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New England University Collaboration on Renewable and Sustainable Energy (NEUCORSE)

Purpose

UConn’s NEUCORSE initiative is designed to catalyze collaboration among universities in New England to address our nation’s urgent need for renewable and sustainable energy.  Building on UConn’s existing strengths in clean energy engineering, this program seeks to support the development of cross-institutional teams with the expertise and capacity to successfully tackle the most challenging scientific and technical problems in this area.  NEUCORSE awards should be thought of as planning grants that will provide seed funding and support team development activities to prepare teams for larger-scale activities in the future.   We welcome proposals focusing on any topic that is relevant to the larger goal of developing renewable and sustainable energy solutions and that can be best addressed through sustained, interdisciplinary efforts within New England.  It is expected that proposed teams be diverse, including investigators from underrepresented groups and a mixture of early-career and more senior investigators.  It is also expected that the planning activities proposed include activities that prepare for future work that will have significant broader impacts, including workforce development.

 

Program Timeline

  • Program opens 9/27/21.
  • Submissions to be made through the UConn Quest Portal.  Follow the link to submit an NOI.  For each subsequent stage (LOI, full proposal), you can log in to Quest and "continue" your application to access new tasks.
  • Notification of Intent to Submit (NOI) due 11/8/21. The NOI will give the OVPR a sense of how many teams are interested.  If a sizable number of NOIs are received, the OVPR may request a brief pre-proposal as part of an initial screening process.
  • Pre-proposal deadline 11/15/21, if required. Responses will be given by 10/22/21.
  • Full proposal deadline 12/13/21, by invitation only. Invitations will be provided either after the NOI stage or the pre-proposal stage.

 

Program/Award Details:

  • 3-4 awards of $75K-$100K will be made.  One year award periods are expected (generally 1/1/22-12/31/22), though alternate timelines can be proposed.
  • Teams must, at minimum, consist of a UConn/UConn Health PI and an academic partner from a New England institution.  Other academic or industry partners are also welcome.
  • It is the expectation that this funding mechanism will help develop bridges between institutions that have active groups working in areas of interest and to build on existing collaborations.  Applications from teams that do not have some level of previous collaboration are encouraged to consider other OVPR Internal Funding Programs.
  • Funds can be used to support research activities at UConn/UConn Health and team development activities for the full team.  Salary for external partner faculty and funding for research activities at other institutions must be supported by those institutions.
  • Review of full proposals will be carried out by a team of experts in the area of renewable and sustainable energy.
  • NEUCORSE-funded teams should be preparing to submit to significant external funding targets.  Some of the funding opportunities of greatest interest are the NSF ERC, the DOE EFRC, and potential opportunities for regional collaboration that may come as part of the reconfiguration of the NSF.  Other large-scale funding targets in this area can also be considered.  Applicants are expected to address their external funding strategy as part of their applications.

Eligibility

The NEUCORSE 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 they must describe how costs related to the participation of external partners will be covered.
  • Effort and Salary: Although no minimum effort level is required for NEUCORSE 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, awards are only available to UConn/UConn Health tenure-track and clinical faculty and in-Residence faculty at the Storrs/Regional campuses. UCH 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 submit multiple proposals, so long as each are scientifically distinct. Investigators may also serve as collaborator on multiple projects.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for NEUCORSE Awards should contain the following elements and follow the structure and guidelines indicated (adapted from NSF Planning Grant proposals for programs like the ERC).  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 (including institution, department, area of expertise), Specific funding mechanism targeted, Target submission date
  • Project Description: Proposals should address the following areas and should not exceed 5 pages in length:
    • Targeted future activities and rationale for collaboration: Describe the core research questions and approaches the team is being formed to explore, the significance of that work, and why sustained interdisciplinary efforts like those you are planning are necessary for having the impact you anticipate.
    • Team Rationale: Describe the approach you are taking to assemble a team prepared to be successful in the work you’ve described above.
    • NEUCORSE Grant Activities and significance: Describe the research and team development activities to be supported with NEUCORSE funds and how these activities build on and expand any existing collaborations.  Specifically highlight the new activities the NEUCORSE grant would enable.
    • Anticipated Impacts: How will the activities you propose advance the development process and prepare your team to successfully meet your scientific and broader impact goals and to be competitive for significant external funding in this area.
  • Budget describing and justifying use of NEUCORSE funds.  You can use this budget template.
  • Biosketches / CVs for all PIs and Co-PIs: Please include an updated biosketch consistent with NSF format.
  • NSF-style Letters of support from any facilities providing support during the NEUCORSE 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 NEUCORSE mechanism, we understand that these guidelines may not include all budget items that are necessary to enhance competitiveness for your work.  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, 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 (travel approval may be required), materials and supplies, participant support costs, animal/animal care costs, contractual services
  • Unallowable costs include: subawards to partner institutions, faculty member salaries, 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

  • Targeted Future Activities
    • Significance/Merit—Does the team being formed aim to address significant scientific questions / technical problems in the area of renewable and sustainable energy?  Is the proposed approach promising and methodologically sound?  Does this work require sustained, interdisciplinary efforts that draws on the resources of the New England region?
    • Innovation/Novelty – Does this project approach the problem in a new/innovative way?
    • Environment/Resources – Are available resources/facilities sufficient to successfully complete the work? Are external partners adequately supported by their institutions?
    • PI/Team qualifications – Who will be working on this project, and how are they uniquely suited to accomplish this work?  Does the team have the required expertise to be successful?  Does the team demonstrate interdisciplinary and diversity?
  • Proposed NEUCORSE Activities
    • Significance/Merit—are the proposed research and development activities well-designed/conceptualized?  Do they build on existing collaborations and extend them in ways that expand the capacity of the team?
    • Feasibility of Approach – are the proposed research and development plans feasible and likely to succeed?
    • Outcome – will the activities proposed adequately prepare the team to achieve their scientific and broader impact goals and to be competitive for significant external funding in this area?
    • Assessment – Does the project have a reasonable plan for measuring and determining success?
    • Budget – Are funds to be used efficiently and effectively to achieve project goals?

Post-Award Considerations

  • Reporting requirements: PIs will need to prepare a brief report summarizing project progress at the end of the award period.
  • Further reports on project outcomes may be requested in the future to track return on investment.

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