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Review process

Proposals received by the NSF SBIR/STTR Program are assigned to appropriate topics where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposal preparation requirements and are in compliance with the program announcement, solicitation or Dear Colleague Letter (supplements).

All proposals are carefully reviewed by a minimum of three experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Directors charged with the oversight of the review process.

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In the case of the NSF SBIR/STTR Program, critical additional review criteria are utilized to highlight the specific objectives of the program and to ensure that all proposals are reviewed for both their technical and commercial merits.

  • Merit Review Guidelines (Technical/Commercial): The SBIR/STTR merit review criteria.

  • FastLane Instructions for Panelists: How to submit the registration required for every review panel, review assigned proposals, submit reviews, and navigate through the interactive panel system (IPS), which is used during the live panel meeting.

  • FastLane Instructions for Mail Reviewers: Step-by-step instructions for using FastLane to review a proposal and submit a “mail review” electronically to NSF.

  • Travel Instructions for Panelists: Details on compensation rates, federal employees/non-US citizens/non-permanent residents, travel/hotel reservations and payment information.

  • Virtual Panels: Guides and guidelines for the virtual panel review process in the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.

  • Panelist Conflict of Interest (COI) Your designation as a NSF panelist requires that you be aware of and sensitive to potential conflicts that may arise during your service. You are also required to maintain the confidentiality of all proposals and applicants. Please review, sign and return the Conflict-of-Interests and Confidentiality Statement for NSF Panelists form to the NSF staff person that invited you to serve on the panel. Put the ‘panel ID’ number in the panel name field.