Grant Programs Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs assist applicants with preparing proposals for NCBiotech research grant programs. Please refer to the program web pages for current guidelines and application instructions.
The guidelines state that there is a financial supplement available for an undergraduate intern, but only at non-R1 universities. How can I tell if my university is an R1 university or not?
List of R1 universities in NC
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education assigns universities to classification based on research funding and activity. For Doctoral Universities, there are three main groupings:
• R1: Doctoral Universities - Very High Research Activity
• R2: Doctoral Universities - High Research Activity
• D/PU: Doctoral/Professional Universities
The following R1 North Carolina-based universities are NOT eligible for the financial supplement for an undergraduate intern to work on the project:
• Duke University
• North Carolina State University
• The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
All other universities in North Carolina are eligible to request the internship support supplement of a maximum of $7,500 for an academic year-long undergraduate intern or a maximum of $3,750 for a semester-long intern.
A maximum $7,500 financial supplement is available to researchers at non-R1 universities for the employment of a semester or an academic-year-long undergraduate intern. Where should I indicate that I am requesting the supplement on the budget form?
If you are applying from a non-R1 university, the request for the intern supplement should be a separate line item under the “Non-R1 intern supplement” section of the budget form.
If you applying from an R1 university as indicated above, your project is not eligible for the internship supplement.
I can't do the project without a salary for myself/collaborator/post-doc/tech. The guidelines state that salary is not allowable. Is there any way to request a salary?
For most cycles, the salary for any personnel with a position at the university/non-profit institution is not allowable. Exceptions are made on a per-cycle basis, such as when the topic is mostly computer or digital project-based and the only costs associated with the project are personnel time.
The guidelines change with each cycle and differences in allowable and unallowable budget items will appear in the budget guidelines section. You must use the correct set of guidelines for each cycle of the Flash Grant program.
What is the definition of "disruptive technology" for the Flash Grants?
Disruptive life sciences technologies alter how a market or industry functions, how a product is developed or sold, or how a disease is treated. The technologies may also displace or render previous products, methods, and business models obsolete.
What is the definition of the "translational research phase for development" for the Flash Grants?
The translational research phase of development for life science technologies immediately follows the conclusion of the basic research phase (the “how does it work” phase of research) as it enters the earliest stages of product development (the “what is the product/market/route towards commercialization” phase).
Translational research takes laboratory bench-scale research findings and advances them through subsequent technology development milestones (e.g., in vivo safety studies, clinical trials, agricultural field trials, etc).
A pre-translational Flash project might finalize the essential foundational research necessary to embark on subsequent translation and product development.
Can you give examples of Flash Grant projects?
Examples of Flash Grant projects include:
• Proof-of-concept and feasibility studies for disruptive technologies/discoveries
• Target validation in a relevant system (e.g., functional genomics studies in human cells)
• Compound screening against a validated target; access to compound libraries
• Prototype development
• Scale-up pilot studies
• Optimization studies
• Algorithm development and validation
• Precision feed ingredient studies
• Plant-based products influenced by environmental growing conditions
• Quality assurance of genetic or biostimulant agricultural measures
I am working with a company on a topic for the Flash Grant RFP? Am I eligible to apply for a Flash Grant?
Companies and individuals are not eligible to apply for Flash Grants. Only universities and non-profit research institutions are eligible to apply.
Additionally, any intellectual property (patents/patent applications/copyright/ trademarks, etc) must be held by the university or non-profit institution and cannot be licensed, optioned, or obligated at the time of proposal submission.
At the time of submission, the Principal Investigator (PI) must hold a full-time, tenure-track, or tenured faculty appointment, or an appointment as full-time research faculty with a dedicated independent lab at the applicant institution.
Can commercial/business development projects be funded with a Flash Grant?
Commercial/business development activities can be conducted as part of a Flash Grant, but they cannot be the sole activities proposed and undertaken with Flash grant funding. Commercial/business data to be gathered may include the voice of customer outreach, IP landscaping, market and competitor data, reimbursement strategies, regulatory approval strategies, etc.
