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FY18 Request for ORU Funding and Other STIR Funding

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) is pleased to invite applications for the FY18 Organized Research Unit (ORU) Program and other Strategic and Transformative Investments in Research (STIR) projects.

For FY18, while ORE encourages faculty to form multidisciplinary teams to bring forward ideas, we particularly encourage proposals that address one or more of the following strategic priorities that align with external opportunities at ORNL and with NSF, NIH and other federal agencies:

  • Advanced materials science
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Exascale and high performance computing
  • Scaled data science and data analytics
  • Science of neutrons
  • Cybersecurity and infrastructure
  • Energy science
  • Public health issues in Appalachia
  • Smart, resilient, sustainable communities
  • Complexity of biological/environmental/climate systems
  • Personalized medicine (cancer, neuroscience)

ORU Program Objective

This funding opportunity is intended to help enable Organized Research Units to pursue a substantial net increase in external funding and to become self-sufficient within a three-year time period. The primary purpose of this award is to stimulate innovative, multidisciplinary, team research that will give rise to future external funding.

Generally, UT’s most successful ORUs have the following features:

  • The ORU conducts a series of interconnected research projects. Each project is led by a multidisciplinary team that is supported by one or more students. Although ORU faculty members may be more engaged on some projects than others, progress updates are shared with all ORU faculty. All ORU faculty have an opportunity to provide formative input on the projects.
  • ORU faculty begin drafting joint publications by the end of their first year.
  • ORU faculty begin submitting joint proposals for external funding by the end of their first year. However, any one proposal typically includes a subset ORU faculty – all faculty are not included in every proposal. Most of the proposals sought are modest in size ($100k-$400k/year).

The UT ORE administers several finite internal funds to support research and creative activities, including the Scholarly Activity and Research Incentive Funds (SARIF) and the Strategic and Transformative Investments in Research (STIR) fund.  The STIR funding is to be inclusive of broader strategic research opportunities that emphasize the intended transformative nature of the investment. ORE began providing Organized Research Unit (ORU) funding in FY09, and this has been one of many internal investment components to promote the research enterprise at the UT.  The STIR investment continues to provide support for new and continuing ORUs. ORE welcomes ORU funding applications from members of the UT Knoxville regular faculty in all academic disciplines for one-time, one-year FY18 funding. FY18 awards are open to new and existing ORUs that have received less than 3 years of ORU funding.

Other STIR Projects Program Objective

The STIR funding is to be inclusive of broader strategic research opportunities that emphasize the intended transformative nature of the investment. UT Knoxville regular faculty in all academic disciplines may apply for one-time, one-year FY18 funding requesting STIR funds for research projects that have the potential to be transformative but do not fit the ORU mechanism.

These STIR projects should:

  • Include researchers from multiple disciplines
  • Fund innovative research that has the potential to be transformative
  • Have the potential to lead to external funding

Important Dates and Information:

Announcement Date:             February 20, 2017
Proposal Due Date:                March 27, 2017, by 5:00 PM
Notice of Awards:                   End of April
Period of Performance:          July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018
Submit Electronically to:        AVCRD@utk.edu via e-mail

 Application Checklist  (Please combine all materials into one pdf document)

  1. Cover Page including Budget Summary and Project Description
  2. FY18 Request
  3. Appendix
    1. FY17 Progress Report (for Continuing ORU support only)
    2. Resumes or CVs of Key Personnel (2 pages each)

Review Criteria

The ORU and other STIR awards will be made on a competitive basis for support of the proposed endeavors. Proposals will be reviewed with the following criteria:

  • Significance of “big idea goal” identified to pursue and how it fits with UT capabilities;
  • Feasibility and impact of proposed work;
  • Likelihood that this will foster existing and establish new internal collaborations and/or external partnerships;
  • Likelihood of researchers securing external research funding (focus on what funding opportunities would be targeted and why this collaboration is necessary to the submissions); and
  • Sustainability Plan (three-year plan to becoming a sustainable unit) (ORUs only).
  • For FY18, additional consideration will be given to proposal addressing one or more of the priority topics listed above.

Additional review criteria for ORU renewal application include:

  • Impact of deliverables during the previous funding period;
  • Compelling argument that investment is worth continuing; and
  • Evidence of ORU moving toward sustainability.

Eligibility

FY18 awards are open to new and existing ORUs that have received less than 3 years ORU funding, as well as other one-year STIR projects.

ORUs:

  • New ORUs include emerging research units that have not yet become official but are composed of an organized group of faculty of sufficient number to have a significant impact on a defined topic or discipline.
  • Existing ORUs include all established and recognized campus, college, or department level research groups, research centers or institutes that have received prior ORU funding.
  • ORUs that have received 3 or more years of prior funding are not eligible to apply without previous permission from Soren Sorensen, ORE Faculty Fellow at AVCRD@utk.eduVery few exceptions will be granted.

