Category Archives: Funding

Industrial Sponsorship of Research: Making and Cultivating Contacts

 Industrial Sponsorship of Research: Making and Cultivating Contacts

Greetings, members of the ECM community! We hope your spring semester is off to a great start. As you continue to build your research portfolio, we wanted to take a moment to provide an introduction to how funding from industry can be one potential tool in your funding “toolbox.”

As you consider pursuing funding from industry, it is important to recognize that industrial funding differs from other types of project funding in a variety of ways. In particular, understanding the following types of issues will help immensely as you pursue industry-funded projects:

  • Publishing restrictions: Many industry sponsors request pre-publication review and/or a publication delay.
  • “Hands on” project sponsors: Industry sponsors tend to work very closely with researchers – visiting labs, talking regularly, asking for more frequent deliverables and reports.
  • Logistics: Industry funding often comes in smaller amounts, for shorter-duration projects, often with quick turn arounds needed from idea, to proposal, to funding.
  • Confidentiality: In many cases, projects are subject to non-disclosure agreements. Some projects may restrict what types of personnel can participate.

Faculty from many disciplines across campus regularly work through these issues successfully with industry sponsors. However, it is important to seek clarity on any potential areas of concern prior to project implementation and to propose realistic projects where your team can meet deliverables. Industry funding can often lead to long-term partnerships between a sponsor and a faculty researcher; however, one “failed” project is likely to burn bridges with more than just one industry sponsor.

What is the best way to proceed with industry funding? Industry funding is usually driven by personal relationships. Some practical tips to build these relationships include:

  • Seek out collaborators on campus who receive funding from a relevant industry. Perhaps start as co-PI on a collaborative project to enable you to develop a reputation for success and to develop personal contacts in the industry.
  • If applicable, attend conferences that include industry representatives. Proactively seek out people to develop personal connections.
  • Consider a sabbatical in industry if your interests align.
  • Use every opportunity you have (e.g., Michigan Tech’s Career Fair, departmental or college/school advisory boards, alumni events) to develop relationships with Michigan Tech alumni and friends who can either work with you directly or make introductions to their industry colleagues.
  • Train graduate students to conduct work relevant in industry; keep in contact with graduates from your group and leverage their growing networks.

Getting your first industry contract can be intimidating, and it can take some time. However, faculty across campus find these connections rewarding and – in many cases – a significant contribution to their funding portfolio.

If you are interested in learning more or pursuing industry funding for your projects, some additional resources can be found in the Michigan Tech Research Development toolkit. The “agencies” link (top right) has an “industry” tab with additional information and resources. Note that because these resources are limited to the Michigan Tech community you must be logged into your Michigan Tech Google account to access the site.

If we can be of assistance to you as you continue your career at Michigan Tech, please contact either of us.

Jim Desrochers, jtdesroc@mtu.edu Associate Director of Industry Relations

Peter Larsen, palarsen@mtu.edu Director of Research Development


Call for Proposals: REF, PHF Mid-Career and Faculty Fellow

Submitted by: Natasha Chopp

The VPR office has released a request for proposals for the Research Excellence Fund, Portage Health Foundation Mid-Career, and Faculty Fellow Program. Please share this information those interested in pursuing any of these opportunities.

Research Excellence Fund Proposals

Proposals are being solicited for the Research Excellence Fund (REF) program, an internal award of the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Budgets are due no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, March 1 and proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, March 8. Both must be submitted electronically per the guidelines.
For additional information, see Research Excellence Fund.
If you are interested in serving on an REF proposal review committee, email Natasha Chopp.
Portage Health Foundation Mid-Career
Proposals are being solicited for the Portage Health Foundation Mid-Career (PHF-MC) program, which is designed to support tenured faculty with an active NIH grant and/or consistent history of external funding with NIH or a related agency.
Budgets are due no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, March 1 and proposals are due no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, March 8. Both must be submitted electronically per the guidelines.
For additional Information, see Portage Health Foundation Research Awards.
Faculty Fellow
Applications are being solicited for the Faculty Fellow Program. The Faculty Fellow Program is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research.
The Program expands familiarity with sponsored program administration and strategic planning among the faculty, develops leadership capacity among the faculty and improves sponsored programs administration and strategic planning through faculty input.
Applications are due no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 and must be submitted electronically per the guidelines.
For additional information, see Faculty Fellow Program.

Researcher’s success earning grants

Dear ECM Enthusiasts,
Rejection of proposals is hard, but…. you have at your disposal Michigan Tech’s Research Development team that can help to reduce rejections.  The article Granting Researches Success states:Many grant proposals are submitted without any kind of internal review. A new study suggests a major return on investment for institutions that help their researchers write better grants.  Read the full article here.
new study from Columbia University’s School of Nursing suggests that institutions benefit from helping researchers write better grants. Specifically, it found that pilot grant applications, that underwent an internal review, were twice as likely as non-reviewed applications to receive funding.

It’s “all about faculty engaging with their peers, being willing to obtain peer feedback and utilizing the services provided by an institution,”  said Nathan L. Vanderford, an assistant professor of toxicology and cancer biology at the University of Kentucky and assistant director for research at the campus’s Markey Cancer Center.

Adrienne R. Minerick, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research & Innovation, College of Engineering
Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Development
Professor, Chemical Engineering

Research Centers and Institutes Promote Interdisciplinary Work

Guest author: Peter Larsen

Happy post-Thanksgiving to the ECM faculty and team members!

As you think about your upcoming plans for research — and how to fund it! — now might be a great time to explore the Research Centers and Institutes at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech’s Research Centers and Institutes exist to promote interdisciplinary work across campus. Michigan Tech is home to 21 Centers and Institutes. This post is designed to provide answers to some common questions and information about how to engage with these campus resources.