I have a great idea for a Flash Grant, but it does not fit into the topic of the RFP for this cycle. May I submit it anyway?
No. All proposals submitted during each cycle must align with the RFP topic and guidelines for the cycle in which it was submitted.
Note: A future Flash cycle might be a more appropriate fit for your idea and that open (non-RFP) Flash cycles are sometimes scheduled. Announcements of upcoming cycles are posted to the Flash Grant web page.
Who should I contact if I think my topic for a Flash Grant fits the RFP, but I am not sure?
Please contact Michelle Collins by email. Her contact information can be found on the Flash Grant website www.ncbiotech.org/flash or on the last page of the Flash Grant guidelines. Make sure to send a brief description of the technology with your message.
When will I hear if I get a Flash Grant award?
Notification of awards is typically made 90-120 days following the submission deadline.
What is the definition of a Core Facility?
Core Facilities Definition (NIH): Core facilities are centralized shared research resources that provide access to instruments, technologies, and services, including expert consultation and other services to scientific and clinical investigators. The typical core facility is a discrete unit within an institution and may have dedicated personnel, equipment, and space for operations. In general, core facilities recover their cost or a portion of their cost of providing service in the form of user fees that are charged to an investigator's funds.
Core Facilities are defined by the following characteristics:
• Have an identified director
• Are open and accessible to all researchers
• Have a chargeback system
• Maintain the following:
• Publicly advertised fee schedule
• Advisory committee
• System for scheduling
May Innovation Impact Grant (IIG) funds be used to purchase pre-owned or demo instruments?
While the purchase of previously used equipment is technically allowable, our priority is to enable the acquisition of equipment that is cutting edge, robust, and has a long usable lifespan. Pre-owned and demo instruments are not likely to be covered by manufacturer warranties and might require expensive repairs due to wear and tear from previous use and/or unseen damage from being shipped multiple times.
We encourage potential applicants to request a pre-submission consultation if they are preparing an IIG proposal for the purchase of a pre-owned or demo instrument.
May I lease some equipment and then apply for an IIG to pay for it on a lease-to-own basis?
No. You must receive the award first, and then purchase the equipment.
The exact equipment we need for our research is not available off the shelf. Can we build or customize the equipment we need with the support of an IIG?
Yes, this is allowable in select situations. We recommend checking with the program's staff to ensure that your request is appropriate.
I would like to purchase two instruments - each costs less than $30,000, but together, they will exceed this amount. Would my request be eligible for IIG funding?
Yes. Requests for two or more pieces of equipment are allowed, as long as the total cost is at least $30,000. The proposal must demonstrate how the combined equipment will bring new capability to the core facility and meet one or more of the impact criteria. A consultation with program staff is recommended for this type of request.
Can a post-doc, a research professor, or a clinician serve as a principal investigator for a TRG?
Anyone who serves as a principal investigator for a TRG must hold a full-time, tenure-track or tenured faculty appointment, or an appointment as full-time research faculty with a dedicated independent lab at the applicant institution, or an equivalent faculty designation in medical/professional school.
A post-doc cannot serve as a principal investigator for a TRG.
For a research professor or clinician, the individual must have a position that meets the eligibility criteria listed above.
What are the Intellectual Property requirements for a TRG project?
At a minimum, TRG projects must have an invention disclosure filed with the university at the time of application. Intellectual property protection can range up to fully awarded patents.
However, the intellectual property covering a TRG project must not have been optioned or licensed at the time of proposal submission. The applicant's technology transfer office must attest in a Letter of Support that the IP rights are assigned to the applicant's institution and have not been committed through a license, option, or letter of intent to license to any third party at the time of application.
Why is a Team required?
Research into team science suggests that teams can often advance scientific research, development, and innovation more productively, with more novelty, and more reach across scientific disciplines. This is true in academic life sciences research as well as in corporate R&D efforts. As the TRG is a step toward commercialization efforts by university researchers, a team effort will likely convey numerous benefits towards the success of the project.
Who must be on a TRG team?
A team consists of four required team members and one optional team member. The required team members are:
• The principal investigator
• The project manager
• Technology transfer officer
An optional team member is a business case advisor.
