Successfully timing an NIH SBIR grant application makes all the difference between success and having to reapply or, worse, missing your chance for funding.

Typically there are three SBIR deadlines per year with a review and award schedule to match. If you start your submission too late, you may not have enough time to create a strong grant that is worthy of funding.

Writing a grant application takes time and effort. It makes sense to use that time and effort as wisely as possible by ensuring that your work fits in with the relevant submission dates and deadlines.

Knowing the submission date also informs the estimated award date, which is important for applicants to schedule as they are in-line with NIH Budget 2018.

What Dates Matter Most?

Here are the critical dates and timeframes to know:

  • September 5 deadline; study section in October/November, council review in January/February, and estimated award date of March/April.
  • January 5 deadline, study section in February/March, council review in May/June, and estimated award date of July/August.
  • April 5 deadline; study section in June/July, council review in August, and estimated award date of September to November.
  • Additional Dates: via SBIR contracts and other off-cycle opportunities.


The NIH also has unique study sections with narrower scientific focus, for contracts spread across the year. Submission dates for any targeted or special announcements vary, so the organization suggests paying attention to specific dates in those announcements.


Can I Submit Late?

In almost all cases, nope.

However, if the PI is on a NIH study section and has continuous submission privileges then for an STTR you can submit within 2 to 3 weeks of the stated deadline.  To recap:

  • PI is on a continuous submission privileges (typically only available to academic PIs), and
  • You’ve applied for an STTR or have a mulit-PI plan with an academic partner
  • You submit within 2 to 3 weeks of the stated deadline

NIH says that if an application is submitted after the deadline date, it has to include a cover letter explaining the reason(s) for the delay.   

Each late application is dealt with individually. The decision whether or not to approve the submission will be based on factors like the length of delay and the reason for it.

Typically, the answer is a hard no unless there is a medical or other valid emergency.

Putting it All Together

Clearly, hitting the right dates is vital to the potential success of your application. We can help you create an application that is timed and paced appropriately to ensure that your NIH SBIR grant application is well considered.


Please feel free to contact Grant Engine to answer any further questions you may have. Please call (650) 937-9164, email for details.