Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created a seed fund to support multidisciplinary research at the private university.
Jonathon Dordick, vice president of research, says his office pledged up to $100,000 each to four research projects last month. The funding is part of a new initiative, the knowledge and innovation program, that aims to broaden the multidisciplinary reach of research teams and position those teams to be competitive in securing external funding.
“The funds that come in will be substantial multipliers for the funds that go into the project,” Dordick says.
Rensselaer, a private research university in Troy, has provided seed funding to researchers in the past, but the knowledge and innovation program will give larger financial support and encourage more multidisciplinary research, Dordick says. These teams can use the internal funding to bolster its applications for research funding from government, foundations and industry.
The four research projects involve building a 3-D model of plankton distribution, a computation tool that integrates data about microbiomes and the environment, a digital platform to combine research in science and humanities and predictive modeling tools to evaluate environmentally-friendly building designs.
Dordick says Rensselaer, which enrolls more than 7,000 students, will open applications for a second round of funding in the fall. The university’s research expenditures in 2013 reached $92.5 million, according to the National Science Foundation.
University at Albany, a public university, began a similar program earlier this year to provide seed funding to researchers. The goal of that program was to allow researchers to conduct initial work that would serve as a springboard to more external funding.