Internal Grant Programs


WPI’s Vice Provost for Research in collaboration with Deans and Department Heads as well as select partner institutions provides support for new and early-stage interdisciplinary research collaborations through a number of grant programs.


President's Research Catalyst Grants Program

We are excited to announce the President's Research Catalyst Grants Program, which will be partially funded by gifts from Jim Baum ’86 and Bonnie and Jack Mollen H’23. These gifts have been designated to support research at WPI, including, but not limited to, AI research. It is the intent of the President's Research Catalyst Grants Program to help build and establish more interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, research centers at WPI by supporting faculty in their efforts to develop competitive center-scale proposals. The Program is designed to catalyze and facilitate the development and preparation of extramural grant applications that require extensive planning, exchange of ideas, collaboration, team building, partnering, and other activities demanding significant investments of faculty’s time and effort. 

It is the intent of the Program to build on the communities, which have formed around cross-cutting research areas in the life sciences (BioPoint), smart technologies changing the way we live and work (SmartWorld), materials and manufacturing processes designed for a more sustainable world (MatR), and Global initiatives. The program is intended to support sub-groups in these communities to pursue large-scale, high-impact research and position them for submission of center-type grants.

Proposing teams must submit a 3-page proposal through the InfoReady portal. Proposals are due on February 1, 2024.

For questions, please contact Antje Harnisch, Asst. Vice Provost for Research.


Examples of large, interdisciplinary, center-scale, extramural funding programs
Technology Focus Areas

include, but are not limited to, the following  areas listed in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022:

(1)  Artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and related advances.

(2)  High performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware and software.

(3)  Quantum information science and technology.

(4)  Robotics, automation, and advanced manufacturing.

(5)  Natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation.

(6)  Advanced communications technology and immersive technology.

(7)  Biotechnology, medical technology, genomics, and synthetic biology.

(8)  Data storage, data management, distributed ledger technologies, and cybersecurity, including biometrics.

(9)  Advanced energy and industrial efficiency technologies, such as batteries and advanced nuclear technologies, including but not limited to for the purposes of electric generation 

(10)  Advanced materials science, including composites 2D materials, other next-generation materials, and related manufacturing technologies.

Preference is given to proposals that address larger-scale, longer-time horizon challenges in foundational and use-inspired AI research. We are looking for teams that seek to add new knowledge and understanding in both foundational AI and use-inspired domains. 

Eligibility Requirements

The lead PI for this program must be a faculty member. Co-PIs can be faculty, research staff or post-docs. Highly collaborative, cross- and interdisciplinary teams formed with attention to diverse perspectives and approaches are strongly encouraged. Proposing teams must include at least three WPI faculty from at least two departments.

Researchers may be named as PI or Co-PI on only one proposal.

Proposal Requirements

The proposal should be organized using the required section headers listed below:

  • Title: descriptive project title
  • Project Narrative: narrative describing the challenge to be addressed, the proposed cross- and interdisciplinary approach(es) to be employed, and how the proposed work will utilize or develop breakthrough technology and methodologies to produce potentially transformative results.
  • Timeline and milestones
  • Significance and Impact
  • How is the proposed center different from similar existing university research centers across the nation funded by the same program?
  • Team: list of core proposing team members with departmental affiliations, a brief statement of their role(s) on the proposed project, and a summary that describes the various ways in which team members have previously collaborated and to what extent; also list external partners and their roles/contributions
  • External Funding Opportunity: name of the external sponsoring agency and specific program to which a proposal will be submitted by the end of the seed grant period.
  • Budget and Justification: proposed budget in Excel template and a brief narrative description of the requested cost items

The funding for up to $50,000 is for 18 months It can be used for faculty release time during the Fall 2025 semester; grant writing support; and expenses associated with project specific travel to meet with external collaborators or host collaborator meetings on campus. Indirect costs will not be charged. 


At least one center-scale funding application by the end of the project period.

Review and Selection

Proposals for the Catalyst program will be reviewed by the Deans Research Council and the Research Development Council (RDC). RDC members may submit proposals, but if so, they will need to excuse themselves from the review process. The review process will further include meetings with teams and reviewers, in which teams pitch their projects and will respond to questions. 

Funding decisions will be announced in early March 2024. We will provide proposal development and team facilitation support to the funded teams.



Seed Funding Opportunity with UMass Medical CCTC

VPR Vernescu is happy to announce a new round of joint seed funding with the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS), part of their next funding round for the Pilot Project Program (PPP).

