Research Investment Fund

University of Memphis Announces $1 million Research Investment Fund

University of Memphis President David Rudd has allocated $1 million in FY17 funds to support research investments intended to increase sponsored projects activity in the near term and move us towards our goal of $100 million in annual research expenditures. The funds will be awarded by the Office of the Vice President for Research through three competitions designed to support cross-disciplinary collaborations*.


I. Catalyst Grants

A. Team Initiation Grants

Team Initiation Grants will support new research collaborations of three - five tenure/tenure track faculty at the University of Memphis representing two or more units/perspectives (e.g. natural science and social science; humanities and education; fine arts and engineering; health and business). Teams may request up to $10,000 per team member ($50,000 maximum) for a project period of 18 or 24 months to help develop a track record of collaboration, generate preliminary data/publications, and submit collaborative proposals to an external sponsor. Funds cannot be used to support or supplement faculty salaries or for travel to meetings and conferences. Teams must identify the compelling research question(s) they hope to address, provide a detailed plan of activities, provide a rationale for the integration of research expertise of the proposed team members, provide a rationale for the budget request, and identify at least two specific extramural research opportunities to which they will apply by the end of the project period. Teams selected for funding must also address sustainability of the collaboration beyond the funding period. Teams will be required to participate in a series of four planned team science workshops and to work closely with a Research Development Director throughout the project period.

B. Discovery & Development Grants

Discovery & Development Grants are intended to stimulate novel, basic or applied research that is at too early a stage to receive funding from traditional sources or that requires additional development or testing prior to resubmission of a previously rejected proposal. Individual proposals will be accepted; however, priority will be given to early and mid-career researchers who propose to work in cross-disciplinary collaboration with one or more senior investigators with a track record of sponsored research. Up to $20,000 may be requested for a 12, 15, or 18-month project period. Funds may be used to support out of pocket research expenses, publication fees, summer support for students, or to provide small-scale matching funds for departmental acquisition of research instrumentation required to support the proposed work. Funds cannot be used to support or supplement faculty salaries or for travel to meetings and conferences.


II. Interdisciplinary Innovations Grants

Interdisciplinary Innovations Grants will provide support for bold, new efforts that seek to expand cross-college, cross-disciplinary research capacity that can be sustained following central investment. Recipient teams are expected to propose activities that will culminate in submission of one or more nationally competitive center or other large-scale ($1 million or more) grant proposals by the end of the project period. Up to $350,000 may be requested for a 24 or 30-month project, with funds used to support out-of-pocket research expenses, publication fees, summer support for students, salary and benefits for staff scientist(s) and/or post doc(s), matching funds ($50k maximum) for research instruments or technical infrastructure, expenses associated with project specific travel to meet with external collaborators or host collaborator meetings on campus. Funds cannot be used to support or supplement faculty salaries or for travel to conventional academic meetings or conferences. In addition, teams selected for funding will be required to participate in a series of four planned team science workshops and to work closely with a Research Development Director throughout the project period. A core team that includes a minimum of 5 University of Memphis faculty representing at least 3 different disciplines/perspectives is required. External collaborators will likely be involved; however, University funding may only be used to support the activities of University of Memphis personnel.


Application Process


1) Interested faculty/teams must submit an intent to apply via e-mail to osp@memphis.edu with "Research Investment Fund" in the subject line no later than 6 p.m. CST on Thursday, January 12th. The e-mail should:

  • Identify the grant program to which you intend to apply and proposed project period (project periods will be fixed with no extensions granted). Faculty may participate in a maximum of one Catalyst (Team or Discovery) and one Interdisciplinary Innovations proposal.
  • List names and academic department for all U of M collaborators; if external collaborators will be involved, identify names, academic departments, and institutional affiliations.
  • Provide a short description of the idea (1-2 paragraphs; equivalent to ½ typed page).

2) The intent to apply email will initiate the application process, after which applicants will be prompted to reserve a 30-minute interview time to discuss the idea and receive feedback. The meetings will be scheduled between January 18th and 27th and will begin with a short (10 minute) presentation by the proposers, followed by a Q&A session with category non-competing members of the Research Vision Committee and representatives from the Office of the Vice President for Research. Proposer presentations should include no more than 5 slides that:

  • Describe the research goal/question to be addressed and expected outcomes
  • Identify the proposed approach and planned activities, including a general description of how the requested funds will be used (e.g. student support, lab supplies, etc.). Funds may not supplant start-up funding.
  • Discuss the cross-disciplinary value of the project: Why does this project demand this approach, and what will be gained from the specific expertise of each team member?

3) Following the interview, full applications will be encouraged or discouraged, and a link to the online application provided. The full application will include a written proposal, budget, budget justification, abbreviated CVs for all team members (format provided in application), and evidence of support from applicable Chairs and Deans. Prior grant reviews/scores will be required for discovery/development submissions that request funds tied to proposal resubmission. Full applications will be due on or before 6 p.m. CST on Friday, February 10th. Award decisions will be announced at the 2017 Research Celebration, Thursday, February 23rd.

Full proposals will be reviewed and scored by panels comprised of staff from the Office of the Vice President for Research and representatives from the Research Vision Committee, with care taken to ensure that no one involved in a competing proposal will be assigned to review in that category. Additional non-competing expertise will be recruited for the panels if needed. Finalist proposals will be discussed with the applicable Deans. Final award decisions will be made by the Vice President for Research.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria


Merit and Creativity of the Idea – Is the proposed research question(s) clearly stated? Does the proposal reflect a creative and credible approach to address the proposed question(s)? Are expected outcomes clearly articulated and appropriately ambitious? Does the grant program seem the best funding source to seed the proposed activity? How will University funding enable maturation of the project toward potential extramural research funding?
Strength of Approach – Are the fields represented appropriate to the research question? Does the cross-disciplinary approach to be pursued strengthen the proposed research? Are the disciplines represented well integrated in the project activities? Does the proposed plan include necessary steps to achieve the intended outcomes?
Potential Return on Investment – What is the likelihood that external funding can be secured to support the proposed line of work or its next steps in the next 3 years? Does the proposed research contribute new and/or meaningful activity to the University's research portfolio in an area where we can be nationally competitive? Does the proposed research add new research capacity or significantly grow our existing research capacity?
Appropriateness of the Budget – Does the requested level of funding and nature/scope of requested budget categories seem reasonable and justified given the expected return? Is there evidence of Department Chair and Dean's office support with matching funds, if needed?
Sustainability of the Effort – What are the plans for securing extramural research funds to continue the effort? Is there sufficient evidence of faculty and academic unit commitment(s) to support this effort?

*Cross-disciplinary research collaboration includes: Multidisciplinary collaborations involving researchers from different fields who join together for a project in which each applies their own disciplinary insights and perspectives to a component of the project; Interdisciplinary collaborations that integrate information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines to solve a problem beyond the scope of a single field; and Transdisciplinary collaborations that integrate two or more disciplinary perspectives to create novel conceptualizations and methodologic approaches that transcend or move beyond the individual disciplines represented among team members.