Please see the guidelines for definitions and responsibilities of these team members roles on the project.
Is a Project Manager required?
Yes, a project manager is a required member of the applicant team. The project manager's role is critical to the success of the project to keep the team on track and on time. The project manager is responsible for holding monthly team meetings and submitting the required quarterly and mid-point reports.
The project manager cannot report to the PI or any other team member.
If your institution does not have project managers available, please contact us, and we can provide you with information regarding potential project managers.
NCBiotech has an agreement with RTI to provide project management services with TRG teams if the project and team are a fit for both the applicant team and RTI. If you would like more information about this potential source of project management services for your project, please contact either Michelle Collins (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Tracey du Laney (email@example.com).
How do I pay the Project Manager?
If a Project Manager is not available through resources at your university, the Project Manager can be paid up to $10,000 from a supplement to the base grant award amount. If you plan to pay the Project Manager from the supplementary funds, it must be indicated on the TRG Budget Form.
Can I pay the salary of all members of my Team?
No, only select personnel on a Team can receive a salary from a grant award. The Team members who are eligible for salary are the:
- Principal Investigator
- Project Manager
- Business Case Advisor
- Any technical personnel who are required to complete the study, excluding undergraduate, graduate, or professional students
The Technology Transfer Officer and the End User cannot be paid for their participation on the Team.
Can I request personnel benefits as part of my budget?
Yes, personnel benefits are an allowed expense. Benefits can be charged only for the person months requested (see definition of "person months" in the Budget FAQ section). If the amount requested on the budget sheet includes benefits, please indicate the breakdown of salary and benefits in the Budget Justification section of the proposal for each person supported on the grant.
What is a milestone?
A milestone is an objective and unambiguous checkpoint during the course of experiments that correspond to the successful completion of key project steps and tasks. Milestones must be proposed such that there is a clear mid-point for the project associated with a go/no-go decision-making point.
Please see the Glossary in the TRG Guidelines (page 17) for details and definitions of tasks and deliverables.
For TRGs, milestone-driven research is used to ensure research is focused on a well-defined goal and that project goals are achieved in a timely and efficient manner. As translational research is inherently high-risk, the use of milestones provides clear indicators of a project's continued success or emergent difficulties.
If invited to pitch, what topics should be covered in the pitch presentation?
The pitch presentation should cover:
1. Team introductions - in which each team member introduces themselves and describes their role on the project
2. A brief scientific background of the project
3. The tasks, milestones, and deliverables of the proposed project
4. A description of the intellectual property that protects this technology and how the project will advance the position of the IP
5. A discussion of the business case (market, patient populations, competition, unaddressed current needs of patients, physicians, users of the technology in development, etc.)
How long is the pitch presentation?
The pitch presentation is 15 minutes long, with up to an additional 30 minutes for questions from the panel of pitch judges.
Do I need to request the full grant amount?
No, the amounts shown are the maximum amount you may request for each grant. If you don’t need the full amount or are only able to acquire a smaller match, then you can request a lesser amount.
What is meant by “percent effort” on the budget form?
Enter the amount (percent) of work time that will be devoted to the project. If you have questions, contact your sponsored programs office for assistance. “Percent effort” has a very specific meaning according to federal regulations and/or university policies. Universities have to document what’s called “certification of effort” on all grant funding.
What is the definition of "person months?" How do I calculate person months on the budget form?
Person months is the metric for expressing the amount of time funded by the Center that PI(s), faculty and other personnel devote to a specific project. This is not the same as percent effort as defined by federal granting agencies. Only calculate person months for personnel supported by Center funding for your project.
To calculate person months, divide the dollar amount budgeted from the grant for personnel support (salary only) by the total salary that person will receive. Do not include benefits in this calculation. Prorate the resulting value based on the type of appointment that person has (annual, 9 month, summer only). See the sample calculations in this PDF. (See separate FAQ regarding benefits).
Are travel expenses allowable?
No, travel expenses are not an allowable expense for our Flash Grant, Translational Research Grant, or Innovation Impact Grant programs.
How do I list supplies?
