OVPR Research Seed Funds Guidelines
2020-2021 Academic Year

Deadlines:

Letter of Intent (Required): Monday, September 21, 2020 (5 p.m.) via Seed LOI google form
Full: Tuesday, October 13, 2020 (5 p.m.) via UFunds 

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Please note: At the time of this announcement (date) Brown is operating under Stage 2 Resuming Research Guidelines. OVPR recognizes it is difficult to predict what the future holds. PIs are encouraged to keep this in mind when preparing proposals and present flexible work plans, if possible, that could operate under Stage 1 Resuming Research guidelines. As part of the application process, PIs will be asked to provide an estimated start date and a contingency plan in the event that Brown reverts to Stage 1

About
Research Seed Funds are intended to support activities necessary to advance competitive research proposals, such as performing preliminary work and facilitating collaboration. It is expected that a competitive proposal for a sizable project will be submitted to an external funding organization within a year of the completion of the Research Seed Fund period.

Research Seed Fund proposals should identify the program and agency to which a future proposal will be submitted, describe the research project in language understandable to faculty reviewers, delineate how the Research Seed Fund activity will result in a more competitive proposal, include a budget for the Research Seed grant and a timeline for submission to an external funding organization. 

All Seed topics will be considered. In addition, for 2021, there is a separate Category with a special theme, Innovations for Urban Living. See below for details. 

Eligibility
Any Brown faculty member employed by Brown and whose research is administered through Brown is eligible. Brown faculty employed by affiliated institutions, Brown faculty whose research is administered through affiliated institutions, emeritus faculty, adjunct faculty, visiting faculty, and postdocs, are not eligible to lead projects as Principal Investigator (PI), but may be included on the research team.

An eligible applicant may lead one project as PI in only one of the three Seed categories (see following section), but may participate on the research team for submissions to other categories that are distinctly different in subject matter. Applicants may consult with the Office of Research Development in advance with regard to alignment with Seed Categories.  A PI may not apply for both a Seed and a Salomon in the same year for the same project.

Category, Amount, and Duration of Awards

Category 1 - Awards can be up to $50,000 for proposals with a single PI. Awards are for one year, but no-cost extensions may be granted with appropriate justification. The anticipated performance period is January 15, 2021 - June 30, 2022.  Requests for extensions for awards given in 2021 must be submitted to the Vice President for Research by May 1, 2022.

Category 2 - Awards can be up to $100,000 for a group of two or more PI’s from distinctly different disciplines who are initiating a new collaboration with the goal to establish an ongoing, long-term connection across disciplines that is expected to lead to substantial external research funding through multi-investigator or center types of grants. At least one PI must be a Brown faculty member whose research is administered through Brown. Awards are for one year, but no-cost extensions may be granted with appropriate justification. The anticipated performance period is January 15, 2021 - June 30, 2022. Requests for extensions for awards given in 2021 must be submitted to the Vice President for Research by May 1, 2022. 

*New* Category 3 - Themed Seed: Innovations for Urban Living. As cities are modernized, technology becomes a more significant part of day-to-day life. Emerging urban markets serve as fertile hubs for smart city development, but are often built without the human context required to prioritize and incorporate social wellbeing into intelligent design. Innovations for Urban Living Seed Funds support research that aims to advance and improve the quality of life of urban residents in emerging economies by bringing a more human lens to current urban development opportunities. Topics of particular interest include (but are not limited to): sustainability; using data science for better health outcomes; human-machine partnering for mobility; human connectivity and social wellbeing; and mobility. Awards can be up to $50,000. Up to 4 awards may be made. Awards are for one year, but no-cost extensions may be granted with appropriate justification. The anticipated performance period is January 15, 2021 - June 30, 2022.  Requests for extensions for awards given in 2021 must be submitted to the Vice President for Research by May 1, 2022.

