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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Research Forward

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) is hosting a Research Forward initiative to stimulate and support highly innovative and groundbreaking research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The initiative is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and will provide funding for 1–2 years, depending on the needs and scope of the project.

Research Forward seeks to support collaborative, multidisciplinary, multi-investigator research projects that are high-risk, high-impact, and transformative. It seeks to fund research projects that have the potential to fundamentally transform a field of study as well as projects that require significant development prior to the submission of applications for external funding. Collaborative research proposals are welcome from within any of the four divisions (Arts & Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences), as are cross-divisional collaborations.

Criteria for evaluation include:

  • What is the problem(s) you are trying to solve? Why is this problem important and why should it be addressed now?
  • What are the innovative approaches, potential for groundbreaking impact, and significance of the research? How will it be transformative for the field?
  • What are the expected outcomes (e.g., grant submissions, publications)?
  • What are the unique qualifications of the research team for leading this research?

 

Award Application Process

Deadlines

  • A cover sheet with a 300-word abstract is due December 21, 2020 (item 1 below)
  • The complete proposal is due February 1, 2021 (items 1-6 below)

 

Eligibility

  • The lead Principal Investigator (PI) must be a UW–Madison faculty member or a researcher with permanent PI status.
  • CHS faculty and academic staff without permanent PI status may participate as co-PIs.

 

HOW TO APPLY FOR A RESEARCH FORWARD AWARD

The on-line application form is available at: https://vcrge-uwmadison.smapply.io/.

You may log-in using your UW-Madison NetID and password.  Select the “Research Forward” program tile. Click “Apply” to start a new application.

Some Key Tips:

  • The PI must initiate the application.
  • The PI can invite additional collaborators (writers/editors) to fill out the application form. However, the PI who initiates the application must also be the person that ultimately submits the application.
  • Remember to scroll down and select “mark as complete” at the bottom of each completed page.
  • You will be able to select “review and submit” before final submission.
  • You will have the option of downloading the entire application document.

 

All applicants must provide:

  1. A cover sheet that includes:

a. PI information (name, email address, departmental/center affiliation)

b. A list of anticipated co-Principal Investigators and co-Investigators

c. A project title

d. A list of four UW–Madison faculty with subject expertise relevant to the proposal. Please avoid listing faculty with potential conflicts of interest. For example, do not list dissertation advisors, former students, anyone in the same department as the PI (and co-PIs), or anyone with whom the PI (and co-PIs) have collaborated in the last five years.

e. A 300-word research abstract that addresses the following topics (in accessible language):
● What is the problem(s) you are trying to solve? Why is this problem important and why should it be addressed now?
● What are the innovative approaches, potential for groundbreaking impact, and significance of the research? How will it be transformative for the field?
● What are the expected outcomes (e.g., grant submissions, publications)?
● What are the unique qualifications of the research team for leading this research?

f. The amount of funding requested (up to a maximum of $500,000).

Your cover sheet and abstract (item no. 1 above) must be completed by December 21, 2020. (You should scroll to the end of the first section and select “mark as complete”.)  You may proceed with the remaining sections (items 2-6 below) of the proposal only after the abstract has been completed by the due date. Complete proposals are due by 4:30 p.m. on February 1, 2021.

Additional items in the research proposal:

2. A lay paragraph (150 words). Please summarize your project in language suitable for someone outside of your academic discipline. This will help the VCRGE convey the nature of your project to the WARF Board.

3. In a single PDF file: a narrative, not to exceed five pages, that describes:

  • The specific aims, major research questions, and hypotheses being addressed.
  • The multidisciplinary aspects of the research and the unique qualifications of the research team that increase the likelihood of project success.
  • The innovative vision, potential for groundbreaking impact, and significance of the proposed research, including a statement about how this research will be transformative for the field.
  • The bold, innovative approaches proposed to address these specific aims and research questions.
  • How potential risks and challenges will be addressed.
  • A statement of the expected outcomes of the proposed activities and an explanation of how these activities will provide the necessary foundation for seeking external funding.
  • A timeline of research activities for the funding period.
  • Plans for external grant submissions.
  • A statement that the proposed research project represents a new and distinct direction for your research and is not an extension of ongoing current research.
  • If other funding has been received for this or a closely related project, a description of the previously funded project.
  • You may include optional additional material, as appropriate:

    a. One page of figures or tables to accompany the narrative (or submit a six-page narrative with figures and tables embedded in the text);

    b. References (citations from the research literature); and

    c. Letters of support or commitment to the project.

4. A detailed budget request, indicating the personnel to be supported and other categories of funding that will be needed. Although collaborations with faculty outside of UW-Madison may be beneficial, funds from this initiative cannot be used to support researchers at other institutions.  The budget may include faculty salary for summer support only; this initiative will not provide in-semester support. Faculty with 12-month appointments are not eligible for faculty salary support. Use the budget template, which you should save as a PDF and upload both the .xls workbook and the .pdf workbook to the on-line submission system.

