Pitt Seed Project Questions & Answers

If you have specific questions that are not answered below, please email them to pittseed@pitt.edu. Answers to questions that are pertinent to a broad audience and received before February 28th at noon will be posted to the FAQ website daily. To avoid last minute questions, you are encouraged to review the on-line application in advance of the deadline, which is March 5, 2018 at noon.

ELIGIBILITY

Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator on a Pitt Seed Project?

All Pitt faculty and staff members are eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator on a Pitt Seed Project.  All Pitt students, postdoctoral associates, scholars, and fellows are eligible to serve as a Pitt Seed Project team members.

Can an individual serve as a Principal Investigator on more than one Pitt Seed Project?

No. An individual can NOT serve as a Principal Investigator on more than Pitt Seed Project; however, an individual may serve as a team member on multiple applications.

Can undergraduate students be included as Pitt Seed Project team members?

Absolutely!  Engaging students in a Pitt Seed Project is highly encouraged.

INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT

Will the program offer information sessions for applicants prior to the full application deadline?

Information sessions will NOT be available before the application deadline.  However, you can email questions in advance of the deadline to pittseed@pitt.edu.

Will there be resources available from the University to support program management?

No.  We encourage you to include the necessary resources within your project budget.

Will we be assigned a grant manager?

No.  The Principal Investigator or designees will be responsible for managing the administration of the project.

NOTIFICATION & IMPLEMENTATION TIMELINE

When will applicants be notified of decision?

Applicants will be notified in May 2018.  Funding for all projects will be available July 1, 2018.

What time period is covered during this cycle of funding?

You may budget funding for up to two years.

When would all funds need to be spent?

You can request funding for up to two years.  The funding period would run from July 1st to June 30th each academic year.  For this funding cycle, funds are to be utilized by June 30, 2020 (assuming funding was requested for two years).

PROJECT SCOPE

What kinds of projects have been funded in the past?

This is the first year for the Pitt Seed Project initiative.  Once projects are selected, they will be showcased on a new Plan for Pitt website.

Can Pitt Seed Projects fund individual research projects?

This depends on numerous factors. However, it is important to keep in mind the review criteria for Pitt Seed Projects which include:

  • Plan for Pitt Alignment – Proposals should support one or more goal/strategy within the University’s strategic plan.  Proposals that support multiple goals/strategies are encouraged.
  • Impactful – Proposals should clearly articulate the anticipated results/outputs/outcome of the proposed actions in measurable terms. 
  • Transformational – Proposals should emphasize how the opportunity and/or proposed actions are  transformational and/or an area of distinction for the University.      
  • Transdisciplinary – Applicants are encouraged to reach across multiple academic and/or business units when developing a proposal.  In addition, external partnerships with industy and/or the community will be favorably reviewed.

Can Pitt Seed Project funds be used to fund other pilot projects?

This would need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.

APPLICATION CONTENT

How detailed should the sustainability section of the application be?

The sustainability section should include details on how the work will continue after the seed funding ends.  It is important that all initiatives are self-sustaining.  If a project has a definitive end that corresponds to when funding ends, please note this in the application’s sustainability section.

In addition to the 250-word description of resources requested, can I submit a budget as an Excel document?

You may include a table, such as one generated in an Excel document, in the resource section of the application.

What is the length of the proposal under "content requirements"?

Applications must adhere to the “word” length requirements.  Applications do not need to adhere to specific page limits.

Are there assessment standards to determine the effectiveness of the program?

The Principal Investigator is expected to define, in the application, how effectiveness and/or impact of their proposed project will be evaluated.

FUNDING

How can Pitt Seed Project funding be spent? 

Funds can be used to offset Pitt faculty and staff members’ time, temporary workers, travel, capital purchases, consulting, software, and other expenses needed to successfully implement the project.  Because of the limited duration, funds cannot be used to hire new Pitt faculty or staff.  Award funds must be expended in accordance with University policy.  Supplemental, overtime and temporary wages are subject to tax reporting and withholding, but are not eligible for defined contribution deductions or matching.

Can Pitt Seed Project funds be used for administrative support (e.g., project coordinator salary support) for the proposed project?

