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Limited Campus Competitions

Throughout the year, the OVCR coordinates numerous Limited Campus Competitions. These competitions are required because many private foundations and federal government agency programs only allow a limited number of nominees from invited institutions, like CU-Boulder.  The review process is conducted by a group of faculty who are invited by the Vice Chancellor for Research to serve on the OVCR Review Board.  Based on their evaluations, nominees are selected to compete for these limited awards. If you have any questions regarding limited campus competitions, please email Alex Mancero at

Limited Submission Calendar

Anticipated Opportunities  

National Science Foundation Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI: BIC)

Link to NSF Posting:

Interest Due to October 9, 2015.

NSF Deadline:  LOI due December 2, 2015. Full proposal due January 27, 2016.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $10,000,000

  • Anticipated Funding Amount is subject to the availability of funds and the quality of proposals received.
  • Awards may be up to $1,000,000 with an award duration of three (3) years.

Limited Competition: 2

Academic institutions are limited to participation on two (2) proposals as a lead institution, preferably involving distinct application areas.

A lead academic institution that has submitted a proposal has the option to participate as a subawardee on additional proposals submitted under this solicitation. Lead academic institutions that have submitted a proposal may also provide consultants to other proposals submitted under this solicitation.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

Program Summary:                   

The Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI: BIC) program supports academe-industry partnerships which are led by an interdisciplinary academic research team collaborating with a least one industry partner. In this program, there is a heavy emphasis on the quality, composition, and participation of the partners, including the appropriate contributions for each role. These partnerships focus on the integration of technologies into a specified human-centered service system with the potential to achieve transformational change, satisfying a real need by making an existing service system smart(er) or by spurring the creation of an entirely new smart service system. The selected service system should function as a test bed.

Service systems are socio-technical configurations of people, technologies, organizations, and information [1] designed to create value by fulfilling the needs of those participating in the system. A "smart" service system is a system that amplifies or augments human capabilities [2] to identify, learn, adapt, monitor and make decisions. The system utilizes data received, transmitted, or processed in a timely manner, thus improving its response to future situations. These capabilities are the result of the incorporation of technologies for sensing, actuation, coordination, communication, control, etc.

PFI: BIC funds research partnerships working on projects that operate in the post-fundamental/translational space; the proposers must be mindful of the state of the art and the competitive landscape, yet recognize that it is not a central task in this proposal to carve out, or be on, a clear path to commercialization. These projects require additional effort to integrate the technology into a real service system, incorporating human factors considerations to assure the system’s efficacy. The research tasks in turn might spawn additional discoveries inspired by this interaction of humans with the technology.

Partnership activities that drive sustained innovation include the targeted allocation of resources such as capital, time, and facilities; and sharing of knowledge in a cross-organizational and interdisciplinary context. The research tasks of the project must demonstrate a highly collaborative research plan involving participation of the primary industrial partner(s) as well as of any other primary partners with the academic researcher during the life of the award.

NSF recognizes that a highly interdisciplinary collaboration involving many areas of expertise beyond those related to the technology is needed to achieve successful integration into a smart service system. The research components to be included in this project are: 1) engineered system design and integration; 2) computing, sensing, and information technologies; and 3) human factors, behavioral sciences, and cognitive engineering. The proposer must show how these components will be integrated in the context of the project as part of the research plan in the Project Description.

NSF Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI)

Instrument Acquisition or Development

Link to NSF Posting:

Internal Application Deadline: Submit to by October 21, 2015.

  1. Full CV of the PI
  2. Project prospectus (2-3 pages) that includes a brief summary of the project with clear statement of intent to request instrument purchase versus instrument development. Include how shared instrumentation will foster the integration of research and education in research-intensive learning environments, and will improve the quality and expand the scope of research and research training in science and engineering. Note: shared inter- and/or intra-organizational use are encouraged, as are development efforts that leverage the strengths of private sector partners to build instrument development capacity at academic institutions.  Please also make clear if this proposal will benefit the general campus infrastructure for research.
  3. Describe what data will be produced during the equipment development or use and how this will be managed.
  4. Plan for support at end of grant period
  5. Also provide a list indicating who will provide the required matching support (and how much they will provide).  This must include support from department chairs and/or Institute Directors who must provide a brief statement indicating they support the proposal and will provide their share of the match.

