation while all 24 ICs post topics in the grant solicitation.
As the primary award mechanism is the grant instrument, NIH, CDC, FDA, and ACF issue 3 receipt dates for SBIR/STTR Grant Applications (Phase I or Phase II) and only one receipt date for SBIR Contract Proposals.
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