Criteria for Selection
​The overall merit of the research project will be considered and evaluated by a committee of faculty reviewers who will make their award recommendations to the Vice President for Research. The final selection will be made based on the following criteria:

  • intrinsic merit of the work and potential impact of the research on the academic field of study

  • ​potential for the award to provide a basis for further research support from external sponsors

  • likelihood that the proposed work will be completed during the award period

Additional Review Criterion for Category 2 

  • potential for new collaboration to establish an ongoing, long-term connection across disciplines that is expected to lead to substantial external research funding through multi-investigator or center types of grants

Additional Review Criterion for Category 3

  • potential for the award to advance and improve the quality of life of urban residents in emerging economies by bringing a more human lens to current urban development opportunities

Budget Conditions
Award funds may be used to support reasonable and necessary costs for the collection of pilot research data or for proposal development. All expenditures under this program must be in accordance with University policies and procedures, including COVID-related restrictions. Please see Guidelines for the Use of Startup and Research Funds under COVID-19 in place at this time and monitor any subsequent University communications on this subject. Some, but not all, allowable expenses (subject to Brown’s guidelines and approval processes, if applicable, at the time of award) include: support for travel and supplies; postdoctoral candidate stipends; full or partial stipends for advanced graduate students who have completed their coursework; and research stipends for undergraduate research assistants (if undergraduate support is included, an explanation of why the Brown UTRA program cannot support the stipend must be included). Expenditures for faculty salaries (either summer or academic year), indirect costs,  or for graduate student tuition are not permitted. (The Graduate School will pay 100% tuition for PhD students supported by OVPR Research Seed funds in departments that report to the Dean of the Faculty. Tuition arrangements for BioMed graduate students supported by OVPR Research Seed funds need to be approved through the BioMed Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in advance of submitting a Seed application).  If Seed award results in the development of items eligible for patent or copyright, or the production of any books or works of art, the Brown University Patent and Invention Policy and Copyright Policy shall apply.

Reporting requirements
Within 60 days of the end of the approved award period, the recipient must provide to the Vice President for Research a final report. The report should outline the work that was accomplished and describe the proposal(s) submitted to external sponsor(s) as a result of this award. The report should also describe any significant deviations from or extensions to the project described in the original proposal.

Procedure for Submitting Proposals 
OVPR requires a letter of intent (LOI) three weeks in advance of submission of a full proposal. A LOI is not binding but is required to submit a full proposal. The predominant reason for its use is to help OVPR to gauge the size and range of the competition, enabling earlier selection and better management of reviewers. In addition, the information contained in a LOI is used to help avoid potential conflicts of interest in the review process.

Potential Seed applicants are requested to fill out this Seed LOI google form no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 21, 2020. The information requested in the LOI includes PI, co-PI names (if applicable), Seed category, a proposed title, and disciplinary area. A LOI is required, but not evaluated or used to decide on funding. In case of extraordinary circumstances preventing submission of an LOI, contact the Vice-President for Research at [email protected] to request an exemption.

Full proposals for funding should be submitted electronically via UFunds no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. Applications should be prepared with the specifications noted below under “Application Requirements.” Selections are anticipated to be communicated by email to applicants on or about Friday, January 15, 2021. 

Award Conditions
Funds will become available to faculty in January, 2021. The funds would be available for use until the end of June, 2022, unless an extension was requested and approved. (Please note that supplies/equipment/services purchased with these funds must be received by the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2022) in order for them to be charged against the account. Travel must also have been completed by that date.) Funds not expended by the completion date will be returned to OVPR. Investigators selected for a Seed award will be required to:

  • Obtain IRB, IACUC, and CIS data approval, as applicable, before funding can be expended. Investigators are encouraged to consider CIS Risk Levels for data and start the classification process of their data and intended plans for data storage as early as possible. See IRB FAQ for more information. 

  • Serve as a Seed reviewer beginning in the year following the award. 

  • Complete a final report within one month of funding end.

  • Complete an annual OVPR follow-on funding survey.

