The University of Iowa

Sponsored Project and Award Definitions

  1. Sponsored Project Funding v. Gifts
  2. Types of Funding Solicitations
  3. Types of Sponsors and Projects
  4. Types of Awards

a. Sponsored Project Funding v. Gifts

There are two main types of external support:

  • Sponsored Projects Funding, which is sought and processed through the UI Division of Sponsored Programs; and
  • Gifts, which are sought and processed through the Center for Advancement (CFA).

​​​​​​​The two types of funding are distinguished by the level of institutional resources and responsibilities attached to each. Sponsored Project Funding involves a range of responsibilities -- requiring the funds be used as specified by the sponsor, as well as financial accounting, scientific reporting, government compliance, and/or other responsibilities requiring institutional oversight. Gifts, in contrast, carry just a single requirement: to use the funds as specified by the donor.

For additional information on distinguishing Sponsored Project Funding from Gifts, please refer to the Guidelines for Defining, Requesting, and Receiving Gifts and Sponsored Projects Funding, developed jointly by the DSP and CFA offices.

Please note that this Research Administration Handbook focuses on Sponsored Project Funding. Additional information on the Gift procedure is available through the Center for Advancement, e-mailing or phoning 335-3305.

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b. Types of Funding Solicitations

Sponsors issue various types of solicitations to announce funding opportunities and invite applications and proposals, generally distinguished by the nature of the funding program and the type of award that would result. Some common types of solicitations are defined as follows:

  • Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) -- commonly used by U.S. government agencies to contract for basic and applied research and development within broadly defined areas of interest.
  • Funding Opportunity (FO) or Program Announcement (PA) -- commonly used to announce a regularly recurring grant program.
  • Request for Applications (RFA) -- commonly used to announce a specific, more targeted program that will hold a single competition, generally resulting in a grant or cooperative agreement award.
  • Request for Proposals (RFP) -- usually used to solicit proposals to complete very specific work, as prescribed by the sponsoring agency, generally resulting in a contract. Cost is not always the overriding factor in this process, as proposals may also be evaluated in terms of investigator qualifications, research resources, and a number of other criteria.
  • Request for Quotations (RFQ) -- usually used to solicit statements of current prices for items to be procured, when price is the overriding factor.

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c. Types of Sponsors and Projects

Applications and proposals for Sponsored Project Funding may be submitted to a variety of external sponsors, such as:

  • Federal and State Government Agencies;
  • Business Concerns; and
  • Private Foundations, Professional Societies, and other Nonprofit Organizations.

Likewise, proposed projects may involve an incredible variety of activities within the University's research, service, and educational mission, spanning the full range of academic disciplines. Examples include:

  • Basic and Applied research on a subject of mutual interest to the investigator and sponsor, in areas such as the health sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
  • Construction and renovation projects.
  • Equipment purchases.
  • Education and training support for students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • Scholarly endeavors, such as historic and international studies.
  • Creative activities, such as artistic training and performances.
  • Clinical, human subjects-related studies to evaluate a company's technology or product, including preclinical studies as well as Phase I, II, III, and IV human studies.
  • Studies conducted on substances/products/processes the sponsor owns or wishes to develop, sometimes including potential intellectual property that could lead to financial benefit.
  • Public service projects to benefit a community, state, or region.

In spite of the various types of sponsors and projects, Sponsored Project Funding includes some common characteristics, such as:

  • Sponsors place restrictions on the way the funds are used and/or maintain the right to terminate funding.
  • Projects are characterized by stated objectives to be accomplished within a specific period of time and budget, as described in a written proposal.
  • Projects generally require a financial accounting report and/or scientific progress report.

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d. Types of Awards

Sponsored project funding is issued through various types of awards.

  • Grants support specific projects in relation to instruction, research, and/or public service. Project proposals are generally initiated by the University or its investigators. The funding must be used according to the project proposal and any sponsor-specified award terms.
  • Cooperative Agreements represent a particular type of grant that requires a written agreement and anticipates substantial involvement between the sponsor and the University during the performance of the project. Cooperative Agreement proposals are generally initiated by the sponsor.
  • Contracts represent formal, mutually beneficial agreements between the University and sponsor, generally involving projects initiated by the sponsor. Contracts are written, negotiated, and enforceable by law, creating a quid pro quo relationship between the University and the sponsor.