Knowing NIH grant paylines is important in having a good idea of whether or not your project will be funded.

An NIH payline is determined based the combination of the available funds and applications for those available funds.  The Impact score is evaluated relative to the NIH payline.  The NIH payline is the cutoff for funding: an Impact Score higher than Payline is generally not going to get funded.  An Impact Score less than Payline will generally result in a funded grant.

In NIH terminology the Small Business Innovation Research Awards (SBIR) is coded as R43/R44, and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) as R41/42.

Individual funding institutions set their paylines or impact scores as follows: 


Payline of 28 for R41/42

Payline of 29 for R43/R44

NCI budget limits are now at $2 million cap with waiver for Phase II and $400k for Phase I.



STTR R41, R42: 34 (FY 2019)

SBIR R43, R44: 34 (FY 2019)

Note: 2019 interim paylines were STTR 28 and SBIR 26.


Previous FY:

Payline of 28 for R41/42

Payline of 33 for R43/R44



Zone of Consideration impact scores:

10-40 for R41/R42

10-40 for R44 (increased from 33 in FY18)

Impact score of 29 for R43



2019 paylines:
SBIR Phase I is Priority Score 33.
SBIR Phase II is Priority Score 30.
STTR Phase I is Priority Score 30.
STTR Phase II is Priority Score 20.
No specific payline for FastTrack but “follows Phase II” paylines.

2018 paylines:
SBIR Phase I is Priority Score 35.
SBIR Phase II is Priority Score 36.
STTR Phase I and Phase II is Priority Score 29.



Priority score of 30 for SBIR

Priority score of 29 for STTR

Priority score of 24 for SBIR

Priority score of 21 for STTR


NIDA, NEI, NCATS, NHGRI, NIAAA, NIDCD, NLM, NIBIB, NIMHD, NINR, NCCIH, FIC, NIDDK, NINDS, NIMH, NIA, NIGMS: no specific payline or no information available.

NIA FastTrack cap with waiver is $2.8 million, down from $3.3 million.

There are many benefits to funding from SBIR and STTR, and they can be competitive programs to access. Having an application that lands in the payline or impact number zone is not a guarantee of funding. However, it puts your life sciences organization in a good position to obtain non-dilutive funding for your project or plans.

At Grant Engine, we have experience creating applications for various funding programs. Each grant is tailored to highlight why our clients are different from the rest and worthy of a grant.

With our help your business will have a strong likelihood of winning a grant and getting into the payline or impact score for whichever funding institute is preferable. Contact us to learn more.