Yes, the funds can be used to support existing position, temporary worker, or consultant.  No new staff members should be hired with Pitt Seed Project funds.  Supplemental, overtime and temporary wages are subject to tax reporting and withholding, but are not eligible for defined contribution deductions or matching.

Can Pitt Seed Project funds be used to pay students for project work?

Yes, within University policies.

Can Pitt Seed Project funds be used to compensate for people who are external to Pitt?

This is permissible under a contract for services that complies with University purchasing policies.  Expenses incurred would be included in the contract and paid via invoice.

Do we need to follow University policy regarding all purchases?

Yes.  Per University purchasing policies, University-wide contracted suppliers must be used when available.  Purchases from other suppliers and service providers must comply with the University’s competitive bidding and directed or sole source policy.

Could we establish a postdoctoral fellowship under this grant?

No. Given the short duration of the Pitt Seed Project funding, the creation of a postdoctoral fellowship would not be feasible.

Is there any preference, from the selection committee's viewpoint, as to how the money is used?

No.  The focus is on the outcome of the project and how it supports the Plan for Pitt, not on the type of resources used.

Can funds be used to pay for professional services from another Pitt organization, such as the Center for Teaching and Learning?

Yes.

Is there a limit on what fraction of the budget can be used for external to Pitt consultation or services?

No.  There are no designated budget percentage requirements based on expense type.

“Total Amount Requested” may not accurately reflect actual project costs.  Additional clarification is needed to inform the budget.

You may indicate your project’s total budget in the resource section; however, you must identify the exact level of funding that you are requesting from the Pitt Seed Project initiative.

If we were to form a partnership, would the University commit ongoing budgetary support, such as paying the salary for a key staff person?

No.  All Pitt Seed Projects that extend beyond the two-year funding timeframe must be self-sustaining.

What cost center/unit will the funding be allocated to for the project?

Logistics on how the project budget is established will be determined once Pitt Seed Projects have been selected.

Who has the access to the funds? Is access limited to the Principal Investigator?

Access is limited to the Principal Investigator and unit business manager.  Level reports must be reviewed and reconciled each month in accordance with University policy.

May this money be used for tuition remission?

No.

Do we get a purchase card or are expenses reimbursed?

A budget will be established in a defined account for each Pitt Seed Project and spending of these funds must comply with existing University policies.

Will be there be a Pitt Seed Project renewal option?

To receive additional funds for an established Pitt Seed Project, you would need to compete again to receive funding as part of a future application call.

What, if any, expectations exist for in kind contributions? 

There is no set percentage or dollar amount for unit level support/matching funds.  However, it will be considered a positive attribute if units are willing to commit some type of support for a proposed project.

Does this program allow to budget for instruments, such as a microscope?

Yes, adhering to University policies.

Can we use these funds for student housing?

No.

Can we use these funds for student travel (to/from campus and for participation in national-scale conferences to report their results)?

Yes, adhering to University policies.

Can we use these funds for research materials and supplies?

Yes, adhering to University policies.

Can we use these funds for socialization activities?

Yes, but you would need to demonstrate why this is an integral part of the work outlined in the application.  In addition, business entertainment expenses must comply with University policies.

Can we claim contributions from our partners (meeting space and catering funds, for example) as matching funds?

Yes.

MISCELLANEOUS

If awarded, is there a specific reporting process that we need to follow?

Yes.  All Pitt Seed Project awardees are required to:

  • Ensure that resources are utilized according to what is outlined in the concept document.
  • Submit a semi-annual report to the Office of the Chancellor indicating progress.
  • If applicable, submit outcome metrics to the Office of the Chancellor on an annual basis for a minimum of three years post implementation.

One area, where I need assistance is university space allocation and construction costs.  Is there a resource that can help with this type of planning?

Yes.  Please contact Owen Cooks at owenjcooks@pitt.edu

What happens to intellectual property when the university accepts to support my project/idea? If my project is incorporated, what percentage the university shares equity?

After completion of the seed funding activities, the awardee will submit Invention Disclosures to the Innovation Institute in order to document, assess, and protect any new intellectual property developed by the investigator during the course of the award. If the University licenses or commercializes any intellectual property, the awardees considered to be inventors, creators, or developers will receive a share of proceeds consistent with the terms of the University of Pittsburgh Patent Rights and Technology Transfer Policy (11-02-01) or Copyright Policy (11-02-02), as applicable.