University of Minnesota
Office for Technology Commercialization

Office for Technology Commercialization homeOTC

For Entrepreneurs

Conflict of interest program: SBIR/STTR

A new conflict of interest program at the University of Minnesota addresses concerns that arise when Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and/or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants could be used to fund a startup company based on a university technology.

The new program helps facilitate the creation of startups by enabling U of M faculty members to have a more active role than they had previously. It also gives the startup the ability to contract for use of university facilities while undertaking phases of an SBIR/STTR grant.

Revised process

  • The Office for Technology Commercialization will guide faculty in the formation of the company. Faculty members will hold a majority interest, and the university will hold a significant equity position. In the early stages, the held equity will have no financial value.

  • The faculty member will be responsible for identifying the company's employee who will serve as the principal investigator and lead the grant work. The company will hire this person when the grant is awarded and will take an equity position.

  • Upon successful award of the grant, the Office for Technology Commercialization will work with the faculty member to recruit a formal management team and transition the faculty member's leadership role in the company.

  • The use of the faculty member's university lab for work performed on behalf of the company may be arranged under a sponsored research agreement between the university and the company. Grant funds may be used for this purpose, but the faculty member will not receive compensation directly from the company.

  • Standard disclosure and oversight mechanisms will be put in place as part of this management plan.


Contact the Associate Director of the OTC Venture Center, with questions about the program.

More Information

About SBIR/STTR grants

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program is a highly competitive program that encourages small businesses to engage in Federal R/R&D that has the potential for commercialization. The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program is to stimulate a partnership of ideas and technologies between innovative small businesses and research institutions through Federal R/R&D. Each year, more than $2 billion is available for small businesses in a wide variety of technology areas.

The Department of Defense is the largest funder of SBIR/STTR contracts, and the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, is the largest funder of SBIR/STTR grants.

Learn more