In order to use University staff and equipment to support the work of the small business, a formal contractual agreement under which the small business will compensate the University for all expenses incurred, including full indirect costs, must be signed by the appropriate University and small business personnel. (Normally, an authorized signer in Grants and Contracts would sign for the University.) If you are intending to employ graduate students to work on the project, additional issues need to be resolved prior to any work being completed (see also question on graduate students below).
Yes, The paperwork for the proposed project must be approved through the normal proposal routing process prior to the small business submitting the full proposal to the intended sponsor, e.g., NIH. The paperwork should include a fully completed routing form, a statement of work, a budget, and any other information required by the small business or the University, e.g., a letter verifying that the investigator will become a less-than-half-time employee of the UC Denver. (See Fiscal Policy 4-5 for more information on the routing process.)
Yes, in fact subcontracting is the only way the University should be involved in any SBIR. Generally, the Dean of your school or his/her designee should be reflected as PI at UC Denver. (The PI at the small business should not be the PI at UC Denver. Such an arrangement will be perceived as a conflict of interest.) Grants and Contracts has a standard agreement that can be used to formalize the relationship. Usually, the only sections that are modified for each agreement are the Statement of Work, the Budget, and any federal terms that need to be added by the sponsor's requirements.
In accordance with the Conflict of Interest policy effective January 1992 [and updated August 1999], faculty members are required to disclose potential conflicts of interest and/or commitment to the head of their primary units (division or department) on an annual basis. Depending on the nature of the disclosure, several successive higher levels of review may also be involved. In addition, faculty members should be aware that if they are on the Medical Staff of University Hospital or any other hospitals, they would be required to comply with the hospital's conflict of interest policy as well.
Yes, faculty members should make themselves familiar with the current Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy for University of Colorado. As of the date of this writing, the policy in effect is dated January 28, 1992, with a UC Denver implementation letter dated September 9, 1994 and signed by the Executive Vice Chancellor. (It is anticipated that UC Denver's implementation letter will be updated in the near future.) Before a SBIR proposal is submitted to a potential sponsor, an update of the investigator's annual disclosure must be made if the investigator's relationship with the small business is not already identified in the most recent disclosure. The investigator's chair will need to be fully informed of the investigator's relationship with the small business.
In addition, the Public Health Service (PHS) has policies on objectivity in research which would make a clear disclosure of the relationship between the small business and its principal investigator and UC Denver and its principal investigator advisable. (For additional information on PHS requirements as it relates to SBIRs see 42 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 50.602.)
You will want to be aware of the policies covered in the Faculty Handbook, particularly the following sections in Part 5: I. Academic Freedom; III. Classified Research; V. Conflict of Interest; VIII. Discovery and Patents; XIII. Human Research Subjects and Animal Studies. You will also want to be aware of the federal policies as defined in the application guidelines.
If you are the principal investigator for the small business under an SBIR, you can only maintain a maximum of 49 percent appointment with the University. The 49 percent must be for University-related business and must not include compensation for work performed in relation to the small business. As outlined on the first page under "Eligibility," the PI must have primary employment with the small business, which is defined as an appointment of 51 percent or greater.
Use of the University name or your title at UC Denver would normally be prohibited (see the Faculty Handbook, Page V-47, Use of the University's Name in Advertising, for more information). If you have a situation that you think would justify using UC Denver information, direct a written request to the University of Colorado President routing through the head of your primary unit for approval and the University Counsel (at UC Denver) as the coordinating entity.
Currently, federal regulations specify that the rights to data, copyrights, and patents rest with the small business. However, because UC Denver is a state institution and cannot transfer state resources for private gain, UC Denver would negotiate language in any subcontract from a small business to obtain compensation for any rights developed by UC Denver employees in the course of their UC Denver employment. (See question 3 above for more information on the subcontract.)
Yes, as indicated by the NIH guidelines, research space occupied by an SBIR awardee must be space which is not generally shared with another organization and over which the SBIR awardee has control. In other words, the work that is conducted by the small business (not subcontracted to UC Denver) should be in space rented or owned by the small business.
The small business is liable for products or services it makes or sells and thus it is recommended that the small business obtain insurance coverage for any of its products or services. Insurance protection you have as a faculty member does not extend to work performed as an employee or shareholder of a business. Any agreement with UC Denver will not include indemnification of the small business as UC Denver cannot indemnify a third party.
Retirement Plan - There are two components to the faculty retirement plan: 1) Social Security - University and employee contributions will continue on all salary paid by the University, regardless of percentage of appointment. 2) University Retirement Plan - Participation in the University sponsored retirement plan requires an appointment of 50 percent or greater.
Since the SBIR grants require the faculty member to reduce their University appointment to 49 percent, or less, participation in the University sponsored retirement plan must be discontinued. If the appointment is subsequently increased to 50 percent or greater, participation in the University sponsored retirement plan is resumed. Group Insurance Plans - The group insurance plans include health, dental, life, short and long-term disability, and personal accident coverage. Participation in the University's group insurance plans requires an appointment of 50 percent or greater.
Since the SBIR grants require the faculty member to reduce their University appointment to 49 percent, or less, participation in the University sponsored group insurance plans must be discontinued. Continuation in the health and dental insurance plans is available under the COBRA provisions (the time period of continued coverage is determined by COBRA). The Benefits Office provides information regarding coverage under the COBRA regulations to all employees who become ineligible for coverage, regardless of the reason. Under the COBRA provisions, the employee pays the full premium, which includes the employer's and employee's portion of the premium, plus an administrative fee. Tax Deferred Annuities - Employees with less than 50 percent appointments continue to be eligible for the tax deferred annuities available through the University.
Reimbursement Accounts - Employees with less than 50 percent appointments continue to be eligible for the medical and dependent care reimbursement accounts.
Any involvement of graduate students as employees of UC Denver under a subcontract with the small business will require approval of the Dean of the Graduate School and normally would not be recommended. It would also not be appropriate for graduate students to work uncompensated on an SBIR project. If use of graduate students is identified at the proposal stage, the proposal routing form must have the signature of the Dean of the Graduate School prior to being submitted to Grants and Contracts. (See Fiscal Policy 4-5 for the routing form.)
When including graduate students on a project, you should consider each of the following questions: 1) Would the terms of the agreement interfere with the student's ability to complete and publish his or her thesis or dissertation? 2) If it does, but not for more than six months, does the graduate student understand and accept the terms of the agreement? 3) If the delay is for longer than six months, is the student in the position of feeling pressured to accept terms because of the faculty member's position? 4) Is the student aware of the university's policy on patents rights and the specific terms of this agreement?
The answers to the questions in the preceding paragraph become particularly critical if you have any position of authority in relation to the student, e.g., dissertation committee chair.
Omnibus Solicitation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Food and Drug Administration for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant Applications.
Contact Grants and Contracts to get information on how to obtain the application identified in the previous question. Also contact Grants and Contracts with questions on any proposal to be submitted to the small business or on the subcontract to UC Denver. Grants and Contracts phone number is (303) 724-0090.
For other information, contact:
- Technology Transfer Office, at (303) 724-0221, or
- University Counsel, at (303) 315-6617