September 22, 2018
UCR Research and Economic Development Newsletter
Gillian Wilson
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
Grant Opportunity Search:
In this Newsletter
  • Look out for a Flurry of RFPs from Federal Funding Agencies
  • Limited: NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) - Internal deadline 10/23/18
  • National Endowment for Humanities: Humanities Connections Grant Opportunities
  • RED's Office of Technology Partnerships 2018 Proof of Concept Grant Announcement
  • Microbiome Initiative and Data Blitz Symposium
  • Workshop on Autonomous Systems
  • Office of Technology Partnerships Update
  • September Issue of Research Development and Grant Writing News
  • Pinwheel Galaxy
Look out for a Flurry of RFPs from Federal Funding Agencies
As discussed several times in this newsletter over the last few months, federal funding agencies across the board received more funds than they expected in FY2018, but did not receive their final budgets until A pril of 2018, nearly six months into the fiscal year, leaving them scrambling and under pressure to disburse the funds, Worse, Congressional appropriations language, for the most part, does not set detailed funding levels, rather only top- and mid-tier spending limits. Agencies are therefore required to submit detailed operating plans back to Congress to approve them, so detailed spending, particularly down at the program/project level, is still rather uncertain until that happens. For FY18, NASA and NSF didn't get that approval until they had just two months left in the fiscal year to actually act upon the approved spending levels.

Funds don't actually have to be spent by the end of the fiscal year on Sep 30th 2018, only "obligated". This means that agencies are currently putting out a flurry of Requests for Proposals (RFPs). It is, therefore, well worth paying extra attention right now to federal funding opportunities!

Examples of recent funding opportunities are:
NSF's many announcements
DARPA's announcement of a $2 Billion Campaign to Develop Next Wave of AI Technologies
ARPA-E's Funding Opportunities for Next-Generation DC Circuit Breakers

Budgets for FY2019 starting Oct 1, 2018 are also looking good. Proposals submitted this summer and fall are likely to be funded with FY19 funds. It is too early to make predictions about 2020, but one likely scenario is more budgetary constraint after the mid term elections. Therefore, if undecided as to whether to submit this year or hold off until next year, try this year if you possibly can.
Limited: NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI)
Internal Deadline: 10/23/18
Agency Deadline: 1/1/2019 - 1/22/2019
Number of Submissions Allowed: 2 submissions for track 1, and 1 submission for track 2

The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training in our Nation's institutions of higher education and not-for-profit scientific/engineering research organizations. An MRI award supports the acquisition or development of a multi-user research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs.

MRI provides support to acquire critical research instrumentation without which advances in fundamental science and engineering research may not otherwise occur. MRI also provides support to develop next-generation research instruments that open new opportunities to advance the frontiers in science and engineering research. Additionally, an MRI award is expected to enhance research training of students who will become the next generation of instrument users, designers and builders.

An MRI proposal may request up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument. Beginning with the FY 2018 competition, each performing organization may submit in revised “Tracks” as defined below, with no more than two submissions in Track 1 and no more than one submission in Track 2.

  • Track 1: Track 1 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $100,0001 and less than $1,000,000.
  • Track 2: Track 2 MRI proposals are those that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1,000,000 up to and including $4,000,000.

In your application, start the title with "Track 1" or "Track 2". In general, equipment that will be used by existing NSF funded researchers is more likely to funded, and equipment that has a financial plan for sustained maintenance (such as a recharge) is more likely to be funded. A good location (such as MRB or a core facility) for equipment will also increase chances of success.
NSF requires a 30 percent match. PIs are encouraged to begin consulting with Deans and Chairs on strategies for the required match. I anticipate an update on whether Research and Economic Development will also be able to contribute some matching funds after Vice Chancellor Pazzani's return from research sabbatical on October 1st.
National Endowment for Humanities: Humanities Connections
The Humanities Connections program seeks to expand the role of the humanities in undergraduate education at two- and four-year institutions. Awards will support innovative curricular approaches that foster productive partnerships among humanities faculty and their counterparts in the social and natural sciences and in pre-service or professional programs (such as business, engineering, health sciences, law, computer science, and other technology-driven fields), in order to encourage and develop new integrative learning opportunities for students.

