Innovative Seed Grant Program

2017 Innovative Seed Grant Competition

2017 Innovative Seed Grant Winners

2017 Key Dates

  1. Grant Submission Deadline: February 12, 2017 at 11:59PM MST
  2. Grant Panel Reviews: March 2017
  3. Winner Notification: Early April 2017

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Program Description

The Office of the Provost and the Research & Innovation Office are pleased to announce the 2017 Innovative Seed Grant Program (ISGP) to stimulate new and exciting areas of research and creative work on the CU Boulder campus. $1 million—of which $250,000 is set aside to support work connected to the campus Grand Challenge—is available to fund grants of up to $50,000 each.

In 2017, a program record 112 proposals were received and 23 new grants for a total of $1.1 million were awarded to Boulder faculty across disciplines. Since 2006, the ISGP has awarded more than $11 million to 261 faculty researchers and research teams for research, scholarship, and creative projects.

Proposed projects may take a variety of forms but must represent an investment in the future research, scholarly, or artistic vitality of the university. Proposals are judged in categories designed to allow faculty from all disciplines with the opportunity to compete successfully, even if their discipline is not traditionally connected to sponsored research. Proposals can come from any discipline at the university with those involving interdisciplinary collaboration among CU faculty and projects in emerging fields being particularly welcome.  For example, in 2017, the program seeks to prioritize funding for and catalyze research relevant to the field commonly referred to as “Big Data” – that is, the generation, analysis, use, and application of large and complex datasets, requiring new and/or non-traditional tools for data collection, curation, analysis, transfer, visualization, querying, and protection/security.  

Similar to last year, there is an opportunity for faculty who would like to become part of the campus Grand Challenge Our Space. Our Future. and take the Challenge into new and exciting directions. Funding has been set aside for projects that branch out and strengthen the ongoing work and contribute to ensuring a global impact on Grand Challenge goals. These projects need to be distinct from, yet synergistic with, Grand Challenge projects already underway. Applicants should explicitly identify if their submitted proposal is in support of the Grand Challenge and how it will address and strengthen the goals of the university.

The full list of categories are: 

  • Arts & Humanities
  • Basic Physical Sciences
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Engineering & Applied Sciences
  • Grand Challenge
  • Geological & Environmental Sciences
  • Social Sciences & Professional Schools
  • “Big Data”: defined as research related to the “generation, analysis, use, and application of large and complex datasets, requiring new and/or non-traditional tools for data collection, curation, analysis, transfer, visualization, querying, and protection/security.”


All CU Boulder Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty, Senior Instructors, and Career Track Research Faculty (i.e., Research Professors Series, Senior Research Associates* (SRA), and Research Associates* (RA) who hold an appointment of half-time or more, and who are eligible to submit a grant as a principal investigator (PI) through the Office of Contracts and Grants), are eligible to apply.

*RA/SRA in short-term, transitional postdoctoral training positions should not apply as the intent of this award is to foster new and innovative programs of research and scholarly inquiry that will be of long-term benefit to CU Boulder.

Only one responsible PI for each application is allowed. Collaborators are expected, but no Co-PI's. You cannot submit an application as PI and be on a second application as a Co-PI. Researchers at other institutions are fine as collaborators as long as they are not supported by CU money.

Additional eligibility information:

  • Applicants may submit no more than one proposal as a PI.
  • ISGP recipients from the past two years are not eligible to apply this year.
  • Projects with a major scientific or budgetary overlap with the PI's active research support are not eligible.
  • Projects with a primary focus on curriculum development are not eligible.
  • Faculty course or teaching buy-out is not an eligible expense.
  • Applicants with existing resources that could be used to fund their proposal are discouraged.

Application Process and Requirements

Applications for the ISGP are submitted electronically through this application portal and reviewed by faculty volunteers. Winners will be notified in April and project funding will be available for use on July 1st of that year, and will terminate after 18 months.

ISGP applications support research, scholarly, or creative projects that:

  • Support collaborative interdisciplinary initiatives;
  • Take investigators in creative, and sometimes high-risk, high-reward directions including team development proposals for future large collaborative research projects;
  • Have tangible payoffs in terms of future funding, scholarly or artistic impact.