NSF Deadline:  Full proposal due January 13, 2016.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $75,000,000

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be competing for about $75 million, pending availability of funds and quality of proposals. Up to $30 million of these funds will be available to support proposals requesting $1-$4 million from NSF, depending on overall proposal pressure and quality.

Limited Submission: Three (3) as described below. Potential PIs are advised to contact their institutional office of research regarding processes used to select proposals for submission.

If three proposals are submitted, at least one of the proposals must be for instrument development (i.e., no more than two proposals may be for instrument acquisition).

To ensure a balanced instrumentation award portfolio at diverse organizations, across varied research topics, and in support of a broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce across the entire Nation, the MRI program requires that an MRI-eligible organization may, as a performing organization, submit or be included as a significantly funded 1 subawardee in no more than three MRI proposals. To promote instrumentation development, the program requires that if an organization submits or is included as a significantly funded1 subawardee in three MRI proposals, at least one of the three proposals must be for (Track 2) instrument development.

NSF reserves the right to carefully examine development (Track 2) proposals to ensure that they meet the requirements for this proposal type (see Section II). If a proposal submitted as development is deemed to be an acquisition proposal either before or during the review, the proposal is subject to return without review or decline.

1An unfunded collaboration does not count against the submission limit. Inclusion as a funded subawardee on a development (Track 2) proposal at a level in excess of 20% of the total budget requested from NSF, or as a funded subawardee on any acquisition (Track 1) proposal, will be counted against an organization's proposal submission limit. Separately submitted linked collaborative proposals of either type (Track 1 or Track 2) count against the submission limit of each of the submitting organizations. However, if a subaward to an organization in a development (Track 2) proposal is 20% or less of the proposal's total budget request from NSF, the subawardee's submission limit will not be affected. For subawards within a linked collaborative proposal, the 20% threshold applies to the budget request from NSF in the proposal containing the subaward(s), not to the combined budget request from NSF for the collaborative project.

Note: The 30% cost-sharing requirement applies to only the portion of the total project cost budgeted to non-exempt organizations, including those participating through subawards. When required, cost-sharing must be precisely 30%. Cost sharing is required for Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education and for non-degree-granting organizations. Non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are exempt from cost-sharing and cannot provide it. National Science Board policy is that voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited. See section V.B. for specific information on cost-sharing calculations and the solicitation text for definitions of organizational types used for the MRI program.

Program Summary:          

The Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI) serves to increase access to shared scientific and engineering instruments for research and research training in our Nation's institutions of higher education, not-for-profit museums, science centers and scientific/engineering research organizations. The program provides organizations with opportunities to acquire major instrumentation that supports the research and research training goals of the organization and that may be used by other researchers regionally or nationally.

Each MRI proposal may request support for the acquisition (Track 1) or development (Track 2) of a single research instrument for shared inter- and/or intra-organizational use. Development efforts that leverage the strengths of private sector partners to build instrument development capacity at MRI submission-eligible organizations are encouraged.

The MRI program assists with the acquisition or development of a shared research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. The program does not fund research projects or provide ongoing support for operating or maintaining facilities or centers.

The instrument acquired or developed is expected to be operational for regular research use by the end of the award period. For the purposes of the MRI program, a proposal must be for either acquisition (Track 1) or development (Track 2) of a single, well-integrated instrument. The MRI program does not support the acquisition or development of a suite of instruments to outfit research laboratories or facilities, or that can be used to conduct independent research activities simultaneously.

Instrument acquisition or development proposals that request funds from NSF in the range $100,000-$4 million may be accepted from any MRI-eligible organization. Proposals that request funds from NSF less than $100,000 may also be accepted from any MRI-eligible organization for the disciplines of mathematics or social, behavioral and economic sciences and from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education for all NSF-supported disciplines.

Cost-sharing of precisely 30% of the total project cost is required for Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education and for non-degree-granting organizations. Non-Ph.D.-granting institutions of higher education are exempt from cost-sharing and cannot include it. National Science Board policy is that voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program (NRT)

Link to NSF Posting:

Internal Application Deadline: Submit to by October 23, 2015.

