Faculty to Compete for Three Awards in Seed Funding for up to $250,000
Paul Horn, NYU senior vice provost for research, today announced that the University is establishing a “Grand Challenge” award competition. The competition will enable faculty members to compete for three awards of up to $250,000 in seed funding for defining a “grand challenge” and charting a pathway to solving it.
“University research has improved lives and society in countless ways,” Horn said. “NYU faculty and alumni alone have had a major hand in some of the world’s most widely hailed, important and far-reaching achievements: the creation of the telegraph, the shaping of jet aircraft wings, the development of the polio vaccine, the development of effective monoclonal antibody drugs to combat auto-immune disease.”
The “Grand Challenge” is in keeping with the entrepreneurial spirit of the NYU faculty and as part of the University’s overall support for their research. The concept of a grand challenge was formulated more than a century ago by mathematician David Hilbert, who listed 23 grand unsolved problems in mathematics. More recently, the Gates Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) have embraced the concept of grand challenges to stimulate research into some of society’s most pressing problems.
For this competition, a “grand challenge” is defined as a project of international significance or benefit that excites the public imagination. It must have well-defined (i.e., quantifiable) success criteria and be plausibly achievable within 10 years, though uncertainty is allowed.
Applications will be accepted from NYU teams of no fewer than three faculty members, at least one of whom is tenured. Ideally, the teams will be cross disciplinary, but that is not required. All NYU schools are eligible including NYU-Poly, NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. Initial applications, due January 21, 2013, require only a two-page concept paper describing the participants and scope along with a brief discussion on how the money will be spent. No formal budget is required. Teams making it to the second round will need to submit a 10-page proposal defining the grand challenge in more detail, along with a discussion of what will be required to ultimately succeed in conquering the challenge. The second phase proposal will have to define the needed external partners and how the external community will be mobilized. Second phase proposals will be due in the spring and awards will be made for the academic year beginning in the fall of 2013.
All proposals should be submitted by email to Farooq Niazi at email@example.com.
Initial proposals will be reviewed by an internal faculty committee convened by the Office of the Sr. Vice Provost for Research. Final proposals will be reviewed by a distinguished external advisory committee. Criteria for judging the successful recipients of the grant proposals will include validity, usability, originality, and affordability.
Up to three awards of $250K in unrestricted seed funds will be made. In addition, there will be a focused effort to assist winners in generating philanthropy or grant support from individuals, foundations, government and corporations with the goal of at least $5M – $10M in funding. The seed funding comes from the proceeds of spin-offs that used technologies and discoveries developed by NYU faculty; by using it for the Grand Challenge competition, NYU is reinvesting in faculty research.
“I would like to thank the Faculty Senators Council for taking the time to meet with me about the NYU Grand Challenge and for their guidance in shaping the initiative,” Horn said. “Many of us who have devoted our lives to scholarship harbor a hope that our research can have a broad, salutary impact. It is my hope that many faculty will participate in this endeavor, and I wish all the participants good luck.”