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High Priority Area Small Equipment Grants DOR/PROVOST FACULTY RESEARCH INVIGORATION PROGRAMS HIGH PRIORITY AREA RESEARCH SEED GRANTS

2017-2018 GUIDELINES

Overview

The Provost and the Vice President for Research have initiated a program to invigorate the university research enterprise through targeted investment of small equipment grants in high priority areas (see the examples in Figure 1). The purpose of the program is to invigorate research labs and groups with funds that would permit submission of competitive research proposals. The Small Equipment Grant Program is closely tied with the four institutional thrusts that the Vice President for Research and the Provost have developed in consultation with college deans, and which have been endorsed by the Chancellor: (1) physical and cyber security, (2) drug discovery and development, (3) sustainable communities and infrastructure, and (4) accessible healthcare. Each of the thrusts is described in Figure 1, which provides the general area of emphasis and some examples. There will be an allocation of $500,000 in the current fiscal year, in 2 calls, one in fall, 2017 and a second in spring, 2018.  Each call will have a total allocation of $250,000 intended to fund a total of ten grants at $50,000 per grant for the two calls. Equipment items that are requested as shared-use facilities are preferred.

thrusts

Programs under the DOR/Provost Faculty Research Invigoration Program will have (i) clear focus on the institutional thrusts, and (ii) heightened accountability during the project, and for 2 years after it, in terms of brief reports on progress, and impact during and after the project in a final report.

Funding and Reporting: 

These guidelines apply to both calls. During FY18, there will be an allocation of $500,000 for 2 calls, with deadlines on December 4, 2017 and a second deadline on March 1, 2018.  Each call will have a total allocation of $250,000 intended to fund a total of ten grants at $50,000 per grant for the two calls. Requests are anticipated to exceed available funds, so small equipment grant proposals must demonstrate efficiency and ensure that investments are used in a way that allows the highest possible return to the laboratory and the institution.  

Categories that are acceptable for funding include the equipment requested with required supporting instrumentation necessary for data collection and function.  Set-up costs and costs related to service agreements are acceptable. Computer equipment, travel, personnel, and other items ancillary to the specific equipment are not acceptable costs unless there is a strong justification directly pertinent to the function of the requested equipment is provided.  Budgets will be critically reviewed.

The Small Equipment Grants Program is intended to increase the technical capabilities of a laboratory leading to highly competitive proposals for extramural funding.  As such, the PI is expected to complete the following activities and reporting during the 2 years following the award.  A grant must be submitted in one of the high priority research areas in the first year of the application. If the applicant intends to apply for a competition that does not fit this timeline, an exception should be noted in the proposed timeline. An exception can be granted by petition provided this does not delay the grant submission more than 3 months. A resubmission is expected in the next submission cycle following the receipt of reviewer comments until funding is secured or a new application can be submitted while awaiting the outcome of the previous submission. In year 2, the PI is expected to submit either a second proposal or resubmit the proposal from year 1. A final report that captures the research output and funding garnered using this equipment will be due at the end of the second year. 

Eligibility Criteria: 

Small Equipment Grant proposals are eligible for funding when they:

  • Request a critical piece of equipment to facilitate grant submission
  • Are located on a University of Houston campus and run by faculty or staff employed by UH

PI Eligibility:  Any full-time University of Houston faculty member (tenured, tenure-track, or research faculty) may apply as PI of the facility.

Application Process: 

The proposal must be based upon a plan to submit a research grant proposal in one of the four priority thrust areas identified in the Overview.  Submission of the compiled proposal as a PDF will be by pre-award teams in the respective college of the PI using a standard UH budget template and must be approved by the department chair(s) and/or dean(s) of the involved department(s)/college(s) to the Division of Research SharePoint submission site smallequipmentgrant@share.uh.edu. The proposal should include a statement of objectives; a list of other involved faculty and participants; identification of the instrumentation/services already in place; integration of the equipment into the lab; and a clear description of how the lab will use the equipment in relation to research in one of the four priority areas and the planned grant submission.  The proposal narrative should be double-spaced and have a font size of Arial no smaller than 11 pt, with 1-inch margins and include the following components:

Proposal Preparation and Submission

The proposal must be based on a plan to submit a research grant proposal in one of the four priority thrust areas identified in the Overview section of this program. The application to this program must be prepared following the requirements outlined below and submitted as a single PDF file via email to: smallequipmentgrant@share.uh.edu by the PI’s affiliated pre-award research administrator in the College or the DOR.

Formatting Requirements: All documents should be prepared on the US Letter size paper (8.5”x11”) with 1-inch margins on all sides, Arial font size 11 pt or larger. The proposal narrative must have exactly 1.5 line spacing; all other documents may be single-spaced. An Arial font size of at least 8 pt must be used for the captions to graphics and tables and may be single-spaced. The text in the captions must be legible.

