"Environment" research area

MnDRIVE Environment 2021 Demonstration Grant RFP

October 25, 2021
The deadline for this funding opportunity has passed.

MnDRIVE Environment wordmark

MnDRIVE Advancing Industry, Conserving our Environment is requesting proposals for new and innovative Demonstration Grant projects in the area of environmental remediation via biological and/or chemical means. 

Important Dates:

  • Proposal Due Date is October 25, 2021 (11:59 PM - CT)
  • Awards will be announced in early December


The overall goal of MnDRIVE Environment is to stimulate interdisciplinary and collaborative research between university researchers and industry partners which translates into innovative environmental remediation solutions that help stimulate sustainable economic growth across Minnesota. This RFP seeks proposals that use biological or chemical agents to remove or detoxify contaminants in polluted soil, water, or air. We enthusiastically request submissions that push the limits of innovation via novel, interdisciplinary, exploratory, and partnership-centric research.

To provide some additional guidance on fundable research areas under MnDRIVE Environments expanded scope, we offer a non-exhaustive list of examples:

Fundable - 

  • Biological & Chemical-based remediation
  • Use of microorganisms and plants to transform or degrade pollutants
  • Use of biological and chemical agents together
  • Using microorganisms or plants to change the environment to facilitate chemical reactions
  • Direct use of chemicals to transform or degrade pollutants, in an environmentally relevant and friendly manner
  • New biological- or chemical-based sorbents used for remediation

Not fundable - 

  • Research focused on incineration processes
  • Research focused on filtration technologies
  • Surveys
  • Observational case studies

Demonstration Grant

The MnDRIVE Environment Demonstration Grant program provides an opportunity for University of Minnesota researchers to take lab-based pilot projects to the next level. Whether novel field scale research ideas or past Seed Grant projects, this funding opportunity is designed to support collaborative, interdisciplinary research that is ready to scale-up!

Awards can be up to $500,000 for a two-year project period. Demonstration grant funding is non-renewable and the project period may not be extended, unless express written permission is granted.

**Important Demonstration Grant policies:

  1. No-Cost Extension requests should be submitted via your Award Management account in SMApply. Requests will be reviewed by the MnDRIVE Environment Team.
  2. Demonstration Grant expenditures must meet the following restrictions and allowances:
    • No faculty or eligible PI salary may be included in the application budget (applies to University of Minnesota faculty and faculty at partnering institutions).
    • Expenses for external partners (industry, organizations, and academic institutions) may not exceed 5% of the total project budget, with the following stipulations:
      • External partner expenses must be justified in the budget section as providing unique services, expertise, or technology that is not readily available within the UMN system
      • Justifiable partner expenses may include costs such as salary, services, and technology
      • Lead PIs may submit a written request for an allowance to exceed the 5% total budget limit for external partners. Requests will be reviewed by MnDRIVE Environment as needed. Please include any requests in the "supporting documentation" part of your application, with the heading "Partner Expense Request".

    Proposal Eligibility

    There are two eligibility requirements that applicants must meet to qualify as a Principal Investigator (PI) able to submit a Demonstration Grant application.

    Requirement #1

    Eligible PIs for Demonstration Grants must be either:

      • a tenure-track faculty from any campus within the University of Minnesota system


      • a research scientist** within the University of Minnesota system

    **Research scientists seeking PI eligibility are required to submit the following documentation (during the Eligibility Verification stage/task) for internal review by the MnDRIVE Environment Management Team:

    1. A copy of your CV (3 pages max; PDF file only) demonstrating your successful track record of independent research, scholarly and peer-reviewed publications, and advising of University students/postdocs/researchers in independent discovery-based research.
    2. Lead PI Eligibility Endorsement Form. It must be signed by yourself and your research supervisor, for the purpose of confirming:
      • control of and management authority for laboratory space and equipment, and
      • a successful track record of independent research, scholarly and peer-reviewed publications, and advising of university students/postdocs/researchers conducting independent discovery-based research.

    Requirement #2

    Eligible PIs and/or Co-PIs may have only one active award in each of our funding programs at any one time (Seed Grant** or Demonstration Grant). Therefore,

      • eligible PIs may submit to this 2021 Demonstration Grant RFP, as long as they do not have an active Demonstration Grant award as of January 1, 2022.

    Proposal Outline 

    Section 1. Executive summary - 300-word maximum.

    Section 2. Main proposal  – 5 pages maximum, which should include the following sections (in no particular order):

    a. Project description - should include a brief background, research objectives, and experimental approach, with sufficient technical detail to pass an external review. In accordance with MnDRIVE Environment program goals, your description must clearly address the remediation solution being sought, the novel and innovative aspects of the proposed work, a public outreach plan, and the role or responsibilities of external partners.

    b. Value Proposition - In alignment with the MnDRIVE Environment goals, please describe the importance of your project to and the intended outcomes for the State of Minnesota. What would the impact of this research project be? How would industry partners benefit?

    c. Research Team - Description of the research team, including the roles and qualifications of the PIs and Co-PIs, postdocs, technicians and other support staff, and other personnel involved (including industry partners). This description should also demonstrate how members of the team have experience implementing field-scale research.

    d. Project plan - Lay out your project plan and timeline. You may also want to touch on backup plans, in case any high risk portions of the work falter.

    e. Budget summary and justification - (2-page maximum, that includes any tables) Please include salaries, supplies, equipment, etc. Proposal request may not exceed $500,000.

    Section 3. Supporting documentation

    a. Cited literature (1 page)

    b. Co-PI CVs - include CVs of all co-investigators (limit each CV to 2 pages maximum)

    c. External Partnerships - Letter(s) of collaboration or support from industry/agency partners (1 page maximum per letter) - Each letter should detail the level of support/partnership being offered. Specific roles and responsibilities of the partner organization should be described and should align with the project plan.

    Please merge all above application materials into a single PDF file that is single spaced, 12 pt. font, with 1 inch margins.

    Proposal Evaluation Criteria

    Proposals meeting the basic eligibility requirements and that are aligned with the MnDRIVE Environment scope of research will be sent for review by a panel of internal and external experts. All proposals sent to the review panel will be evaluated based on the following key criteria:

      • Alignment with MnDRIVE Environment goals
      • Overall quality and scientific merit
      • Project planning, feasibility and longevity of research
      • Relevance to and value for Minnesota’s sustainable economy, innovative industry, and/or the health of our environment
      • Outreach and broader impacts
      • Industry partnership(s) - substantial level of commitment and clearly defined roles/ responsibilities

    Applicants with questions about the application process should contact Jeff Standish directly (612-301-2700).

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