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Specific Proposal Preperations

Commercial/Industrial Sponsors

Commercial/industrial organizations may become an increasingly important source of research support. Support resulting from relatively informal technical discussion between the sponsor and investigator is encouraged. However, the business portion of these agreements must be negotiated by University. Therefore, do not discuss financial or other business aspects of the proposal or the agreement (e.g., monetary compensation, patents, etc.) until you have consulted with the OSP. All proposals must be approved by your primary Department Chair, Vice President for Financial Affairs, the OSP Director and the Provost before they are submitted to the potential sponsor. Failure to do so could result in disapproval of the agreement. Any Confidentiality/ Non-Disclosure Agreement associated with sponsored research support that commercial/industrial sponsors may request of a faculty member will require review by the OSP prior to execution of the agreement.

Unsolicited Proposals

When specific application formats are not provided, the following minimum items should be a part of the unsolicited proposal (in addition to the Sign Off Sheet and the Information Form to Accompany All Proposals):

  • cover letter
  • cover page with space for institutional endorsement signatures
  • statement of work to be performed
  • budget

In cases where the industrial sponsor prefers a negotiated fee per completed unit of service, an internal expenditure budget needs to be developed to explicitly demonstrate that all costs are included. The budget must also include all direct and indirect costs (using the pre-approved percentage).

Copies of any written response from the industry concerning your proposal must be made available to your Department Chair and the OSP. If a formal contract is desired, the Business Office personnel with the OSP will negotiate one with the industrial sponsor.

Be sure you are familiar with Fisk University’s Intellectual Property Guidelines and related policies before you develop any relationships with commercial organizations (see Intellectual Property Policies and Procedures in Section V of this manual). If a commercial or industrial organization initiates contact regarding support of your research, discuss the potential agreement with the Office of Sponsored Programs Director before any formal documents or oral understandings have been formulated.

Formal associations with commercial organizations such as Consulting agreements, Confidentiality/Non-Disclosure Agreements and scientific advisory board agreements require review by Fisk’s OSP at an early stage of discussion (prior to a final agreement, i.e. during the proposal formulation). This action is taken to ensure that they comply with University policies, and that they have been approved in writing by your Department Chair, Division Director and Provost from the standpoint of conflict of commitment. Work for a commercial sponsor, non-profit organization (such as another institution of higher learning), or individual, performed using Fisk’s facilities should be via a contract between the University and the organization, not a consulting agreement between the faculty member and the purchasing agent. For example, screening tests for growth inhibition performed by a Fisk faculty member should be via a contract with the University, not a consulting agreement.

Questions on the Fisk Information Sheet (Appendix F) request disclosure of relationships which may be viewed as conflicts of interest. Reviewing such information will allow the OSP to advise investigators regarding the applicable sponsor and institutional policies.

White Papers/Concept Papers

Some foundations or other agencies will sometimes request a succinct description of proposed work prior to the submission of a full grant application.

This ‘white paper’ or ‘concept paper’ is usually limited to less than ten pages (sometimes as few as one or two pages), with an abbreviated budget or simple statement of approximate cost. White papers which contain a budget that is binding must also be approved via the Sign Off Sheet. If the budget is given as a single line item (that is to say there is NO breakdown whatsoever), approval by the Vice President of Financial Affairs is not required at this stage of the application process. If the agency is interested in your idea, they may request a full proposal, at which time, budget items will be subject to a thorough review. The ‘White Paper’ process is a time saving and cost efficient tool. Investigators do not have to invest large amounts of time and energy into projects that are non-fundable or of no interest to a particular agency. Also, the funding agencies will not have to commit significant resources in the review process of many fully developed grant applications.

Discipline Specific/Targeted Granting

Discipline Specific or Targeted Granting Organizations (American Cancer Society, American Chemical Society, American Association of Retired Persons, etc.)

These organizations may have official application forms which are available upon individual request. Direct communication with the sponsor is necessary. Due to cost cutting efforts, multiple forms will not routinely be sent to institutions, unless individual inquiries are made.

Foundations and Corporate Foundations

There are many different kinds of foundations that will fund projects of Fisk University. Some have application forms others simply require a letter. Direct communication with the sponsor will reveal procedures necessary to apply for support. However, before direct contact with a foundation is initiated, approval must be obtained from the Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

Many foundation programs limit the number of applications per institution for a grant cycle (e.g., David and Lucille Packard Scholars). Such programs need to be cleared through the Office of the Provost and the OSP to determine selection of the applications to be submitted. Time will be required for this process and must be taken into account when faced with deadlines.

Unsolicited project applications to foundations require institution-wide coordination in order to avoid flooding a particular foundation with competing applications. Requests made to the same foundations for both project support and general fund raising may compete against one another. Therefore, the OSP must coordinate the project applications to such foundations with the University Development staff. Discuss your interest in foundations with the OSP and it will clear your ideas with the Vice President for Institutional Advancement.