Competitive applications will demonstrate:
  • that the proposed curricular projects address significant and compelling topics or issues in undergraduate education at the applicant institution(s)
  • that these projects develop the intellectual skills and habits of mind cultivated by the humanities
  • that faculty and students will benefit from meaningful collaborations in teaching and learning across disciplines as a result of the project.

Humanities Connections projects have four core features:
  1. integration of the subject matter, perspectives, and pedagogical approaches of two or more disciplines (with a minimum of one in and one outside of the humanities)
  2. collaboration between faculty from two or more separate departments or schools at one or more institutions
  3. experiential learning as an intrinsic part of the curricular plan
  4. long-term institutional support for the proposed curriculum innovation(s).

Humanities Connections grants are funded at two levels: Planning and Implementation.
  • Planning Grants (up to twelve months) support the interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty from two or more separate departments or schools (a minimum of one in and one outside of the humanities), with the goal of designing a new, coherent curricular program or initiative. The award gives the institution(s) the opportunity to create a firm foundation for implementing the program. Planning goals will include identifying the members of a planning committee and organizing the planning process; defining the rationale, design, and structure that would undergird a comprehensive and institutionally sustainable effort; and establishing potential scenarios for curriculum development. Institutions may draw on current short-term initiatives or curricular programs run by individual departments in this effort. The outcome of a successful planning phase should be a project in, or ready for, the implementation stage.
  • Implementation grants (up to three years) support the interdisciplinary collaboration of faculty from two or more separate departments or schools (a minimum of one in and one outside of the humanities), with the implementation of a sustainable curricular program or initiative as the outcome. Implementation grant proposals must show unambiguous evidence of preceding planning work and present a defined rationale with clear intellectual and logistical objectives that are supported by institutional commitment. The award gives applicants the opportunity to build on faculty/administrative or institutional partnerships and to develop and refine the project’s intellectual content, design, and scope. For example, the applicant should be able to demonstrate potential commitments of any partners or collaborators; outline preferred approaches to curriculum building/consolidation; and explain outreach strategies that will be employed to attract students to the new educational opportunity.

Link to Grant Opportunities:
RED's Office of Technology Partnerships 2018 Proof of Concept Grant Announcement
RED's Office of Technology Partnerships is offering Proof of Concept Grants supporting advancement towards commercialization in 2018.
​The Proof of Concept (POC) Funding for technology validation is a special grant available for UCR faculty who have an idea or technology that has significant commercial or business potential.

​These one-time awards of up to $35,000 are offered annually to up to 5 qualified applicants. It is a competitive award process. The awards are to be used during the 12 month period immediately following issuance of the award. All unused funds must be returned to the Vice Chancellor’s office.
To qualify, there are a few key points to be kept in mind...

  • This program is available to PIs including faculty and staff, but not students or post docs (although they may be part of the team).
  • All awardees must be active and NOT on Sabbatical.
  • These funds are not for basic research or to fund an existing company.
  • A completed invention disclosure, and or resulting patent application(s) must be in place prior to submission of the application. The proposed project must be covered under this invention disclosure and the resulting patents. 
  • Milestones, and a timeline for their completion will be established in conjunction with your EIR. 
  • Your project is expected to be accomplished in 1 year or less.
  • The funds will be disbursed to your account after completion of each mutually agreed upon milestones.

Interested faculty should:
Step 1) Submit notice of intent online to receive the application package. 
Step 2) Complete and submit the PowerPoint application package (template will be sent by email) to the Office of Technology Partnerships by October 12th, 2018. 

