If the small business with which you have a personal and/or financial relationship is applying for SBIR or STTR funding, please scroll down on this page and read the information in the What are the Conflict of Interest (COI) issues I should be aware of before my small business applies for SBIR/STTR funding? box.


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that aims to encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. You can learn more about the SBIR program and its participating agencies on the U.S. Government’s SBIR About page.

Like the SBIR program (See above), the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program provides funding opportunities in the Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) arena. It requires the small business and a research institution to formally collaborate during Phase I and Phase II (as defined on the U.S. Government’s STTR About page in the “Three Phase Program” section). You can learn more about the STTR program and its participating agencies on the U.S. Government’s STTR About page.

Please visit the U.S. Government’s SBIR and STTR page to learn more about each program’s eligibility requirements.

The SBIR program allows but does not require the involvement of a non-profit research institution, while the STTR program requires collaboration with a non-profit research institution in the form of a sub-contract. In both cases, the application organization must be a small business.

The coordinating agency for the SBIR and STTR programs is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA explains that STTR differs from SBIR in three important aspects:

  1. The STTR program requires the small business and its partnering institution to establish an intellectual property agreement detailing the allocation of intellectual property rights and rights to carry out follow-on research, development, or commercialization activities.
  2. The STTR program requires that the small business perform at least 40% of the R&D, and the single partnering research institution perform at least 30% of the R&D. By contrast, the SBIR program requires that the small business perform at least 67% of the research work in Phase I and at least 50% of the research work in Phase II (as defined on the U.S. Government’s SBIR About page in the “Three-Phase Program” section).
  3. Unlike the SBIR program, the STTR program does not require the Principal Investigator to be primarily employed by the small business.

If the small business with which you have a personal and/or financial relationship is applying for SBIR or STTR funding, you may have a Conflict of Interest (COI). It is important to contact the COI Office before or during the proposal stage so that preliminary COI management plan work can occur prior to award notification. Please fill out the NC State SBIR & STTR Programs form and email it to the COI Office at coi-noi-compliance@ncsu.edu so that we have the information we need to assess your particular situation. Once our office is in receipt of your form, a COI compliance administrator can begin to determine the appropriate management strategies for your situation and draft a COI management plan to address actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

The form includes the following information:

  • Name of agency and program (SBIR/STTR) to which the small business is applying
  • Assurance that you have submitted a COI disclosure for the most recent disclosure period, and that it is up-to-date and includes details about your relationship and role in the small business
  • Assurance that a Notice of Intent (NOI) form for External Professional Activities for Pay has been filed, if applicable (See the NOI FAQs page for help determining whether you need to file an NOI form)
  • Name of the PI for the small business
  • Name of the PI for the the sub-award to NC State
  • Percentage of work to be performed by the small business, including a brief description of how and where it will be accomplished
  • Percentage of work to be performed via the sub-award to NC State, including a brief description of how and where it will be accomplished
  • Written assurance from the small business PI that indicates they have reviewed the agency’s SBIR/STTR guidelines (including the eligibility requirements) and have determined that the small business can and will comply with the stated guidelines/requirements

Please contact the COI Office at coi-noi-compliance@ncsu.edu.

You may also be interested in viewing the COI FAQs page, the Management Plan Guidance page, and/or the NOI FAQs page.

Return to COI & NOI Home