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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Keck Foundation Science and Engineering Research Program 2023

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:September 15, 2022
Subject:Keck Foundation Science & Engineering Research Program


Deadline for Deadline for Internal Review:October 31, 2022

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

Amount per Award: Historically, grants range from $500,000 to $5 million, and are typically $2 million or less.
Duration of Award: Up to 5 Years
Number of Awards:  The number of grants made varies each year.


Up to 4 Concept Papers will be submitted to the Keck Foundation for pre-application counseling. Following pre-application counseling, one Phase I application will be selected and submitted on behalf of UW-Madison.

NOTE: Keck Foundation proposals require a substantial amount of institutional commitment (approximately 20-25% of the grant amount). This commitment can be met through a combination of unrecovered indirect costs and school/college, department and OVCRGE contributions. For this reason, your internal application must include the Keck Cover page signed by your Associate Dean for Research.


Internal Competition Application Instructions

Applications for Internal Review

To submit your application, attach a single PDF to an email to:

Please 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.
  • Statement that the concept/project has been proposed to a traditional funding source (e.g., NSF, NIH) but has been unsuccessful in obtaining funding.

The PIs of selected projects will work with OVCRGE on submission of their Concept Papers. Up to 4 Concept Papers will be submitted to the Keck Foundation for pre-application counseling by December 30, 2022. Following pre-application counseling, one Phase I application will be selected and submitted on behalf of UW-Madison by May 1, 2023.

Sponsor Deadlines

Concept Papers are due to Keck Foundation by December 30, 2022. Applications are due to Keck Foundation by May 01, 2023.