Two project awards (up to $50,000 for 10 months)  for a joint team of PIs will be made on a competitive basis to enable investigators to accelerate the translation of innovative discoveries into:

• New understanding and/or diagnosis of a disease process

• New devices, therapeutics, and vaccines for the treatment and/or prevention of disease

• New standards of care in the practice of community medicine

• New approaches to community-based research demonstrating true bi-directionality between community and academia

• New methodologies to leverage institutional strengths and new initiatives

• The pursuit of high-risk, high reward studies

Full information, including eligibility requirements and deadlines can be found here.

New Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program in Photonics Supported by The Gapontsev Family Collaborative Venture Fund

With the generous support of the VPG Foundation, WPI has established the Gapontsev Family Collaborative Venture Fund.  Enabled by this Fund, we are announcing an exciting new seed grant program to support new interdisciplinary purpose-driven research collaborations that focus on photonics.

Proposals from interdisciplinary teams, that involve faculty from more than one department that pursue inter/cross/trans-disciplinary projects and move into new and innovative research directions, for which they will later apply for external funding, are invited by September 19, 2022.

The seed grant program is open to all full-time faculty; it provides funding for groups of at least two faculty members from different departments.

Each team will be awarded up to $70k per team, for one year, through a competitive grant process. The funding can be used for supporting the faculty members, post-docs, graduate and undergraduate students’ salaries and/or stipends, tuition and other research support, including equipment that will enable the proposed research. F&A (indirect costs) are not charged on these grants.

The seed funding is expected to be used to leverage other sources of funding, and open new partnerships, once this initial research has been proven and valued; an indication of these sources and partnerships are expected in the proposal.

All research, papers and results supported by this Fund will include the legend: “Supported, in whole or in part, with funding from the Gapontsev Family Collaborative Venture Fund”.

Funded faculty and students will participate in an annual on-site presentation for the VPG Foundation and provide progress reports at the end of the funding period, followed by updates on any new discoveries.


Who is eligible?

The seed grant program is open to all full-time faculty; it provides funding for groups of at least two faculty members from different departments.

Can I submit more than one proposal?

You can submit one proposal as PI and be on another proposal as Co-PI.

What do I need to submit to be considered?

A complete proposal consists of a summary that will be shared publicly, a description of the project (up to 3 pages), which needs to include a statement of the envisioned result of the seed funding (e.g., application for external funding), a bugdet and budget justification.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Planning/Seed Grant Program (DEIJ PGP)

We invite multi-disciplinary teams to apply for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Planning/Seed Grant Program (DEIJ PGP). Applications are due via email to by 5 pm. May 26, 2022, and individual requests may be for a total amount of up to $4,000.

For awarded grants, check here.

As part of WPI’s focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) in the current strategic plan, the VPR’s office would like to encourage DEIJ research and scholarship activities by establishing this internal DEIJ seed/planning grant program (DEIJ PGP). DEIJ PGP funds early stage, cross-disciplinary activities that relate to the experiences of marginalized groups/inequities in STEM and/or at WPI. The goal of the DEIJ PGP is to enable teams to have the time and space to collaboratively examine issues around DEIJ and design research studies, scholarly or creative works, preferably for external funding and/or in collaboration with external partners, e.g., practitioners and researchers with DEIJ expertise.



Who is eligible to participate?

Teams comprising faculty, staff and/or students may submit proposals. The lived experience and perspectives of people from underrepresented and marginalized groups is highly valuable for DEIJ work and should be considered when creating a team. Teams should be well balanced to effectively address the goals of the proposed activity, and it is thus highly recommended that the teams include expertise from the fields of social science, education, humanities, arts etc.

What can I charge to the project?

Awards can be used to provide faculty, staff or student stipends, participant support costs, travel, other direct costs (i.e., materials & supplies, publications, human subject compensation).

What do I need to submit to be considered?

Cover Sheet

Please use the template provided and submit to

Project Description

Must be only 2 pages excluding references

Must include the following:

  • Purpose of Project

 -  What will you do, why will you do it and how does it align with the program’s purpose?

  • Goals
  • Approach or project plan
  • Timeline, outcomes, and deliverables
  • Impact

Collaborative Seed Grant Opportunity with University of Massachusetts Lowell

The leadership of the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are committed to leveraging our respective strengths to foster productive and sustainable interdisciplinary collaborations among our faculty and students. To support this goal, UMass Lowell and WPI will jointly provide up to $20,000 per project to support collaborative projects for research teams comprised of faculty from both institutions.