The applications will be reviewed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research and Economic Development. A selected group of final applicants for Technology Partnerships POC awards will be notified by October 21 that they are being asked to present their PowerPoint presentation to the selection committee on November 15, 2018. 

​Awards will be announced on Monday, November 26th, 2018.

Expected outcomes:
  • Develop detailed milestones to track your progress
  • Provide a budget and timeline for expenditure of funds
  • Meet regularly with your assigned mentor/Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Provide a quarterly report detailing your project progress and use of funds
  • Participate in our NSF I-Corps Startups for Innovators training

Applications Due: Office of Technology Partnerships October 12, 2018

The application website is here:

Please contact Mark Leibowitz ( ), Interim Director of EPIC, with any questions.
Microbiome Initiative and Data Blitz Symposium
The UCR Microbiome Initiative brings together UCR researchers from multiple fields and across our campus. Microbiome Science is multidisciplinary by nature and spans diverse research objectives, including i) human health and disease, ii) animal microbiomes in natural systems, iii) environmental microbiomes, iv) microbiomes in agriculture and plant systems, and v) mathematical and computational approaches to microbiome science.

The main goal of the Microbiome Initiative is to foster interdisciplinary interactions among these fields and
to leverage the existing resources here at UCR to promote Microbiome Science.

This symposium is part of a coordinated effort by CAFE to accomplish the above goals and create better opportunities to use and share resources among labs, enhance infrastructure, create training activities for students, facilitate funding requests for large projects, and to reach out to stakeholders outside UCR to identify research needs and gaps.

All UCR researchers interested in Microbiome research, including human health and disease, animal microbiomes in natural systems, environmental, microbiomes in agriculture and plant systems, and mathematical and computational approaches to microbiome science are invited. This year symposium includes talks from an editor, a sponsor, a grant facilitator, and additional distinguished invited scholars.
September 25th, 2018
UCR Genomic Conference Auditorium - 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Lunch will be provided and symposium will end with a reception - 3:50 to 5:00 pm
Please RSVP to

More information on the event can be found at:

All other questions should be directed to Joel Sachs ( ).
Workshop on Autonomous Systems
Workshop: Foundations and Applications of Autonomous Systems
October 5, 2018, UCR Alumni Center
Provost's Teaming Grant

You are invited to a full day workshop to identify research and training opportunities featuring autonomous systems including UAV and other sensor platforms. The workshop will look to build linkages
between engineering, including autonomous control, robotics, sensing, data analysis, and system integration, and application disciplines, including environmental science, earth science, ecology, agriculture, history, anthropology.
The workshop will include short research presentations by UCR faculty, invited lectures, and discussion
breakout groups.
Invited Speakers:
Mihailo Jovanovic, Ming Hsieh Department of
Electrical Engineering, University of Southern California: ( )
Temuulen “Teki” Sankey, School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University ( )

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

More details including full schedule to follow including registration on the website:

Please register before September 27, 2018

Amit Roy-Chowdhury (Lead PI, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Jiasi Chen (Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering)
Darrel Jenerette (Professor, Botany and Plant Sciences)
Hoori Ajami (Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences)
Fabio Pasqualetti (Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering)
Office of Technology Partnerships (OTP) Update
RED's Office of Technology Partnerships, headed by Associate Vice Chancellor Rosibel Ochoa, helps faculty protect, validate and commercialize intellectual property through patent protection, sponsored research, licensing and entrepreneurial training.