5. In a single PDF file: A brief (no more than one page) budget justification that explains the rationale for each item in your budget. Proposals will not be reviewed without an itemized budget justification.

6. In a single PDF file: CVs or Biosketches for the Principal Investigator, co-Principal Investigators, co-Investigators, and Collaborators. Include all current and pending intramural and extramural research support for each investigator.

Submitting the full application:

After completing the six items above, you will be able to select “review and submit” before making your final submission. Please make sure to review the entire document before you select to “submit” it. You will also have the option to download the entire document.

For questions regarding submitting an abstract, the full submission or eligibility, please contact the appropriate divisional Associate Vice Chancellor for Research (see https://research.wisc.edu/about/leadership/).

For technical questions or for general information, please send an email to competitions@research.wisc.edu.

Review Process

A faculty committee of subject matter experts will review the proposals to identify those that hold the most promise for meeting the goals of this initiative.  The committee will then make recommendations to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.  The OVCRGE will make final selections.

Progress Report and Final Report

A progress report and a final report will be required. The reports will provide a summary of the progress that was accomplished on the project.  Second year funding is contingent on having spent down 75% of Year 1 funds and on the receipt of a satisfactory progress report. The final report should include citations to any published papers or conference presentations that derive from the research undertaken or the equipment purchased and any new grants that were submitted by or awarded to the research team.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

WHAT IS THE RESEARCH FORWARD INITIATIVE?

The goal of the Research Forward initiative is to stimulate and support highly innovative and groundbreaking research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This initiative seeks to fund research projects that have the potential to fundamentally transform a field of study as well as projects that require significant development prior to the submission of applications for external funding. It further seeks to support collaborative, multidisciplinary, multi-investigator research projects that are high-risk, high-impact, and transformative. Collaborative research proposals are welcome from within any of the four divisions (Arts & Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences), as are cross-divisional collaborations.

HOW IS RESEARCH FORWARD DIFFERENT FROM THE FALL RESEARCH COMPETITION?

The goal of Research Forward is to fund high-impact and transformative research projects, especially those that require significant development prior to the submission of applications for external funding. The Research Forward program does not provide funding as backup support for externally submitted proposals or to supplement existing grants; rather, the proposed project should be of sufficient scope (e.g. large center proposals or multi-investigator proposals) to require a substantial investment of resources in order to make it competitive for external funds. Research Forward projects will typically involve a multidisciplinary team of investigators.

The Fall Research Competition prioritizes the funding of junior faculty and providing insurance support to senior faculty for external grant submissions. The Fall Research Competition generally funds focused research projects, especially those close to or at the point of submission for extramural support.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN SUBMITTING A RESEARCH FORWARD APPLICATION?

An abstract for the proposal should be submitted online to ensure that the proposed project aligns with the goals of the initiative. The divisional Associate Vice Chancellor for Research will advise the applicant (Principal Investigator) whether there are any concerns with the abstract and the submission of a full-length proposal. See the application instructions for the materials that need to be included in the full-length proposal.

WHAT IS THE AWARD RANGE?

The maximum award will be $500,000

IS THERE A MATCHING FUNDS REQUIREMENT?

No. Matching funds are not required.

CAN FACULTY SALARY SUPPORT BE REQUESTED?

For faculty on 9-month appointments, only summer salary support may be requested. Faculty with 12-month appointments are not eligible for faculty salary support.

HOW MANY YEARS OF FUNDING MAY BE REQUESTED?

Funding will be provided for 1–2 years, depending on the needs and scope of the project.

CAN A PORTION OF A RESEARCH FORWARD PROJECT BE HANDLED THROUGH A SUBAWARD TO ANOTHER INSTITUTION?

No. WARF funds cannot be used to fund subawards, pilot projects, mini-grants, or other projects at other institutions or partner agencies. However, purchase of services or equipment from other institutions and industry is allowable.

ARE THERE ANY CONDITIONS TO THE AWARD?

A progress report and final report will be required. Periodic updates after the funding ends will be required.

In accepting the award, the Principal Investigator agrees to seek external funding to continue the project within one year of the end of the OVCRGE funding period.

WHEN ARE RESEARCH FORWARD PROPOSALS REVIEWED?

December 21, 2020, for abstract submission; February 1, 2021, for full proposal submission (award recipients will be notified in June 2021).

WHAT IS THE REVIEW PROCESS FOR RESEARCH FORWARD PROPOSALS?

Proposals will be initially evaluated by two reviewers with subject expertise. The proposals and solicited faculty evaluations will then be reviewed by a divisional faculty committee. The divisional review committees will be appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education in consultation with the divisional Associate Vice Chancellors for Research.  Final award decisions will be made by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education in consultation with the divisional Associate Vice Chancellors for Research.

AT WHAT STAGE OF MY RESEARCH CAREER SHOULD I ENTER THE RESEARCH FORWARD COMPETITION?

Proposals from faculty and researchers with permanent PI status at all career stages are invited. Junior faculty who submit a proposal as a PI are encouraged to include senior UW–Madison researchers as co- PIs.