This initiative is intended to support new collaborations, novel discoveries, increased external funding, future industry partnerships, and possibly, the development of patentable intellectual property. Priority for funding will be given to new collaborations, projects that include multiple UMass Lowell and WPI faculty, projects that include more than one discipline, and projects that are likely to lead to external funding and/or commercialization/industry partnerships.

This year’s priority areas are community-engaged research/global health/social justice, biomanufacturing/biotechnology (including workforce development), and cybersecurity.  Proposals in other areas are welcome. Proposals are due February 28, 2022. For more information, please see attached and the UML-WPI Collaborative Seed Funding on UMass Lowell’s Research & Innovation Opportunities Portal ( or contact Antje Harnisch.

WPI and UMass Lowell embrace and celebrate diversity in all its forms and encourage individuals from underrepresented populations to apply for this funding

A description of the funded projects can be found here

TRIADs: Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Pilot

(Transformative Research and Innovation, Accelerating Discovery)

WPI is piloting an exciting seed grant program, which will support new research projects that involve faculty from more than one department and are performed by collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.  It is designed to inspire teams of faculty to pursue inter/cross/trans-disciplinary projects and move into new and innovative research directions, for which they will later apply for external funding. 

For awarded grants, check here

FAQs (pdf)

Who is eligible to participate?

All full-time faculty may propose or join projects.  Each faculty member may only participate in one TRIAD that is submitted.


What kind of projects can be proposed?

Any project that is a new interdisciplinary research collaboration.  The members on the research team cannot be currently collaborating on a funded project.


Where does the funding come from?

Team members are expected to contribute a third of their portion (i.e., $6,667 or $1,667); the remaining two thirds are provided by the respective department head and the VPR.  A fourth member may join a team without funding. 

What can I charge to a project?

At least 50% of the funding has to be used for student or post-doc support. The rest can be used for what is typically charged to a grant, except for faculty salary. Tuition and indirect costs are waived.

Are there deliverables?

A brief final report is required for each project, and at least one member of the team must participate in the symposium.  All teams are expected to submit a minimum of one proposal to an external funding agency and/or demonstrate progress toward the gold standard of scholarly excellence in their field.

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There is no peer review; instead a semi-random selection process is used, a process that ensures that funded projects meets the administrative requirements of the program and guarantees portfolio diversity.

School Year Academic

Create a new project from the TRIADS Opportunities tab on top of the e-Projects site.



This will open the following form:



You will need to enter a title and a description of your project. Add keywords to your project description to make searching for projects easier for potentially collaborators.

Change the project status to “proposed”.  Pick the size ($15 or $60k).

Add a picture.  High quality and close to square pictures work best.  Please note that you may have to wait a bit for the picture to load. 

Then click on “Create Seed Project and become a member”.  You will be automatically listed as the PI.  If you later decide you want to join a different project, you can do so by removing yourself from the project or deleting the project.

How do I create a TRIAD?

You, as PI, need to find two partners. At least one needs to be from a different department. You can search for collaborators within the system.  Each faculty profile has keywords that are searchable.



 Once out have found colleagues to join your project, add them on the Members Screen. 


How do I join a TRIAD as collaborator?

If you want to join a project, you can search for projects within the system. The project descriptions are searchable.  If interested in a project, such interest can be expressed on the project’s site; it is also possible to comment.  Alternatively, such communications can happen outside of the system.


How are TRIADs finalized/submitted?

Collaborators can be interested in more than one project.  PIs can also be interested in projects other than their own. There will be a deadline, though, before which everybody has to commit to be a member or PI of only one project.  At that point the TRIAD is formed and the proposed project submitted.  If you are the PI, you need to change the project status to “submitted”.  The deadline triad formation and project submission is October 21.

Student Perspectives

Antje Harnisch, Assistant VPR, or 508 831 4196

WPI-UMass Lowell Collaborative Seed Funding

To support early-stage research collaboration between faculty at the two universities, the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UMass Lowell) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have partnered to award more than $111,000 in seed funding to six different teams, focusing on work ranging from human-robot collaboration to cancer detection and rehabilitation for stroke patients.  A description of the projects can be found here.

No one university can address the pressing problems the world needs solved. We are fortunate in New England to be close to a wealth of institutions with world-class researchers with whom we can collaborate.
  • Bogdan Vernescu
  • Vice Provost for Research