2021 Seed Funding Call for Proposals

We are excited to announce our first cycle of seed funding to the Mason research community. This funding is aligned with our mission to connect members of the Mason community internally and with businesses, organizations, and agencies so that, together, we can collaborate on disruptive digital innovation (DDI). These innovations should help organizations reduce costs, improve services, or bring a paradigm shift. We have seen DDI examples in healthcare (AI), human trafficking networks (data), connected homes (5G, IoT), transportation industry (drones), education (AR/VR/games), and Deepfakes (video/sound analysis). This call invites researchers in the fields such as IoT, wearable technology, cybersecurity, data modeling, AI/ML, game design, and others to team up with scientific and/or non-scientific disciplines and reimagine how underlying core and emerging technologies can accelerate an organization. We will select four (4) compelling interdisciplinary proposals for funding at up to $40,000 for 18 months of performance.

Successful proposals should include deep engagement with individuals from diverse backgrounds and focus on the development of innovations that have applications in private, local, state, or federal sectors. Successful teams will include individuals with various backgrounds (e.g., Mason faculty, students, outside stakeholders, and other relevant communities). Proposals should be sent as attachments to idia2@gmu.edu no later than 5:00 pm on May 14, 2021. The proposal requirements and the review process to identify the most promising proposal(s) are described below. Please note that a faculty member may participate as a team member on no more than two proposals in this competition.

To facilitate collaborations, IDIA will host two events for you to connect with potential team members. Please come prepared to present your ideas to potential collaborators and listen to proposals from your colleagues. This will be followed by time to connect with potential team members.


The event dates/times are as follows:

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Thursday, April 22, 2021, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm


Registration required:



Funds can be used for project-related travel, materials development, and/or research support personnel. Funds may not be used for faculty stipends, summer salary, or release time during the academic year.

Proposal Requirements

Each proposal should be no more than eight (8) pages in length with ½ inch margins and 12-point font. The proposal should include the following sections:

Summary (~ 1 page) – Provide the title of the project, its motivating vision and corresponding goals, and the names and affiliations of the proposing team members. Proposing team members may include both Mason faculty and individuals from other partner organizations.

Vision and Goals – Describe the vision and goal(s) for the project, including what you hope to learn and why it is important.

Project Description – Describe the approach used for the project, methods to be used, and who will be involved.

Project Outcomes – Describe the outcomes expected, including potential follow-up work and broader impacts the project can have. Explain how the results will generate additional grants/contracts/collaboration opportunities.

Result Dissemination – Describe how and where the outcomes will be shared.

Proposed Budget and Budget Description – Describe in detail how the funds will be used for the project.


In addition (outside the 8-page limit), teams may provide one or more of the following:

Biographical Sketches (1/2-page limit per person, 3-page limit per proposal).

Proposals that exceed the page limits defined above (i.e., the limits of 8 pages for the proposal, 4 pages for letters of support, and 3 pages for biographical sketches) will be returned without review. No additional material or attachments may be submitted with the proposal.

Review Process and Criteria

An anonymous review process by an external panel of experts will down-select to a short-list of the most promising proposals. These proposals will be recommended for funding to the IDIA Interim Executive Director and Advisory Council for final selection. Advisory Council members with conflicts (i.e., those applying for funding in this seed funding cycle) will recuse themselves from the final selection process.

Reviewers will use the following criteria to evaluate proposals received. Please note that the review criteria follow the proposal format. Be sure to give the criteria full consideration when preparing your proposals.

Vision and Goals: Evaluate the clarity of the vision/goals and the strength of the argument for the project’s importance in a multidisciplinary context.

Project Description and Outcomes: Comment on the approach to be used and the potential to generate the expected outcomes. Comment on the quality of results and if it has the potential to generate additional grants/contracts/collaboration opportunities.

Result Dissemination: Comment on if results are expected to be shared in peer-reviewed journals and/or reputed conferences.

Budget: Comment on how the budget proposed enables the work described in the project description.


Projects including student engagement (through experiential learning opportunities and/or positions with the project) will be prioritized.

Please direct questions to idia2@gmu.edu or Kammy Sanghera at 703-993-6617.