Bold Challenges launches phase to support large-scale research


The Office of the Vice President for Research has designed a new phase of its Bold Challenges Initiative to support researchers across disciplines in their pursuit of large-scale awards from government, industry and foundations.

Bold Challenges is a primary component of President Santa J. Ono’s new universitywide Strategy to Amplify Research and Scholarship.


Ono charged OVPR with developing and implementing the first phase of this strategy, which emphasizes support for faculty teams to obtain large-scale funding that can aid in transformational knowledge development.

Throughout the year, Bold Challenges will offer events, including training seminars and networking opportunities that help U-M community members meet collaborators and develop skills.

“Bold Challenges offers financial and expert support for researchers who, and research teams that, are interested in broad collaborations that can attract external funding and have a significant social impact,” said Arthur Lupia, executive director of Bold Challenges.

“Working together in new ways, the University of Michigan can find incredible ways to help the state, nation and world better and more effectively address the major challenges of our day. Now is the time to be bold.”

Bold Challenges’ new phase will focus on three themes: building trustworthy environments, smart health systems and strength through sustainability. The themes are designed to encourage interdisciplinary work that tackles society’s greatest challenges.

Examples of target projects include detecting and reducing bias in health systems, integrating public health priorities into city planning, and building more resilient and efficient water and power sources.

OVPR has developed two new Bold Challenges programs to assist faculty in building teams and designing large-scale proposals, including a team development program and consulting services for advanced projects.

The team-development program, called Boost, supports early-stage interdisciplinary teams on the pathway to a large-scale submission. The program includes workshops that help researchers develop team building and leadership skills. All U-M faculty are eligible to apply, with applications due April 30.

Faculty who are ready to submit a large-scale grant proposal within the next 18 months can apply to join the advanced consulting program, called Accelerate. This program offers opportunities for expert consulting and financial support of up to $250,000 per project. Accelerate will open for applications in June.

In addition to direct support provided by Bold Challenges, the team will utilize data analytics resources within OVPR to identify funding opportunities that align with faculty expertise.

“This next phase of Bold Challenges will continue to support the innovative researchers at U-M, who are focused on solving the most complex challenges that we face in our local communities, as well as globally,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research.


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