Securing institutional support prior to submitting a large center proposal is important to ensure that you will be able to successfully operate the center when you receive the award. In addition, describing institutional support within your center proposal is often essential to convince reviewers that you can do the work.
Institutional support differs from cost share. Cost share is when a university commits to pay a portion of expenses that would normally be part of the proposed project budget (i.e., the university shares the cost of the project with the funding agency). Georgia Tech generally does not cost share unless required, and many funding programs prohibit cost share by universities. On the other hand, large research programs often require increased resources of the type normally provided as part of the university’s reimbursed facilities and administrative (F&A) costs (commonly referred to as overhead or indirect costs). It is important to request this institutional support early in the proposal process and to communicate it appropriately in your proposal.
Financial Commitments for Institutional Support
The process for securing institutional commitments typically works the same way, behind the scenes, as traditional cost share requests. These conversations should start with the Associate Dean for Research (ADR) of the relevant College(s). For major center efforts, however, PIs may want to meet with the Vice President for Research Development and Operations (VPRDO) and/or the Director of Research Operations early in the proposal stage for a general discussion about appropriate categories to prioritize in the request. Each solicitation is different, which is why individual conversations are most effective. But based on prior solicitations and awards, these categories may include:
- Dedicated financial and/or administrative support
- Communications support
- Catering or other event needs for sponsor site visits
- IT infrastructure beyond direct support chargeable to the project
Institutional commitments should not include anything that is allowable as a direct charge to the budget of the project.
After preliminary conversations with their ADR and VPRDO office, the PI should work with their grants administrator/financial manager and their Associate Dean for Research (ADR) to craft a specific request for institutional support. Any units with participating PIs are expected to participate in the financial obligation. The relevant ADRs will then present a request to the VPRDO office to contribute at the institutional level.
Statements of Institutional Support
Many center proposals require or benefit from statements of institutional support (e.g., within facilities sections or letters). The nuances of the language are significant in that these statements should strengthen and support the proposal often without suggesting a pledge of involuntary cost share that is not allowed. PIs may contact the Director of Research Development for assistance with statements that appropriately encompass any specific institutional commitment as well as existing resources such as space, facilities, equipment, and other infrastructure that are relevant to the project. The VPRDO office can also assist with obtaining letters signed by institute leadership (e.g., EVPR, Provost, President) if required.
Request processes can take several weeks. Please contact us early in the proposal development timeline.
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