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Seed grant funding round 2021 - Applications are now open!

Seed grant funding round 2021 - Applications are now open!

2021 Seed Grants research funding - GUIDELINES
Friday, January 15, 2021


The PLuS Alliance is a strategic partnership between Arizona State University, King’s College London and UNSW Sydney. It brings together the collective strengths of three leading international universities to develop sustainable solutions to society’s global challenges. The PLuS themes are derived from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs)

Seed funding is available in 2021 to support the development of new or early stage collaboration across the PLuS universities and the testing of new ideas. These projects should be multi-disciplinary, aligned with the UN SDGs and drive towards real-world impact that is likely to attract external funding. Potential sources of external funding must be identified upfront and include details on how the proposed work fits within the funding organisations portfolio.

Who is eligible to apply?

Academics at PLuS Alliance universities are eligible to apply for this research funding, specifically research and education specialists keen to develop collaborations and investigate new ideas across the three universities. The research proposals must relate to the UNSDGs. Proposals for the creation or development of specific education courses or programs will not be funded under this scheme.

Bilateral and trilateral submissions will be accepted, but trilateral and multi or inter-disciplinary submissions will be given preference. Involvement of an external partner will also be rated highly.

Previously unsuccessful Seed Grant applicants must either propose a new collaboration/idea or demonstrate further development of unsuccessful proposals.

About the project lead

Applications must identify a primary project lead (applicant) from one of the PLuS universities, as well as one co-lead (co-applicant) from the other PLuS partners named on the application. This will depend on whether the project is bilateral or trilateral.

Applicants can be involved in up to four proposals but can only be a nominated project lead (applicant) or co-lead (co-applicant) on one proposal.

What are the key project deliverables?

§ Creation and continuing development of collaborations across PLuS universities

§ one external funding proposal based on the external funders identified in the application At least

§ Publications, workshops and conference presentations

§ Project materials or resources

What funding is available?

Funding can be requested from each of the partner universities involved in the project, with grants available up to US$12,000; (ASU); UK£10,000 (King’s); and A$18,000 (UNSW).

Funds will be administered to project leads by the university research offices of the partner universities, as specified in the application budget (proposal requirement).

When do projects commence?

Seed projects must be conducted within a twelve-month timeframe and commence on 1 June 2021.

How will proposals be assessed?

Applications will be assessed by a committee comprising the research leadership of the three PLuS Alliance universities. The committee may also seek additional expert opinion on proposals, as required.

All applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

1. Demonstrated alignment with the UNSDGs: identify specific SDG(s) and justify alignment and the indicators to be used

2. Strength, relevance, achievability (within timeframe): specify timeframe and detail milestones

3. Evidence of impact beyond academic research with contributions that benefit society, culture, the environment and/or the economy: what will practical application/outcomes look like? What will long term impacts be? How will these be measured?

4. Prospect of securing external funding beyond the scope of this project with a clear plan for how this will be taken forward: identify potential supporters and funders; outline why they are relevant and outline how you plan to connect with funding source(s) and achieve this outcome.

5. Strength of the collaborating research groups and overall project team (including non-PLuS partners): how will the team work together, what are their specific skills and how are they complimentary, how do they propose to work together?

6. Appropriateness of budget in relation to project outputs, timeframe, scale and scope: outline budget items and provide clear justification.

Reporting requirements for funded projects

Successful applicants will be required to submit a Progress Report at six and twelve months, after receipt of funding. Project holders are required to report on progress, outcomes and financial expenditure using specific interim and final report templates. A showcase event on the outcomes of funded Seed projects may be held at the end of the twelve-month timeframe to engage with internal and external stakeholders.

The application

1. Proposal requirements

a) Online application form for general project details, including: § Details of project leads (applicant/co-applicants) and team members

§ Project title (15-word limit)

§ Identified UNSDGs

§ A brief project summary outlining the purpose and expected outcomes of the project (200 words maximum). This must be in plain text, no formatting (e.g.: headings, dot points etc)

b) A five-page document in 10pt Arial font (including references), with sections on: § Project aims (1-2 sentences) and background. Why is this project important; what are the links to PLuS themes and UN SDGs; and how does this build on previous work in the area?

§ Approach, methods: summarize the conceptual framework and design methods and provide a timeline of project activities.

§ Personnel: outline the specific contributions of each team member and collaborator, to demonstrate the overall strength of the team. If a project is bilateral, why has trilateral funding not been sought?

§ Outcomes, deliverables and impact: outcomes must state the overall benefit/ long-term change of the project; and deliverables should be listed (new connections/collaborations; dissemination activities, external funding). Provide evidence of impact beyond academic research, including benefits to society, culture, the environment and/or the economy

§ Plan for external funding beyond this project: identify specific external funding bodies and how the projects fit within the organisation’s portfolio, providing a clear plan of action.

c) A project budget comprising

§ An outline of the proposed expenditure using the Budget Template provided in the online portal (InfoReady), with eligible items including: - Salary support for research assistance and students (Faculty salaries are not an allowable expense).

- Travel costs of project personnel (pending Government and university policy at the time);

- Workshops or other meeting costs;

- Living and hosting costs of visiting project personnel; and/or

- Materials and supplies (consumables) – though this must not exceed 25% of total budget

§ Budget justification (one page maximum): to provide clear justification of expenses


2. Submitting a proposal

Please submit the application via the InfoReady online portal by midnight on Friday 26 February 2021 (Arizona Mountain Standard Time).

The application must be submitted by the primary project lead (applicant). Please refer to the How to use the InfoReady document for specific information on how to access the online portal and complete the online form.

The attachment must be submitted as a single PDF file. Additional pages and attachments will not be accepted. Submissions that don’t comply with requirements will be declined

3. Proposal notifications

Email notifications regarding the outcome of the 2021 funding round, will be emailed to the named project leads (applicant/co-applicant) by Friday 23 April 2021 (Arizona Mountain Standard Time).

Funded projects are to commence activities on 1 June 2021.

    For inquiries, please contact:

▪ ASU Sarah Jones (

▪ King’s Jen Angel (

▪ UNSW Tracey Bruce (