Internal UNC 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 Ashley_Brown@Kenan-Flagler.unc.edu 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.

Grant awardee: Travis Howell, UNC Kenan-Flagler PhD Candidate, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Project Abstract: Mostly unheard of ten years ago, the global number of coworking spaces has grown dramatically in recent years. Due to its prevalence, popularity, and potential for disruptive change, coworking is increasingly relevant to theory, practice, and policy, yet it is largely unstudied given the rapid rise of the phenomenon. Additional research is needed to catch up with practice, which is increasingly embracing coworking. This study offers exploratory insights into what promises to be an important and impactful phenomenon in the study of entrepreneurship. Specifically, this study addresses the following questions: Why do entrepreneurs choose to work in coworking spaces, and what (if anything) do they gain from it? Overall, the findings suggest that new ventures benefit from coworking in substantive ways. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.

Grant awardee: David Leather, UNC Chapel Hill PhD Candidate, Economics
Project Abstract: This paper studies how Term Auction Facility (TAF) overcame the stigma associated with Discount Window (DW) borrowing. We construct a model in which banks have private information about their financial strengths. They can either borrow from the always-available DW or bid in the periodically-held TAF. Meanwhile, they face the danger of being detected borrowing and inferred of their financial weaknesses. In equilibrium, weaker banks borrow from the DW immediately, for two reasons. First, they have higher cost of waiting for TAF. Second, the possibility of losing in the auction is more costly for them. We show that the auction setup endogenously generates single-crossing properties that separate stronger banks from weaker ones. Finally, we show that the introduction of TAF encourages participation only during periods of financial stress. We confirm our theoretical findings with data between 2007 and 2010.

Grant awardee: Yunzhi Hu, UNC Kenan-Flagler Assistant Professor of Finance
Project Abstract: This paper studies how Term Auction Facility (TAF) overcame the stigma associated with Discount Window (DW) borrowing. We construct a model in which banks have private information about their financial strengths. They can either borrow from the always-available DW or bid in the periodically-held TAF. Meanwhile, they face the danger of being detected borrowing and inferred of their financial weaknesses. In equilibrium, weaker banks borrow from the DW immediately, for two reasons. First, they have higher cost of waiting for TAF. Second, the possibility of losing in the auction is more costly for them. We show that the auction setup endogenously generates single-crossing properties that separate stronger banks from weaker ones. Finally, we show that the introduction of TAF encourages participation only during periods of financial stress. We confirm our theoretical findings with data between 2007 and 2010.

Grant awardee: Paige Ouimet, UNC Kenan-Flagler Associate Professor of Finance
Project Abstract: In this paper, the authors, Paige Ouimet and Elena Simintzi, propose to investigate the impact of the opioid crisis on firms. The US has experienced a rapid increase in the use of opioid drugs. Currently, the abuse of opioids has reached epidemic proportions, with annual deaths from opioids of over 1 in 10,000 Americans. These staggering rates of addiction, hospitalization and often death has had a significant impact on the US male labor force participation rate (Krueger 2017). In this paper, we plan to use geographic variation in the timing and scale of the opioid epidemic to identify the consequences for firms. A greater rate of opioid addiction will likely harm the local economy, depressing demand and hence business growth. Thus, to identify the impact specific to the labor channel, we will look for evidence of firms investing more in technology specifically designed to reduce labor needs. In addition, as investment in these labor-saving technologies typically requires a higher up-front cost and lower operating costs, relative to hiring employees to do the same job, we expect pre-existing financial constraints will limit the ability of some firms to adopt the labor-saving technology. Finally, we predict these consequences will be unevenly felt by firms, and will primarily impact high growth firms with large needs for low- and middle-skill labor. Understanding the impact of the opioid epidemic on firms via a labor shortage channel is important to evaluate the total impact of the crisis on the US economy.

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

Submit a Proposal