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FastLane guide

3. Create Proposal

Formatting Instructions

Visit the SBIR/STTR Solicitation for information on how to format your proposal.

Create Proposal

Go to the FastLane home page at Select the Proposal, Awards & Status link on the top (blue) menu bar.

Creating a proposal

On the right side of the page, click “Sign In to FastLane/”

Single sign on

You will be taken to Sign In page. Fill in Sign In information (NSF ID and Password) in the “NSF User Sign In” box on the left side of the screen. Note: The Principal Investigator (PI) for the proposed Phase I project MUST login and prepare the proposal

Sign In

On the Principal Investigator (PI)/Co-Principal Investigator (CO-PI) Management screen, select “Proposal Functions”

Proposal Functions

On the Proposal Functions screen, click “Proposal Preparation”

Proposal preperations

On the Principal Investigator (PI) Information screen, check the PI information for accuracy. You may choose to update or edit the PI information by selecting the “Edit PI Information” button. You cannot change the PI here. Once finished, click the “Prepare Proposal” button.

PI information

Once you select to prepare your proposal, the “Proposal Actions” screen appears.

Scroll down past the Temporary Proposals in Progress section to the Create New Proposal section at the bottom, and click on the “SBIR Phase I” or “STTR Phase I” button.

Create new proposal

Form Preparation

At the top of the Form Preparation page will be the text Forms for Temp Proposal # - this number will be used as a reference throughout the preparation process. When your FastLane Contact/SPO finally submits your proposal to NSF, your proposal will be assigned an official NSF proposal number, the first two digits of which will match the fiscal year in which the proposal was submitted (e.g. proposals submitted between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019 will be numbered 19xxxxx). This official proposal number should be used in all further communications with NSF.

Cover Sheet

Applicants must complete all required proposal Cover Sheet data fields in accordance with the proposal preparation instructions.

Proposal Cover Sheets missing required data field information will generate validation errors and cannot be saved or submitted. In addition, you may lose information entered on the Cover Sheet if it cannot be saved or submitted.

Click on the “GO” button to the left of “Cover Sheet”.

Cover sheet selection Selecting a cover sheet

The Cover Sheet has been divided into 4 sections. To complete the Cover Sheet you must complete all 4 sections.

The first Cover Sheet “GO” Button is “Awardee Organization/Primary Place of Performance Selection”

Cover sheet component page

Awardee Organization

The Awardee Organization information is pre-populated from the PI information. Click on the “Add/Change Primary Place of Performance” button to make necessary updates.

Institution for this proposal

  • STTR proposals should click “Add/Change Primary Place of Performance” and enter data for the mandatory sub-awardee research institution.
  • SBIR proposers may select a sub-awardee research organization (if applicable) for the Primary Place of Performance, or should select “Same as Awardee Organization”.

When inputting an address for the “Primary Place of Performance”, you must include the nine-digit zip code.

(Proposers are advised to use the United States Postal Service website to look up their nine-digit zip code at

After the Primary Place of Performance is identified, click “Save Primary Place of Performance”.

Save primary place of performance button

After saving, click “Go Back” on the “Add/Change Primary Place of Performance” and the “Institutions for this Proposal” page to return to the Cover Sheets Components Form.

Save primary place of performance button

The second Cover Sheet “GO” Button is “Program Announcement / Solicitation / Program Description”

Program announcement/solicitation/program descriptions button

The third Cover Sheet “GO” Button is “NSF Unit Consideration”. Select a program. Choose either SBIR or STTR. The difference between the NSF SBIR and STTR Programs is that small businesses applying to the STTR program are required to partner with a not-for-profit research institution in their proposal. Such a partnership is optional for SBIR proposals. For more information visit our FAQs linked from the For Applicants page.

NSF unit consideration button

Remainder of the Cover Sheet

The fourth Cover Sheet “GO” Button is “Remainder of the Cover Sheet” Click the “GO” button and provide the required information to complete the cover sheet.

Remainder of the cover sheet button

“Title of Proposed Project”: The system has already been programmed for each title to begin with SBIR Phase I: or STTR Phase I:

  • Please do include two spaces after the colon before typing the project title.
  • Please do not use acronyms in the proposal title.

