The federal government mandates that many federal agencies must commit certain percentages of their funding to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program.
This funds grants to small business for research, and these grants often involve (or must involve, in the case of the STTR Program) subcontracts to universities for conduct of part of the research. These subcontracts are established according to procedures and guidelines very similar to those for industry-sponsored research.
Initially, however, the process resembles applying for a federal grant. The company is the grant applicant, but the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health principal investigator must work with the company applicant to develop the grant application and budget as it relates to work to be done at the university, according to federal guidelines.
The UW School of Medicine and Public Health must formally agree to support the grant application before the company submits it. This is done by preparation of a WISPER record and routing through the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
The Office of Industry Engagement (OIE) interacts with the company during this process, ensuring that there is agreement on terms governing rights to intellectual property arising from the university’s research, before the submission of the grant. Therefore, materials must be submitted to the OIE at least two weeks before the grant deadline to enable us to accomplish this task.
If the grant is awarded, a contract must be established between the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the company before initiation of work. The principal investigator should notify the OIE, and an agreement will be negotiated and signed.
Procedures for Establishing SBIRs and STTRs
1. Intellectual property agreement.
Notify Andy Chen at the OIE as soon as a proposed SBIR or STTR is identified. OIE will contact the company to agree on contract language governing rights to intellectual property arising from the university research, should the grant be awarded. Do this at least two weeks before the agency deadline. Four to six weeks before the agency deadline is preferable to allow for any difficulties arising in the intellectual property discussion.
2. Establish the scope of work and budget
The investigator works with the company to agree upon a scope of work. The investigator then builds a budget for this workscope, applying the federal grant budgeting principles. The company always pays the full indirect costs at the current federal rate, which are true costs allocated across all projects, and which pay for maintenance of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health research infrastructure.
Department administrators will assist with budget development, and the OIE offers a spreadsheet that assists in calculating costs. Upon request, OIE will review these budgets before they are presented to a sponsor, and this step can save the need to present a modified budget to the sponsor if OIE finds changes that need to be made upon later review.
3. Prepare the WISPER record
The principal investigator and/or staff, with the help of departmental administration as needed, completes the WISPER record. Questions regarding this procedure should initially be directed to departmental administrators, who have been trained to enter agreements into WISPER. In addition, the following items need to be included as attachments in the WISPER record:
- Face page of SBIR or STTR grant application
- Budget pages from the SBIR or STTR application showing UW budget and the total grant budget
- Page for University of Wisconsin-Madison signature required to be included in the company’s application to the federal agency, if any. These could be a consortium agreement, letter of intent or bottom of budget page, depending upon the agency and the program. All STTRs should have a sign-off page for the university.
- Scope of work to be done at UW-Madison
- A copy of any portion of the grant application that describes the contractual arrangements with UW-Madison
4. Send a PI signature request and chair approval for the WISPER record
Then route to SMPH for dean’s office review.
5. SBIR and STTR grant application processing by the Office of Industry Engagement and Research and Sponsored Programs
- The Office of Industry Engagement(OIE) will review the WISPER record for completeness, and route the record back to the listed departmental contact if all the required information is not filled in, or if additions or corrections are needed. Note that this adds effort and delays the process, so it is important for the WISPER record to be complete upon initial routing.
- OIE will obtain a commitment from the company to agree to intellectual property terms consistent with university policy, should the grant be awarded
- The SBIR or STTR will be forwarded to Research and Sponsored programs. The principal investigator and departmental contact will be notified when this occurs
- RSP will sign any required documentation needed for the grant, and will notify the principal investigator when it has signed the WISPER recording, indicating university commitment to fulfill its obligations under the grant, if awarded
6. Procedure after grant award
If the grant is awarded to the company, the principal investigator should contact Andy Chen at the OIE. OIE will then negotiate a research agreement with the company, and notify the principal investigator regarding final steps to put the contract into place and set up a UW-Madison account.