Other STIR Funding:

  • Teams of researchers who have a potential transformative, innovative research project that is not a fit for the ORU mechanism may apply for one-year STIR funding

Submission Process

  • Deadline: Complete application package should be submitted electronically to AVCRD@utk.edu no later than March 27, 2017, 5:00 PM.  Please combine all materials into one pdf document.
  • Evaluation: A peer review committee (including subject matter experts) will evaluate the applications and make recommendations to Soren Sorensen, ORE Faculty Fellow. The committee recommendations will be based on the review criteria detailed above. Soren Sorensen, ORE Faculty Fellow, may contact applicants to provide additional information, if needed.
  • Selection Results: ORE will notify all applicants of the selection results by the end of April 2017.
  • Reporting: A brief meeting (verbal progress report) will be scheduled mid-year to discuss the current status of the funded activities, any challenges and concerns, and potential ways for ORE to assist.  A final 2-page report on the outcome of the funded project is required and should be submitted by the awardee to ORE by September 30, 2018.

Proposal Instructions

The application should consist of the following three items.  Proposals that do not follow these guidelines will not be reviewed.

  1. Cover Page: 1-page maximum, using this form, identifying the director(s) of the project, budget summary, and a high level overview of the proposed (or continuing, if applicable for ORUs.
  2. FY17 Request: 4-page maximum, single-spaced (minimum 12 pt. type with 1 inch margins) narrative description of the project and requested budget (including justification). Briefly present the primary goals for the proposed year and how the near term goals contribute to the long-range vision of the project.  Include a review of the organizational structure and participating faculty.  Identify other sources of UT matching funds, including anticipated RIF and base funding.  Note, other ORE SARIF/STIR support may not count towards matching funding.

For ORUs Only: The proposal should include a business plan on how requested funds would be used to create project funding success. The plan should identify what level of funding success is targeted to make the ORU self-sufficient and a justification of how this investment can be expected to provide substantial returns over the next two to three years.

  1. Appendix material
    1. Resume or CVs for Key Personnel (2 page max. each, include previous, current, and pending funding).
    2. Fiscal Year 2016 ORU Progress Report (for ORU Continuing support only): 2 page maximum, plus spreadsheet. Address progress towards FY16 Goals and how these achievements contribute to the long-range vision of the ORU including outcomes such as interdisciplinary projects, numbers of faculty as PI and as Co-PI, numbers of graduate students supported, number and quality of publications, creation of intellectual property, support of economic development, external recognition of the research outcomes, etc. Select and describe the most important advancement that has been made by the ORU.  Detail progress towards securing external funding and plan to become a sustainable collaboration.  Lists of proposals and awards credited to the ORU should be provided in the format outlined in the ORU Proposal Report Spreadsheet.
    3. All materials should be combined into one pdf document.

General Guidelines

ORUs:

  • Funding is primarily provided to increase the competitiveness of interdisciplinary research groups in winning external funding sufficient to make them financially independent.
  • All ORU funding provided is considered “one-time, one-year” funding for the sole purpose of fostering the mission and objectives of the ORU as defined in the proposal. Allocations are to fund the production and growth of high quality and meaningful research output in each area, including a significant net growth in external funding, rather than replacement funding for the faculty involved.  Continued, on-going funding is not guaranteed.
  • Proposals must identify where the ORU will be housed and what administrative support services will be available (typically in a department or college). If the ORU proposes to be a proposal-submitting unit, a F&A sharing agreement will need to be established.
  • Additional funding, or cost sharing, to be provided by units and individuals in support of the ORU, is highly encouraged.

Other STIR Projects:

  • Funding is primarily provided to support potentially transformative innovative research of interdisciplinary research group and increase their competitiveness in winning external funding sufficient to make them financially independent.
  • All STIR funding provided is considered “one-time, one-year” funding for the sole purpose of fostering the mission and objectives of the project as defined in the proposal. Allocations are to fund the production and growth of high quality and meaningful research output in each area, including a significant net growth in external funding, rather than replacement funding for the faculty involved.
  • Additional funding, or cost sharing, to be provided by units and individuals in support of the project, is highly encouraged.

 Budget Development

  • Funding Restrictions: These funds may not be used for faculty salaries, administrative supplements, additional pay, or course release time. Funds may not be used for research consultants or those in a 1% effort type position paid through additional pay.  Funds may not be used for administrative or accounting support unless specifically approved.  Funds may not be used for other costs typically supported by departments such as telephone, network ports, etc.  Inappropriate charges will be removed from the account.
  • Research Projects: Requests to support research projects (e.g. graduate students and supplies) must be proposed as a series of interconnected projects. Each project must be led by a multidisciplinary team. ORU Only: ORU faculty members may have differing levels of engagement on each individual project; however, their substantive participation across several projects demonstrates the need for the ORU.
  • Benefits: ORU and other SITR funding must cover the cost of benefits for anyone charging to the account unless already established with centrally funded benefits.

 If Funding is Approved

  • Funding approved by ORE often differs from the amount requested. In these cases, a revised work plan that reflects the actual funds provided will be required.
  • Any change in use of funds from what was proposed requires approval in advance by Soren Sorensen, ORE Faculty Fellow at AVCRD@utk.edu.
  • Funds are from annual campus budgeting and are to be fully utilized by June 30, 2018. Carryovers require a very strong justification, and in general are not likely to be approved.  Carryover requests should be sent to AVCRD@utk.edu.

Future Funding

ORUs:

  • ORUs will generally be eligible to compete for future funding for up to three years to become self-sustaining.
  • Future funding is strongly dependent on performance, particularly with regard to the preparation of grant applications and awards.

Other STIR projects:

  • Other STIR funding should be considered one-time funding. Projects are generally not eligible for continued funding.

 

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