Researcher Guide to Industry Funded Research

The Proposal

Determine What Information the Sponsor Will Require  

The company may issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) or, in the case of government funded research, may forward the government solicitation for guidance. The sponsor guidelines may provide an estimated start date and duration for the effort, and may specify travel requirements, schedule of milestones, etc. Depending on the sponsor’s requirements, a proposal may be quite simple, including just a scope of work (SOW), budget and justification, and an institutional cover letter (to be provided by ISR). More complex solicitations, such as those issued by agencies of the federal government, may require biographical sketches of key personnel, descriptions of related research or a list of current and pending research support involving the investigator, a description of relevant UCI facilities, etc. If we will be subcontracting to a company under a government funded effort, we may be required to submit our proposal on electronic forms specified by the government solicitation.

Prepare the Proposal

1. Select a principal investigator and key personnel who are well suited to perform the proposed research and available to do so in the specified period of performance. See Principal Investigator Eligibility and Exceptions for a description of who may serve as a principal investigator.

2. Write the scope of work (SOW) – The scope of work is often developed in coordination with the sponsor. The SOW could include, depending on sponsor type:

  • Objective or purpose
  • Period of performance
  • A general description of the actions to be performed by UCI and the expected results
  • A description of the specific tasks with associated deliverables (e.g., prototype system, published report of findings, software code)
  • Progress reports to be submitted by UCI – for clarity you may want to specify format and frequency (e.g., monthly email updates, semi-weekly phone calls with the sponsor, PowerPoint slides for the sponsor to include in briefings to government)
  • Project schedule – Delineates the progression of the tasks, reporting dates, and completion dates
  • Information or government-furnished equipment and other resources to be furnished to the subcontractor

Reminder: Even though you may be collaborating closely with the prime contractor or another subcontractor, UCI’s SOW should include only the tasks to be performed by UCI within the budget and period of performance specified in the proposal. This is the “measuring stick” by which the sponsor will gauge our performance.   

3. The budget and justification should be prepared in accordance with the sponsor guidelines and University policy. The budget should include all anticipated costs, both direct and indirect, which would be incurred under the work proposed.  

  • Some prime sponsors, such as Department of Defense Agencies, require detailed budgets to allow DOD proposal reviewers to assess the applicability and reasonableness of the individual cost items proposed. In those cases, obtaining actual quotes for equipment and travel and providing detailed budget justifications are important and can significantly reduce delays in the award process.
  • Research sponsored solely by a company may require a less detailed budget, but the budget must follow University guidelines and be easily understood by corporate decision makers.
  • The sponsor may specify whether any resulting award will be fixed price or cost reimbursable, and whether the effort should be proposed in phases to allow the sponsor to make “go”/“no go” decisions prior to the start of each new phase. These factors should be taken into consideration when developing the budget. For additional guidance, please contact your Industry Contract Officer.
  • Facilities and administrative rates (“overhead”) – the Department of Health and Human Services, UCI’s cognizant government agency, has approved an F&A rate agreement which specifies the overhead rates that UCI is required to apply consistently to its proposed research and other sponsored activities.

Route the Proposal for Internal Approval

Submit the Proposal

  • After your Industry Contract Officer has approved the proposal and generated the institutional cover letter, the proposal may be submitted to the potential sponsor. Follow sponsor guidelines regarding who may submit and how, establishing in advance whether the Industry Contract Officer or department will be the submitter.

Respond to Any Pre-Award Questions from the Sponsor

  • If a sponsor is contemplating an award, it may submit a series of questions to UCI to clarify technical or budgetary information prior to issuing an award. Such questions likely will be directed to the Industry Contract Officer, who will work with you to formulate an appropriate response in a timely manner. In some cases, budget revisions or detailed budget backup (e.g., quotes for equipment or travel) may be necessary.

SBIR and STTR Programs

  • The federal government grants non-dilutive funding for small businesses to develop the commercial potential of their technology through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. A startup or other small business can request UCI faculty join the project as a subcontractor. The UCI faculty member would then submit a subcontract proposal to the company through ISR. Once the government decides to fund the company’s proposal, ISR will negotiate the subcontract with the company.

Additional Resources


Compliance Approvals

As Applicable to Each Project:

Roles of the Investigator, Department Personnel and the Industry Contract Officer

  • Investigator/department personnel: Prepare and submit regulatory compliance documentation; track to ensure approval granted by the date negotiation of an agreement is completed
  • Industry Contract Officer: Verify required compliance approvals are in place prior to execution of an agreement and release of funds


Award Negotiation and Set Up


  • The Industry Contract Officers negotiate with sponsors to ensure the resulting agreements meet the needs of the sponsors and the investigators as well as comply with University policy. ISR is structured with efficiency in mind consistent with Applied Innovation’s mandate to work at the speed of business.
  • Agreement Types: Please see our Agreement Types page

Issuance of a Synopsis

  • Upon execution of the agreement, the Industry Contract Officer will issue a synopsis (a summary of the agreement) and include access to the agreement through the Electronic Synopsis Distribution System.


Post-Award Management

Project Performance: As detailed in the agreement and any exhibits or attachments to the agreement, investigator and department personnel responsibilities generally include the following:

  • Meeting deliverable requirements
  • Meeting reporting requirements
  • Managing spend rates, ensuring allowability of costs, checking timeliness of invoicing and payment, and notifying ISR when expenditures will reach 75% of total obligated funding if required by a federal flow-through subcontract

Other Post-Award Considerations

  • No cost time extensions: When the project will not be completed by the end of the period of performance specified in the agreement, the agreement can be amended by UCI and the sponsor to extend the end date without additional funding.  
  • Other modifications to the agreement: The sponsor and UCI can modify the agreement to accommodate changes, such as altering the deliverables schedule, etc.
  • Closeout: For UCI obligations regarding closeout of a project, please see closeout guidelines.

Researcher Guide to Material Transfers

In order to enhance campus research and increase research collaboration with industry and other academic institutions, UCI encourages the transfer of biological and other research materials to and from our campus. Physical transfer of regulated materials (i.e., radioactive, hazardous or controlled substances or biohazardous agents) must be done in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Any receipt of such materials by UCI must also comply with these regulations.

Before proprietary or valuable material changes hands, a material transfer agreement should be in place. This protects the rights of both parties and ensures agreement on subsequent use, care and further distribution of the material. ISR is responsible for negotiating and executing these agreements on behalf of UCI.

Outgoing Material Transfers

Incoming Material Transfers