Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Research Forward (2023)

Read the story announcing the new round.

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) is announcing a new round of the 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 and 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. Collaborative research proposals are welcome from within any of the four divisions (Arts & Humanities, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences), or from cross-divisional collaborations. Successful Research Forward proposals will include an integrated and compelling plan for establishing and maintaining an equitable and inclusive research effort.

Criteria for evaluation include:

· What is the problem 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?

· Are the equity and inclusion elements appropriate for the research area and the proposed effort, and are they likely to enhance the research environment?

· 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

· The Research Forward initiative opens Oct. 11, 2022.

· A cover sheet with a 400-word abstract is due Nov. 11, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. (item 1 below)

· The complete proposal is due Jan. 23, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. (items 1-7 below)

Eligibility

· The lead Principal Investigator (PI) must be a UW–Madison 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 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 3” program title. Click “Apply” to start a new application.

Some Key Tips:

· The lead 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 400-word research abstract that addresses the following topics (in accessible language):

● What is the problem 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?

● How does the proposed research project represent a new and distinct research direction? How is it *not* an extension of ongoing research? (The proposed research must not have been previously funded).

f. The estimated amount of funding requested (up to a maximum of $500,000). Equipment requests are limited to a maximum of $10,000 for each year.

(Note: if the number of project team members exceeds the space provided in the cover sheet, you may add a list of the team members at the end of the narrative below. This will not be counted in the five-page limit.)

Your cover sheet and abstract (item no. 1 above) must be completed by Nov. 11, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. (You should scroll to the end of the first section and select “mark as complete”.)

The divisional associate vice chancellors will review all the abstracts and notify any PIs if there are concerns or issues with going forward and completing the full proposal. If an associate vice chancellor for research has not contacted you via email by December 23, then you should proceed with your full proposal, knowing that it will receive full consideration.

You may proceed with the remaining sections (items 2-7 below) of the full proposal only if an associate vice chancellor for research has *not* contacted you via email by December 23 about your abstract. Complete proposals are due by Jan. 23, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.

The full proposal should include:

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 a closely related project, a description of the previously funded project.

● If you have received previous research funding as a PI or co-PI from OVCRGE (other than the Fall Research Competition), provide a brief description of the outcomes (e.g. related extramural grant(s), publications or performances).

● 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. A list of additional project team members that do not fit in the cover sheet (not counted in the five or six-page limit)

c. References (citations from the research literature, not counted in the five or six-page limit); and

d. Letters of support or commitment to the project, not counted in the five or six-page limit.

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. For faculty with 9-month appointments, you may not exceed the NIH salary cap. For example, the current NIH salary cap is $203,700 over 12 months (1 month = $16,975, plus fringe benefits). Thus, if your annual salary exceeds the cap you are limited in your request to $16,975 (plus fringe benefits) per month. Faculty with 12-month appointments are not eligible for faculty salary support. Also, equipment requests are limited to under $10,000 for each year. Use the Research Forward 3 Budget Template_final. Once you have completed the budget template, save the entire workbook as a PDF (and fit each worksheet as a single page in the PDF) and upload both the .xls workbook and the .pdf workbook to the on-line submission system.

5. Be sure to indicate your total Research Forward funding request in the space provided (last line of the budget form, tab 3). Please also provide 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.

7. In a single PDF file: For multi-investigator projects, a DEI summary describing plans for the structure and leadership of your proposed Research Forward activity, including the integration of approaches designed and/or selected to support your goals for a diverse and inclusive research environment. (300 words max.)

Submitting the full proposal:

After completing the 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 eligibility or submitting an abstract or full proposal, 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 and 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 through the online Research Forward portal. The abstract should demonstrate that the proposed project aligns with the goals of the initiative. The divisional Associate Vice Chancellor for Research will contact the applicant (Principal Investigator) if there are any concerns with the abstract and submission of a full-length proposal. See the application instructions for the materials that need to be included in the full-length proposal.

CAN I BE A PI ON ONE PROPOSAL AND A CO-PI ON ANOTHER ONE?

Yes, if the two proposals are not related projects.

CAN I BE A CO-PI ON MORE THAN ONE PROPOSAL?

Yes, as long as they are not related projects.

WHAT IS THE AWARD RANGE?

The maximum award will be $500,000. Equipment requests are limited to under $10,000 for each year.

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. You may not exceed the NIH salary cap. For example, the current NIH salary cap is $203,700 (1 month = $16,975, plus fringe benefits). Thus, if your annual salary exceeds the cap you are limited in your request to $16,975 (plus fringe benefits) per month. 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 VCRGE funding period.

WHEN ARE RESEARCH FORWARD PROPOSALS REVIEWED?

Nov. 11, 2022, for abstract submission; Jan. 23, 2023, for full proposal submission. Award recipients will be notified in May 2023.

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. However, it is strongly suggested that assistant professors early in their probationary period do not submit proposals as a PI. Early-stage assistant professors can be included as collaborators. Assistant professors who submit a proposal as a PI are encouraged to include senior UW–Madison faculty and/or researchers as co-PIs.

DO YOU HAVE ANY GUIDANCE FOR WRITING THE DEI PLAN?

Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW–Madison. The launch of a new research endeavor provides an opportunity to broaden participation and strengthen inclusion in the UW-Madison research enterprise through the intentional adoption of best practices at the earliest stages of the new initiative. Please include a summary describing plans for the structure and leadership of your proposed Research Forward activity, including the integration of approaches designed and/or selected to support your goals for a diverse and inclusive research environment.

We do not have a template or a specific writeup for addressing DEI since projects and disciplines vary considerably. PIs can look at online resources created by professional societies and nonprofits in related disciplines about ways to support and promote diversity, equity and inclusion. Tips from NSF about writing broader impact statements can also be helpful (https://beta.nsf.gov/science-matters/nsf-101-five-tips-your-broader-impacts-statement)

At UW–Madison, here is a link for resources that support equity and inclusivity: https://diversity.wisc.edu/inclusion-resources/

Additional resources from College of Letters & Science can be found here (bottom of the page): https://ls.wisc.edu/about/diversity-and-inclusion.

A how-to guide for promoting diversity and inclusion in biomedical engineering: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10439-019-02223-2

The U.S. Department of Energy is now requiring PI’s submitting proposals to include equity and inclusion plans: https://www.energy.gov/science/articles/everyone-has-role-play-making-science-more-equitable-and-inclusive