Research Seed Funds Guidelines
2017-2018 Academic Year

Letter of Intent (Required): September 25, 2017 (5 p.m.) via Seed LOI google form
Full: October 16, 2017 (5 p.m.) via UFunds

Category 1 - up to $50,000
Category 2 - up to $100,000

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, and include a budget for the Research Seed grant and a timeline for submission to an external funding organization.

Any Brown faculty member whose research is administered through Brown is eligible. Brown faculty members whose research is administered through affiliated institutions, emeritus, adjunct, and visiting faculty, as well as post docs, are not eligible to lead projects, but may be included on the research team.

Amount and Duration of Awards

Category 1 - Awards can be up to $50,000. Awards are for one year, but no-cost extensions may be granted with appropriate justification. Requests for extensions for awards given in 2018 must be submitted to the Vice President for Research by May 1, 2019.

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. Requests for extensions for awards given in 2018 must be submitted to the Vice President for Research by May 1, 2019.

A researcher may be a participant in submissions to both Category 1 and Category 2 but only for projects that are distinctly different in subject matter.

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
  • ​potential for the award to provide a basis for further research support from external sponsors
  • potential impact of the research on the academic field of study
  • likelihood that the proposed work will be completed during the award period

Award Conditions
Award funds may be used to support reasonable and necessary costs for the collection of pilot research data or for proposal development. Some, but not all, allowable expenses include: support for travel and supplies; postdoctoral candidate stipends; full or partial stipends and tuition 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) are not permitted. Please refer to the Brown IP Policy for questions regarding intellectual property.

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

*New in 2017 – 2018: Required Letter of Intent*

OVPR is requesting a letter of intent (LOI) three weeks in advance of submission of a full proposal. A LOI is not binding. 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 by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, September 25, 2017. The information requested in the LOI includes PI, co-PI names (if applicable), 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 to request an exemption.

Full proposals for funding should be submitted electronically via UFunds no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 16, 2017. Applications should be prepared with the specifications noted below under “Application Requirements.” Selections will be announced on or about Thursday, December 21, 2017. Funds will become available to faculty in early January, 2018. The funds would be available for use until the end of June, 2019*, 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, 2019) in order for them to be charged against the account. Travel must also have been completed by that date.

Application Requirements
LOI (required): The Seed LOI google form will be available beginning Friday, August 25, 2017.

Full proposal: The online application will be available through UFunds beginning Friday, August 25, 2017. The application includes the following components:

Section 1. Applicant Information
PI and Co-PI names (specifying contact information for the PI), titles, and departments. 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, and an assessment of how Brown's position in the field will be advanced. (Please note that this abstract should contain non-confidential information, as it may be shared within OVPR and with a limited number of Brown offices external to OVPR.) 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. 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. Proposal is not to exceed 5 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 or pending funding for grants internal to the University. This will be uploaded as a pdf in UFunds.

Section 6: Curriculum Vitae
A current curriculum vitae for each collaborator (NIH or NSF biographical sketch format is appropriate). This will be uploaded as one pdf for the PI and up to one additional pdf of combined collaborator CVs in UFunds.

Section 7: Budget
A budget that itemizes general categories of expenses for which award funds will be used and a brief justification for these expenses. Note that as these are internal funds, overhead costs are not allowed. The summary budget will be entered as line items 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 online 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 to discuss application. Note: In the event of multiple-PIs from different departments, multiple letters may be submitted, one from each dean/chair.

Questions? Please contact: (401) 863-5145 or