RA Basics Job Aid - Sponsor Types


Sponsors are the agencies that fund the research. That is, the external entity with whom we enter into an agreement to do the research project. The agreement type and the sponsor will drive how you prepare the proposal, which office you submit through and how you manage the agreement. There are various types of sponsors.

NOTE: In an FDA-regulated clinical trial, Sponsor means a person or organization that takes responsibility for and initiates a clinical investigation. This is the entity that has authored the clinical trial protocol.

Prime Sponsor: The entity that funds the research; the originating source of the project funding. Example: NSF funds Stanford University who then gives a subaward to UCSD. In this case, the Prime Sponsor is NSF and the Sponsor is Stanford University.

Federal Flow-through Funds: When the initial source of funds for a project is directly attributable to the federal government through a grant or contract to a non-federal sponsor and the funds are received by the University from the non-federal sponsor.

Example: DOD funds Harvard University who then gives a subaward to UCSD. In this case, the Prime Sponsor is DOD and the Sponsor is Harvard University. Harvard would also be referred to as the ‘pass-through’ or ‘flow-through’ entity.

Sponsor Type Checklist

Sponsors can be divided into two categories: government and non-government.

Sponsor TypeCategoryExamples
State of California
CA Dept of Public Health
San Diego County Health and Human Services
City of San Diego
Port of San Diego
Nonprofit or FoundationNon-government
The Wellcome Trust
United Way
Trust Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Institutions of Higher LearningNon-government
University of Colorado
Stanford University
Korea University
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Tokyo Gas
UC ProgramsNon-government
UC Office of the President (UCOP)
Multi-Campus Agreements (MCA)
Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP)

Sponsor Type Tips and Tricks

Federal: Not all federal are handled the same or use the same forms, systems, budget periods, etc. Read the announcement carefully; sometimes they are not one organization with one set of guidelines (such as NSF), but instead have separate funding agencies with different submission methods and guidelines, such as the DOD.

State: Read the announcement carefully to be clear if we are conducting service or research. Check the IDC rate as it is different than the federally negotiated rate.

Local: Look out for requests for proposals or qualifications. For example, do we agree to terms at the proposal stage? Are we providing service or conducting research? IDC is commonly 10-12%.

For-profit/Industry: Pay attention to the IDC rates as we can only accept our federally negotiated rate. Often there is no formal solicitation, so it is important to work with your SPO officer early in the process to make sure the terms align with UCSD policy.

Nonprofit and Foundations: The IDC policy of nonprofits and foundations supercedes the federally negotiated rates. Follow the instructions in the solicitation, and if anything is vague, contact the sponsor directly for guidance, as well as your SPO officer. They might only have a single person reviewing proposals as well as a shorter review period than the federal sponsors.

Institutions of Higher Education: Typically, this type of sponsor is for an incoming subaward. You will work with the flow-through entity, not the prime sponsor.

Foreign (universities, governments, for-profit, non-profit) is a catch-all for any institution that is based outside of the United States. It doesn’t matter if it is a government entity such as the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade, or an institution of higher learning such as the Tokyo University; if it is foreign-based, that is how it is categorized and this supersedes any other classification.

UC Programs is any funding opportunity that comes from the University of California Office of the President, or UCOP. UC Programs includes multi-campus research programs and initiatives.

Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP)

The Federal Demonstration Partnership is a cooperative initiative among 10 federal agencies and 217 institutional recipients of federal funds for Phase VII. Its purpose is to reduce the administrative burdens associated with research grants and contracts. The FDP is a unique forum for individuals from universities and nonprofits to work collaboratively with federal agency officials to improve the national research enterprise.

Additional information can be found at www.thefdp.org.

For the FDP Expanded Clearinghouse, click here to find the list of Participating Organizations which have agreed to review each other's published profiles in lieu of sending/receiving individual subrecipient commitment forms containing the information posted on their profile. Minor exchanges of data that are transaction/subaward specific (e.g., such as an IRB approval, Statement of Work, or budget) may occur between the pass-through entity and the subrecipient, provided that such exchanges do not require completion of data already appearing on the entity's published profile.