Pitt Seed Project Questions and Answers

If you have specific questions that are not answered below, please email them to pittseed@pitt.edu


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

Any Pitt faculty or staff member is 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 Pitt Seed Project team members.

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

No. 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.

Can a Pitt Seed Project application include more than one Principal Investigator?



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

Yes. We will have a series of informational sessions in January. Please check the “important dates” section for more information. Note: Applicants are not required to attend an information session. You can also email any questions to pittseed@pitt.edu.

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

Unfortunately, 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.


When will applicants be notified of decision?

Applicants will be notified in early June. Funding for all projects will be available July 1, pending completion of an orientation session during the month of June.

What time period is covered during this cycle of funding?

You may budget funding for up to two years. Note: You will be asked to submit a midyear and year-end report for each year that your project is running. 

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).


What kinds of projects have been funded in the past?

You can see the projects that were funded in the pilot year. 

Can Pitt Seed Projects fund individual research projects?

This depends on numerous factors. Each project will be assessed relative to the review criteria. 

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

This would be reviewed on a case by case basis.


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.


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 an existing position, a temporary worker or a 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 guidelines.

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?


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 time frame must be self-sustaining.

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

The specifics of budget logistics will be discussed with awardees during the mandatory orientation sessions in June.

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?


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?


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

Yes. Funds may be requested for travel.

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?



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 midyear and year-end report to pittseed@pitt.edu indicating progress.
  • If applicable, submit outcome metrics to pittseed@pitt.edu on an annual basis for a minimum of three years post-implementation.  

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?

The award funds will be transferred to a University account designated by the awardee. Award funds must be expended in accordance with University policy. 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 that are considered as 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.

If you have specific questions that were not answered above, please email pittseed@pitt.edu.