Published: April 24, 2017 By

The CU Boulder Innovative Seed Grant Program (ISGP), now in its 11th year, recently announced more than $1.1 million in seed funding through 23 grants, with a focus on interdisciplinary ventures that take investigators in high-risk, high-reward directions. This new round of funding is especially significant in light of the return on investment the program has demonstrated in recent years.

The 2017 awards, announced by the CU Boulder Office of the Provost and Research & Innovation Office (RIO), are funding 23 grants for up to $50,000 each, including $240,000 for five projects supporting work directly connected to the CU Boulder Grand Challenge.The program stimulates new and exciting areas of research and creative work on the CU Boulder campus, as highlighted by a small sampling of the 2017 Innovative Seed Grant Program winners, listed to the right.

About the 2017 program

The 2017 program featured a record 112 applications, which were reviewed by 49 faculty volunteers, including previous ISGP recipients.

The selected projects represent an investment in the future research and scholarly or artistic vitality of the university and demonstrate promise for expansion of the project goals. The awardees come from disciplines across the university—with several of the ventures involving interdisciplinary work that will foster collaborative interaction among CU faculty—as well as disciplines not traditionally connected to sponsored research.

In addition to funding specifically earmarked to further strengthen the campus Grand Challenge, this year’s ISGP had a special category for big data projects.

Impact on faculty and campus

The ISGP, which has now provided more than $11 million to 261 faculty for innovative projects, has demonstrated an impressive return on investment, especially given the full impact of successfully funded projects requires a number of years to capture. As such, meaningful results from ongoing 2016 ISGP projects aren’t yet available, but results from the 2015 and 2014 programs are telling.  

Five projects from the 2015 ISGP that received a combined $249,985 in seed funding have already received more than $6.5 million in additional funding, equating to $25.08 for every $1 invested by the program. Of the nine total 2015 projects that have concluded, results include one invention and 19 published manuscripts. An additional eight projects are still underway and likely to add to these already significant outcomes.

The 19 winning projects from the 2014 ISGP received a total of $850,000 and have yielded 17 manuscripts and two inventions. Seven of these projects that totaled a combined $323,811 in seed funds have resulted in more than $5.57 million in external funding, translating to a $16.21 return for each $1 contributed.

Outside of financial returns, other ISGP impacts on the campus are immeasurable. New data, partnerships and research directions are often achieved, opening up opportunities that may otherwise not come to fruition. Additionally, funded projects provide graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and other investigators with critical research development and creative work experiences.

The 2018 program

ISGP submissions are generally requested early in the spring semester with reviews taking place in February and March and selections announced in early April. Specific dates for the 2018 program will be announced later in the fall.  

For more information on this program and other funding opportunities, visit the Research & Innovation Office website or subscribe to the bi-weekly RIO Bulletin