Policy on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs
Policy Statement

To promote innovation through research and development, The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) supports collaborations with small-business concerns (SBC) in furthering research of interest to UTEP faculty. In accordance with SBIR and STTR program guidelines, only the SBC may apply for funding.

However, subcontracting a portion of the funds to research institutions is permitted and in the case of STTR grants, subcontracting to research institutions is required, allowing UTEP faculty members to collaborate with SBC.

The differences between the two programs are as follows:

SBIR Program

  • The principal investigator (PI) must be primarily employed by the SBC
  • Phase I awards are for periods up to six months
  • During Phase I, a maximum of 33% of grant may be subcontracted
  • Phase II awards are for periods up to two years
  • During Phase II, a maximum of 50% of grant may be subcontracted

STTR Program

  • PI’s primary employment is not stipulated, which means that UTEP faculty, staff, or students may be the PI
  • Phase I awards are for periods up to one year
  • Phase II awards are for periods up to two years
  • During Phase I and Phase II, a minimum of 30% of the grant funding (maximum 60%) must be subcontracted to a research institution (i.e., SBC must have formal collaboration with non-profit research institution/university at time of award and for the duration of the award)

Purpose of Policy

This policy has been developed to guide UTEP faculty and staff in their pursuit of SBIR and STTR grant support. Participating in an SBIR or STTR program can create potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment issues. Clear distinctions must exist between activities performed at UTEP and activities performed at the SBC location. To minimize potential conflicts as well as other issues surrounding SBIR/STTR funding applications, UTEP has developed the following guidelines that supplement current policies instituted by UTEP and/or the federal government.

PI Requirements

  • Under the SBIR program, the PI must have his/her primary employment with the SBC at the time of award and for the duration of the award.

  • Under the STTR program, primary employment of the PI with the SBC is not stipulated; i.e. the PI can be a UTEP employee.

  • The STTR program requires research partners at universities and other non-profit research institutions to have a formal, collaborative relationship with the SBC in place.

  • Consistent with federal guidelines, the PI for the SBIR/STTR application and the PI for the subcontract to UTEP must be different individuals.


  • As soon as the PI decides to participate in an SBIR/STTR grant proposal, the PI shall file a Notice of Intent at research.utep.edu/noi clearly marking that the proposal is an SBIR/STTR.

  • The PI for the UTEP portion of the work must submit the entire proposal (UTEP’s portions and the SBC’s portion) to the Office of Research Sponsored Programs (ORSP) to permit the appropriate reviews to take place prior to submission of the proposal to the funding agency.

  • A signed written intellectual property agreement(IP Agreement) between the SBC and UTEP may need to be in place before the SBC can submit its application, which will outline the rights to research results and intellectual property developed under the collaboration. UTEP's Office of Technology Commercialization will coordinate with ORSP to negotiate these agreements and decide whether one is needed on a case by case basis at the time of filing. If funding is received, this agreement will be put in place. The standard template is available for review at the time of filing.

  • Proposals to conduct research at UTEP under SBIR program subcontracts should be reviewed by the appropriate department chair and academic dean to ensure that the proposed work has scientific merit, the work constitutes a good use of UTEP research space, and the work does not compromise the faculty member’s academic responsibilities. This is done through the transmittal process. The Vice President of Research has final approval on the use of UTEP space for SBIR/STTR grants.

  • For all SBIR/STTR subcontracts, UTEP will enter into a written agreement with the SBC that provides legally enforceable terms that establish whether UTEP’s Financial Conflict of Interest in Research Policy or the financial conflicts of interest policy of the SBC applies to the researchers of the SBC. The SBC will be required to certify that its policy is consistent with the requirements of any applicable federal regulations as outlined in section 2.1.2 Collaborators and Contractors in UTEP’s Financial Conflict of Interest in Research Policy.

  • All SBC subcontracted work using UTEP facilities, employees and/or students must be performed under a fully executed sponsored research agreement that clearly delineates the scope of work and deliverables to the SBC. A Non-disclosure agreement (NDA), Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement may also be necessary. This decision will be made by ORSP on a case by case basis.

  • These guidelines apply to all employees, regardless of a nine-month or twelve-month appointment at UTEP. All employees must adhere to UTEP and UT System regulations which require that all employees complete the Request for Prior Approval for Outside Employment form available from Human Resources. As a general guideline, UTEP employees are required to have 80 percent of their time spent on university-related activities.

General questions about these guidelines and the submission of SBIR and STTR proposals can be directed to ORSP. Likewise, UTEP's Office of Technology Commercialization will assist with the development of intellectual property plans and/or the negotiation of resulting subcontracts. Please contact one of the staff at UTEP's Office of Technology Commercialization (techtransfer@utep.edu) if you have further questions.

Investigators are encouraged to visit the individual agency web sites for further instructions on the SBIR/STTR grant programs.

The University of Texas at El Paso  |  Terms Of Use  |  Privacy Statement  |  Required Links