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    Convergence Awards for Research in Interdisciplinary Centers (CARIC)

    Purpose

    CARIC is an initiative of the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) that supports the development of collaborative interdisciplinary teams to bid for major (>$5M) federally funded initiatives, such as research centers. CARIC provides funding for planning, outreach to strategic partners, and proof-of-concept research activities that will prepare the team to bid competitively for these prestigious federal awards. All applications must demonstrate that the teams proposed are new collaborations that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries or include a significant expansion/deepening of existing interdisciplinary collaborations. The federal funding initiative being targeted must be identified explicitly.

    Timeline:

    • Full proposals due annually on December 15 by 12 noon.
    • Submissions should be made via the UConn Quest portal.
    • Award notices expected in February.  Award setup will begin immediate after notice, pending the completion of compliance review.

    Program/Award Details:

    • The OVPR plans to make up to 2 new CARIC awards per year.
    • Each award will begin with an initial one year award period, and each will be eligible for an additional year of funding pending a competitive renewal process and completion of project milestones.
    • Proposals should include plans for the full duration of the intended effort (not just the initial one-year award period).
    • Budgets for the initial award period should reflect the needs of the project for that year.
      • Year 1 award budgets for previously awarded projects have ranged from $100K-$150K.
      • Budget outlines are requested as part of the application package.  Detailed final budget documents will be requested from finalists.  Final budget targets for awards will be set at this stage.
      • Budgets larger than $150K will be considered only in unique circumstances and with compelling justification of need.
    • Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty and administrators from the schools and colleges involved and award decisions will be made by the Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.  External reviewers may be engaged if necessary.
    • If the targeted mechanism is a limited submission opportunity, a CARIC-awarded team will be granted one competition-free opportunity for submission for that mechanism only. Teams may apply for other related mechanisms, but they will not have automatic submission priority. If a team wishes to resubmit for a targeted mechanism after receiving feedback, the OVPR Limited Submission Resubmission Policy will apply.

    Eligibility

    The CARIC Program is available to UConn / UConn Health faculty members, within the following parameters:
    • UConn Primary Appointment: PIs must be full-time faculty whose primary appointment is at UConn/UConn Health. Investigators with primary appointments to CCMC, Jackson Labs, TIP companies, or other institutions are not eligible to lead projects, but they may be named as Co-PIs, collaborators, or consultants on an eligible PI’s project.  Proposals that include external Co-PIs should be careful to describe how responsibility for the project will be divided between institutions, and ideally they will include cost-sharing commitments from external partners
    • Effort and Salary: Although no minimum effort level is required for CARIC projects, a UConn/UConn Health PI/Co-PI must have departmental research time available during the award period or address in the application how they will handle the time commitment required by the project. PIs/Co-PIs must each make significant and distinct intellectual contributions to the design and direction of the project. Generally speaking, CARIC awards are only available to UConn/UConn Health tenure-track and clinical faculty. In residence faculty and research faculty are not eligible to apply as PI but can be named as Co-PIs, collaborators, or consultants on an eligible PI’s project.
    • Application Limits: Eligible faculty may only submit one proposal per year as PI or Co-PI. Investigators may serve as collaborator on multiple projects.

    Proposal Guidelines

    Proposals for CARIC Awards should contain the following elements and follow the structure and guidelines indicated.  All length guidelines assume 1” margins, 11-12pt fonts, single spacing and single side pages.
    • Cover Page: Title of Project, Principal investigator(s) with contact information, List of other team members, Specific funding mechanism targeted, Target submission date
    • Abstract: A lay summary of the project activities and major goals (no more than 1 page)
    • Project Plans: Describe the project, how it will be conducted, and anticipated outcomes. Project plans should address the following areas and should not exceed 10 pages in length.  References should be included and do not count against the page limit.
      • Core Research Questions to be addressed and their significance
      • Summary of proposed externally-funded center/major research project (approach / novelty / organization / anticipated impact on research question)
      • Currently available resources and personnel and how they will support the project
      • Proposed activities under CARIC Award and how they will improve competitiveness for targeted mechanism
      • Management plan describing how resources and personnel will be organized to prepare for external submission
      • Timeline indicating major development milestones leading to submission. This must include milestones being targeted for the end of year 1.
    • Budget describing and justifying use of CARIC funds.  You can use this budget template.
    • Biosketches / CVs for all PIs and Co-PIs: Please include an updated biosketch consistent with NIH (max 5 pg)/NSF (max 2 pg) format.  If your field is not typically funded by NSF/NIH, please include a brief CV following your discipline’s conventions.
    • NSF/NIH-style Letters of support from any facilities providing support during the CARIC award period

