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Research Seed Programs

The Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) offers a Research Seed Program to serve as a catalyst for research by faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; UT Institute of Agriculture; and UT Space Institute. This program offers internal funds to help generate proposal submissions around a variety of initiatives. Projects funded by this program are expected to 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 Seeds:

Faculty learned more about the seed program at two information sessions hosted by ORE’s Research Development staff. Find the info presentation here.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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

  • Expanding Horizons Research Seed total budget may not exceed  $50,000 (40,000 ORE + $10,000 cost share).
  • Collaborative Humanities Research Seed total budget may not exceed $30,000 ($24,000 ORE + $6,000 cost share)
  • Community-Engaged Research Seed total budget may not exceed $15,000 ($12,500 ORE + $2,500 cost share) (requests for smaller budget amounts are welcome)
  • Interdisciplinary Research Seed total budget may not exceed $70,000 for a one-year project period ($58,333 ORE + $11,667 cost share) and may not exceed $125,000 for a two-year project period ($104,167 ORE + $20,833 cost share).

PIs must:

  • Be a UT/UTIA/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/UTIA/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/UTIA/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 2019 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.

In 2019, a total of 42 proposals were submitted; 12 were funded. Biomedical Research received 14 proposals and 5 were funded. Community-Engaged Research received 6 and 2 were funded. Interdisciplinary Research received 16 and 3 were funded. Mission Research received 6 and 2 were funded. The recipients were announced here.

In 2018, a total of 90 proposals were submitted; 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.

The Expanding Horizons Research Seed provides a small number of recently tenured faculty members with an opportunity to define and pursue a significant, collaborative convergent or transdisciplinary research project. Researchers who already have a well-defined convergence or transdisciplinary research project in mind should consider applying to the Interdisciplinary Research Seed.

Yes, but for the evaluation purposes of the Interdisciplinary program, 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.

We expect projects should begin by May 1, 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 21 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. 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, then ORE cannot fund the award.  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 on one application to the Expanding Horizons, Collaborative Humanities, Interdisciplinary, or Community-Engaged Research Programs. Among these four categories, it is up to the PI to choose the best fit for their research. 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.

UT faculty serve as reviewers on evaluation panels coordinated by ORE for each seed category.  These panels will score and recommend proposals for funding.  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 any other institution of higher education that can provide funding but they are not eligible for funding from the UT/UTIA/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/UTIA/UTSI amount from your college/department. You should get the other institution’s approval before submittal.

UT’s Priority Research Areas

Areas of strength:

  • Advanced Materials and Manufacturing
  • Computation and Data Sciences
  • Energy Science and Technology

Areas of distinction: 

  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Nuclear Sciences
  • Conservation and Biodiversity
  • Humanities and Artistic Expression

Emerging areas:

  • Quantum Sciences
  • Hypersonics and Aerospace Engineering
  • Healthy Communities and Outcomes