Supplies should be grouped in categories of approximately $5,000 to $7,500, as reasonable. For example, if you have general lab supplies for $1,800, reagents for $1,700, and solvents for $2,000, you can group them as Reagents and Supplies for $5,500.
If you have $12,000 in “tissue culture supplies,” you can break it down into broad subcategories such as TC media for $7,000, plastics and disposables for $5,000, or whatever grouping makes sense. It is not necessary to list every item separately. If you have a single category that can’t be broken down, such as $10,000 for antibodies, it is okay to list the category as-is.
How do I calculate the match amount for the budget?
The required match amount is a percentage of the amount requested from the Center. For example, if the maximum grant award is $100,000 and the program requires a 10% match, you may request $100,000 and must have an additional $10,000 for the match for a total project cost of $110,000.
Does the match need to come directly from the institution or can it come from another funding source the PI has?
Match funds must be "institutional funding." If you have monies that you received from a grant, or startup funds etc., that is under the control of the institution (i.e., not an outside entity) and is not allocated specifically for another use, then these monies could be used.
Does the match need to come from the PI's department or can it come from another department?
The match could come from a collaborating department.
Can a core facility or equipment be used as part of the match?
The Center allows facility or equipment use fees directly related to the research project to be included as part of the match for a proposal. We do not allow facility or equipment depreciation, overhead, or service contracts to be included in the budget, neither as requested funds or matching contributions.
Is it necessary to have matching funds for each section of the budget form (i.e., salaries, equipment, and supplies)?
No, we do not require a line for line or section by section match, as long as the total match meets the program requirements.
Can I request funds to support a undergraduate student’s salary?
The Flash Grant Program is the only program that allows salary for an undergraduate student. Please refer to the Flash Grant FAQs for more information.
Can I request funds to support a graduate student’s salary?
No. Requesting funds for a graduate student's salary, professional stipend, tuition, housing support, or other fees is not allowed on any of our grants.
Can undergraduate or graduate student salaries be used as matching funds?
What information is required in the Budget Justification?
Justify each line item in the budget. Describe how the funds will be used for specific research. Do not simply provide a detailed list of supplies. Show calculations or supporting information on how the amount was determined. Include information on matching funds. See the example below.
PI: No salary requested; 10% effort. Responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the project. Data collection and purification of compound X.
Co-PI: $7,500 salary course release covers one course release during the first year. This will allow more time to focus on performing experiments, supervising students and technicians in the lab; request $4,000 for one month's salary at 50% effort to conduct sample preparation and data collection.
Technician: $15,000 salary request for two years, 15% annual effort. A technician is necessary for field planting, data collection, sample preparation, pollinator management, and statistical analysis of results.
The department will provide $10,500 in matching funds toward a technician's salary.
$1,750 - Analytical balance: For precise quantitative analysis of plant alkaloids.
We are requesting funds for basic equipment to increase the efficiency and sample throughput capacity.
$9,500 - Thermal cycler: This will be more rapid than our current machine, and will increase the efficiency and sample throughput capacity of the lab.
$9,500 - Benchtop centrifuge and rotors: This is needed to accommodate up to 30 microcentrifuge tubes or 96-well sample plates.
$17,000 - Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer: Digital visualization and documentation system for purity and quantification analysis of PCR product.
$5,985 - Sample concentrator needed to prepare samples for electrophoresis.
$2,500 - Autosampler that allows for good reproducibility of injections, reducing error and improving precision.
The department will provide $5,000 in matching funds for the purchase of the equipment.
Lab reagents are requested to perform DNA extraction, PCR amplification and DNA sequencing. Funds have been requested for enough reagents to generate 360 DNA sequences.
The required reagents and consumables include:
$1,250 over two years - DNA extraction & PCR tubes and pipette tips, Taq DNA polymerase, primers, nucleotides, buffer, adjuvants, QiaQuick PCR purification kit (Qiagen). (Total $2,500)
$4,600 each year - Sequencing supplies, primers, Big Dye® Terminator v3.1 Cycle Sequencing Kit (Applied Biosystems), electrophoresis consumables. (Total $9,200)
Supplies required for analytical HPLC (total $3,500):
• HPLC solvents: 16 HPLC-grade acetonitrile. $250 each year for two years.
