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Seed Funding Request for Proposals

The Center for Digital Agriculture at Illinois will serve as a catalyst for collaborative research projects across engineering and agricultural disciplines. Increased global productivity and sustainability requires technical innovations that involve the Center’s initial themes: automation, data, crops and animals, and people in agriculture.

Award Information and Timeline

Seed funding awards, expected to be up to $25,000 for one year, will be made for new collaborations in at least one of the four theme areas in the Center for Digital Agriculture. A proposal may request up $50,000 if a very strong justification can be made, but very few, if any, are expected to be funded at this level. Projects should represent new interdisciplinary collaborations, including a minimum of two PIs from different domain areas. Examples of domain areas include agriculture, environmental sciences, engineering, statistics and computer science. Proposals must include practical plans to initiate long-term collaborations and externally funded activities under the Center for Digital Agriculture, preferably identifying one or more specific future funding opportunities. Awards will be made subject to the availability of funds and review panel recommendations.

Theme Areas

  1. Automation
  2. Data
  3. Animals and Crops
  4. People in Agriculture

Proposal Preparation and Submission

Required Documents

  1. Abstract (½ page)
  2. Project Description (3 pages)
    1. Project Significance
    2. Investigators
    3. Innovation
    4. Approach and Future Potential
    5. Environment
  3. References Cited
  4. Biosketch for each PI/Co-PI (two pages each, follow NSF, AFRI, or DoE format)
  5. Budget and Budget Justification (more details in Information Session slides)

Budgetary Guidance

Projects may request up to $50,000 in funding for one year. Project budgets do not need to include benefits, tuition remission, or overhead. Funds may be used for research assistant support (GRA, postdoc, etc.), faculty summer salary, research expenses and travel support directly pertaining to the development of the research project We will provide funding up to $1,500 for domestic research-related travel and higher amounts for international research-related travel if sufficiently justified. We do not anticipate providing funding for travel to conferences or for capital equipment at this time. Equipment that can be directly scientifically justified for the proposed work and would otherwise be inaccessible may be included, but should not exceed 20% of the total budget.

Proposal Submission Instructions

Seed funding proposals should be submitted via EasyChair. Proposals are due January 31, 2020 by 11:59 p.m. Decisions on funding are anticipated in April 2020. If you do not have an EasyChair account, see the instructions for creating an account. Read the “Overview” information, and then click on “New Submission.”

  • Fill in all the required information indicated by (*)
  • Fill in the information on the author(s)
  • Fill in the title in plain text
  • Fill in the abstract in plain text (limit 300 words)
  • Fill in at least three keywords for searching, if desired

Upload a PDF of your proposal or click the “Abstract Only” box under “Upload Paper.” When you have completed the form, press “Submit” only ONCE. It will take time to upload the submission. Questions or more information can be directed to Amanda Lombardo.

Review Criteria

Awards are made are subject to the availability of funds, and review panel’s recommendations.

  • Significance
    • Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
    • Is there strong scientific promise for the project?
    • If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, or clinical practice be improved?
  • Investigators
    • Are the PIs and collaborators well suited to the project?
    • Does the project include PIs from different domain areas? If these PIs have been working together already, is this a new collaborative direction for them rather than a continuation of an existing project with existing funding?
  • Innovation
    • Does the project have potential to shift current research paradigms in the area of digital agriculture?
    • Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense?
  • Approach
    • Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analysis well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the scientific aims of the project?
    • Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented?
  • Relevancy to CDA
    • Does the project demonstrate a compelling need for Center for Digital Agriculture funding and involvement?
    • Is the project interdisciplinary and relevant to the Center for Digital Agriculture and University of Illinois campus goals?
  • Future Potential
    • Does the project include plans for continued collaboration with the Center for Digital Agriculture?
    • How strong are the plans to generate ongoing external funding for the collaboration from federal agencies, foundations, and/or industry via the Center?