Proposals should use clear writing appropriate for non-specialists and make a strong case for the importance of the project to those outside the discipline. Application documents should be in Arial 11-point type with at least 0.5" margins and should include the PI's name and the year of application within the document title (e.g., RMooreResearchPlan2016.pdf). Maximum budget requests are $50,000 per proposal for up to 18 months of work.

All applications should include the following components in PDF format:

  • Project Title;
  • Principal Investigator: name, title, email, and department (only one PI/project; no co-PIs);
  • Curriculum Vitae for the PI: up to 2 pages (this does not count towards the 5-page limit);
  • Abstract/Project Summary: provide a concise lay summary of the project and explain how it will foster future vitality—research, scholarly, and/or artistic—at CU Boulder; 350 words maximum, up to 1-page (this does not count towards the 5-page limit);
  • Collaborators: name, institution, unit/department and role(s); up to 1-page (this does not count towards the 5-page limit);
  • Budget and Budget Justification: clearly itemize, by category, the major expenditures that will be required to carry out the proposal. No overhead or indirect costs are allowed. Concisely provide a justification of the items requested in the budget. Budgets are intended to support graduate students/postdocs; requests solely for faculty salary support are discouraged. Focus particular attention on providing a justification of budget items that may not be obvious to reviewers who are familiar with but are not experts in your specific field of research or creative work; up to 1-page (this does not count towards the 5-page limit);
  • Proposal/Project Plan: briefly describe the aims, significance, methods, and expected outcomes of the project, highlighting how it involves a new and creative direction for researchers and has the potential for high future payoff. Maximum length is 3 pages; 2 additional pages may be added for literature citations at the end of the Project Plan, for an absolute total of 5 pages;
  • Honors, Awards, Representative Scholarly Work or Publications Relevant to Proposal: highlight published works that directly address the PI’s ability to carry out the proposed project; up to 2-3 pages (this does not count towards the 5-page limit);
  • Other Research Support: identify all current support or support that will be active as of the next fiscal year, including agency, amount, project title and award duration; up to 1-page (this does not count towards the 5-page limit);
  • Research Data Management Plan: visit the Research Data Services page for information on data management resources on campus. To build a data management plan, log in with CU credentials here. Click here for data management best practices. Up to 1 page (this does not count towards the 5-page limit).

Terms and Conditions

ISGP recipients agree to the following conditions:

  1. Recipients will submit a final report to RIO no later than 30 days following the end of the award period. RIO staff will be in contact with report requirements and submission details.
  2. If a significant outcome of this seed grant award is realized at any time (e.g. acquisition of a grant, publication of a significant piece of work, an invention, a key creation or performance, etc.), recipients will immediately notify RIO by writing to
  3. Recipients will immediately contact RIO (via, with a justification, if there is a change in PI, whether an absence or change in person.
  4. Recipients will serve on an ISGP review panel during the 2018 review cycle, which means recipients cannot be PIs or collaborators for the 2018 competition. The next review cycle deadline will be in March 2018 with in person review meetings. By accepting this award, recipients agree to score and provide written comments on assigned proposals before the 2018 review deadline and participate in an in person review meeting. For any recipients on sabbatical or family leave during the review period, these recipients will be required to serve as a reviewer the following grant cycle. If a recipient fails to fulfill any of these conditions as a reviewer during the next cycle, ISGP funds will be suspended.
  5. Awards will be made available through the financial office in recipients’ respective Colleges/Schools/Institutes on July 1, 2017 (not earlier), at which time project spending can commence. The budget office at the College/School/Institute will set up the speedtype (account) number for the award. RIO will transfer the funds to the speedtype. Recipients are advised to contact respective budget offices for the speedtype in June. 
  6. The project duration is no longer than 18 months (July 1, 2017 – December 31, 2018). No-cost extension requests of 3 or 6 months must be approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation or the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research before the project termination date. No-cost extension requests should include a justification of why an extension is needed, how the funds will be used in the extension period, and the length of the extension request. No-cost extension requests should be sent to Unused funds at the end of the project will be returned to RIO.
  7. If a recipient fails to fulfill any of the aforementioned conditions, RIO reserves the right to suspend ISGP funds.


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