Small Research Grants

The Kenan Institute’s Small Research Grant Program funds UNC-Chapel Hill research projects that align with the Institute’s mission to advance the understanding of entrepreneurship, economic development, and global commerce for the public good.

The aim of the program is to support pilot research projects or promising research that is not a candidate for typical funding sources (i.e., federal grants or foundation support).  Preference is given to researchers from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, and researchers who are  sponsored by one of the Institute’s affiliated centers. Learn more about the Kenan Institute and its affiliated Centers.

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. The Institute awards a maximum of $14,500 per project (up to 18 months long) and grants are provided on a matching basis in conjunction with other funding. Additional details on the grant requirements are outlined below.

  • Applicants must be UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, postdocs, or PhD candidates with preferences given to those with Kenan-Flagler affiliation.
  • Non-Kenan-Flagler affiliated researchers from UNC must include a letter of support from one of the Kenan Institute’s affiliated centers in their proposals to show alignment with the Institute’s research goals. Learn more about our affiliated centers.
  • Although the research project does not have to be complete, the PI must have a preliminary analysis suitable for sharing via a white paper or report within 18-months of being funded.
If your research project receives a Kenan Institute small research grant, you will be expected to:

  • Allow the Kenan Institute to post the research project abstract on our website and other outreach channels;
  • Provide brief, written quarterly updates on project progress;
  • Acknowledge Kenan Institute funding when appropriate including on any final work products;
  • Submit a final report, white paper, or working paper suitable for distribution within 18 months of receiving the grant. This report does not need to be a completed academic paper, but at least 10 pages of summary results to date, implications, next steps, etc.
* not a comprehensive list

  • Purchase of datasets
  • Dedicated hourly research support (i.e. research assistant)
  • Travel related to research activities (i.e. to conduct interviews, etc.)
  • The Kenan Institute Small Research Grants are matching grants that require the PI to contribute additional funding (ex. departmental research contributions) for some of the project costs. As project costs increase, the Kenan Institute Small Research Grants may cover a larger percentage. The breakdown is as follows:
    • 30 percent for the first $5,000K
    • 50 percent from additional costs between $5,001-10,000K
    • 70 percent from additional costs between $10,001-25,000K
  • The Small Research Grant funding cannot be used toward salary support or course buyout.
  • A PI can only have one active Kenan Institute Small Research Grant at a time.

Details of Kenan Institute’s matching grants based on total project costs:

Kenan Institute Matching % Project Costs Grant Amount
30% First $5,000 up to $1,500
50% $5,001 – $10,000 up to an addt’l $2,500
70% $10,001 – $25,000 up to an addt’l $10,500
Max% $14,500
Please submit a proposal and email it to with the subject line “Small Research Grant Proposal.”

Please submit proposals in a PDF document that includes a cover page, three page-long maximum proposal narrative, short budget justification, updated resume or CV for PI, and any letters of support from a Kenan-Institute affiliated center.

The title page should include:

  • Name, email address, phone number, UNC Status (i.e., professorial title, PhD Student, Postdoc) departmental and college affiliation
  • Proposal title
  • Date of submission
  • Total dollar amount of project including itemized list of expenses
  • The source and amount of funds to be matched

The proposal narrative should not exceed three pages, should be single-spaced, and include:

  • A one-paragraph abstract written in the third-person for posting on the Kenan Institute website, if the project is funded
  • A comprehensive description of proposed activities, including details about the research design
  • Short description of how the project aligns with the mission of the Kenan Institute and/or one of its affiliated centers
Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. All proposals are evaluated by an internal committee using the following criteria:

  • Quality of research objectives and proposed design;
  • alignment with Kenan Institute’s mission and research goals;
  • innovativeness and whether the work is likely to inspire future research, and
  • appropriateness of budget.

We also consider the likelihood of the research resulting in publication in peer-reviewed journals. The PI will receive notice about whether the project will be funded within four weeks of submission.

Supporting pilot research projects or promising research that is not a candidate for typical funding sources

Submit a Proposal