IOS Virtual Office Hours June edition: CAREER Proposal Guidance and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) held a Virtual Office Hour on June 18, 2020 providing overviews of the CAREER program (NSF 20-525) and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

UPDATE: In light of difficulties many are facing due to COVID-19 NSF has extended the CAREER proposal submission deadline to Tuesday, August 11, 2020*. Please see the CAREER webpage for important details concerning this extension.

A number of questions were submitted concerning CAREER proposals:

  • Can CAREER proposals combine other types of programs or research opportunities in their titles such as Research at Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) or IMAGiNE? – Topics to be investigated in CAREER proposals can cover a wide range of areas and can come from primarily undergraduate institutions, however only CAREER can be referenced in the title of proposals that come to NSF through the CAREER solicitation
  • Can any guidance be given on budgets in a CAREER proposal? – Rather than a ‘typical budget,’ investigators should strive to request funding that is appropriate to the research, teaching, and outreach activities being proposed. For examples of the range of current award budgets please consult the ‘What Has Been Funded’ link available on program websites. However, keep in mind that the CAREER solicitation sets a lower limit of $500,000 for proposals submitted to the Biology Directorate.
  • In CAREER proposals, do the activities need to involve university education or could they be mostly or entirely public outreach? – The location, participants, and content of educational and outreach activities is solely up to the proposer. The critical characteristic is that these activities integrate with the research proposed.

For those interested in applying to the CAREER program, NSF has provided some additional tips on its Science Matters blog.

Program Director Dr. Erik Pierstorff joined the office hour to present information about the NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and several questions were also asked about this program:

  • Do patents needed to be filed, or approved, before submitting a proposal to SBIR? – In short, they do not but you should have an idea of how your proposed product will move forward. This can vary based on the field and may or may not require a patent. Plans for intellectual property protection are needed in a Phase II proposal.
  • How do SBIR and STTR differ? – From the review criteria standpoint, these opportunities are similar, but they differ in the amount of funds allowed for a sub-awardee and in certification needed prior to an award being made.

*For questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it might impact ongoing NSF awards or planned submissions of proposals, please visit the NSF webpage dedicated to Coronavirus information.

Join us at our next IOS Office Hour that will be held on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 1 pm EDT, when IOS program directors will be available to answer questions from the community. July’s Office Hour will focus on tips for preparing proposals, broadening participation activities, and supplements.