Guidelines for Participation in SBIR/STTR Programs

UC Berkeley CALmessages Notice

Date: June 4, 2003
Sender: Beth Burnside, Vice Chancellor for Research
Subject: Guidelines for Participation in SBIR/STTR Programs

The Conflict of Interest Committee has witnessed a growing number of complicated financial conflicts of interest cases involving Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. To assist Berkeley faculty who are interested in applying for these programs, the Committee has asked the campus to develop guidelines for faculty participation. The attached “Berkeley Guidelines for Participation in SBIR/STTR Programs” have been established and approved by the Academic Senate. If you have any questions regarding participation in SBIR/STTR programs, please contact Assistant Vice Chancellor Joyce Freedman at jbfreed@uclink or by phone at 642-8110.

Beth Burnside
Vice Chancellor for Research


Berkeley Guidelines for Participation in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

Several of the large federal agencies, in particular the NIH and NSF, have programs that support the research and development activities of small businesses. Under these funding mechanisms, small businesses are encouraged to partner with a research university to perform innovative research and/or to assist in technology transfer from the university. Universities may only participate as subcontractors and must negotiate appropriate terms and conditions through their campus’s Sponsored Projects Offices.

Over the past few years, the Berkeley campus has seen a dramatic increase in SBIR and STTR applications due to the significant funding available from these programs and the enhanced entrepreneurial activity of our faculty. Some of these SBIR/STTR awards have produced a variety of complex situations with regard to financial conflict of interest issues. For example, it is not uncommon for the faculty PI to have a personal business relationship with the small business entity as a founder, scientific advisor, shareholder, officer, etc. Such a situation generates concerns about whether the purpose of the sponsored agreement is to perform the company’s immediate business activities.

Although the regulations for these programs do not prohibit faculty from being both a principal in the company and the Principal Investigator for the campus subcontract, California State law and University-wide policies restrict such a relationship. We are, therefore, required to follow the stricter guidelines.

To address these and other issues surrounding SBIR and STTR funding and to assist faculty who are interested in applying for grants, the Berkeley campus has developed the following guidelines:

  1. The Principal Investigator for the small business SBIR/STTR application and the Principal Investigator for the subcontract to Berkeley must be different individuals.
  2. The business and scientific management officials (CEO, CFO, VP for Science, Chief Technical Advisor, Chief Scientific Officer, etc.) for the business entity may not also be Berkeley campus employees. This includes faculty, post-docs, students, technical assistants, etc.
  3. If a Berkeley campus faculty member (and/or spouse or dependent children) has a substantial ownership in a small business, that same individual may not bring research into his/her own laboratory through a SBIR or STTR subcontract involving the same business
  4. The small business entity’s scope of work must represent a significant portion (over half) of the research and/or development activities for the entire award.
  5. The small business must have evidence of functioning space in which research and/or development activities can and will take place. The campus must not be the location for the immediate research and development activities of the business.
  6. The Principal Investigator for the campus portion of the work must submit the entire proposal (UC Berkeley’s portion and small business’s portion) to the Sponsored Projects Office to enable the appropriate reviews to take place preferably before submission of the proposal to the funding agency.
  7. There must be a clear distinction between the work done by the small business and the work performed on campus. All work done using campus facilities, employees, and/or students must be appropriate research under University of California policy (APM 020 Regulation #4).
  8. Under the University’s conflict of commitment regulations, Berkeley campus faculty may serve as consultants to companies but are discouraged from being an employee of a company. No SBIR or STTR subcontract will be accepted for anyone who is also an employee of the small business unless approval has been obtained from the Chancellor, Executive Vice Chancellor or their designees.

source: UC Berkeley CALmessages:

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