Over the last year, OTP has:   
  • Executed over $13 Million in corporate sponsored research agreements 
  • Received 74 disclosures across campus departments and filed 112 provisional and non-provisional patents 
  • Initiated the Avocado Variety Improvement Program 
  • Awarded 10 Proof of Concept grants for a total of $350,000 
  • Launched EPIC International, EPIC Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the SBIR/STTR Resource Center 
NSF I-Corps National Program  – Five faculty-led teams have participated in the NSF National Program, each receiving $50,000 towards customer discovery to validate the commercial potential of their technology: 
  • Magstrong Solutions- Professor Huinan Liu, Bioengineering 
  • Chromanose- Professor Nosang Myung, Chemical/Environmental Engineering 
  • Si-li Ion- Professor Lorenzo Mangolini, Mechanical Engineering 
  • Fusion 2P- Professor MingLee Tang, Chemistry 
  • Portable Perfusion- Professor Guillermo Aguilar, Mechanical Engineering 
Highlander Venture Fund  – The Highlander Venture Fund has made two investments in UCR associated companies:
  • November 2017 in NanoCellect Biomedical, part of a $10 million series B funding round led by Illumina Ventures.  NanoCellect, founded by UCR alumnus Dr. Jose Morachis, produces the Wolf Cell Sorter. 
  • January 2018, in Sensorygen, a company founded by UCR professor Dr. Anandasankar Ray, focused on using computational biology to discover naturally occurring compounds that alter smell and taste perception.
Working closely with EPIC leadership, the Fund continues to actively review investment opportunities coming out of UCR and the Inland Empire Region.    

The following are current funding opportunities available for faculty members (and graduate students) interested in translating their research or starting a company:

  • Concept validation through customer discovery - Through funding from the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, OTP provides $500 to $3,000 for innovators to conduct interviews and market research so they can validate the commercial potential of their ideas. Participants in this program (faculty members or researchers) take part in a 4-7 week program that is offered quarterly on campus. Application for the Fall 2018 cohort is now open! For more information contact Mark Leibowitz (
  • Teams that complete the NSF I-Corps workshops or are recipients of NSF grants are also eligible to receive a $50,000 grant from the NSF through its I-Corps National program. The funding can be used for supporting graduate students who want to participate in a 7-week program. For more information about participating in the NSF National program, contact Mark Leibowitz (
  • Proof of Concept Funding is a grant of up to $35,000 available for UCR faculty who have an invention that has commercial or business potential. Funding can be used for prototyping or to conduct translational experiments. Five to eight awards are distributed annually through a competitive process. Applications are now open for the Fall 2018 funding callThe deadline to apply is October 12, 2018 For more information on the Proof of Concept funding, see the article in this newsletter and contact Mark Leibowitz  (
  • Non-dilutive funding through the Federal SBIR/STTR program- Last year OTP launched the SBIR/STTR Resource Center ( to help faculty develop and submit winning proposals. The programs are structured into 2 funded phases, with awards typically between $150,000 - $1,000,000. The Resource Center provides one on one mentorship and a robust training program that provides insights on preparing competitive proposals. For more information about preparing an SBIR or STTR proposal, contact Misty Madero (
  • Venture Capital Funding – UCR affiliated companies can apply for venture capital investment in the order of $250,000-$500,000 through the Highlander Venture Fund. For more information about the Highlander Venture Fund, contact Mark Leibowitz (

October OTP Lunch and Learn: A Startup Success in Progress  – Learn about the UCR faculty startup experience firsthand from Professor Anandasankar Ray, Founder and President of Sensorygen, and Thomas Stone, CEO of Sensorygen. RSVP at

Finally you can stay up to date on OTP events and news by subscribing to OTP’s newsletter

September Issue of Research and Development News
The September issue of the Academic Research Funding Strategies newsletter may be found at this link.
The index is below. I have had the pleasure of meeting one-on-one with quite a few of UCR's early-stage career faculty this summer and one question I am frequently asked is how to write more competitive proposals. There are several good articles this month on just that.

Note that this report is for UCR internal use only. It may not be forwarded to colleagues at other institutions or professional associations.

Pinwheel Galaxy
The Pinwheel Galaxy, one of the most beautiful galaxies in the sky, contains about a trillion stars. There are estimated to be hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. To put those numbers in context, that means there are more stars in the Universe than grains of sand on all the beaches of planet Earth. Even after decades of thinking about astronomy, I still find that concept amazing!
Image Credit: NASA

Confirm that you like this.

Click the "Like" button.