$2 Million “Small Bets” Seed Grant Initiative Fosters Research Collaboration

<p>The Coda Building, located in Technology Square, houses several Georgia Tech departments.</p>

The Coda Building, located in Technology Square, houses several Georgia Tech departments.

Georgia Tech has launched a new “Small Bets” Seed Grant Program that will award up to $75,000 for a year’s work aimed at addressing some of society’s most difficult challenges. The aim is to catalyze new research collaborations and fuel high-risk, high-reward approaches.

Unlike traditional competitive peer-reviewed grant processes, the “Small Bets” initiative will make awards randomly from among interdisciplinary proposals that meet basic qualifications. As much as $2 million will be provided by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research to teams interested in taking first steps toward solving the world’s most intractable problems.

“Small Bets is intended to seed the first steps of problem-solving that will change the world,” said Robert Butera, Georgia Tech’s vice president for research development and operations. “Through this, we hope to foster new collaborations and new activities without institutional or implicit bias toward any specific programs or initiatives. This is intentionally independent of efforts we already have to support strategic efforts in emerging high-profile areas.”

As traditional federal funding has become more competitive, it has become more difficult for researchers to find support for high-risk projects even if they have a high return, he noted.  

“This program will be an experiment, our bet is that Georgia Tech researchers can provide the key to addressing our biggest local, national and global issues,” Butera said. “We want to challenge researchers to dream about what is possible and propose solutions that other funding sources might consider too risky. This is also the first year of an annual effort, and our focus next year will be to provide fewer but larger awards that support more ambitious team-based efforts.”

Each proposal must have at least two eligible principal investigators (PIs), and faculty members can be a PI or co-PI on only one proposal. Proposals with a PI from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) must have a non-GTRI PI. Otherwise, any pairing of two or more PIs will be eligible. 

The initiative will consider proposals from three categories: (1) GTRI Collaborations, which require at least one PI from GTRI and one PI from outside GTRI; (2) Broad Interdisciplinary Collaborations, which require at least one PI from the College of Computing, College of Sciences or College of Engineering and one from the Ivan Allen College, College of Design or Scheller College of Business, and (3) Open Pool, which is open to all proposals regardless of the affiliation of the PIs.

Proposals will be pre-screened for eligibility and program requirements. Following eligibility screening, a randomly selected ordered list will be created of all eligible projects. Each selected project will be matched to an available funding pool until funds are fully allocated. Proposals satisfying the criteria for more than one funding pool will therefore have increased chances of being funded because they can draw on more than one source of support.

Applications for Small Bets funding are due by March 13, and awards will be announced in April. Additional information, FAQs and the application are available at http://research.gatech.edu/gt-community/funding-opportunities/gt-annual-seed-grant An online form will be made available.

Georgia Tech will be hosting two public forums designed to help faculty members learn more about the program and develop collaborations. The events will consist of a public information session, Q&A session, and collaboration teaming event.  

The first event, to be held at the GTRI Conference Center (250 14th Street, N.W.) on March 2 from 4 to 6 p.m., will focus on building collaborations between GTRI and academic researchers. The second, to be held at the Dalney Building Meeting Room (926 Dalney Street, N.W.) on March 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will focus on building broadly interdisciplinary interaction among faculty from the humanities and social sciences with faculty from the STEM disciplines and GTRI.  

Additional information will be made available on the seed program website.

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Media Relations Contact: John Toon (404-894-6986) (jtoon@gatech.edu).


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