Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

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.

A list of the recipients of the 2019 seed awards is available here.

For more information or questions, please contact

FAQ on Research Seed Programs

The total budget limit (meaning the ORE contribution + 20% cost share from your college, department, and/or other sources) is as follows:

  • Biomedical Research total budget may not exceed $45,000 ($36,000 ORE + $9,000 cost share)
  • Mission Research total budget may not exceed $45,000 ($36,000 ORE + $9,000 cost share)
  • Community Engaged Research total budget may not exceed $15,000 ($12,000 ORE + $3,000 cost share) (requests for smaller budget amounts are welcome)
  • Interdisciplinary Research total budget may not exceed $70,000 for a one-year project period ($56,000 ORE + $14,000 cost share) and may not exceed $125,000 for a two-year project period ($100,000 ORE + $25,000 cost share) (with up to $70k being allocated to Year 1)

PIs must:

  • Be a UT/UTSI tenured or tenure-track faculty
  • Have departmental and college approval to apply for internal funding (as evidenced by willingness to cost share)
  • Be eligible to apply for external funding
  • Reasonably expect to be able to implement the externally-funded project in the future

Non-tenure-track research scientists from UT/UTSI may submit if they otherwise meet the same eligibility criteria. Non-tenure-track research scientists who are serving as the PI must include a letter from their department head indicating a willingness to cost share and certifying that the PI is eligible to apply for external funding and will be able to implement the future externally-funded project at UT/UTSI. Seed awards are not intended for non-tenure-track research scientists who will not be able to implement an externally-funded research project that may extend several years in the future.

Yes, you may resubmit a proposal; however, ORE strongly recommends revising the proposal to address weaknesses. Additionally, refreshing correspondence with an interested program officer would be advisable.

No. PIs with 2018 seed funding are not eligible to request additional seed funding until they have completed the seed project and related requirements (including applying for external funds) of the seed award.

A total of 90 proposals were submitted to the 2018 seed program; 23 were funded. Community Engaged Research received 12 proposals and 4 were funded. Mission received 22 proposals and 6 were funded. NIH (now Biomedical Research) received 30 proposals and 7 were funded. Interdisciplinary received 26 proposals and 6 were funded. The recipients were announced here.

It is up to the PI to determine which seed program is the BEST fit for your research project. If you a proposing a biomedical research project and have identified a mission agency as a potential target; first consider submitting to the Biomedical Research Seed Program.

Biomedical research is defined in the broadest sense to include any research that is conducted to increase fundamental knowledge and understanding of the physical, chemical and functional mechanisms of human life processes and diseases. The Biomedical Research Seed Program welcomes basic, applied, clinical, behavioral health, public health, health communications, and health economics research.

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. Private funders, such as foundations, may be considered a mission agency.

Yes, but for the evaluation purposes of Interdisciplinary, Biomedical Research, and Mission 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 2019, so we expect projects should begin by 1 May 2019.  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; however, the start date is negotiable.

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.

Although a project is not  required  to begin by May 1, this date  will commence the one-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.

Yes. New this year, PIs may request a two-year project period in the Interdisciplinary Seed Program only. Please see solicitation for details.

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 faculty member may serve as PI on  one application to the Biomedical Research, 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.

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.

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 or any other institution of higher education that can provide funding but they are not eligible for funding from the UT/UTSI seed program.  They can contribute toward the research but their effort must be covered by their funds. Since it would still require a 20% cost share of the total UT/UTSI amount from your college/department. You should get the other institution’s approval before submittal.

Other Research Seed Opportunities

ISSE Research Seed Grant—The aim of this seed grant is to support project teams as they develop the capability to secure external funding. ISSE expects the funded teams to submit at least one external grant proposal and one article to a peer-reviewed publication with necessary acknowledgement to ISSE.