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Bridge Funding Support Program and Policy

Bridge Funding Loan Program

The Office of Research & Engagement (ORE) Bridge Funding Loan Program was established in 2009 from one-time funding provided by the Chancellor in response to the ongoing decline in governmental support for research and the associated elevated levels of competition. The program is able to continue through repayments of loans made in previous years.

Bridge Funding Loans provide short-term, limited financial support to sustain an existing research program due to a temporary external funding gap. Funds are to be used to maintain the existing research program at a minimal “essential” level for a limited time to facilitate success in securing external funding. Bridge funding is not intended to substitute for outside research funding or to support new, pilot, or seed projects.

Eligibility

  • Any UT Knoxville PI on a research grant or contract funded for at least three consecutive years for the same project is eligible. Funding gaps associated with demonstration projects, training programs, or postdoctoral fellowships are not eligible for a Bridge Funding Loan from ORE
  • Any UT Knoxville junior faculty member with a strong record of productivity who has exhausted their start-up funds, but has not yet obtained their first externally funded research project either as a PI or as a co-investigator is eligible.

Criteria for Funding

  • Up to $50,000 from ORE is available to maintain projects for a period of one year or less.
  • At least an equal (1:1) amount of matching funds is required from the PI’s department/college. Other funds provided by ORE will not be counted as fulfilling this matching requirement but can be included as supplemental support.
  • Bridge loans will be competitive and not all applications will be funded.
  • Funding decisions will depend on the availability of funds and are made at the discretion of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Development, in consultation with others.
  • Factors to be taken into consideration include the project’s strategic importance, funding necessity to sustain the project until outside funding is secured, feasibility of securing future external funding, and the PI’s external funding record.
  • Requests should be limited to the minimal essential funding necessary to maintain a defined project over a short duration. Bridge funding is not expected to support the costs of either an entire research project or lab.
  • The PI is not eligible for bridge funding if funding runs out without a renewal or new application for continued project funding having been submitted. 

Use of Funds

Bridge funds may be used support the following types of expenses:

  • salary and benefits for research technical personnel (including post-docs, technicians, students)
  • research supplies
  • minor research equipment (<$5,000)
  • testing fees
  • travel to research sites

Bridge funds may not be used to support the following types of expenses:

  • faculty salaries
  • graduate tuition or fees
  • consultant costs
  • equipment maintenance contracts
  • travel to meetings or conferences
  • publication fees
  • equipment over $5,000
  • office equipment or computers
  • budget reductions from existing awards
  • cost overruns from previous awards

Contact Information

Office of Research & Engagement
1534 White Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996-1529
Phone: (865) 974-0437
Fax: (865) 974-7400
Email: AVCRD@utk.edu

How to Apply

The College will submit applications to ORE on behalf of the PI and include letters of endorsement from the department and college. The department and college reviews will address the strategic importance and for funding necessity. Direct applications from department heads or individual faculty will not be reviewed by ORE. The application package should included the following materials and be submitted electronically to AVCRD@utk.edu for consideration by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Development.

From the PI

  • brief description of the research program and explanation of the need for bridge funding
  • efforts underway to secure external funding to sustain the program including specific targets of external funding and proposed dates of submission
  • detailed budget for entire bridge loan
  • list of recently submitted proposals
  • external funding record summary
  • PI’s current curriculum vitae (limited to 2 pages)
  • copy of external review panel summary statements and score from previous applications (if available)

From the Department Head

Letter of endorsement including:

  • assessment of the PI’s ability to attain future external funding for project
  • assessment of the requested bridge budget
  • confirmation of funding match to be provided by the department
  • details of any department funding repayment requirements
  • confirmation that approved funding from ORE will be repaid by the department

From the College

Letter of endorsement including:

  • assessment of department head’s endorsement
  • confirmation of funding match to be provided by the college
  • details of any college funding repayment requirement
  • confirmation that approved funding from ORE will be repaid by the college if the department is unable to

For Approved Bridge Funding Loans

  • ORE will prepare a MOU including a repayment plan for signature.
  • A separate account will be set up and agreed upon funding will be transferred to this account.
  • Allocated funds must be spent according to the approved budget. Any changes in use must be approved in advance by ORE.
  • The PI agrees that the bridge funding is for a maximum period of 12 months only and if the PI has funds remaining after the period ends, all remaining funds will be returned to the units based on their respective contributions.
  • The department and college are responsible for any overages posted to the account.

Repayment

  • Bridge funding provided by ORE is considered a loan to the department (rather than the PI) and is expected to be repaid according to a pre-defined schedule. The college and department may establish their own repayment plans for the matching funds they provide.
  • Repayment to ORE is generally expected to be evenly split over a maximum three year period beginning one year after the end of the bridge period. The bridge funding loan program is able to continue through repayments of loans made in previous years. Early repayment is welcome.
  • If the PI receives external funding for the project during the bridge funding period, any remaining bridge funds shall be returned to the units based on their respective contributions.

Completed applications should be sent via e-mail to AVCRD@utk.edu at the Office of Research and Engagement.

 

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