Faculty Innovation Fund (FIF) Guidelines

The Office of Research is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals for the 2015 Faculty Innovation Fund (FIF), designed to encourage new directions in research and scholarship. Proposals from junior faculty are encouraged, as are proposals from faculty at all ranks with innovative ideas for research or scholarly activity that are novel and have the potential for high impact.

One goal of this fund is to stimulate innovative research that will strengthen faculty members’ ability to compete for extramural funding. Pilot studies that can be leveraged into competitive grant applications will be particularly consistent with the goals of the FIF. Another goal of this initiative is to invest in research that creates new technology-based products and creates a pipeline of innovation that ultimately leads to the commercialization of university intellectual property. FIF awards are expected to accelerate scholarly breakthroughs by supporting investigators’ pursuit of ground-breaking studies that have great potential for leading to transformative results, and to the development and implementation of innovative technologies or products that can transition to the marketplace.

The FIF award period is 12 months from the date of official notification and authorization to expend, with the possibility of a one-year extension. The maximum award will be $40,000 and there may be up to 2 awards granted. There is no specific due date for proposals. Instead, proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis, and the Office of Research will continuously review submitted proposals until June 30, 2015, or upon commitment of all available funds, whichever occurs first.

Allowable expenditures are direct costs normally applied during the conduct of sponsored research, including salaries, consultant fees, equipment, domestic travel required for the conduct of research, supplies, and other direct costs. The following should be noted:

  • Faculty (with stipulations immediately below), student, and technician salaries (and fringe benefits) may be charged to the FIF.
  • Summer salary may be requested, as long as the amount of salary support requested will be matched 1:1 by the Department, College, or other internal source of funding.
  • If release time for the academic year is requested, the budget should include the cost of the part-time faculty replacement, including fringe benefits. A letter signed by the Chairperson and Dean must be submitted to document their approvals.
  • If a graduate assistant stipend is requested, documentation of other source for tuition/fees must be provided (tuition/fees cannot be charged to an FIF award).
  • FIF awards cannot be used for international travel, developing instructional materials, or work leading to an academic degree.

Full time tenured or tenure-track graduate faculty with strong academic records commensurate with rank are eligible to apply for a FIF award. Faculty members on professional leave are also eligible; however, funds cannot be used to augment professional leave salary. Applications for collaborative projects are permitted if all PIs fulfill the eligibility criteria.

All eligible faculty are invited to submit a letter of intent via e-mail to and The letter of intent consists of a completed cover page and, using no more than one additional page, should: 1) describe the proposed innovative research, 2) address the potential of the project to attract external funding, and 3) indicate the probability that the project will lead to the creation of a new technology-based product, and how it will lead to the commercialization of university intellectual property.

The Office of Research will review all letters of intent. Based on the merit of the proposal and its conformity with the spirit of the FIF, PIs of highly rated letters of intent may be invited to present their research and to submit a 3-4 page proposal, with a detailed budget.

Acceptance of a FIF award signifies the faculty member’s obligation to achieve at least two of the following outcome measures related to their funded project within 24 months of award inception:

  • Submit at least one external grant proposal requesting at least $250,000.00 in direct costs
  • Form a new start-up company
  • Establish a new research partnership with industry (that includes industrial funding)
  • File at least one patent application
  • Have at least two new high quality journal publications

Click here for a printable PDF version of these guidelines.