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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Bridge to Future Programs

Deadline to apply: February 1, June 1, October 1. Particularly urgent requests will be considered as needed.

In 2015 Campus and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education established an account to provide bridge funding for research projects. The allocation included $3 million from the campus matched by $3 million from WARF funds. The funding was provided through two programs:

  • $2 million administered by the Schools and Colleges
  • $4 million administered by the Office of the VCRGE

Information about the bridge funding programs administered by the Schools and Colleges is available from the Dean’s office of each unit. Information about the bridge funding program of the Office of the OVCRGE is presented below. Before preparing an application for the OVCRGE program, please contact the relevant Associate Vice Chancellor to determine whether funds are still available.


The bridge funding program of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education will initially prioritize multi-investigator projects with a sustained record of campus-wide impact that experience a gap in funding. The bridge funds will allow the research teams to maintain their momentum by partially filling the funding gap or providing them an opportunity to seek additional sources of extramural support. Although the VCRGE bridge funding program will emphasize multi-investigator projects, individual investigator applications will be considered when such projects have a campus-wide impact and hold high promise for garnering continued external support.

The bridge award program is not intended as a pilot or seed funding program or as insurance for an external proposal. The Fall Research Competition is a longstanding university-wide program for seed project funding or for insurance for external grants. Bridge funding awards provided by the VCRGE office will prioritize ongoing multi-investigator research programs that have recently lost funding.


  • Multi-investigator groups with a track record of extramural funding who have lost or are at risk for losing their research support at the time of the Bridge application.
  • Individual investigators who are experiencing a critical gap in funding for a program of research that has a campus-wide impact.
  • Documentation must be provided to demonstrate efforts to establish or re-establish funding. Evidence such as grant reviews will be used to evaluate these efforts.

Award Levels

$100,000 to $500,000

Submission Dates

February 1, June 1, October 1. Particularly urgent requests will be considered as needed.

Review Process

A panel consisting of the divisional Associate VCRs and faculty members from each Division will be appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education to serve as impartial reviewers in providing expertise in the evaluation of the bridge funding requests. Panel members will be asked to evaluate proposals based on consideration of several overarching elements that address the viability of the project for external funding, the degree to which the project has a campus-wide impact, and the history of the multi-investigator group in successfully working together. We will seek the advice of the relevant Deans’ offices regarding the priority and importance of the project.

Instructions for Application

The following information should be submitted by email as a PDF to the relevant Associate Vice Chancellor for Research (below).

Provide a narrative (up to 5 pages for items 1-5) that includes:

  1. The specific aims of the project and major research objectives, questions, and/or hypotheses.
  2. A summary of important accomplishments of the research program and its impact on the campus.
  3. A statement of the reasons that bridge funding is needed and the period to be covered. This statement should include a discussion of the potential impact of the gap on the project, in particular regarding personnel.
  4. A plan for regaining funding for the project or obtaining new sources of support. Include a timeline for obtaining support, noting when a decision is expected on these sources of funding. If a grant is to be submitted or is currently under review, provide the date (or anticipated date) of submission, the title, the sponsor, funding mechanism, funding period and amount.
  5. Funding that will be provided by the school or college, department, or center to aid in bridging support for the project. Although not a determining factor for support under the Bridge to the Future program, it is strongly recommended that the applicant obtain some of the necessary funds for the project from the college, school, department or center.
  6. A detailed budget request, indicating the individual staff to be supported and other categories of funding that will be needed. Please include a budget narrative describing those needs.
  7. If the project was reviewed recently and a summary statement provided, include a copy of the summary statement. If the summary statement includes major criticisms of the proposal, describe plans for responding to critiques to improve the chances of funding.
  8. The biosketches for the PI and all co-investigators, including active and pending extramural support.

At the end of the bridge funding year, a report will be requested with the following information: final accounting of the funds that were spent from the VCRGE and any matching fund sources, a summary of the research that was carried out including any published papers or conference presentations, and any grants that were awarded or are pending as a result of the bridge funding.

Associate Vice Chancellors for Research

Lea Jacobs
Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts & Humanities

Norman Drinkwater
Associate Vice Chancellor for Biological Sciences

Steve Ackerman
Associate Vice Chancellor for Physical Sciences

Jan Greenberg
Associate Vice Chancellor for Social Studies