Partner with Berkeley on Your Company's SBIR or STTR Proposal

Partnerships with UC Berkeley on SBIR and STTR grant applications help small businesses commercialize industry-shifting discoveries with access to the preeminent researchers and remarkable facilities of the world's premier public university. UC Berkeley welcomes the opportunity to translate laboratory research into real world applications that provide long-term societal benefits. The UC Berkeley Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Research Alliances provides a one-stop shop for industry research partners to interact with the campus.  

For details about how the 40-year-old program, referred to as America's Seed Fund, encourages startup companies and small businesses to engage in federal research and development with the potential for commercialization, explore:


Including a subcontractor with research expertise that supplements your small business' capabilities and qualifications can strengthen an SBIR or STTR grant proposal. Applications by small businesses that have not previously received federal research awards can particularly benefit from partnerships with UC Berkeley's world-class researchers. Federal agencies encourage small businesses to take advantage of research expertise and facilities that may be available to them at universities and national laboratories.

When it comes to the STTR program, subcontracting is mandatory. An STTR is defined as a collaboration between the small business applicant and a nonprofit research entity, typically a university or federal laboratory.

Startup companies founded by campus innovators often seek SBIR and STTR funding to support the research and development necessary to bring breakthrough innovations to market.

  1. Find an appropriate SBIR/STTR grant opportunity
  2. Find a Principle Investigator (PI) with expertise that matches the company's needs by searching the UC Berkeley faculty expertise database
  3. Meet with the PI
  4. Define the research project with the PI
  5. PI will provide a proposal for the company’s grant submission
  6. Small business submits the proposal to the federal agency

Both pre-existing inventions and technologies jointly developed with UC Berkeley investigators can be licensed from the university to a small business as the basis for an SBIR or STTR grant proposal. The Berkeley Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) can accomodate a range of licensing alternatives, including exclusive, non-exclusive, field of use, and other limited licenses, detailing the rights to carry out the follow-on research, development, or commercialization activities.

  • To find pre-existing technology to include in your SBIR or STTR grant proposal, search the UC Berkeley database of technologies available for licensing database. Then, simply contact the licensing officer listed to the right of the technology description, or click "request information" in the upper-left corner. 
  • For licensing technologies jointly developed with UC Berkeley investigators, contact the Office of Technology Licensing through the IPIRA Concierge.

UC Berkeley has specialized equipment and laboratory space that can be useful in a company's SBIR or STTR grant application. Learn about the business-friendly agreements for making use of campus research facilities and services through the Berkeley Research Infrastructure Commons (RIC).

If your proposal include publication restrictions, citizenship restrictions, export controlled technology, or information for classified research, reach out early to the federal agency awarding the SBIR or STTR grant for a Fundamental Research Exemption (FRE). The FRE ensures research conducted under the subcontract with UC Berkeley can be shared broadly within the scientific community, without any publication or dissemination restrictions. 

Publication. Under University of California policy, UC Berkeley does not allow fundamental limitations on its freedom to publish results of its own research. The University cannot accept publication restrictions that convey veto or censorship authority, or agreements in which results and/or data generated by the University are not available for its scholarly purposes, including the sharing of information with other researchers. UC Berkeley is, however, able to safeguard a small business’s confidential information to the extent it needs to be shared with university researchers to conduct the work.

Citizenship Restrictions. Under University of California policy, UC Berkeley does not allow restrictions on the citizenship or national origin of those performing the research. Similarly, the University’s Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy [cite and link] prevents the University from accepting provisions in sponsored projects that require discrimination in employment, including discrimination based on citizenship, and UC campuses may not perform employment screening or impose research work restrictions on sponsored projects on the basis of citizenship.

Export Control. UC Berkeley doesn’t accept citizenship restrictions. If your proposal has parts subject to export controls, we encourage that you apply now to the agency for UC Berkeley’s proposal to be under the safe harbor of the Fundamental Research Exemption (“FRE”).

Classified Research. UC Berkeley is a nonprofit U.S. institution of higher education that conducts only unclassified, fundamental research. The University does not undertake classified work or research requiring national security controls. Fundamental research is defined as the conduct of basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community. Payment terms.

Although the federal regulations for these programs do not prohibit faculty from being both a principal in the company and the Principal Investigator (PI) for the campus subcontract, California State law and University of California policies restrict such a relationship, requiring stricter guidelines. The PI tor for the small business SBIR/STTR application and the PIO for the subcontract to Berkeley must be different individuals. Visit the UC Berkeley conflict of interest office website for more guidance.

Errol Arkilic is a Founder of M34 Capital. M34 is an investment company that focuses on seed and early-stage projects being spun out of academic and corporate research labs. Typical investments range from $50,000 to $250,000 and usually represent the first outside capital deployed. M34 focuses on turning science projects into companies across a broad spectrum of technologies and geographic distributions. He is also a Founder of, a nonprofit with a focus on entrepreneurial education for science and engineering graduates.

Location: 2150 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

Dates: Flexible

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Leveraging his 15-year career centered around Department of Defense (DoD) procurement, Chris Fotiadis founded CWF Solutions, a DoD proposal consulting firm that provides strategic guidance during all phases of the bid and negotiation process. With expertise in both Other Transaction Authority and traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation procedures, Chris currently works as a support arm to DoD, where his skill set is utilized to guide small businesses and non-traditional defense contractors to securing government contracts.

Dates: First and Third Tuesday, 2-4pm PT. Inquire to schedule an off-hour consultation.

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Research partnerships with UC Berkeley benefit from specialized facilities like the Marvell NanoLab. The shared research center includes more than 15,000 square feet of Class100 and Class1000 cleanroom, providing more than 100 principal investigators and over 500 academic and industrial researchers a complete set of micro- and nano-fabrication tools.

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