REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS: 2023 Propelling Original Data Science (PODS) Grants

The deadline for the 2023 RFP has passed. Please check back in Spring 2024 for the 2024 RFP, or browse past funded projects.

The Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) is pleased to announce the 2023 round of pilot funding. 

Scientific scope:

MIDAS will fund data science and artificial intelligence (AI) research that develops theoretical foundations, methodology and tools, and innovative application of proposed methodologies. Specifically, proposals should align with the research “pillars” that are MIDAS focus areas.

  • Responsible Research Pillar – Enhancing Scientific and Societal Impact: Integrating methodologies and tools to enable responsible data science and AI research and enhance its scientific impact; applying data science and AI methodologies and tools to inform policy and promote social good.
  • Data Pillar – Measuring and Improving Society: developing and using data science and AI methods to enable new opportunities to better understand society through new data interfaces such as sensors and digital traces (including social media and other digital transactions).
  • Analytics Pillar – Transforming Health Interventions: enabling the transformation of health interventions through the use of cutting edge data science and AI methods, such as sequential decision-making and integrative modeling of complex systems to enable insights from multiple types of data.
  • AI Pillar – AI for Science and Engineering: catalyzing creative and transformative applications of AI with the potential to lead to major scientific breakthroughs; and enable a broader U-M research community to adopt AI in imagining, planning, executing, and supporting research applications across a range of science and engineering domains.
  • Emerging Pillar – Cultivating New Strengths: research in areas that are, or are expected to be, national priorities and / or U-M strengths, and can be significantly boosted with data science and AI. A prominent example is data-intensive and AI-enabled environmental and sustainability research.

In addition, we seek proposals for research that will have downstream benefits for these pillars.

  • Methodological Foundations – Advancing Data Science and AI methodologies.
  • Improving the Research Ecosystem. We welcome proposals with the main goal of improving the data science and AI research ecosystem at U-M. This may include, but is not limited to, any aspect of the data science / AI research lifecycle, including data acquisition, maintenance, processing, trustworthy computing and analytics, and making such improvements available to the U-M research community.

Research impact:

We are particularly interested in funding pioneering work that promises broad impact, major expansion, and / or contributes to the U-M data science and AI community. Proposers are encouraged to describe the following, as appropriate.

  • Follow-on expansion. A concrete plan to submit a major external grant application within one year of receiving PODS funding would be a strong indication, though not the only one, of the potential for further expansion. For example, the research team may articulate how to use this pilot grant to prepare a grant proposal, including obtaining preliminary data, testing a prototype, or filling other gaps to strengthen the external grant application. In the transition plan (see “How to Apply”), applicants may identify the specific target grant opportunity and the application timeline. 
  • Future impact. Applicants should articulate how the line of research started with the PODS funding will in the long run have major implications for a research field or a national / regional priority topic.
  • Contribution to the campus research community. All proposals, not just those on improving the U-M research ecosystem, are encouraged to include a section on how the outcomes of their projects can benefit the campus research community. Examples include, but are not limited to, building datasets that can enable new projects by other U-M researchers; disseminating novel methodology among U-M researchers; research activities during the project duration that will connect research groups / units through the novel use of data science and AI methods.

Award Information:

8-10 projects will be awarded for a duration of 12-18 months, based on a competitive process. Two models of funding are available: 1) $10K-30K, MIDAS will provide 100% of the funding, with no cost-share required.  2) $30K-$70K, with cost-share above the first $30K in a ratio of 1:1. For example, if you request $70K, your cost-share portion will be $20K and MIDAS will provide $30K base + $20K cost-share match = $50K. The project team is responsible for securing cost-share from individual research accounts or unit contributions. Please email for questions regarding the cost-share.

Who May Apply:

Principal Investigators (PIs) and co-PIs should be U-M (Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint) researchers who are eligible to apply for federal grants, and should not have been a PI or co-PI of a MIDAS grant awarded on or after May 2021. An individual may participate as PI / co-PI on only one proposal. Co-investigators, consultants and other personnel are not limited by this restriction. All PIs and co-PIs should be MIDAS affiliate members

We strongly encourage collaborative proposals with at least two PI / co-PIs from more than one discipline and preferably from more than one department.

Important Dates:

  • 11:59 pm, March 17, 2023: Letters of intent due
  • 11:59 pm, April 26, 2023:   Full proposals due
  • By June 16, 2023: Awards announced
  • By July 15, 2023: Projects start

How to Apply:

Letters of intent should be submitted through this form. The letters are for MIDAS planning purposes only, and will be approved to submit full proposals, provided the submitters are eligible. The letter should be one .pdf file containing the following:

  1. The tentative title of the proposal.
  2. The names and affiliations of the PI and co-PIs (co-PIs may change in the full proposal).
  3. An abstract (up to 300 words), including which pillar(s) the proposal is aligned with (must be one of the 5 listed above in “Scientific Scope”) and the dimensions in which the project will have impact (such as the three listed above in “Research Impact”, or others not listed).
  4. Up to six keywords.

The full proposal should be one .pdf file submitted through this form, containing the following components. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

  1. Project summary, up to three sentences in non-technical language. This will be made public (for example, on MIDAS website) if the project is awarded.
  2. Up to six keywords.
  3. An abstract (up to 300 words), including which pillar(s) the proposal is aligned with (must be one of the 5 listed above in “Scientific Scope”) and the dimensions in which the project will have impact (such as the three listed above in “Research Impact”, or others not listed).
  4. Project description, up to 6 pages, with the font size of 10 or above. This should include the following components in any order or format, Specific Aims, background, significance and innovation, and methods.
  5. A transition plan (up to ½ page) that describes the strategy for follow-on funding and activities, such as external grants, continuing research plan, data products and/or commercialization.
  6. A Statement of Societal Impact (up to ½ page) that describes how this project will benefit the society, and, if any, potential negative impact that needs to be mitigated.
  7. References (no page limit).
  8. Biosketch in NSF or NIH format for all senior personnel. In addition, all U-M internal grant awards received since 2018 should be listed (this can be on an additional page).
  9. A detailed budget and budget justification. You may use our template or any other template of your choice. Be sure to include projected Budget Start and End dates. Awarded projects are expected to begin by July 15, 2023.
  10. If applicable, proof of cost-share (such as a letter from the department chair or a statement about the PI’s research account).
  11. If an IRB is required for the project, include a description of the status of the IRB application.

Before submission, applicants are welcome to discuss with MIDAS 1) how we can support their external proposal regardless of whether they receive our pilot funding; 2) if they would like MIDAS to help identify interdisciplinary collaborators; and 3) how to collaborate with MIDAS to build synergy and for dissemination of research outcomes.

Review criteria:

  • Innovative concept and/or approach;
  • The significance of the research questions;
  • The fit with the themes of this funding program;
  • Establishment of a new collaboration across disciplines;
  • Likelihood of success;
  • Impact on the research field and on the U-M data science and AI research ecosystem;
  • Potential for major expansion, external funding and/or commercialization.

Post-award expectations:

  • All teams will be expected to present at MIDAS events and participate in MIDAS activities for data science research, training and community building. In particular, teams are asked to present a brief overview of the project at the U-M Annual Data Science and AI Summit 2023, which is planned for November 13-14, 2023. 
  • All publications, public presentations and products from this award should acknowledge MIDAS.

For questions, please contact: