BIBS Innovation Fund

BIBS Innovation Fund – Round 2


The Brown Institute for Brain Science (BIBS) is announcing a second round of “BIBS Innovation Awards”.  The goal of these grants is to help brain scientists launch new, highly creative research projects with great potential that are too risky and early stage for NIH or other external funding sources.  BIBS will make significant investments of up to $100K for one year to support ideas that, if successful, would have high scientific impact and generate new external funding.  An interim review during the first year must demonstrate progress towards the research goals in order to continue funding for the entire year.  However, if specific milestones, agreed to at the time of the award, are met, a second year of funding may be available on a competitive basis.  For this round, BIBS intends to fund one or two new projects.  In addition, projects funded in 2014 may apply for a second round of support, if they have met  the criteria described above.

Eligibility –The BIBS Innovation Fund is open to all faculty members who are brain scientists at Brown and its affiliated hospitals.  Any basic or translational research that is within the BIBS mission is eligible for support.  However, strictly clinical research is not eligible.  Collaborative interdisciplinary projects with more than one Principle Investigator (PI) are encouraged but not required.  Restrictions include:

  • Individuals may not submit more than one application to the BIBS Innovation Fund at a time.
  • Individuals who have an Innovation Fund award are not eligible to apply for a second.

Award terms – The maximum allocation for each grant from the BIBS Innovation Fund will be $100K.  Awards are for one year but may be renewable for a second year on a competitive basis. 

Budget – The BIBS Innovation Fund may be used for expenditures required to complete the proposed project.  It is not designed to be an equipment grant but equipment purchases will be allowed, if well justified and essential for the project to succeed. Typical allowable expenses include:

  • Salaries for students, postdocs and/or research support personnel
  • Supplies
  • Reagents
  • Core facility user fees


Funds cannot be used for:

  • Faculty salaries
  • Travel to scientific meetings
  • Publication costs
  • Invited speakers
  • Entertainment
  • Indirect costs

Application process – An application must include the following:

  • Cover letter – Include a letter signed by the PI, or co-PIs, containing the title of the proposed project and a brief explanation of how it meets the goals of the BIBS Innovation Fund.
  • Biographical sketches - NIH or NSF style biosketches are required for the PI or co-PIs only.
  • Research proposal – This section should be limited to 3 pages, including figures and tables, and it must contain:
    • A one page NIH-like Specific Aims, with a very brief background section that supports the rationale and potential impact of the project;
    • A description of the experimental approach and plan for the year;  
    • A separate section called ‘Innovation’ that includes an explanation of how this funding could have a transformational impact on the lab’s research program and on Brain Science (broadly defined).

Note – References are not part of the 3-page limit but the list should be short; not exhaustive.  You may point to .pdfs of key publications (e.g. on your website) as supporting material, but the proposal should not depend on this information.

  • Anticipated progress – On a separate page outline specific goals (as a bullet list or narrative) that you expect to reach within the first 6 months and the full 12 months of the grant period.  If your application is approved for funding, these milestones will be discussed with BIBS leadership and possibly modified, considering feedback from reviewers.  Milestones/goals will be used as a basis for measuring progress for continuing funding at 6 months and in considering a possible second year of support.  Limit this to 1 page.
    • A description of progress related to the agreed upon milestones.  Have all milestones been met and, if not, why not?
    • A list of all publications (papers and abstracts) and presentations that are based, at least in part, on data generated as a result of this award
    • A list of submitted grant applications that include preliminary data resulting from this award.  Include the outcomes of those applications (funded, not funded, under review)

Limit this to 1 page.

  • Budget – Indicate the amount requested and how it will be allocated, using the eligible categories listed above.  Provide a very brief justification for personnel and equipment (above $10K) and for other categories that exceed $15K, especially where the links between the project and the budget item are not readily apparent.
  • Documentation of appropriate IACUC or IRB approval should not be included with the application but it will be required before any research can begin.

Application deadlinesThe application deadline is Monday, April 20, 2015 (anticipated start by July 1, 2015).  Applications should be submitted electronically in .pdf format to  Please enter “BIBS Innovation Fund” in the subject line.

Evaluation Criteria – Applications that meet the requirements described above will be evaluated based on:

  • The innovative nature and transformational potential of the project;
  • The chances that the stated milestone/goals for the project can be accomplished in 12 months;
  • The likelihood that the project will become competitive for extramural funding within 2 years.

Review Process – A committee of 3-5 qualified researchers appointed by BIBS will review the applications.  At least one will be a member of the BIBS Executive Committee and an effort will be made to recruit at least two from outside Brown.  This committee will rate the proposals based on the evaluation criteria and make recommendations about funding to the leadership of BIBS.  If the review committee cannot reach consensus, or if the BIBS leadership does not agree with the recommendations, input will be solicited from the BIBS Executive Committee. 

6-month Review – A short report will be required at 6-months comparing the progress of the project to the milestones/goals agreed to at the time of the award.  That report will be reviewed by BIBS leadership.  If progress appears to be short of expectations, concerns will be discussed with the PI (or co-PIs) and with the BIBS Executive Committee.  BIBS reserves the right to terminate the grant at that time, if that is the recommendation the BIBS Executive Committee.  The purpose of this review is to help ensure that the limited funds available are used as effectively as possible.

Note – One or more information sessions will be scheduled prior to April 1 so that potential applicants will have the opportunity to discuss the program with BIBS leadership.  Questions should be addressed to John Davenport ( or John Robson (