The Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research (VPDoR) is committed to supporting Principal Investigators (PI) in their pursuit of large and collaborative, externally sponsored research grants. Increasingly, the cost of conducting collaborative research exceeds the funding available from sponsors to support the project budget. VPDoR aims to help mitigate these costs, while assuaging faculty’s concerns about going after those complex projects and strengthening their proposal through demonstrated institutional support.
The VPDoR Grant Booster is managed by the Stanford Research Development Office and designed to facilitate the request for institutional support on qualifying projects. In combination with support from the PI’s home School, this initiative offers flexible funds to PIs who apply for and receive eligible extramural funding that advances collaborative research at Stanford. In addition, VPDoR will also provide a letter of support that may be included in the proposal submission to the external sponsor, if allowable.
The Grant Booster aims to:
- Stimulate large-scale research collaborations across Stanford schools
- Supplement the award budget by covering some of the costs associated with conducting research
- Increase proposal competitiveness through clear and compelling evidence of institutional support
- Maximize the chance of project success
- Streamline the process for faculty to request financial support from VPDoR for eligible projects
VPDoR is offering this initiative as a three-year pilot (CY23 to CY25). At the end of the pilot, VPDoR will evaluate the initiative’s impact, effectiveness, and budget sustainability.
- Eligible recipients are Stanford faculty (i.e., members of the University's Academic Council) who serve as principal investigator on qualifying awards (see #2-5).
- Teams consist of multi-investigator partnerships from two or more Stanford schools. Requests from interdisciplinary teams in different departments within the same school will also be considered.
- Projects need to meet one of the budget thresholds detailed below in “Levels of support.”
- The funding opportunity supports activities classified as Sponsored Research and proposals are competitively reviewed by the funder.
- Grants need to receive full Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs at the Federally negotiated rate to qualify. Current rates are maintained by the Cost & Management Analysis Office.
- Project teams must obtain comparable support from other programs or sources (e.g., participating schools or departments), as certified by the lead/contact PI’s home School.
- Requests should be submitted at least two (2) weeks before the sponsor’s deadline. There is no guarantee that a request will be reviewed if the form is not submitted in a timely manner prior to the sponsor’s deadline.
- Only requests submitted before submission to the sponsor will be considered.
Requests for VPDoR support that fall outside of Grant Booster initiative can be submitted for consideration by VPDoR by selecting the “other support” button on the request form and providing the information requested.
When the PI is a faculty member from the School of Medicine, support requests will be considered by the School of Medicine Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Research instead. School of Medicine Faculty can contact the School of Medicine Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Research at email@example.com.
When the PI is a SLAC Scientist, support requests will be considered by the Office of the Chief Research Officer. SLAC PIs may contact OCRO@slac.stanford.edu.
- Levels of Support
For eligible projects, VPDOR will commit funds when the proposal budget meets the following thresholds, reserving the right to adjust levels based on actual award amount.
Total externally sponsored project budget*
(Direct and indirect costs, combined for the entire duration of the award)
Support from VPDoR**
(In the form of unrestricted, flexible cash)
$3M-$7.5M $25,000/year (up to $125,000 total) $7.5M-$15M $50,000/year (up to $250,000 total) $15M+ $100,000/year (up to $500,000 total)
*Total budget request if Stanford is lead, or Stanford subaward budget request if Stanford is not lead.
**Annually, for the first five years or the duration of the award, whichever is shorter.
- Teams should be prepared to submit a large-scale funding opportunity of at least $3M to an external sponsor within 30 days of the request.
- Funds are contingent on comparable contributions from the PIs’ home department or school and released after the proposal is awarded by the sponsor.
- It is the PIs’ responsibility to identify additional sources of institutional support to meet the comparable contributions requirement to be certified by the home school, either through cash or in-kind contributions, prior to receiving VPDoR support at award stage.
- Funds may be spent at the discretion of the PI, however, they must adhere to applicable Stanford Purchasing Policies and Guidelines.
- Application and Approval Process
- The PI discusses commitments with their department chair and/or school dean or equivalent.
- The PI completes the VPDoR Institutional Support Request Form prior to submitting the proposal to the sponsor. Requested information includes:
- Description of project team
- Sponsor details
- Funding opportunity details
- Proposal details
- Department contact
- Attach verification of commitments if available
- VPDoR will review the request for compliance and alignment with the Grant Booster purpose. VPDoR will either provide a conditional approval, decline the request if not compliant, or suggest modifications to the request.
- VPDoR notifies the PI with written notification of the decision.
- If a letter from VPDoR is desired, the PI will be asked to provide a draft letter.
- When the proposal is funded by the external sponsor, the PI sends a copy of that award notification together with confirmation of school/department commitments to VPDoR.
- VPDoR approves the commitment and funds are transferred to the PI’s PTA.
- Cost Sharing Policy
It is up to the PI and their RA to determine whether or not to describe these funds in the proposal and, if so, in what capacity. We recommend describing the funds as unquantified institutional support when possible, or quantified required cost share when needed. Describing them as quantified voluntary cost share is typically not recommended.
Please see RPH 15.3 Cost Sharing Policy for additional information on policies and procedures to meet federal requirements for proposing, spending, monitoring and reporting cost sharing.
For questions or additional information, please contact the Stanford Research Development Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download a pdf of the guidelines VPDoR Institutional Support Request Form
Download a PDF of the Institutional Support Thought Starter
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
- Must the project team consist of all Stanford faculty?
Research teams can include external collaborators but must meet the requirement of multiple Stanford PIs from two or more schools at Stanford. Requests from interdisciplinary teams in different departments within the same school will also be considered.
- Can Stanford participate as a subawardee on the proposal and still qualify?
Projects with Stanford listed as the lead applicant or as a substantially funded subawardee are suitable, as long as the proposal budget to Stanford meets the budget threshold. (I.e., total budget request if Stanford is lead, or Stanford subaward budget request if Stanford is not lead).
- What types of projects are appropriate?
Grant Booster aims to support qualifying research projects and expects the pool to include large-scale center-grant-type funding opportunities from federal agencies, such as NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, NSF Science and Technology Centers, DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers, and DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative. This list is not exhaustive.
- Are training grants eligible?
Grant Booster aims to support collaborative research projects. Training grants such as NIH T32s are not eligible. Other types of grants with a research training component, such as the NSF NRT program, could be considered for support.
- My project is not eligible. How can I get support?
Other or additional support requests from VPDoR (e.g., for mandatory cost sharing if required by a given funding opportunity) can still be made outside of this initiative and VPDoR will take the contributions through this Grant Booster into account, if applicable.