UNC Charlotte’s Data Science Initiative Announces Funding Opportunity for Faculty

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Seed Grants for Data Science

Seed Grants for Data Science

Submission for Spring 2020: Due December 9th, 2019

Submission for Summer 2020: Due March 15th, 2020


SDS Mission Statement: The School of Data Science(SDS) provides a practical learning and research environment that enables the application of analytics to enhance and impact social and economic conditions.


In anticipation of the launch of the new School of Data Science in January 2020, the Data Science Initiative (DSI) is sending a request for proposals.  This grant opportunity provides seed funding awards for two funding cycles in 2020 (Spring 2020 and Summer 2020), with up to $30,000 for the Spring cycle and $60,000 for the Summer cycle.  The intent is to identify and support preparation of competitive proposals focused on research and cutting edge concepts that demonstrate follow-on potential to secure larger external grants. 

Proposals must be submitted by teams comprised primarily of UNC Charlotte researchers.  Candidate teams will be multidisciplinary and draw personnel from at least two colleges, with at least one principal or co-principal researcher holding an affiliate or joint faculty appointment within the Data Science Initiative.  While collaborators external to UNC Charlotte may be included, the focus is on supporting the formation of new research teams based at UNC Charlotte.

Scope and Evaluation:

  • Proposals  up to a maximum of $30,000

  • Proposals must be submitted by:

    • Spring 2020 Funding: December 9th, 2019

    • Summer 2020 Funding: March 15th, 2020

  • The DSI will appoint a review panel to evaluate the proposals whose purpose will be to advise on the funding priorities

  • Awardees will be announced:

    • Spring 2020 Funding: December 16th, 2019

    • Summer 2020 Funding: March 25th, 2020

  • Initial Funding Disbursed:

    • Spring 2020 Funding: January 2020

    • Summer 2020 Funding: May 2020


  • At least two PIs from two different colleges. All faculty involved in the project must be listed as co-PIs or as consultants.

  • Research projects must be collaborative, interdisciplinary, data-centric, and analytics focused.

  • New faculty and research teams are particularly welcome to apply.

  • Support is for new, innovative and interdisciplinary research projects in Data Science.

  • All faculty eligible for UNC Charlotte Faculty Research Grants are eligible for this award. (http://research.uncc.edu/proposal-development/locating-funding/faculty-research-grants-program#Eligibility)

  • Identify proposed/target channels and dates for follow-on external funding application(s).

  • Funds are allocated for a 9-month period maximum and a request for external funding must be submitted within 12 months of funding decision. 

  • With proper justification, funding can be allocated for:

    • Software, hardware, and data,

    • Field work,

    • Graduate Assistantships, and

    • Small pilot studies.

  • Partial awards are possible. DSI reserves the right to adjust the budget to reflect funds availability, research priorities of the DSI, and funding restrictions.

Additional Resources:

  • Data Sets (ADP, Twitter Historical, etc.)



  • Projects already externally funded or for which an external proposal is currently under review are not eligible.

  • Projects that have already received internal funding are not eligible.

  • A researcher cannot be recipient of more than one DSI Research Grant per academic year.

  • Continuation of an ongoing research project by the same or similar group of researchers will not be supported.

  • Expenditures that are not allowed:

  • Expenditures generally made by departments and colleges (e.g., office supplies, travel to professional conferences, etc.)

  • Delivery of outreach programs or services

  • Requests for funds for meals and snacks 

  • Publication charges


Criteria for Review:

  • Novel ideas that involve cross-college or interdisciplinary collaboration around data science. 

  • Projects that best fit the research priorities of DSI, as outlined in the SDS mission statement. 

  • Projects leading to proposals that are more likely to be externally funded.

  • Size and scope of the “overall proposal” to be submitted for external funding, following the granting of a DSI award.

  • Funding agencies or organizations of national or international significance will be given priority over regional ones. 

  • Clarity of the objectives of the request.

  • Scientific merit and feasibility of the project envisioned for external funding.

  • Quality and coherence of the research design and detailed plan of activities.

  • Teams with at least one co-PI that is affiliated with DSI

  • New teams that are partnering for the first time.

  • Teams may include participation by external, non-academic organizations.


