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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Keck Foundation Science and Engineering Research Program 2019

To:Chairs and Administrators, Departments in the Biological, Physical and Social Sciences; Associate Deans for Research; College/School Research Administrators
From:Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education
Date:August 20, 2018
Subject:Keck Foundation Science & Engineering Research Program


Deadline for Concept Paper to School/College Associate Dean for Research:October 15, 2018

Project Description

The Keck Foundation strives to fund endeavors that are distinctive and novel in their approach. It encourages projects that are high-risk with the potential for transformative impact. “High-risk” comprises a number of factors, including questions that push the edge of the field, present unconventional approaches to intractable problems, or challenge the prevailing paradigm. “Transformative” may mean creation of a new field of research, development of new instrumentation enabling observations not previously possible, or discovery of knowledge that challenges prevailing perspectives. Applicants may find it helpful to look over the abstracts of recent grants to understand funding priorities. Grant abstracts may be found on Keck Foundation website within the particular program of interest.

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in research that

• Focus on important and emerging areas of research
• Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
• Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
• Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
• Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
• Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
• Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
• Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

Grants range from $500,000 to $5 million, and are typically $2 million or less.
Duration of grants ranges from one to five years.
The number of grants made varies each year.


UW-Madison may submit one Concept Paper.

NOTE: Keck Foundation proposals require a substantial amount of institutional commitment (approximately 20-25% of the grant amount in non-sponsored flexible funds) from UW-Madison. For this reason, you are encouraged to contact your Associate Dean for Research prior to beginning work on a Concept Paper.


Internal Competition Application Instructions

Applications for Internal Review

Please email your Concept Paper to your School/College Associate Dean for Research by October 15, 2018.  Your Concept Paper should include the following information:

  • Cover Page with PI Signature: Keck Cover Page
  • 1-2 page description of the proposed project.
  • 2-3 sentences on your plans for meeting the institutional commitment.

Your School/College Associate Dean for Research will complete the review process and submit one or two Concept Papers to the OVCRGE via email to by November 6, 2018.

The PI of the selected project will work with the UW Foundation on submission of the Concept Paper.  The Concept Paper will be sent to the Keck Foundation through the UW Foundation for Pre-Application Counseling by December 28, 2018.

If invited by the Keck Foundation, the Phase I deadline for applications is May 1, 2019.

Sponsor Deadlines

Concept Papers are due to Keck Foundation by January 01, 2019. Applications are due to Keck Foundation by May 01, 2019.