More Intense Competition For Research Dollars Prompts Seed-Funding Program For Multidisciplinary Research

Release Date: October 19, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has developed a novel approach to deal with today's intense competition for research funding.

The university has awarded seed-funding grants totaling more than $290,000 to 15 faculty teams that had great ideas for research but no financial support for them. Individual grants range from $12,500 to $20,000.

The new program is designed to provide seed funding for multidisciplinary pilot projects and improve their chances of attracting external support.

In what is seen as an unusual approach for a university program, applications were evaluated by reviewers in their fields at other institutions around the world who were suggested by the applicants and who had no personal or financial ties to them.

An internal committee also evaluated applications. The proposals with the highest ratings were funded.

"There are a lot of terrific ideas out there to be mined," said Dale M. Landi, Ph.D., vice president for research at UB. "It is my hope that we will be able to conduct this competition every year."

While the university has funded pilot projects before, this was its first attempt to solicit multidisciplinary proposals.

"There is so much competition for research funds today that faculty members have to have completed a good portion of their work before they apply for grants," said Landi.

"Part of the motivation for the program was to see the best ideas out there, and to put our faculty in the best possible position to compete for grant funding," Landi said. "We had to find a way to provide seed funding for faculty with good ideas."

Landi explained why providing support is critical for new ideas in their infancy.

"Reinvesting in the generating of new ideas is a fundamental function that must always be part of running a complex research organization like UB," he said.

He estimated that for every dollar invested in a pilot project, the return from external funding sources that project will eventually attract is between $6 and $8.

"Unless you put some of your funding into the development of new ideas, it isn't a viable investment," he said.

Research projects had to be in an area new to the investigators and address UB's graduate-education, research and public-service goals. Preference was given to proposals that crossed traditional boundaries of distinctly different disciplines.

"The kinds of research problems that are out there require the expertise of people from more than one discipline," Landi said.

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