Seeding To Accelerate Research Themes

Image of plants sprouting from dirt.

Seeding To Accelerate Research Themes (START) is a new program in Michigan Engineering.  START provides a mechanism for faculty members to obtain funds for new and innovative research that is not yet ready for external proposal submission.  The program provides grants of up to $75K with a required cost sharing of 1/3 by the faculty members on the grant, collectively. Note that the total grant funding includes the cost-share amount.

There is no proposal, budget, or formal scientific review, and the grants are distributed using a token-based random algorithm. START project teams are required to submit an external proposal within six months after the project’s one-year duration.

START grants promote faculty members working in teams to accomplish common goals within a specific research area or theme. There may be one or more project teams working together within a theme, each contributing a unique perspective to gather information, identify a need, or solve a problem.

>> The application portal has closed <<
Announcement of the next funding cycle coming soon!
Eligibility
Who is eligible to request funding?

All tenured or tenure-track assistant/associate/full professors and associate/full research professors with at least a 50% appointment in the U-M Ann Arbor College of Engineering will receive a token will receive a virtual token that they can contribute to a project to request funding for one project per three-year funding cycle. Assistant/associate/full research scientists are not eligible to contribute a token to a START project, but are welcome to participate in the project as non-token contributing investigators.

Do I need a certain appointment effort level to request funding?

Eligible faculty need at least a 50% appointment in the College of Engineering (Ann Arbor campus) to be eligible to contribute a token.

How many faculty members can be on a project?

Your project may be composed of an unlimited number faculty from across the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. Each funding request must contain 2-5 token-holding tenured or tenure-track assistant/associate/full professors and associate/full research professors with at least a 50% appointment in the U-M Ann Arbor College of Engineering. If more than 5 token-holding faculty members are interested in working together, they can submit separate funding requests in parallel.

Can I contribute tokens to different projects?

No. Tenured or tenure-track assistant/associate/full professors and associate/full research professors with at least a 50% appointment in the U-M Ann Arbor College of Engineering are only allotted ONE token per three-year funding cycle. You may use that token for only ONE project, even if you did not maximize your token value in your funding request.

What is a token?

A faculty member gets one chance or “token” each three-year funding cycle to request funding. We use the term “token” to indicate their eligibility.

Who gets a token?

All tenured or tenure-track assistant/associate/full professors and associate/full research professors with at least a 50% appointment in the U-M Ann Arbor College of Engineering will receive a token.n the Ann Arbor campus) receive a token.

If my request for funding is not approved, do I lose my token?

No. A token is only used if funding is received.

If I already contributed my token to a project, can I still participate in other projects?

Yes. You can participate on as many projects as you’d like, however, you may only contribute one funding token to one project per three-year funding cycle.

Funding Guidelines
Is there a cost-share commitment involved in START funded projects?

Yes. Each token is worth up to $15K in funding. 2/3 of each token is funded by the College of Engineering, and 1/3 is funded by faculty member cost-share.

Can you give an example of the funding structure for a $75K request?

As an example, let’s assume five faculty get together, each requesting $15K for their token, for a total funding request of $75K. For each $15K token, the faculty member would contribute $5K with the remaining $10K being supplied by Michigan Engineering. Thus, the total funding request would be $75K: $25K in cost-share from the faculty and $15K from the College.

Will I be guaranteed to be funded?

No. We are awarding $1M of funding each year for three years. We anticipate being able to fund all projects eventually but not necessarily in the first (or second) year of the program.

Request Funding
What is the smallest amount of funding a team can request?

There is no set minimum funding level.

What is the maximum amount of funding that a group can request?

The maximum amount per request is $75,000.

How can my group request more than $75,000

A group can request any amount of funding by submitting separate requests. Each request will be funded separately and is subject to the above described constraints. In other words, if your collaboration includes 10 token-holding faculty members, you can request two grants each of which would be $75,000 for a total of $150,000.

Do all the faculty members on my project have to use their token?

No. You can include as many faculty members in your group. A subset of that group can then submit one or more requests for START funding.

What is an example of funding for a lower amount, say, $30,000

You can request $30,000 in a number of ways: two faculty members, each requesting $15,000 for their tokens (and cost-sharing $5,000), five faculty members, each requesting $6,000 for their tokens (and cost-sharing $2,000), ten faculty members, each requesting $3,000 for their tokens (and cost-sharing $1,000), etc.

How many tokens are required to submit a funding request?

To request funding, your team must contribute 2-5 tokens. Each token is worth up to $15K in funding (2/3 funded by the College of Engineering and 1/3 funded by faculty cost-share). If more than 5 token-holding faculty members are interested in working together, they can submit separate funding requests in parallel.

How much funding can a team request?

There is no set minimum funding requirement. The maximum possible funding request is $75K. In this scenario, a project team would need 5 token-holding faculty members to each request maximum funding ($15K) for each of their tokens ($10K each from Engineering and $5K each in faculty member cost-share.) If more than 5 token-holding faculty members are interested in working together, they can submit separate funding requests in parallel.

How do I request funding?

Click on the “REQUEST FUNDING” button on the START homepage. Then, review the application checklist, and if you have all of the required information, click on the green START button to begin an application. Complete and submit the application. You’ll receive a confirmation email once your application has been received. The application will be routed to the other token-contributing faculty investigators on the project for approval. When all token-contributing investigators have approved the application you will all receive an email confirmating that your project has successfully been submitted. Award notices will be sent in early – mid April.

Post Award
How will I know if my project has been awarded funding?

You will receive an award email in mid-April.

Are there any deliverables for this grant?

There is only one deliverable. START project teams are required to submit an external proposal within six months after the project’s one-year duration. The proposal should be based on the preliminary results of the START project.

How long is the award period?

START grants have an award period of one year.

How will project funds be managed among all of the investigators?

Once your project is funded, you’ll receive a new P/G and general fund shortcode. All project expenses must be charged to this shortcode. Investigators may not request additional shortcodes. Expenses cannot be transferred to this shortcode, and funds cannot be withdrawn from this shortcode.

What expenses are allowable with START grant funds?

At least half of the award must be used to train undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdoctoral fellows by paying trainee salaries, tuition, and/or lab fees. Supply and equipment purchases are allowable. Funds cannot be used for token-eligible faculty salaries or travel.

Are there any unallowable expenses with START grant funds?

Funds cannot be used for token-eligible faculty salaries or travel.

What happens if our team charges unallowable expenses to our START grant shortcode?

Investigators will be responsible for covering the unallowable expenses.

Who is in charge of managing the project’s financials?

The Investigators’ Research Administrators or Research Administration teams are responsible for managing the START grant’s financials.

When will I be charged for my 1/3 faculty member cost-share contribution to the project?

Investigators are responsible for providing a valid shortcode within one week of receiving an award notice. The 1/3 faculty cost-share funds will be withdrawn from that shortcode immediately and will be used to fund the START grant.

What type of funds can I use for my 1/3 faculty member cost-share contribution?

Investigators can supply shortcodes from discretionary, general funds, designated, unrestricted gifts, or auxiliary. Investigators cannot supply shortcodes from external or internal sponsored funding or restricted gifts.