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Center Launch: Seed Funds for Large Proposal Development

The Office of Research Affairs (ORA) invites applications for one-time, non-renewable seed funding for planning and development activities leading to the submission of proposals for major extramural research support.

The Center Launch application for 2018-2019 will be available starting September 21, 2018, at ucsd.InfoReady4.com

Deadline: October 18, 2018, 11:59 p.m. PDT


Within two years of the date that UC San Diego funds are made available, awardees are expected to submit at least one proposal involving multiple investigators for major, external funding. External funding pursued may come from federal, state, and private sources. Examples of the types of external funding opportunities that this program is meant to seed include:

  • NSF Engineering Research Centers (~$20M budget over 5 years)
  • NSF Science and Technology Centers (~$25M budget over 5 years)
  • DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers (~$16M budget over 4 years)
  • NIA Complex Integrated Multi-Component Projects in Aging Research (~$4M-$7.5M over 5 years)
  • NCI Emerging Questions in Cancer Systems Biology (~$4M-$7.5M over 5 years)
  • In the arts and humanities and some areas of the social sciences, large proposals may generate awards of hundreds of thousands of dollars

White paper submissions that do not advance to the proposal stage will not satisfy the requirement.

ORA does not consider the following types of proposals as large funding opportunities for the Center Launch program:

  • Keck Research Awards (up to $1M)
  • Pew Scholar Awards (up to $300K)
  • R01 Awards (~$1M)
  • American Heart Association Innovative or Transformational Project or (up to $300K)

Applications involving co-investigators from other research institutions and multiple UCSD VC areas, i.e., General Campus, Health Sciences and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, are encouraged but not required.

Funding amounts  

ORA intends to make up to three smaller ($20-30K) and up to three larger (up to $75K) awards for FY2018–2019. Seed funds awarded may be less than the requested amount, based on the availability of funds. Funds may be used up to two years from the time they are awarded.  (In rare cases, when the intent of the application is to develop a proposal to a funding opportunity for which the next anticipated deadline is uncertain and possibly further into the future than the two-year mark, consideration will be given to extending funds to three years. In such cases, applicants should provide within the seed funding application best-available information from the relevant sponsor regarding the anticipated timeline for the next competition cycle.)


Proposed lead PIs must hold a UC San Diego appointment that confers PI eligibility.

Use of funds

Allowable use of seed funding includes meetings with non-UC San Diego partners, consultants, travel to meet with sponsors, student/postdoc salaries, summer salary of investigators, and other common research uses, including equipment and data needs.

Application Procedure 

Please submit the following materials through ucsd.InfoReady4.com by the internal deadline:

  • Identifying Information (see ucsd.InfoReady4.com for details)
  • Abstract (400 word maximum)
  • One pdf attachment- five pages max, 12 point font, 1 inch margins all around. Any references, figures, tables, and images are included in the five-page limit.
    • Proposed Research Plan. Three page maximum (out of the five pages). Include a brief explanation of how the research will advance one or more of the four grand research themes included in UC San Diego’s Strategic Plan.
    • Additional Information:
      • Rough seed funding budget. Allowable use of seed funding includes meetings with non-UCSD partners, consultants, travel to meet with sponsors, students/postdoc salaries, summer salary of investigators, and other common research uses, including equipment and data needs.
      • Proposed organizational structure, including the names and institutional affiliations of proposed non-UC San Diego investigators, if any
      • Title, very brief description, budget ceiling and floor, and link to the current call-for-proposals for one or more specific, large funding opportunities to be pursued, including proposal due dates; if proposal due dates are unavailable, include, if possible, authoritative information from the sponsor regarding the anticipated timeframe for the next competition
      • A two-year timeline of proposed scientific and fund-raising activities
  • Biographies: Applicants should attach the biographies of up to five participating investigators, including the proposed lead PI. Each biography may be up to two pages in length. Any biography format is acceptable.
  • Commitment Letters: Commitment letters from department chairs, deans, or ORU directors are optional. You may submit up to five commitment letters.

Selection Process and Criteria

Evaluation of applications will be conducted by a committee appointed by the Academic Senate Committee on Committees. Review criteria include potential for success in attracting major extramural support, scientific rigor, potential for creative advances and innovation, potential for establishing excellence of UC San Diego in the given area at the national and international level, and linkage to UC San Diego’s research priority areas. 

Reporting requirements

Awardees will be required to make a presentation on progress toward major proposal submission and awards won at an annual ORA-hosted workshop. In addition, a written progress summary is due 12 months after the seed funds are awarded (January 2020). A final written report is due 26 months after ORA funding (April 2021).

Deadline for submission

October 18, 2018, 11:59 p.m. PDT, with funding to be available in January 2019. 

The Center Launch Applications open on September 21, 2018.