Objective: The College of Arts and Sciences believes that a vibrant faculty engages in a wide portfolio of partnership activities not just limited to activities that promote economic growth and financial advantages but also including activities that promote the public good and the reputation of the university as an agent for the public good. Partnerships with non-academic entities (either public or private) fit firmly within our existing commitments to teaching, research, and service and offer opportunities to address critical societal issues and contribute to the public good. For these reasons, and in keeping with our larger university mission, the College seeks to fuel innovation through a variety of partnership activities. The College Partnership Awards are designed to encourage formal and mutually beneficial connections between faculty and industry, between faculty and non-profits, and between faculty and the local community. This program is designed to provide seed funding that will allow faculty to launch and/or formalize an external partnership.
Eligibility: Any grant-eligible faculty member (e.g. tenured, tenure-track, research, prof. of practice) in the College of Arts and Sciences may apply.
Award Size: Amount requested per application may not exceed $10,000 or may be put toward a course buyout.
Program Funding: Funding is limited and awarded on a competitive basis. The number of awards given will depend on the size of awards and the quality of the proposals. There are three rounds of awards considered each year with the following deadline dates: September 30 and March 15. Awardees should work with their department business manager to set up a cost object to fund expenses. If requesting a course release, the Department Chair should note approval of the release in the letter of support.
Definitions: Whether they be with collaborators in the for-profit or nonprofit sector, partnerships must be bidirectional and mutually beneficial, and they must produce outcomes that are informed by mutual exchange. Partners must be legal entities (e.g. Corporations, LLCs, 501(c)s, Benefit-Corporations, government agencies, etc.) Partnerships should have clearly articulated goals and well defined methods and should produce clear, significant, and measurable outcomes. Successful partnerships will result in the generation of new knowledge that benefits the faculty member's portfolio as well as the partner's goals. Examples of partnerships that would be eligible for this award include:
- Data exchanges between faculty and a non-academic entity
- Research collaboration between faculty and a non-academic entity
- Development of a product or service in collaboration with a non-academic entity
- Social entrepreneurship that leverages faculty expertise and serves a social good
- Translational science that leverages faculty expertise to address a need
- Spin off companies formed out of faculty expertise/research
- Contracts with external entities that fund internal research or teaching activity
Partnerships differ from community service in being explicitly bidirectional in terms of benefit. Community service/outreach primarily benefits the external entity and does not, by design, generate new knowledge. Examples of community service/outreach that are not appropriate for this award include activities such as:
- Non-Academic presentations, delivery of expertise
- Service on advisory boards
- Volunteering, advocacy
- Free clinics
- Professional memberships
Mechanism and criteria: An individual faculty member may submit one application per review cycle, and may not receive more than one award per year. Applicants may also apply for internal funding elsewhere for the same project while awaiting a partnership award decision, but must choose which award to utilize if both are funded. Funding is valid upon notification of the award and available for one year from the notification date.
Examples of allowable expenses include travel to partner sites, specialized equipment, software, database access, course buyouts, grad stipends, and summer salary. The program would not typically pay for activities such as travel to professional meetings, standard operating expenses, or honoraria for collaborators and/or partners. These would be expected to be covered through existing resources.
Application: The Partnership award application should be completed in NUGrant by the applicant, endorsed (via a letter of support) and approved by the department chair, and routed to the Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Applicants should be aware that if their proposed partnership involves the use of animals, human subjects, radioactive materials, or activities covered by federal regulations on recombinant DNA technology, appropriate UNL clearance must be obtained before an approved proposal will be funded. Applicable policies and clearance procedures are available from the following offices: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee and Institutional Review Board.
- export control
- allowable/unallowable expenses
- the resources available at nutechventures.org, especially regarding disclosures, licensing, and intellectual property. IP issues are not only relevant to industry partnerships but can be material to discussions/partnerships with nonprofits and NGOs, etc. Prior to or immediately after award approval, please consult with the Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships and/or NuTech Ventures about implementing appropriate Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA).
- the Industry Relations page on the Office of Research's website if your proposed partnership involves an industry partner
Each Application Should Include:
- Description of Proposed Activities (up to a maximum of 2 pages). This section should describe the proposed partnership and the projected outcomes in sufficient detail to inform non-specialists. It should include:
Itemized Budget. Appropriate budget categories include equipment, supplies, travel (including accommodations, allowable daily costs). All items should be explained in a short budget justification.
Brief description of the external partner/entity (100 words)
A letter of support from the external partner outlining the basic goal of the partnership and the proposed roles of the two partnering entities.
A letter of support from the PI's department chair, that includes reference to how the proposed activity fits within the faculty member's apportionment. i.e. will the activity be considered teaching, research or service related.
- A brief description of the proposed activity.
- A statement of the significance of the proposed activity to the career development of the applicant and/or how it fits into the applicant's overall career goals.
- A timeline for the proposed activities also should be included. It is expected that by the end of the funding period, the project should result in a clear, mutually beneficial outcome.
Write your proposal in clear, non-technical language. The review committee may or may not have expertise in your specific area so it is essential to craft your proposal for a general audience while including enough detail to judge the merits within your field.
Evaluation: As you craft your application, please be mindful of the evaluation criteria:
Partnership awards will be made upon recommendation of the College of Arts and Sciences Research Advisory Committee (CASRAC). In the case of multiple applications from a department, the department chair may be consulted to assist in ranking the applications.
There is no one size fits all way of approaching or evaluating an external partnership. Benefits to the faculty member and/or to the university may accrue in terms of research support, pedagogical enhancement, student opportunity, university reputation and more. Partnerships may relate to a faculty member's teaching, research, or service, and it is, ultimately, up to faculty and their respective departments to determine where a partnership activity fits within that faculty member's apportionment. Committee evaluation criteria used in reviewing Partnership applications will include
- Clarity, soundness and completeness of the description of the benefits inherent in the partnership and the broader impact of the expected results
- Clearly articulate roles and mutual expectations of the faculty member AND external partners in achieving partnership impacts
- Clearly articulated non-scholarly products that will be produced or made possible because of the partnership
- Clearly articulated scholarly products that will be produced or made possible because of the partnership
- Importance of the expected outcomes and impacts to the mission of the College/University
- Support of department chair
Final Report: Once a partnership award has been granted, the faculty member and the partner are encouraged to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). At the end of the award period, a one- to three-page report must be submitted no later than four weeks after the end of the funding period. The report will include a copy of the MOU and describe the activities conducted and any outcomes (e.g., publication, products, new grants submitted, etc.). This report is also a requirement to complete the reimbursement of expenses. The report should be e-mailed to the Associate Dean for Research and Partnership and the college's financial staff Stephanie Welch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Specifics for Business Staff: Once the report has been submitted by the awardee and approved by the Associate Dean for Research, funds will be transferred from the college to the department.
Please contact Stephanie Welch with any questions pertaining to the business aspects of this award.