Office of Research

The University of Washington Innovation Awards

Deadline: November 1, 2016
Decisions by: February 1, 2017
Funding to start target: March 1, 2017

Call for proposals

For more than 150 years the University of Washington has been a place where the imagination thrives. New discoveries are made every day in laboratories across campus, where faculty, staff and students work together to tackle some of the most intractable problems we face. Many of the challenges confronting us today in areas such as climate, disease and health care require fundamental discovery-based research that is novel in its approach and has the ability to break open new territory in a field. The University of Washington Innovation Awards will fuel innovative research that addresses problems of humanity.

Innovation Research Awards seeded through existing gift funds from the President’s office, are to support unusually creative early and mid-career faculty in health, natural, social and engineering sciences. Innovative discovery-based individual research or smaller scale collaborative research projects will be supported rather than extensions of large-scale ongoing research programs. The goal is to foster high-payoff work that promises to be transformational but for which other funding sources are limited.

The Innovation Awards will encourage, nurture, bring together, and celebrate creative thinkers in our midst. A second purpose of the Innovation Awards is to increase public awareness of academic innovation. We hope that the efforts seeded by this program will stimulate philanthropic support of additional innovation awards.

Innovation Research awards will be made each year in selected areas that will be rotated each year. For FY 17, awards will be available in the biomedical sciences and in the life sciences. We invite applications that address any fundamental problem in the biological sciences including biomedical problems which have clear relevance to human health. Applications with a focus on the environmental, engineering or physical sciences will not be considered, as these were the selected area of focus for the FY16 innovation awards. Preference for these awards will be given to Assistant and recently promoted Associate professors. Awards are open to Faculty members from each of the three University of Washington Campuses. Award recipients are expected to publish their results in appropriate journals and give talks on and off campus.

Selection Process

  • Innovation Research award criteria: highly innovative, potentially transformational research proposals. Preference will be given to Assistant and Associate Professors. Research Faculty are eligible to apply.
  • Funding: Innovation Research awards will be up to $250K/yr x 2 years.
  • Proposal: a two step process
    1. Email the following materials as a single PDF to
      • Project Summary (1 page maximum)
        Provide an executive summary of this project, including overall goal, methodology and significance for a well-educated lay audience.
        Unique Aspects
        Describe unique or distinctive aspects of this project. How will the project break open new territory in your field? How will it lay the foundation for a solution to a real world problem?
        Principal Investigator
        Provide a brief description of expertise.
      • Project Description (3 page maximum)
        Provide an overview of this field and the need for this project.
        Relevant Efforts
        Describe past and current efforts that are relevant to this project.
        Goals and Methodology
        State the major goals of this project and summarize the methodologies and time frame to be used in achieving them.
        Describe the potential impacts of achieving these goals. How will results, resources, or best practices be disseminated?
      • 3-page CV citing up to 10 most relevant publications and list of active grants
      • 1-page description of how your research accomplishments and/ or personal characteristics provide evidence of innovation or creativity.
      • 1 page budget that includes the following budget categories: salaries and wages; benefits; materials and supplies; equipment; travel; contractual services; other services. Indirect costs will not be charged on these awards.
      • 1 page budget justification
      • A letter of Support from Department Chair
    2. Finalists will be invited to prepare a video presentation of their work for viewing by the selection committee. This may or may not be followed by an in-person interview depending on questions that may arise.
  • Innovation research awards selection committee
    • Will include UW members of the National Academies and faculty members with scholarly expertise appropriate to judge applicants.
    • Organized and run by Office of Research; chaired by Carrie Harwood, Associate Vice Provost and member of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Application deadline and award dates
    • Application deadline: November 1, 2016
    • Decisions by February 1, 2017
    • Funding to start target: March 1, 2017
  • Follow-up
    • Annual Report due one month after annual renewal date each year
    • Final Report due one month after completion

Questions should be directed to Matt Orefice, Assistant Director, at


Can faculty members apply jointly for an award?
Yes, collaborative projects are encouraged.
How do you define a biomedical sciences project?
A project with clear relevance to human health.
Does a life sciences project need to have direct relevance to human health?
Is a project that is focused on field work eligible for an award?
Yes, but preference will be given to a project that includes both field work and laboratory components.
Is a project that uses a model organism(s) as an experimental model appropriate?
Is a clinical research project eligible for an award?
Yes, but preference will be given to a project that includes both basic and clinical components.
Would an engineering project with a biomedical aspect be eligible for an award?
Can innovation award funds be used to support faculty salary?
Can lecturers apply for a research innovation award?
No. You must have a research faculty appointment.
Do the funds awarded need to be spent in two years?
No the award can be spread over three years.
How do you define a "recently promoted" Associate Professor?
An Associate Professor who has been in rank no more than five years.
Does my application need to be routed through the Office of Sponsored Programs?
No your proposal should be submitted directly to the Office of Research (
Can the award go to extend an existing grant-funded project?
Does this request for proposals also include Innovation Awards in Education?
No, there may be a call for Innovation Awards in Education in the Spring of 2017. Stay tuned.