• HPLC columns: $1,000 The column is required for the analytical method for quantification of plant compounds. These funds will buy two columns.
• Chromatography standards: $2,000 We are planning on analyzing at least 10 different compounds.
I forgot to set up an account in the online submission portal? Is there any way to submit my proposal by email or by mail?
No, you must have an account on the NCBiotech Funding Portal to submit proposals for any grant program at NCBiotech. Instructions can be found here.
Can someone with a fixed-term full-time appointment (non-faculty) qualify to serve as PI?
Depending on the program, a researcher holding a full-time permanent position with an independent laboratory and research program at a university or non-profit organization can qualify. Visiting professors, adjuncts, and post-docs are not eligible.
Which Biotechnology Center research grant applications allow co-PIs?
All research grant applications must be submitted by a single PI from a university or non-profit organization. The electronic application form does not include space for a co-PI. If you have a co-PI, that information can be discussed in the proposal.
Do co-PIs have to write letters of support?
Yes. Although you include information about the roles of the co-PIs in your proposal, it is important to see, in writing, that your co-PIs are committed to the project.
Is it OK to use an out-of-state contractor for part of the work?
It depends; if there is no in-state source of the work available and it is well-justified in the proposal and budget, then the request may be reviewed positively. However, proposals that do not justify out-of-state work will be unfavorably reviewed.
I am concerned about IP issues. How much detail about my research/technology do I have to put into the proposal?
You are not expected to include proprietary or sensitive details about your research or technology in the proposal. However, you should include sufficient information for staff and reviewers to adequately assess your proposal. Also, include a statement indicating that certain information is omitted so reviewers will not perceive it as a weakness in the proposal.
I have preliminary data that I feel must be included in my proposal. Where should I include this in the proposal?
It is extremely important to include preliminary data in your proposal. The data should be included in the background section.
What are you looking for in a timeline diagram?
There are many ways to do a timeline diagram – you may use a Gantt chart, a bar graph, a line diagram, a table, etc. Be sure to include a short description of each aim or objective and the major tasks necessary to accomplish these aims along with the relative start and completion dates. Here are a couple of examples:
I have received a fund-if-funds permit award notice and am waiting to find out if I will receive funding. I have some time-sensitive quotes - may I begin ordering supplies and/or equipment in hopes of getting the award?
No. If you order any supplies or equipment before the grant contract has been signed and activated, your award will be voided and you will not be eligible to receive funds.
I have been invited to resubmit. Where does my response addressing the reviewer comments go in the proposal? Does it count in the page limitation?
The response must be placed at the beginning of the proposal and each comment or concern should be addressed directly. In some cases, responses to similar concerns can be combined. The response does not count as part of the page limitation; however, it should be concise, written, and submitted as part of the proposal document.
Please note that there are specific guidelines that you must follow in order to resubmit your proposal. Please contact Michelle Collins (firstname.lastname@example.org) for resubmission instructions.
Can I use the same cover sheet and letters of support from my previous submission?
No. We require a new cover sheet and letters of support with current dates and signatures. Also, check the grant program webpage and guidelines for updated instructions and any new forms.
I was notified that I have received funding and I have a question about the award. Whom should I contact?
Contact the Biotechnology Center’s Contracts and Grants Office at email@example.com.
I have received an award with contingencies. Where do I send my response?
Responses should be sent to the Biotechnology Center’s Contracts and Grants Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I apply for a no-cost extension?
A no-cost extension request should be completed and submitted to email@example.com. The no-cost extension form is located here. Please include an overview of the work accomplished to date, an explanation of why the extension is needed, and a justification for the length of the extension period.
Include a new timeline showing completion dates for specific aims and objectives for the remaining experiments. Requests are typically granted for periods of around six (6) months. Longer extensions may be granted if found to be fully justified.
Where can I find grant reporting forms?
Reporting forms can be found on our website at this link.
For more information, please refer to post award requirements at this link.