University Research Foundation

URF Applications now being accepted. Deadline: October 14, 2022

The University Research Foundation (URF) is an internal funding program offering Research Grant and Conference Support Grant opportunities.

Research Grant

The research support program will provide awards up to $75K to help faculty secure external sources of funding.

Conference Support Grant

The conference support program will provide awards up to $3K for meetings to enhance existing and scholarly programs, particularly in disciplines where external funding is difficult to obtain.

The University Research Foundation is a campus program dedicated to fulfilling the mission of the Penn Compact.
The Penn Compact motivates community members to innovate, be radically inclusive, and positively impact their local, national, and global communities.

See the Frequently Asked Questions for more general information.

Disciplinary areas:

  • For all funding mechanisms, faculty members are invited to submit their research applications to one of four disciplinary areas: Biomedical Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Engineering, and Social Science and Management.
  • For multidisciplinary research put the most relevant area first, followed by the other relevant area(s).
  • Reviews are conducted by established faculty members in the appropriate disciplines.

Eligibility:

  • Biomed: Research Grant eligibility is limited to Penn assistant and early-stage associate professors (first 3 years) who have not previously received a URF research grant.  Full professors may apply for Conference grants.
  • Natural Sciences & Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences:  All Penn assistant, associate, and full professors are eligible to apply to both programs.
  • Instructors, Research Associates and Lecturers must provide a letter from their Department Chair establishing that the applicant will receive an appointment as an Assistant Professor by the time of the award. (The letter must be included with the application materials as part of the appendix.)
  • Applicants who have received funding in the past three cycles will be less competitive
  • Adjunct and Emeritus Faculty are not eligible to apply.
  • Only one application per PI per cycle.
  • CHOP-based faculty are eligible to apply. However awards must be expended on Penn facilities, equipment and/or associated University technical staff, postdocs and undergraduate students.

Evaluation criteria:
Reviewers will evaluate the proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Scholarly merit, creativity, impact, and innovation
  • Feasibility
  • Significance of the research
  • Prospects for future extramural funding
  • Matching support from other sources
  • Career development at early stages of career
  • Advancement of school or institutional objectives, such as interdisciplinary research
  • Overall impact to investigator’s research program
  • Undergraduate participation (see more details below)
  • A major consideration for the Opportunity Development Grants will be alignment with the specific goals of the grant program [refer to RODG Guidelines]

In addition, please note: Conferences that have been funded in the past will receive low priority.

Submissions:

  • Completed application must be received on or before 5:00 pm on due date.
  • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
  • Home departments must have a 26-digit budget code

Undergraduate Participation:
As part of the University’s commitment to providing research opportunities to scholars across our campus community, URF applicants are encouraged to include undergraduate student participants within the framework of their proposals. URF Review Panels will take undergraduate participation under strong consideration when evaluating and scoring proposals. Should applicants require assistance in identifying interested and qualified undergraduates, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) will be glad to provide support: curf@upenn.edu.

Note to Business Administrators:
Only PIs can submit proposals. For BAs who develop budgets on behalf of the PI, to the left are links to the budget forms for the five URF funding opportunities. BAs should download the budget form using the link provided within the instructions for the applicable funding opportunity. When the budget has been completed, please forward it to the PI for inclusion in the proposal submission (PI will need to upload the budget as PDF file).

URF Grant Guidelines

Research Grant
Conference Grant

Print/PDF

Research Grant

Revised for Fall 2022

The Research support program will provide awards up to $75,000 to help faculty secure external sources of funding.  URF aims to promote diversity, inclusion and equity in the research community.

Program Description: The objectives of these programs are to:

  1. Natural Sciences & Engineering, Humanities, and Social Sciences: Help assistant and associate professors undertake pilot projects that will enable them to successfully apply for extramural sources of funding and aid in establishing their careers as independent investigators. Help established faculty perform novel, pioneering research to determine project feasibility and develop preliminary data to support extramural grant applications.
  2. Biomed: Help assistant and early-stage associate professors (first 3 years) undertake pilot projects that will enable them to successfully apply for extramural sources of funding and aid in establishing their careers as independent investigators. Note: Full professors may not apply for Research grants. However, they are eligible for Conference grants.
  3. Provide support in disciplines where extramural support is difficult to obtain and where significant research can be facilitated with internal funding; and
  4. Provide limited institutional matching funds that are required as part of a successful external peer-reviewed application.
  5. Provide seed funding for large center grants in emerging research topics.

Additional Notes:

  • Biomed applications: Full professors are ineligible for research grants.
  • Proposals from new investigators in all disciplines with unspent start-up/research funds will be less competitive
  • Resubmissions: Applications not previously funded must be revised. Changes should be clearly indicated.

Budget:

  • Applications up to $75,000 will be considered.
  • Salary support for faculty is not allowable.
  • Travel expenses are not allowable for applications being reviewed by the Biomedical committee.

Grant Term:

  • 1 year only
  • Unexpended funds must be returned.
  • A no-cost extension must be approved by the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Requests for a no-cost extension should be made prior to the expiration of an award. No cost extensions will only be granted for extenuating circumstances. Extensions will not be made for longer than 6 months. A progress-to-date report including a revised budget will be required.
  • Publications etc. that result from the project should acknowledge that the project was funded, in part, by the Vice Provost for Research University Research Foundation

Application Guidelines: Uploads should be a single PDF document in 11-point Arial font, single spaced with .5″ margins.

