CNS Bridge and Seed Funding (BSF) Program
The College of Natural Sciences celebrates the scholarly excellence of its existing faculty and seeks to support their unmet potential to innovate and to continue to lead their disciplines through new investments in research. The CNS Bridge and Seed Funding Program provides timely funding for CNS faculty who are: seeking the renewal of sponsored research projects and are recently in a funding gap; seeking funding to launch initial research directed in a particularly promising new area with strong funding potential; or seeking funding to expand basic research in an applied/translational direction in order to access appropriate translational funding mechanisms (examples include programs like the Manning Innovators Program, targeted grants, private sponsorship, etc.). We also strongly encourage faculty to consider applying for seed funds to develop large team grant proposals, or to pursue translational research, as this opens up new and complementary channels for external funding beyond the traditional federal sources. In all cases, the proposal must demonstrate need, provide a compelling plan for carrying out the research successfully, and identify a clear pathway for securing external funding in the near term. This funding is available for projects/initiatives not supported by other campus bridge or seed funding mechanisms.
Tenured or tenure-track faculty with a primary appointment in CNS departments and with an established track record of external funding may submit proposals for these funds.
Use and Restrictions of Funds
Funds may be used for research costs, including student or staff salaries and supplies. Faculty salary is not an allowable expense, although funds for teaching release to develop large team grant proposals are allowed with the support of the department head/chair. Purchase of equipment or use of funds for travel or other needs will require more compelling justification. Allocated funds must be spent within one year of the start date of the award, or they will revert back to the CNS Dean’s Office. If an external grant directly related to the original request is funded during the bridge period, unspent funds will immediately revert to the CNS Dean’s Office.
- Bridge Funding: Bridge funding is available for PIs with less than $15,000 in RTF and/or startup funds. Individual faculty requesting bridge funding must commit to apply for substantial external funding within one year of the award. It is expected that 50 percent of the bridge funding grant will be repaid to the college on a scheduled plan through the PI’s RTF if the PI is successful in obtaining external funding.
- Seed Funding: Seed funding is available for both individual PIs and teams of multiple investigators. Individuals or teams requesting seed funding must commit an initial 25 percent RTF match to the project and must commit to apply for substantial external funding within one year of the award. It is expected that 50 percent of the seed funding grant will be repaid to the college on a scheduled plan through PI RTF sources if the external funding application is successful.
Fall 2023 BSF Application Cycle
CNS anticipates that Bridge and Seed Funding Program calls for proposals will occur once per semester. For the Fall 2023 BSF application cycle, online applications will be accepted between September 18 and October 23, 2023 using the InfoReady competition platform: https://umass.infoready4.com/. Proposals will be evaluated by the CNS Research Review Council and the Dean’s Office, with funds to be allocated for use as early as December 2023. Questions about the BSF program and the application process can be directed to tuominen [at] cns [dot] umass [dot] edu (Mark Tuominen), CNS Associate Dean for Research and Innovation.
All proposals must demonstrate a need for support and a plan for sustainability. The following materials should be submitted in support of this goal:
- A summary (one page or less) of the request, including a justification of how the proposed work will help secure new or renewed funding.
- A total budget for the requested funds, not to exceed $40,000.
- A statement of commitment to submit an application for external funding related to this request within one year from the allocation of funds, including the agency(s) and due date for this submission.
- An endorsement letter from the department head or chair with a commitment to provide a 10 percent match to the request and to convene a committee to review the application for external funding.
- (For Bridge funding requests only): A summary statement from a prior grant application submitted within the past year on a project related to this request (if applicable).
- (For Seed funding requests only): Specific aims of currently funded projects and a statement of overlap with proposed work.
To aid the funding decision, the following background materials for each applicant investigator must be provided:
- Current funding status with all anticipated encumbrances, including current RTF balance, as of the date of the application
- Current research personnel
- Ten-year external funding history
- Five-year grant application history
- Ten-year publication history
- (For Bridge funding requests related to proposal resubmissions only): Peer review summary statement from the declined proposal submission and PI responses to the peer review critiques.
The total annual funding level is dependent on availability of funds and the quantity and quality of the submissions. The College anticipates that the annual award level (combined fall and spring application cycles) will total $300,000.
Assistance and Coaching
Faculty who receive bridge or seed funds are expected to use the research development resources available through the CNS Dean’s Office and the VCRE’s Office to assist in building a strong proposal for subsequent external support.