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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Initiative to Foster New Large Research Grant Proposals

This competition is now closed.

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Competing for large (greater than $10 million) research grants is challenging due to intense competition, complex application processes, and limited resources for preparing proposals. This initiative provides principal investigators (PIs) with seed money for preparing large research grant proposals (at least $10 million over 5 years) in response to a specific call from external funding agencies/organizations (e.g., NSF Engines program, USDA NIFA, NIH Brain Initiative, multi-PI Centers, DOD, DOE, NSF, NASA).  A lower grant threshold amount will be considered for grant proposals to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), or the Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at NSF (see FAQs for more information).  The initiative is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE).

To support the development of large research grant proposals, up to $150,000 of funding may be requested to engage the services of a professional grant writer/consultant/editor/grant coordinator and/or to compensate a faculty or staff member to devote a portion of their time to proposal preparation (up to 10%).

Applicants should check whether their department, school or college have grant writers/coordinators on staff that can be used. UW-Madison does not have to be the lead institution on the grant proposal. However, the direct funding that stays at UW-Madison must reach at least $2 million per year. This seed funding cannot be used for renewals of currently funded large center-type grants or training grants.

Applications for funding through this program may be made at any time during the 2023-24 academic year. Requests will be considered by the OVCRGE on a rolling basis.  The OVCRGE will provide up to $1.2 million for this initiative.

The application form for this initiative requires the following information:

  • PI from UW–Madison contact information and role (name, email, department, college/school, role on external grant proposal e.g., PI, co-PI, etc.);
  • Brief description of the external grant proposal, including the grant funding target or funding call, the projected proposal submission date, the research proposed, and a list of the key people involved at UW–Madison and at other institutions;
  • Anticipated overall budget for the external grant proposal and total projected direct costs that will stay at UW–Madison;
  • Budget justification/explanation for how seed money awarded through this initiative (up to $150,000) will be used and a timeline describing milestones that must be completed for a successful external grant submission;
  • Statement describing matching funds provided by the school/college/center/department in support of the application to this initiative (some matching funds are expected);
  • Academic division of the external grant proposal;
  • Short statement from Dean of School/College or Center Director certifying approval and an indication that this is an area of importance for the school/college.



  • The lead Principal Investigator (PI) from UW–Madison must be a tenure-track 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 Funding:

The PI  should initiate the application.  The PI can invite additional collaborators (writers/editors) to help fill out the application form. However, the PI who initiates the application must also be the person that ultimately submits the application.

You may log-in using your UW–Madison NET-ID and password.  Select the “Large Research Grant Support Initiative” program tile.  Click “Apply” to start a new application and follow the application instructions.

Technical questions may be sent to:

For questions about application development, please contact the appropriate associate vice chancellor for research (AVC).

Once the application form is submitted, it will be routed to the appropriate divisional Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC), who will then lead the review and selection process through a discussion with the VCRGE and other AVCs. (Note for awardees: the award letter will instruct the PI to check with their business services office to verify that they are contracting appropriately for the necessary services.)

The OVCRGE is committed to supporting submissions of large research grant proposals.  This initiative is a pilot to address calls for support to help prepare large, complex research proposals. Decisions about continuation of this funding initiative in 2024-25 and beyond will be based on the outcomes of this pilot.


Frequently Asked Questions:

Does the $10 million threshold apply to one year of funding or the entire project (e.g., $2 million a year for 5 years)? It refers to the entire project amount which may span a few years. The direct funding that stays at UW-Madison must reach at least $2M per year.

Does the $10 million threshold refer to direct and indirect funding? It refers to direct funding.

Will matching funds from the OVCRGE be available for the submitted external grant proposal? Yes, OVCRGE matching funds can be requested through our grant matching process as outlined here. 

Can resources from this initiative be used to fund current staff? You can request up to 10% of faculty salary for the period of time dedicated to proposal writing. In addition, salary support for a UW staff member whose work is focused specifically on proposal preparation may be requested proportional to this effort. Funds cannot be requested for laboratory work and/or preliminary data acquisition.

Can resources be used to fund external companies who have expertise in this type of work? Yes.

Are proposals targeted to other external grant agencies besides the ones listed in the program description eligible for funding from this initiative? Yes, if the total grant is at least $10 million with at least $2 million/year directs staying at UW-Madison. Please contact the appropriate divisional AVC to determine eligibility of grant proposals (less than $10 million) in the social sciences and arts & humanities for agencies not listed.