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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Faculty Options

SBIR grants provide one mechanism for faculty members to participate in small business startups.  SBIR grants require that the principal investigator (PI) be employed greater than 50 percent time with the company.  If a full time faculty member is to be a PI on an SBIR grant, he/she must reduce their UofL employment concurrent with the award.
 
There are three options that can be used to meet this requirement:
 
1.       The faculty member may request an “entrepreneurial” leave of absence to pursue SBIR efforts as the PI.
 
2.       If the faculty member is eligible for sabbatical, the sabbatical leave may be used to serve as the PI for the SBIR grant.
 
3.       The faculty member develops the grant proposal in collaboration with another individual who is not a full time faculty member (e.g., an individual working for or willing to work for the small business which is pursuing the SBIR grant) who will serve as the PI and work for the company at least half time.
 
Options 1 and 2, require the faculty member to follow the normal approval process within his/her respective unit for obtaining a leave of absence or sabbatical.   The decision to take a part time or full time leave will depend on the needs of the unit and the particular SBIR grant proposal. 
 
Faculty wishing to pursue option one or two may continue to participate in the University’s fringe benefit programs (even though they are technically less than 80% employed by UofL.) if the SBIR company pays the appropriate pro-rata share of fringe benefits to the University. For example, if the SBIR company hired the PI at 60% time, the company would pay 60% of the benefit costs into the U of L benefit account. This arrangement means the faculty member does not have to deal with transitioning between fringe benefit programs for temporary leaves.
 
Faculty members who wish to be involved in an SBIR but at a time commitment less than 50% would do so through a normal sponsored program subcontract or within the outside work rules currently in place for University faculty. 
 

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