Proposal Documents

  1. Cover Page (1 page)
    The cover page must identify the proposal title, PI and Co-PI names and affiliations, and applicable thrust area(s).
  2. Proposal Narrative (Up to 3 pages, includes graphics, tables, equations, and formulas)
    The rationale for the proposed small equipment should be described and must contain:
    1. An overview of the strategic research area relative to one of the four priority thrust areas and how the investment will enhance the applicant’s ability to submit competitive proposals in one of the four priority thrust areas.
    2. A brief history of the applicant’s expertise in the priority thrust area.
    3. The availability on the University of Houston campus of such instrumentation/services of similar function/use and capabilities. If such instrumentation/service is already available for shared use, why is the new instrumentation/service needed?
    4. The potential research outcomes (e.g., funding, publications, faculty hiring) of having this instrumentation/service? Identify any obstacles.
    5. Brief plans for its management and maintenance, including what type of continued investment might be required to maintain the instrument and its productivity.
    6. Plan and timeline for grant submission in the selected priority thrust area.
    7. References Cited are in addition to the 3-page Proposal Narrative.
  3. Biosketch(es) (2 pages per investigator)
    Provide a two-page biosketch for each PI and Co-PI. NSF style is preferred.
  4. Current & Pending Support
    Provide a list of current & pending support for each PI and Co-PI. Identify the activities closely related to the proposed acquisition.
  5. Funding (Up to 1 page per investigator)
    Based on the activities identified in the “Current & Pending Support” as closely related to the proposed acquisition, describe:
    1. How will the equipment support existing externally funded research?
    2. What external funding opportunities are available for the PI and Co-PIs and how will the acquisition enhance competitiveness?
  6. Budget (1 page)
    The budget must be constructed and presented using the standard UH budget template. Please work with your affiliated pre-award personnel to generate the budget.
    Allowable costs include: equipment and related accessories, set-up/installation costs, service agreements. Unallowable costs include: personnel, travel, computer hardware not connected to the proposed equipment, lab renovation, and other items ancillary to the specific equipment. 
    Budget will be critically reviewed. Vendor quotes are required for the submission, and must be made available to the reviewing committee. When awarded, the purchase must follow the University policies and guidelines.
  7. Budget Justification and Fiscal Accountability (1 page)
    The budget justification should address the following topics: 
    1. Describe the impact of funding on the improvement of resources or services within the unit.
    2. Desribe how funds will contribute to the success and sustainability of the unit.
    3. Describe how these funds will benefit internal users within the unit.
    4. Will the equipment be available to other laboratories to maximize the utilization of the equipment between projects?
    5. Is there a plan for covering long-term maintenance costs?
    6. If the PI leaves or the equipment is under-utilized, is there a plan to reallocate the equipment to another laboratory unit or core facility?
  8. Commitments
    Cost sharing or matching is allowed by this program. Any financial or tangible commitments must be formally documented. Written commitments signed by the sponsoring unit authorities (i.e., Dean, Center Director, and/or Department Chair) must be submitted when cost sharing or matching is proposed.
  9. Space 
    Space availability and requirements should be identified.
    1. Location of the laboratory unit.
    2. What facilities, renovations, and technology needs are anticipated?
      It is the investigators’ responsibility to prepare the facility for installation and housing of the proposed instrumentation. No funds from this program will be used for renovations.
  10. User Groups (Up to 2 pages)
    Provide a list of the users, including PI and co-PIs, and include their departmental and institutional (if not UH) affiliation.
    1. Who are the primary expected users of the facility, including PI and co-PIs, whose research program will benefit?
    2. What is the anticipated usage?
    3. How will users gain to the facility/instrumentation/services?

Review Process: 

All applications will initially be checked against the eligibility criteria outlined above.  In the rare cases that eligibility is not fulfilled, applications will be returned without additional review alongside an appropriate explanation by Division of Research staff.  After the initial screening, applications will be submitted to the Research and Scholarship Committee (RSC) of the Faculty Senate to be evaluated.  Each accepted proposal will be competitively reviewed and acted upon by a subcommittee of the RSC that will include non-RSC members who have content area expertise from the campus. The RSC will make recommendations to the VC/VP for Research, who will be responsible for awarding and administering the grant.

The proposals should be clear, concise, and explicit about the benefits of the activities to be undertaken and must provide clear justification for expenses. Proposals should be written to be understandable to reviewers who are from a range of disciplinary fields.  Reviewers will be internal to UH and some might not be disciplinary experts.

Criteria for Award

Each proposal must supply convincing evidence that the following criteria have been met or will be met:

  1. The proposed activities must represent high-quality research of significant benefit to the University and society, and which directly address at least one of the four institutional thrusts.
  2. A grant must be submitted in one of the high priority research areas in the first year of the application.
  3. The PI must demonstrate the potential to compete in the designated priority area by virtue of publication record and prior funding in one of the four priority areas or the potential to be competitive by virtue of other completed research.
  4. A faculty member may serve as PI on only one funded small equipment application per fiscal year. 

The review committee will rank each proposal in five domains on a 1 (highest)-5 (lowest) scale: (1) Impact and innovation of proposed research in one of the four priority areas; (2) Plan for external grant submission, including the timeline; (3) Need for the equipment and plan for maintenance, (4) Investigator expertise, track record or potential; and (5) Long-term prospects for substantive contributions to priority research area. 

Deadlines for Applications and Timeline for Awards:

  • Application Deadlines: December 4, 2017 and March 1, 2018
  • Review Deadlines: January 15, 2018; April 15, 2018
  • Announcement of successful applications to investigators: January 25, 2018; April 20, 2018
  • Earliest availability of Funding: February 15, 2018 (cycle 1); May 15, 2018 (cycle 2)
  • Progress reports due dates:
    • Cycle 1: February 15—funding available; reports due August 15, 2018, January 15, 2019, August 15, 2019 with final report January 15, 2020.
    • Cycle 2: May 15, 2018-funding available; reports due November 15, 2018, May 15, 2019, November 15, 2019,  with final report due May 15, 2020.
  • Funds expiration: August 15, 2009; November 15, 2019

For Questions:

Please contact Dr. Jack M. Fletcher at 832-842-2004, jackfletcher@uh.edu, in the Division of Research for additional clarification. Please submit your application to smallequipmentgrant@share.uh.edu by 5:00 PM on December 4, 2017 or March 1, 2018.