Accelerating Bolder Ideas
Michigan Engineering has set its sights on enhancing its culture of creativity, innovation and daring. We are implementing a unique approach to investing in faculty research as a key part of the plan.
Three new funding programs, enacted as part of the research pillar in our strategic plan, will enable researchers to explore the boundaries of creative thought and risk-taking.
The programs draw inspiration from entrepreneurial funding models, introducing three separate funding options that are analogous to early-, mid-, and late-stage funding for a startup business. However, the analogy is not one-to-one – commercial viability is not the main or only goal. Instead, it is about engaging in bold research.
We’re doing this to catalyze and incentivize faculty – especially teams of faculty – to pursue high-risk, high-impact ideas. Our hope is that these new funding mechanisms will give faculty the freedom to be more daring in pursuing new research ideas that are not yet ready for more traditional research funding agencies.Steve Ceccio
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Vincent T. and Gloria M. Gorguze Professor of Engineering
The program builds on the existing success for funding research at Michigan Engineering. Faculty are already accomplished researchers and are good at attracting funding for their projects. These initiatives leverage this track record of success to broaden and define areas of scientific and technological leadership. They also create incentives for teams to form and help with the resources required to pursue transformational ideas.
“The intent is to reinforce and expand our research excellence and the capabilities of our faculty, better positioning teams to secure support from external partners,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. “We aim to help foster an ecosystem that celebrates bold thinking, embraces noble failures and engenders intellectual curiosity. I am excited to see what happens when we open new doors for our faculty to explore.”
We piloted and are now iterating and scaling up three innovative funding mechanisms that support research throughout its development.
Next steps and measuring success
Announce funding models
Blue Sky, Clusters & Themes, Research Accelerator
Request for proposals
Faculty engage in idea-generation
50+ proposals by ~400 faculty members
Blue Sky and Research Accelerator
First research projects selected
Clusters & Themes milestone
Program and site launched
Blue Sky web presence
Launch project websites
Conduct first-year program assessment
Overall program assessment
Blue Sky progress
Projects mature as enter second year