NSF Deadline:  LOI due December 22, 2015. Full proposal due February 22, 2016.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $37,880,793 total. NRT Traineeship Track Awards (10 anticipated) are expected to be up to five years in duration with a budget up to $3,000,000.

NRT IGE Track Awards (14-20 anticipated) are expected to be up to 2-3 years in duration with a budget between $300,000 and $500,000.

Campus Competition: 2 for the Traineeship Track, 1 for the Innovations in Graduate Education Track.

Program Summary:                   

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, potentially transformative, and scalable models for STEM graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that ensure that graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The NRT program includes two tracks: the Traineeship Track and the Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE) Track. The Traineeship Track is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, aligned with changing workforce and research needs, and scalable. For this solicitation the Traineeship Track has one priority interdisciplinary research theme — Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (DESE); proposals are encouraged also on any non-DESE interdisciplinary research theme that is a national priority. The IGE Track is dedicated solely to piloting, testing, and evaluating novel, innovative, and potentially transformative approaches to graduate education, both disciplinary and interdisciplinary, to generate the knowledge required for their customization, implementation, and broader adoption. Whereas the Traineeship Track promotes building on the current knowledge base to more effectively train STEM graduate students, the IGE Track supports test-bed projects with high potential to enrich, improve, and extend the knowledge base with attention to transferability and innovation. For both tracks, strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, museums, and academic partners are encouraged.

Cultivating Cultures for Ethical STEM (CCE STEM):

Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Link to NSF posting:

Internal Competition Deadline: December 3, 2015 at 11:59PM to

NSF Deadline:  Full submission due by 5PM, February 16, 2016.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $3,050,000.

Campus Competition:  There is only 1 proposal per campus as the lead organization.

Program Summary: 

Cultivating Cultures for Ethical STEM (CCE STEM) funds research projects that identify factors that are efficacious in the formation of ethical STEM researchers in all the fields of science and engineering that NSF supports. CCE STEM solicits proposals for research that explores the following: ‘What constitutes ethical STEM research and practice? Which cultural and institutional contexts promote ethical STEM research and practice and why?' Factors one might consider include: honor codes, professional ethics codes and licensing requirements, an ethic of service and/or service learning, life-long learning requirements, curricula or memberships in organizations (e.g. Engineers without Borders) that stress social responsibility and humanitarian goals, institutions that serve under-represented groups, institutions where academic and research integrity are cultivated at multiple levels, institutions that cultivate ethics across the curriculum, or programs that promote group work, or do not grade. Do certain labs have a ‘culture of academic integrity'? What practices contribute to the establishment and maintenance of ethical cultures and how can these practices be transferred, extended to, and integrated into other research and learning settings?

Successful proposals will include a comparative dimension, either between or within institutional settings that differ along these or other factors.

CCE STEM research projects will use basic research to produce knowledge about what constitutes responsible or irresponsible, just or unjust scientific practices and sociotechnical systems, and how to best instill students with this knowledge.

December 2016 W.M. Keck Foundation Internal Competition

Link to W.M. Keck Posting:

Internal Application Deadline: Submit to by January 6, 2016 at 11:59PM.

Two-page outline of research including a justification/explanation of why Keck funding is essential and why traditional support from federal agencies cannot be obtained.

Keck Deadline:  Phase I application due May 1, 2016. Full proposal due August 15, 2016.

Anticipated Funding Amount: Historically, grants range from $500,000 to $5 million and are typically $2 million or less.

Limited Competition: 1 proposal per each category: 1) Medical Research, 2) Science and Engineering.

Program Summary:                   

The Research Program seeks to benefit humanity by supporting projects in two specific areas (1) medical research and (2) science and engineering, that are distinctive and novel in their approach, question the prevailing paradigm, or have the potential to break open new territory in their field.  Past grants have been awarded to major universities, independent research institutions, and medical schools to support pioneering biological and physical science research and engineering, including the development of promising new technologies, instrumentation or methodologies. 

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in research that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

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