Structure and Submission of Proposals:

Proposals (including the budget) must be submitted as one single PDF by email to:


Please include “Seed Grants for Data Science” in the subject line. To complete your proposal submission, please follow the instructions provided below.

The proposal must be clear, readily legible, and conform to the following requirements: 

  • Font size of 12 points  

  • Double spaced

  • 1-inch margins


To be considered for funding, the following must be included in your submission:


  1. Cover Sheet (one page) The cover sheet contains the project title, abstract (200 words maximum), 3-5 descriptive keywords, PI and collaborator(s) name and contact information, total funds requested, projected start and end dates, proposed funding agency (including specific programs that will be targeted) and anticipated budget request on the external proposal submission(s). 


  1. Project Description (not to exceed 1500 words) The project description should address the following points:

  1. Purpose, Significance, Planned Activities: Provide a clear and concise explanation of (i) rationale of this funding request, (ii) the proposed activities for which the funding is requested, (iii) how these activities will enhance your ability to apply for external funding as a larger project.

  2. Overall Project: Provide a clear and concise explanation of (i) the objectives of the overall project that will be submitted for external funding, (ii) the research design, (iii) the agency/ies, initiatives, and target date(s) to which you will apply, (iv) the significance and value of the overall project for which external funding will be sought to the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, (v) interdisciplinarity of the overall project. Provide the key idea that motivates the work. Explain the core question or questions that the overall project seeks to address, and why these questions matter in social, behavioral, and economic sciences (significance of the contribution).

  3. Research Team: Describe the qualifications, roles, and responsibilities of all research project team members, and what value collaboration adds to the project.

  4. Work Plan and Timeline: Provide a general outline of target dates to complete the project.

  5. External Funding: Identify proposed/target channels and dates for follow-on external funding application(s).


  1. Bibliography (no more than 15 references) Optional, supply only if needed. 


  1. A one-page Biosketch (vita) for each participant which includes:

  1. Education, including the dates when degrees were awarded;

  2. Current employment status;

  3. Three most relevant publications (to the current project);

  4. Most relevant experience (including but not limited to software programs, methods known, and training)

  5. Funding history. Supply a list of all proposals (both internal and external) prepared in the past three years. Indicate whether the proposal was funded, is pending or was not funded. Indicate for each whether it is UNC Charlotte-internal or external.


  1. Budget and Justification: Supply a budget justification for the costs requested.


Project Reports and Credit

Investigators are expected to provide a brief (two page) final report upon completing the project (9 months from granting date or earlier), including the activities conducted and progress towards the submission of a proposal for external funding. An update of this report should be submitted when the proposal is successfully submitted for external funding.

External funding must be sought for the “overall project” for which seed funding was requested within the indicated time frame. It is expected that PIs will credit The DSI at the time of submission and approval of the proposal through NORM. 

If during the course of your project you find that you need to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget, please send a note to Joshua Hertel with specific details of these changes.

Should you have any questions about this seed funding opportunity, please contact:


Budget Instructions: Projected Costs

All of the items listed, must be reasonable, necessary to accomplish project objectives, allowable in terms of the applicable federal cost principles, auditable, and incurred during the grant period. Charges to the project for items such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, and contractual services must conform to the written policies and established practices of the University.


Budget Items 


1. Salaries and Wages

Provide the names and titles of the principal project personnel. For support staff, include the title of each position and indicate in brackets the number of persons who will be employed in that capacity. For persons employed on an academic year basis, list separately any salary charge for work done outside the academic year. 


2. Fringe Benefits

List each rate and salary base.


3. Supplies and Materials 

Include consumable supplies, materials to be used in the project and items of expendable equipment (i.e., equipment costing less than $5,000 and with an estimated useful life of less than a year). 


4. Services 

The costs of project activities to be undertaken by a third-party contractor should be included in this category as a single line item charge. A complete itemization of the cost comprising the charge should be provided in an attachment. If there is more than one contractor, each must be budgeted separately on the form and must have an attached itemization. 


5. Other Costs

Include any participant stipends and other items not previously listed. Please note that “miscellaneous” and “contingency” are not acceptable budget categories. 


6. Total Direct Costs 

Total the sum of items 1-6.