Research and development goes on despite the COVID-19 pandemic with a new funding cycle beginning for federal grants.

The National Science Foundation’s next SBIR/STTR Phase I submission window is now open—North Carolina life science startups can apply to receive a piece of $200 million in funding available to develop scientific technologies with commercial potential.

The spring 2020 window for Small Business Innovation and Research Grant (SBIR) and the Small Business Tech Transfer (STTR) Phase I funding is March 6 to June 4. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NSF particularly encourages applications from businesses with technologies and services relevant to COVID-19 crisis response.

“The Division of Innovation and Industrial Partnerships (IIP) of the Engineering Directorate invites U.S.-based small businesses to submit Phase I proposals focused on the development and deployment of new technologies, products, processes, and services with the potential to positively impact the nation’s and world’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis,” Directorate for Engineering Assistant Director Dawn Tilbury wrote in a public letter. “Areas of research that might be considered include, but are not limited to: artificial intelligence, digital health, diagnostics, distributed ledger, environmental technologies, medical devices, pharmaceutical technologies, disinfection and sterilization, and filtration and separations.”

These make $ense: Why startups should seek federal grants as a source of capital

The program provides funding to startups and small businesses that are developing life science technologies to meet market demand. U.S.-owned firms must have less than 500 employees to be eligible. Interested companies need to submit a three-page pitch outlining their technology and target market, goals and challenges, and other details.

Phase I funding recipients are granted $256,000 to cover R&D costs. Phase I recipients may also apply for Phase II funding, which provides up to $1 million to companies on their road to commercialization.

To communicate the opportunity to North Carolina startups seeking federal funding, the NC Small Business & Technology Development Center will host an informational webinar on April 23 from 1-2:30 p.m., with NSF program manager Muralidharan Nair discussing the program’s pitch submission process and requirements. Registration is available here.