    Budget Guidelines

    Below are general guidelines regarding allowable/unallowable costs that are consistent with other OVPR internal funding opportunities.  Given the unique nature of the CARIC mechanism, we understand that these guidelines may not include all budget items that are necessary to enhance competitiveness for your targeted external mechanism.  If you have a budget need that does not fit within these guidelines, you may include it, but we ask that you provide strong justification in support of the request.  You can use this budget template.
    • Allowable costs include: graduate research assistant salary (AY and Summer), faculty summer salary (up to $5K per PI), Postdoc or other Research Assistant salary, Undergraduate Researcher salary, Course buyouts (approval letter from Department Head required), Fringe costs, equipment purchases, travel to conduct research or meet with collaborators, materials and supplies, participant support costs, animal/animal care costs, contractual services
    • Unallowable costs include: Faculty salary (AY), clerical or administrative personnel salaries, including personnel whose primary purpose is to explore funding sources and/or prepare grant applications; service/maintenance contracts on equipment; laboratory renovations, or other infrastructure renovations; institutional memberships in professional organizations; travel to professional meetings to present the results of the research; travel to explore extramural funding opportunities; costs associated with the publication of results of the research, including page charges, purchase of reprints, or journal costs.

    Review Criteria

    • Significance/Importance – why does this project matter?
    • Innovation/Novelty – how is this project new?
    • Feasibility of Approach – how will the work be done?
    • Environment/Resources – are available resources/facilities sufficient?
    • PI/Team qualifications – who will be working on this project, and how are they uniquely suited to accomplish this work?
    • Outcome – what value/impact will this work promise to return?
    • Assessment – how will success be determined?
    • Budget – are funds to be used efficiently and effectively to achieve project goals?

    Reporting and Renewal

    • Reporting requirements: PIs will need to prepare a brief report summarizing project progress every six months. At the end of each award year, progress will be evaluated to determine if extension / renewal of the award is justified.
      • Six month Progress Reports (target length 1-3 pages) should include:
        • An account of project activities in the first half of the award period, with an overview of results and achievements realized so far.
        • An overview of the project activities (with revised timeline, if needed) you intend for the final six months of the award period and the milestones you plan to achieve.
        • A basic fiscal update indicating how funds have been spent thus far in each of the approved budget categories.  Details of specific expenditures are not required.
        • Reports should be uploaded to the Quest Portal in PDF format.
    • Renewal:  the CARIC program is designed to provide multiple (in most cases up to three) years of funding support for projects that will enable UConn teams to be competitive for large federal funding mechanisms in the near future.  Year 1 awards are given on the strength of initial proposals, and subsequent years of funding can be awarded on the basis of strong results from prior funding years and on the presentation of compelling plans for future activities.  These future plans must demonstrate that further work is needed to achieve competitiveness, and that the activities proposed are necessary for enabling future external funding success.
      • Applications for CARIC renewal should be submitted according to these guidelines:
        • A report on the prior years' activities, results, and accomplishments and how that work has improved the team’s competitiveness for the targeted external opportunity.
        • A project plan for the next year that presents the new aims and timeline, describes how this work will build on prior results to reach larger project goals, and further enable competitiveness for external award.
        • New budget form with justifications.
        • Updated Biosketches for all PI/Co-PI or personnel with key expertise for project success
        • Renewal Applications are limited to 10 pages, plus references, budget, and biosketches.
        • Awardees will be contacted by the OVPR regarding deadlines for submitting NOIs and applications for renewals

    Program Contacts

    • Administrative contact: Matt Mroz, PhD, OVPR Internal Funding Coordinator. research@uconn.edu; 860.486.6378
     
    • Program Director: Mark Aindow, PhD, Executive Director for Innovation, External Engagement, and Industry Relations. m.aindow@uconn.edu; 860.486.1339