  • Applicant Information: All fields and all certifications are required (complete online).  You must mark your “Applicant Info Form” (this first task) as COMPLETE to be able to work on the other tasks.  This is because tasks are dependent on your answers in the initial form.  You can then reopen and edit the form if additional changes are needed.
  • Abstract: 200-word limit, Complete online. Write in simple (non-technical) language a description of the proposed work that is suitable for a lay audience. State the objectives. The description should explain the compelling reason for the proposal. Do not include your PI name or proposal title.
  • Research Proposal: Upload
    • 3-page limit
    • Include your name, your department, and the proposal title on the first page.
    • Include background, hypothesis/purpose, methods used, work to be undertaken, and outlook for future (continued research and external funding). Applications to the biomed panel are expected to include an appropriate description of the statistical analysis and power calculations which support the proposed studies. Please be mindful of the interdisciplinary backgrounds of the reviewers and make the proposals accessible to these readers.
    • References are not included in the page limit and should be included in this section.
  • PI Biosketch: Upload a single PDF document that is no longer than 3 pages for the primary PI. Please use a biosketch (not CV) that is discipline appropriate.  Additional key personnel biosketches can be uploaded as appendices, but are not required.  Biomed Biosketches must use the new NIH format and can be up to 5 pages.  See the NIH instruction doc and a sample.
  • PI Research Support: Complete the online form. Include all current and pending support. Include any previous URF’s, start-up funds (remaining balance) and other support (such as named or endowed chair). Failure to provide an accurate description of other support available to the PI will disqualify this application from URF funding.
  • Undergraduate Research Mentorship Description: Optional and encouraged, 1 page limit, Upload
  • Budget: Download the budget template. Complete the information, save it as a single page PDF and upload.
  • Appendix: Additional documents. Do not use the appendices to circumvent page limits.
    • Co-PI biosketches (not CV’s) are required; key personnel and/or collaborator biosketches are optional.
    • Instructors, Research Associates and/or Lecturers must include letter from School Dean or Dept Chair confirming that they will be appointed to the faculty by the time the award is made.

Print/PDF

Conference Support

Revised for Fall 2022

The conference support program will provide awards of up to $3,000 for meetings to enhance existing and scholarly programs, particularly in disciplines where external funding is difficult to obtain.

Program Description: The conference support program is designed for scholarly meetings that will be convened on Penn’s campus, thereby providing enrichment opportunities to interested faculty, students, and staff, most frequently in the format of a 1-2 day colloquium. The intent is to support meetings that are designed to enhance existing research and scholarly programs, particularly in disciplines where external funding is difficult to obtain. It should highlight the scholarship of Penn faculty and bring distinguished scholars to Penn’s campus. Please describe what you expect to accomplish with this conference/workshop for the relevant field of study.

Proposals must include faculty from applicant’s department and/or school. Funding for this award can be used to augment an already scheduled University event. The event should include the participation of Penn graduate or undergraduate students in both organization and delivery. A final report must be submitted that outlines the accomplishments of the event, which could include new collaborative endeavors, the outreach, publications, and grants.

Budget: Applications can request up to $3,000. Funds are to be used for speakers, travel, and accommodations. Funds are not to be used for meals and entertainment. Applications are required to have documented additional financial support.

Grant Term:

  • 1 year only
  • Unexpended funds must be returned.
  • A no-cost extension must be approved by the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Requests for a no-cost extension should be made prior to the expiration of an award. No cost extensions will only be granted for extenuating circumstances. Extensions will not be made for longer than 6 months. A progress-to-date report including a revised budget will be required.
  • Publications etc. that result from the project should acknowledge that the project was funded, in part, by the Vice Provost for Research University Research Foundation

Additional Note on Eligibility:

  • Previously funded conferences will receive low priority.

Conference Application Guidelines:  Uploads should be a single PDF document in 11-point Arial font, single-spaced with .5″ margins.

  • Applicant Information: Complete online. All fields and all certifications are required.  You must mark your “Applicant Info Form” (this first task) as COMPLETE to be able to work on the other tasks. This is because tasks are dependent on your answers in the initial form. You can then reopen and edit the form if additional changes are needed.
  • Abstract/Event Summary: 200-word limit. Complete online. Description should include, event topic, scholarly discipline, purpose of event and expected outcome. Please indicate if the conference is an annual event. Do not include your PI name or proposal title.
  • Project Proposal: (up to 2 pages) Upload
    • Purpose of event, intellectual area, benefits of scholarly research, expected outcomes, student involvement, proposed timeline, target audience, topic timeliness, and the relationship of the meeting to department, institute or center programs. Describe what you expect to accomplish with this conference/workshop for the relevant field of study.
    • If this is an annual event and if the URF has previously funded the conference please include that information in the proposal.
    • References are not included in the page limit and should be included in this section.
    • Include your name and proposal title on the first page.
  • Event Details: To the extent possible, provide the anticipated: title, date, location, number of attendees, Penn Faculty participant information, and non-Penn faculty participant information
  • Event Agenda: Upload. To the extent possible, provide a proposed agenda/schedule. Indicate if speakers will be on-site or will participate remotely.
  • Event Support: Upload letter(s) of financial support from other sources. Letter(s) can be in the form of an email or a formal letter and must detail the amount of support.  No-cost facilities and AV support are not considered part of financial support.
  • Undergraduate Research Mentorship Description: Optional but encouraged, 1-page limit, upload
  • Total budget: Download the budget template. Complete the information, save it as a single-page PDF and upload. Include and identify support from other sources.
  • PI Biosketch: Upload a single PDF document that is no longer than 3 pages for the primary PI. Please use a biosketch (not CV) that is discipline appropriate.  Additional key personnel biosketches can be uploaded as appendices, but are not required.
  • Appendix: Uploads
    • Letters of support for event:  Note that documented and confirmed external support for your event is required and must be included with the application.
    • Instructors, Research Associates, and/or Lecturers must include letter from School Dean or Dept Chair confirming that they will be appointed to the faculty by the time the award is made.