SBIR/STTR Guidance

A number of federal agencies receive mandated set-aside funding to support research and development activities under the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR). Small businesses are eligible to apply for these grants and contracts with the goal of stimulation of technical innovation and private sector commercialization of technology developed through federally-supported research and development. These funds can only be awarded to small business concerns (SBC) as defined by federal regulations.

In some instances, the SBC applicant desires UAB faculty and/or other employees to participate in the research to advance the company’s development aims, facilitate the transfer of technology and improve the well-being and productivity of society. UAB employees also provide valuable experience and knowledge. In other cases, UAB faculty, students, and staff want to start companies and view SBIR and STTR grants as a good way to fund further research and development of intellectual property that they developed at UAB, which is not the intent of these programs. While SBIR and STTR activities are encouraged, they may also give rise to conflict of interest and conflict of commitment issues, and should be discussed with division directors, department chairs, and deans. The University Compliance Office, the Office of Counsel, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship work collaboratively to balance support for entrepreneurial activities with compliance requirements.

See Appendix A in the Faculty Startup Guide for more SBIR/STTR resources and guidance.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • I am a UAB faculty member with an Equity Interest in a UAB Start-Up Entity. I want to apply for STTR funding and UAB (specifically my lab) will be the Research Institution partner. How can make this a smooth process?
    • Reach out to your dean, department chair or division director to facilitate pro-active consideration of the situation. It is the dean or division director’s responsibility to ensure that the conflict of interest and conflict of commitment can be adequately managed and that a COI/COC management plan is instituted and complied with for all parties.
    • Ensure that any equity interest in the start-up company has been fully disclosed with the Conflict of Interest Review Board via their electronic filing system. Interest in a start-up entity, even if the value is nothing or unknown, meets the criteria for a Significant Financial Interest (SFI) and must be disclosed and appropriately managed.
    • Ensure that there is a designated PI of the SBC (company) portion of the research and that there is a designated PI of the UAB (RI) portion of the research, and that they are not the same person.
    • Ensure that the UAB PI submits the 30-Day Notice of Intent to Submit an SBIR/STTR Proposal e-form and that the full proposal and required documents are submitted to the UAB OSP at least 5 (five) business days before you plan to submit the application. Ensure your company has adequate resources to carry out the SBC portion of the research; both technical and administrative. UAB resources may not be used to apply for the STTR or used to perform the SBC portion of the research.
  • I would like the research administrator from my department to help me prepare the SBIR application for my company. UAB is the RI on the SBIR proposal. Is this OK?

    No. University resources may not be used to perform the SBC’s portion of the work, including proposal preparation. The research administrator can provide support for the UAB side of the research collaboration, performing such tasks as preparing the UAB budget, obtaining the Letter of Support from OSP and preparing the subcontract upon award.

  • Can students work for the SBC in which their UAB supervisor or professor has a financial interest while they are enrolled at UAB?

    Possibly. The potential benefits of being involved in a faculty member’s outside activities should be weighed against other considerations such as the student’s ability to concurrently work and effectively engage in their academic activities. Students should share their particular situation with the dean of Graduate School or the associate dean for postdoctoral affairs who will consult with the Entrepreneurial Development Committee. Students who are UAB employees should refer to the question below about UAB employees.