Title of proposed project field

“Budget and Duration Information”: Three items are requested.

  • Requested Amount: Enter the requested amount of funds. (SBIR and STTR Phase I budgets cannot exceed $275,000. The requested amount on the Cover Page should match the total funds requested in the budget.)
  • Proposal Duration: Enter the proposed duration of the project in months (between 6 and 12 months).
  • Requested Start Date: We recommend that you enter a start date six months from your proposal submission. For instance, a proposal submitted in June would enter January 1st of the following year.

Budget information fields

“Announcement and Consideration Information”, “Principal Investigator (PI) Information” and “Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) Information”: These sections will automatically populate.

Announcements and Consideration fields

Announcements and Consideration fields 2

“Previous NSF Award”: Do not check the box.

Preliminary proposals are not accepted by the SBIR/STTR Program.

Preliminary proposals checkbox

“Other Federal Agencies”: Provide a listing of all other Federal agencies to which you have submitted, or plan to submit, this proposal.

Other federal agencies boxes

“Awardee Organization Information”: This section has your Organization Name, Address, and Organization Code (this is a code assigned by NSF to your organization). All of this information should be pre-populated. The company’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) must be provided. Under the “Check all that apply to the Awardee Organization (see GPG for Definitions)” you should always check the following two boxes:

  • For Profit
  • Small Business

Check the appropriate box(s) if your company is a Minority or Woman-Owned Business

Awardee Organization Information options

“Primary Place of Performance”: This section will automatically populate.

“Other Information”: Check the appropriate box(s) that are applicable to your proposal.

Other information options

“Type of Proposal”: Select “Research”

Type of Proposal dropdown

“Collaborative Status”: Select “Not a collaborative proposal”. Note: The inclusion of a subaward to a university does not make this a ‘collaborative’ proposal. The SBIR/STTR Program does not accept collaborative proposals. The small business must upload all required budgets and subaward files into their single proposal submission.

Collaborative status selection

“Small Business Innovation Research”: Select the appropriate topic from the drop down box and type in the appropriate subtopic (reference solicitation).

Research topic dropdown

“The Small Business Concern Certifies”: Answer all of the following questions.

Small business concern options

NOTE: If the PI responds “YES” to the question “It has received Phase II awards from the Federal Government”, the company’s Company Commercialization History must be provided in the Supplementary Documents module of the proposal or the entire proposal will be Returned Without Review. The Company Commercialization History must be submitted on the NSF template.

“Company Officer Information (For Business and Financial Matters)”, “Other Information”, “Affiliated Companies”, “Research Institution Investigator” and “Proprietary Notice”: Fill in all requested information.

Company Officer information fields

Proprietary notice field

“Debarment and Suspension Certification” and “Authorized Representative”: Read each section carefully, answer question(s) and provide any additional information (if applicable). Click “OK” and then select “Go Back” to return to the “Form Preparation” screen.

Debarment and Suspension Certification questions

Authorized representative alert: AOR information will be added when proposal is signed electronically by AOR

Add/Delete Non Co-PI Personnel

Click on the “Go” button to the left of “Add/Delete Non Co-PI Senior Personnel”:

Main screen

Click “Add Non Co-PI Senior Person to Proposal” after inputting the First Name, Middle Initial and Last Name of each person. STTR has 1 Co-PI and SBIR has 0 Co-PIs.

For the SBIR/STTR Program, senior personnel are individuals with critical expertise who will be working on the project and are employed at the proposing company or at a subaward institution. The company should upload a Bio Sketch and Current & Pending Support form (see relevant sections later in this document) for each person included as Senior Personnel.

Adding non co-pi senior person form

After adding all participants, click “Go Back” until you return to the “Form Preparation” screen.

For most proposal sections, there is a specific module in FastLane to which you should upload a PDF file prepared outside the system. Please note that FastLane will need to ‘distill’ each PDF and you will be prompted to review and approve each file as it is saved. For this reason, you are urged to allow ample time to prepare and submit your proposal. We strongly discourage waiting until the deadline date to submit as common compliance errors and processing delays could cause you to miss the deadline. Proposals cannot be accepted after the deadline per NSF policy.

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