What is the difference between a Center and an Institute?
A Center is a collaborative effort of faculty/researchers from two or more departments focused on a particular theme of research or educational activity. An Institute is proposed for larger initiatives that involve collaboration across multiple Colleges/Schools. Institutes may also contain one or more research centers within their organizational structure.

How are Centers and Institutes formed?
Centers and Institutes typically arise out of the interdisciplinary work of researchers. Approval requires evidence that there is a group of interdisciplinary researchers working together that could benefit from a Center/Institute structure. The second general factor in the decision to develop a Center or Institute is the existence of a funding opportunity that would benefit from the existence of the research center. Centers are proposed by faculty through an established process. Department chairs and deans from all involved administrative units must approve the plan, with final approval granted by the Vice President for Research, Provost, and University President.

How do I join a Center or Institute? What are the benefits of that affiliation?
Faculty can affiliate with one or more Centers/Institutes by simply expressing an interest. Only one Center can be the “home” to a sponsored project, but researchers with multiple research thrusts can affiliate with more than one Center or Institute.

Centers and Institutes provide an intellectually stimulating environment for researchers working across disciplines and on large projects. Centers/Institute funds are used to further the interdisciplinary mission of the group. Funds are used for a variety of purposes, for example to support student travel, provide cost share on research projects, or fund shared equipment or personnel. Centers also offer services like administrative support, access to equipment/facilities, and shared information about upcoming proposal deadlines. In addition, Centers/Institutes often organize professional and social opportunities for Center members, students, post-docs, and research staff.  Once you become a member of a Center, you can suggest opportunities and events that are beneficial to the group.

How are Centers and Institutes funded?
Centers are funded through the scholarly work of affiliated researchers. 18% of Institutional Research and Development (IRAD) funds collected from externally funded projects submitted through a Center or Institute are returned for use by the Center or Institute. These funds are in addition to the IRAD returned to the PI and administrative units (department and college/school); in other words, no one receives less IRAD if a Center or Institute is involved. The Center orInstitute is accountable to the Vice President for Research to show that IRAD funds are being effectively leveraged to expand the interdisciplinary work of the center.

How are Centers and Institutes administered?
Centers and Institutes are governed by the structure proposed and approved during the creation of the center. Most Centers or Institutes could be called “academic” or “virtual” centers in that the researchers and director are employed by academic departments, rather than directly by the Center. These Centers are proposed and led by a director who is a tenured or tenure-track faculty member.

A small number of Centers/Institutes affiliated with Michigan Tech operate uniquely. These Centers/Institutes are their own organizational unit (operating outside of an academic department, college, or school) and typically have a full-time director, multiple full-time staff members to support and conduct research, and often have Center-owned facilities and equipment. The Keweenaw Research Center, the Michigan Tech Research Institute, and the Great Lakes Research Center are examples of this alternate Center/Institute structure. Other Centers are similar to these in some ways with a full-time director and staff (e.g., Center for Technology and Training) and/or their own facilities (e.g., Advanced Power Systems Research Center).

Centers are authorized for a specific period of time (usually five years). Annual reports are required, and a self-study is required at the end of the initial authorization period to determine effectiveness and to provide a justification for Center renewal (if desired).

How can I learn more?

Contact information for current Center and Institute directors can be found here

Center and Institute functions and opportunities will be a topic of discussion during the annual Research Development Day that will be held January 11, 2018. Center and Institute directors will be invited to attend the social at the end of the day to interact with and discuss collaboration with interested faculty.

In addition, we are planning a Spring 2018 TechTalks on March 21 that will provide highlights of each of the Centers and Institutes in a brief, 2-minute presentation format, followed by a social time to discuss and learn more. Watch your email and Tech Today for additional information.


Proposal Support from Campus Satellite Office

Guest author: Lisa Jukkala

VPR Campus Satellite Office Pilot

Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) Spotlight

To provide each of you with direct and convenient access to proposal support, the Vice President for Research (VPR) set up a satellite office on campus.  The majority of the VPR staff are located in the Lakeshore Center in downtown Houghton which means our interactions with you have been predominantly through email.  However, to support faculty and staff face-to-face, in areas related to sponsored programs, we located this office on the 6th floor of the Dow Environmental Sciences & Engineering Building. My name is Jennifer Bukovich and my role in SPO is to help with multiple aspects of your proposal preparation.

I’m located in room 616 and I am eager to assist the faculty and staff in many areas related to proposal submission and award administration including but not limited to:

  • Interpretation of agency guidelines.
  • Prepare and/or provide guidance related to your budget, transmittal sheet and cost share form.
  • Interpretation of the grant/contract terms and conditions.
  • Provide guidance for post-award activities including no-cost time extensions, budget modifications, etc.

If you are working on your first proposal, we can start by talking about the resources you will need to complete your proposal.  I can guide and help you develop a budget that meets your agency format.  Michigan Tech requires an internal transmittal sheet to help all of the units supporting your research know their responsibilities and commitments.  I can help you complete this important document as it summarizes your project and includes all required University approvals.

The VPR Office and I are extremely excited about this opportunity to be located on campus. I look forward to the personal interaction this location will provide.  For assistance, please stop by my office, room 616 of the DOW building.


Finding RFPs and Funding Opportunities

RFPs and opportunities are circulated by Natasha Chopp (sign up for her limited submission reminders here).  Research Development has a broad set of resources available to guide you through locating funding sources, budget planning, proposal development and other.   Many opportunities are also listed under the RFP category on the Engineering Research and Innovation blog.