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Research Seed Programs

The Office of Research and Engagement has created a Research Seed Program which will serve as a catalyst for University of Tennessee, Knoxville and UT Space Institute faculty. The seed grant program offers internal funds intended to help generate proposal submissions to focused sponsors or around a particular initiative.

The ideal project within this program would apply for external funding and begin to generate manuscripts for publication no later than four months after the seed project ends. Ultimately, ORE seeks to support projects that encourage faculty members to identify and seek new funding targets.

Current Research Seed Program grants:

A brief presentation on the Seed Programs is available here.

For more information or questions, please contact AVCRD@utk.edu.

FAQ on Research Seed Programs


A mission agency engages in research as a means to support the agency’s primary mission, and its research efforts are targeted to addressing specific needs or gaps related to it (use-inspired research). Mission agencies are often associated with research laboratories, transitioning research to an application is a factor, and program managers are often permanent employees. For our purposes, NSF and NIH are excluded from the mission agency research seed program.


Yes, but for the evaluation purposes of Interdisciplinary Research and Mission Research Seed programs, the specific foundation funding opportunities identified should be at least twice the amount of internal funding requested on a per year basis.  Note that a proposal to a foundation should request an award of at least $100K.


ORE estimates that Seed awards will be announced around 1 March 2018, so we expect projects should begin by 1 May 2018.  We believe this timeframe will enable faculty to take advantage of summer recess to conduct some of their research and will allow sufficient time to complete projects while still being able to engage external sponsors for the FY 20 research funding cycle.


Funds will be available almost immediately after awards are announced and will be provided to awardees on a cost reimbursable basis.  Reimbursement requests may be submitted to ORE periodically as significant amounts are expended.  The explanation on the web site will be changed to reflect this updated information.


Although a project is not required to begin by 1 May, this date will commence the 1-year clock and be used to set the schedule for mid-term and final reports.  A PI may seek a no cost extension by submitting a request to the AVCRD that provides a justification as well as a suggested duration for an extension.


A college, department, or combination of both is required to provide 20% cost share for each Seed award.  If cost share cannot be provided for an award(s), then ORE cannot fund the award(s).  Deans and/or department heads may be asked for input on the importance of a project for their college or department before an award decision is made.  A college or department may choose to review Seed proposals before they are submitted to ORE, but it is not required.


A faculty member may serve as PI one application to the NIH, Mission, or Community Engaged Research seed programs. Among these three categories, it is up to the PI to choose the best fit for their research.  Additionally, a faculty member may serve as PI on one application to the Interdisciplinary seed program. There is no restriction on being a co-PI on multiple efforts.

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No, salary is not an approved use of funding for any PI (lead-PI or co-PI).

ORE expects to fund multiple proposals from each category.

We have set aside a minimum or $800,000 from ORE to fund these proposals.

Evaluation panels comprised of UT faculty and external program officers (if appropriate) will be convened for each category.  These panels will score and recommend proposals for funding.  Since this program is new, we have not earmarked specific amounts of funding for any single category.  Based on the number of proposals and individual panel recommendations, ORE in cooperation with the Deans will make final funding decisions for each category.

If a new agency cannot be identified, new programs or research directions within a previous agency qualify.  In the external sponsor identification portion of the proposal, an effort should be made to seek funding from new program managers and new areas of research.  The purpose of the seed is to provide results that are required to be successful.

You can have a collaborator at UTIA but they are not eligible for funding from the UTK seed program.  They can contribute toward the research but their effort must be covered by UTIA funds.  If you’re co-PI is UTIA, we might consider it if there is a 50/50 split (UTK/UTIA) on the funding.  Since it would still require a 20% cost share of the total UTK amount from your college/department. You should get UTIA’s approval before submittal.

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