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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

Overview – 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 overarching theme of leveraging the private sector for public good. Within that theme, we have identified three key focus areas to support research:

  • Shared Economic Prosperity: The obligation of business to advance equitable opportunity
  • Technology, Innovation and Strategy: The roles of innovation and emerging technologies as change agents in businesses, industries, and the macro-economy
  • Capital Formation: How markets generate and allocate assets to grow the economy

The Kenan Institute especially encourages research proposals that provide insights into topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in any of the focus areas outlined above. To learn more about the Institute’s commitment to DEI initiatives, please read our statement here: https://kenaninstitute.unc.edu/about/kenan-institute-statement-on-diversity-equity-inclusion/

The aim of the program is to assist in funding pilot research projects or promising research that is not a candidate for typical funding sources (eg., 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; however, all UNC-Chapel Hill researchers are eligible. Learn more about the Kenan Institute and its affiliated centers.

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis, until allotted funds run out for the fiscal year. The institute will support up to 50 percent of project costs. There is a maximum award amount of $10,000 per project and grants are provided on a matching basis in conjunction with other funding (e.g., faculty research accounts, other small grants, departmental support, etc.). Accepted projects may not be awarded the the full funding amount requested.

Additional details on the grant requirements are outlined below.

  • Applicants must be UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, postdocs or Ph.D. candidates, with preference given to those with Kenan-Flagler affiliation.
  • As part of their proposal, researchers not affiliated with UNC Kenan-Flagler must include a letter of support from one of the Kenan Institute’s affiliated centers to show alignment with the institute’s research goals. Learn more about the affiliated centers.
  • For projects receiving less than $5,000 in funding, the PI must have a preliminary analysis suitable for sharing via a Kenan Insight within 12 months of being funded. For projects receiving more than $5,000 in funding, the PI must produce two Kenan Insights: one within 12 months and one 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 periodic written project updates
  • Acknowledge Kenan Institute funding when appropriate, including on any final work products
  • PIs awarded less than $5,000 will write a research brief in the format of a Kenan Insight within 12 months of project funding, plus produce a three-to-five-minute video to accompany the written piece. PIs awarded $5,000 or more will be expected to produce two Kenan Insights and videos: one within 12 months and the other within 18 months of being funded. Additional details will be provided once the project is funded. Read our Kenan Insights here: https://kenaninstitute.unc.edu/research/kenan-insights/
  • Grant recipients may be invited to speak about their work at a Kenan Institute research seminar or event.
  • Purchase of datasets
  • Dedicated hourly research support (i.e. research assistant)
  • Travel related to research activities (i.e. to conduct interviews, etc.)

Award amounts are for up to 50 percent of a project’s budget. The maximum award amount is $10,000 (for projects with a $20,000+ budget). The Kenan Institute Small Research Grants are matching grants that require the PI to contribute additional funding for the remainder of the project costs. The Small Research Grant funding cannot be used toward salary support or course buyout, nor can a researcher’s salary be used as a matching component of the grant. A PI can only have one active Kenan Institute Small Research Grant at a time.


Matching Funds

Matching funds can come from a variety of sources, including personal research funds (RATS accounts), other grants and/or departmental support. .

Proposals are accepted through an online portal. Applications for FY2021 will open July 1, 2020.

Click here to apply for the internal small research grant via the Institute’s online application portal.

In the portal, you will create a username and password, and then fill out the proposal application. Please use your Kenan-Flagler or UNC email as your username.

The online proposal will ask for the following:

  • Proposal narrative, including:
  • Project abstract
  • Proposed activities, including research design
  • Description of how the project aligns with the Kenan Institute’s core focus areas
  • Short budget justification
  • Up-to-date resume or CV for PI
  • Any applicable letters of support from Kenan Institute-affiliated centers

You will be able to save your proposal in the online portal until you are ready to submit.

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
  • Appropriateness of budget
  • 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
Funded Projects