Innovation [X] Program

The School of Innovation is calling for proposals to help us pilot our Innovation [X] Program, which provides grants that allow multidisciplinary teams of faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs to work together to address complex real-world challenges.* Faculty may apply for grants of up to $20,000 to facilitate year-long projects. The number of grants to be awarded will depend on funding and application levels.  

Some faculty might use the Innovation [X] Program as an opportunity to undertake a new research initiative and establish proof of concept for larger grant proposals, while others may view the program as a chance to innovate ways to engage a broader array of students in transformative learning projects. In all cases, the program is intended to translate research questions into actions that will have an impact on the community, nation, and the world.  

Teams will consist of an interdisciplinary set of faculty members and a multidisciplinary team of 10-20 students from across the university. Proposals should demonstrate a team-based approach to a complex problem and propose meaningful deliverables to be presented at the end of the project. Such products may include but are not limited to published reports, curated exhibits, workable data sets to motivate further research, marketable goods or services, or impactful solutions to community challenges. Projects may engage external partners such as private companies, government agencies, NGOs, school districts, etc.

*Innovation [X] Program is based largely on Duke University’s successful Bass Connections Program.

Background Information

  • Any faculty member may submit a proposal, but only one proposal is required per project.
  • All teams must have two leaders, one of whom must be an active faculty member. Graduate students, postdocs, or staff may serve as co-leaders alongside a faculty member.
  • Team leaders should represent at least two distinct disciplinary perspectives; preferably from two different departments.

  • Projects should bridge disciplines and areas of expertise.
  • Projects should be vertically integrated among levels of expertise and learning.
  • Projects should address societal challenges.
  1. Project information (Project name, Primary contact person)
  2. Budget estimate
  3. Description (Research question or Fundamental Problem, context, and proposed goals for project)
  4. Team leadership and proposed composition of student team
  5. External partners and/or locations
  6. Project details (potential travel, IRB needs, timeline, etc.)
  7. Collaboration plan (how team will function, milestones, division of labor, etc.)
Projects will be selected by a faculty committee drawn from across the university. Proposals will assessed on the following criteria.
  1. Interdisciplinarity:  Does the project engage students and faculty across disciplines?
  2. Societal Relevance:  Does the project engage in the solution to a real-world problem?
  3. Vertical Integration:  Does the project foster collaboration across educational levels?
  4. Teamwork:  Does the project foster team-based research?
  5. Deliverables:  Does the proposal articulate clear and achievable goals within the scope of the project?
Budgets may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Graduate student support
  • Domestic and international travel support
  • Special research materials
  • Student travel

Budgets may not include salary support for faculty or staff.
Applications can be submitted through the School of Innovation website:

If the proposal will be part of a larger funded project, please describe other funds to be used, so that the committee better understands the scope of the project.

  • Initial Proposals will be accepted through close of business on January 22, 2019.
  • If clarification is needed, it will be done by January 29, 2019.
  • Faculty Team Leaders will be notified by February 12, 2019.
  • Student selection will occur during March, 2019 and be done prior to pre-registration.
  • Projects must begin no later than Fall, 2019.

For questions or to discuss potential project ideas and teams, please contact:
Robert Shandley
Associate Dean, School of Innovation 
(979) 862-6071
Emily Finbow
Assistant Director, School of Innovation
(979) 862-6071

Proposal Submission

All proposals must be submitted through the online proposal form. You may also preview the proposal questions and draft your responses using the following Word template.