Application Requirements

I. LOI (required): Due Monday, September 21, 2020 (5 p.m.) via Seed LOI google form

II. Full proposal: Due Tuesday, October 13, 2020 (5 p.m.) via UFunds. The application includes the following components:

Section 1. Applicant Information
PI and Co-PI names (specifying contact information for the PI), titles, and departments. Indicate if this is a Category 1,Category 2, or Category 3 proposal. Opportunity to indicate disciplinary and thematic areas to help assign faculty reviewers. The information in this section will be entered directly into UFunds.

Section 2:  Project Information
Project title and abstract (250 word limit) describing the proposed research project, the research group or enterprise that will ultimately result from this initial effort, an assessment of how Brown's position in the field will be advanced, and a non-technical explanation of the project’s broader significance and importance. Please note that this abstract should contain non-confidential information, as abstracts of funded proposals will be posted on the OVPR website. The information in this section will be entered (or copied and pasted) directly into UFunds.

Section 3: Proposal
The proposal should summarize the relevant background literature and research that puts the proposed project into the appropriate context and explains how it will significantly extend or contribute to the field. The applicant should describe the proposed research project in terms that do not require reviewers to be experts in the sub-area of the research. The applicant should clearly describe the goals of the research, the activities to be carried out to achieve those goals, a timetable for completing these activities, and an assessment of the potential for subsequent external funding. 

Additionally, for Category 2 proposals: The applicants must include an explanation of the anticipated synergy across disciplines necessary to advance competitive proposals made possible by the interdisciplinary award.

Additionally, for Category 3 proposals: The applicant must address the potential to advance and improve the quality of life of urban residents in emerging economies by bringing a more human lens to current urban development opportunities.

Proposal is not to exceed five pages. Font should be Arial, at a size of 11 or larger. Margins, in all directions, must be at least 0.5”.  A short (2-page maximum) list of references/bibliography may be appended and is not included in the 5-page proposal limit. Proposal (and list of references/bibliography if included) will be uploaded as one pdf file in UFunds.

Section 4: Strategy for Seeking Subsequent External Support
A description of the strategy for seeking subsequent external support. The description should include a statement of intent to submit a proposal as one of the outcomes of the project. The sponsor(s) to which the proposal will be submitted should be identified along with the intended date(s) of submission and the amount(s) that will be requested. This will be entered (or copied and pasted) directly into UFunds.

Section 5: Current and Pending Funding
As pertains to this research project, a list of the applicant's current and pending funding for external research support, as well as any current and pending funding for grants internal to the University. Please include dollar amounts and also note other available funds such as start up. This will be uploaded as a pdf in UFunds.

Section 6: Biosketch
NSF or NIH-style Biosketch (3-5 pages) for each collaborator. This will be uploaded as one pdf for the PI and up to one additional pdf of combined collaborator Biosketches in UFunds.

Section 7: Budget Worksheet and Justification
A budget that itemizes general categories of expenses for which award funds will be used and a brief justification for these expenses, including the role of all personnel. Note that as these are internal funds, overhead costs are not allowed. All Seed applicants must complete the provided Budget Worksheet and Justification and upload it to UFunds as part of the internal application materials.

Section 8: Seed Program History (If Applicable)

a. If this is a resubmission of a previously unfunded Seed proposal, applicant may briefly address comments from prior review. 

b. If applicant has been previously funded through the OVPR Seed program, please indicate year, results, and whether this is a new idea or continuation of an existing one. 

The information in this section will be entered (or copied and pasted) directly into UFunds

To be submitted (through UFunds) under separate cover:
A letter of endorsement from the applicant’s dean/chair discussing the proposal’s importance in terms of the selection criteria. In the event of multiple proposals from the same school/department, the dean/chair may be asked to rank the proposals. As part of the UFunds application process, applicant will be asked to enter the name of dean/chair (note: letter writer is referred to in UFunds as “Recommender”); request then will be sent automatically via UFunds to the dean/chair. Applicant should also reach out separately to dean/chair in advance to discuss application. Note: Only one letter is allowed. In the event of multiple-PIs from different departments for a Category 2 Seed, the letter may be co-endorsed by each dean/chair. 

 Questions? Please contact: [email protected]