Spring 2023 Funding Opportunity

The Illinois Innovation Network aims to advance collaborative research within the state with its Sustaining Illinois seed grant program. Typically offered in the spring and fall each year, Sustaining Illinois grants can be used to pursue a wide variety of research topics that contribute to overall prosperity of our state.

Funding Opportunity Specifications

Printable Version

The University of Illinois System, its Office of the Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation (OVPEDI), and Northern Illinois University are committed to advancing the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) by providing supplemental (operational) funding for several projects. IIN members are guided by the following principles:

  • Drive inclusive innovation, equitable workforce development and sustainable economic growth throughout the state of Illinois
  • Assess and meet regional needs through a combination of collaborative research, public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurship and training programs
  • Collaborate with hubs across the state and share best practices
  • Advocate for the value of higher education at the state and national levels

IIN hubs are encouraged to partner/collaborate with each other and the IIN will do its best to support and facilitate.  As an organization, the IIN Council will facilitate collaboration that can be incorporated into a unifying theme with the umbrella concept of “Sustaining Illinois.” Sustaining Illinois has multiple meanings, including the broad economic, health-related, and social well-being of the state and its communities, and environmental sustainability of its food and water ecosystem, which includes addressing issues affecting groups who are underserved, under-represented, or under-resourced.

Within Sustaining Illinois, several important elements need to be considered: 

(a) Education and Workforce Development: developing and sustaining the education of its citizens and developing a productive and inclusive workforce for the 21st century;

(b) Economic Development: sustaining and developing the economy of the state, including understanding how best to support the growth of diverse entrepreneurship and business formation in Illinois;

(c) Health and Wellness: sustaining and improving the general health and social wellness of all Illinois citizens, including local and regional communities.

(d) Water, Food, and Agriculture: sustaining the water supply, with 20% of the world’s freshwater supply in the shores of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin, the largest in the US and 2nd largest in the world, and enhancing the home to a national leader in food and agriculture; and

(e) Computing and Data: under the umbrella of Sustaining Illinois, there is a foundation of computing, big data, and artificial intelligence. This is an important area in its own right as Illinois develops its high- tech industry, but in this context, it is seen as an enabler for all other aspects of sustainability as articulated above.


  • Lead PI must be from an IIN Hub in their IIN hub role
  • At least two IIN hubs must be involved significantly in the project
  • While there is no limit on the number of proposals a Hub may submit, an individual may only be designated as PI or co-PI on one proposal
  • Project must represent a “seed” concept not previously funded by the IIN Sustaining Illinois Program or in later stages of project development, regardless of “seed” funding source
  • The project must be completed within one year of funding
  • Previously submitted but unfunded projects may be submitted a maximum of 3 times in a three-year period

In addition, if you received an award from this program in 2020 – 2022, describe the accomplishments from that project. Provide an estimate of the project’s completion including which milestones have been achieved and when you expect to finish the work. Applications for new awards must be for a totally different project or a meaningfully distinct component of the one that was already supported. This section will not be included in the 3-page project description/scope of work page limit and can be on a separate page.

Awarding of funding for projects will be considered according to the following criteria:

  • Sustaining Illinois must be the dominant theme.
  • Proposals addressing multiple sustainability elements are preferred.
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion must be addressed in proposals. Key issues facing underserved, under-represented, and under-resourced groups should be identified and addressed. The target populations or representative group(s) must be specifically identified. Additional information is located in the appendix.
  • The project name, scope of work, budget, and timeline must be provided. See attached document for additional details.
  • The number of IIN hubs involved and the significance of their individual participation must be identified. The number of non-IIN hubs institutions or organizations and their limited role must be identified.


Total funding will likely not exceed $120,000 and this funding will likely be limited to no more than $100,000 from the University of Illinois System office in FY 2023 and $20,000 from Northern Illinois University during this same time frame.

  • Up to $30,000 will be available for each project. Match of least 50% is strongly encouraged.  Matching funds may be in the form of cash, personnel time, or unrecovered indirect costs.
  • No more than 30% of the requested funds may pay for full-time researchers’/professors’ salaries and benefits.
  • Funding for these projects does not allow for indirect costs; however these costs can be used as matching.
  • Funds will be advanced on a fixed price agreement.


  • A written report must be submitted electronically to the University of Illinois System OVPEDI six (6) months after the project starts and upon completion of the project.
  • Interim reports and information must be submitted upon request.
  • Lead PI and Co-PIs commit to present their project to the IIN and to participate in related IIN events as requested.
  • Lead PI and Co-PIs commit to acknowledge IIN in outcomes and reports with the following statement or something similar: “This material is based upon work supported by the Illinois Innovation Network.”
  • Lead PI and Co-PIs commit to notify the IIN of publications and follow-on funding achieved resulting from this grant.


Proposals will be accepted to the OVPEDI office via email at iincontact@uillinois.edu no later than end of day (11:59 p.m. Central Time) on May 8, 2023.  Any questions should be submitted to iincontact@uillinois.edu prior to the deadline.

A review committee consisting of members of the IIN, including its Council, Committees, and OVPEDI or IIN staff, as needed, will evaluate all proposals received and will make recommendations to the University of Illinois Vice President of Economic Development and Innovation for funding. No IIN member will review submissions or make recommendations on proposals from its own hub.

Recipients of the awards will be notified no later than June 5, 2023.

Illinois Innovation Network
Supplemental Funding Guidelines
Sustaining Illinois
Proposal Outline

  1. Cover page (Project Name, Lead Researcher with contact information, Co-Principal Investigators with contact information)
  2. Sustaining Illinois Abstract (no more than 250 words)
  3. Project Description (no more than 2 pages, single-spaced, 12 font)
  4. Scope of Work (no more than 1 page, single-spaced, 12 font) – note that only page 1 will be read from any submissions of longer than 1 page
  5. If applicable, results from previous award and distinction of current proposal from previous award (no more than 1 page, single-spaced, 12 font)
  6. Describe potential for future work and sources of follow-up funding (no more than one-half page)
  7. Team bios (no more than one-half page per team member)
  8. Budget (if matching funds, include here, no more than 2 pages, single-spaced, 12 font). Refer to the budget template in the printable version. If University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Illinois Springfield, or University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will receive funding, then up to 3 pages are allowed.