Biotechnology & Biomanufacturing Seed Grants

President Biden’s “Bold Goals” initiative is expected to drive significant increases in federal funding in Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing research domains as evidenced by the new Biomanufacturing Strategy released in March 2023 by the Department of Defense. The Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing seed grant program will stimulate biotechnology and biomanufacturing research in the priority areas listed below and increase competitiveness for researchers seeking extramural awards. This program aims to produce a five-fold increase in federal dollars for every dollar invested.

Priority will be given to proposals that include collaborations, workforce efforts, outreach and/or public engagement with companies, small businesses, start-up companies, or non-profit entities in the State of Minnesota. We are especially interested in supporting innovative and collaborative research projects with strong potential to lead to successful extramural funding. Proposers must clearly describe where and how their proposed efforts fit into these strategic goals for securing funding by leveraging the seed grant to produce results. Team-based projects that involve Co-PIs/key collaborators from different departments are especially encouraged.

See our Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Seed Grant Awardees.

Funding Cycle

The RIO expects to fund up to six awards with total budgets of up to $100,000 for a 12-month period. Applicants may request up to two years of total support for a total of $200,000. Applicants who leverage other (external) funds and UMN resources will be prioritized.

The cycle opens in early December and closes in mid-January. The award period begins May 1 and lasts for 2 years (24 months).


  • 12/1/23: Letter of intent due
  • 12/4/23: Application opens
  • 1/16/24: Lead PI submits application to approvers (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • 1/19/24: Approvers submit application to RIO (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • April 2024: Award notification
  • 5/1/24: Award period begins

Research Focus Areas:
The focus for the current cycle is the creation of biotechnological solutions to and/or Biomanufacturing of:

  • Biofuels (3rd & 4th generation and beyond) with an emphasis on SAF
  • Decarbonization and carbon storage/capture solutions
  • Recycling/Upcycling of waste products

Proposals that rely on biotechnology and/or biomanufacturing to create solutions for other environmental/sustainability applications may also be considered if covered under the "Bold Goals" Initiative.

All research projects must consider relevance to the State of Minnesota in terms of available resources (e.g. feedstocks) or infrastructure.

Evaluation Criteria

Seed grant review and selection is competitive, and it is expected that submitted proposals are of high scientific quality, address a significant high-impact problem, and provide a detailed research description that clearly justifies the suitability of the grant to this program. 

Applications will be reviewed by expert UMN faculty selected by RIO using the following criteria: 

  • Centrality of the project to the research focus areas listed above
  • Quality of the proposal overall and scientific rigor of the proposed research
  • Significance of the research topic and potential for meaningful impact, especially for Minnesota
  • Enhancement of research synergies through collaborative efforts
  • Potential for external funding and ongoing success
  • Opportunity to strengthen industry partnerships, especially in Minnesota

Eligibility Requirements

Applications will be accepted from UMN faculty (professor, associate professor, assistant professor) who hold (or will hold during the relevant academic year) full time (100 percent) tenured or tenure-track appointments (employee class FAR). New faculty must begin their appointment by the start date of the grant. 

UMN faculty (professor, associate professor, assistant professor) holding full-time (100%) salaried multiple year contract, annual renewable contract, or fixed term contract appointments (employee class FAC, FTD, or ACP) and who are annually evaluated like tenured and tenure-track faculty (in terms of their research accomplishments, independence, and ability to secure external funding), are also eligible for support.

Applications with multiple PIs should specify a lead PI. A faculty member may be principal investigator (PI) on only one application during the current cycle.

How to Apply

Mandatory Letter of Intent

A letter of intent (see required LOI template) must be submitted to with “Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Seed Grant LOI” in the subject line by December 1, 2023.

Include the following:

  • The title of the proposal
  • Lead principal investigator (PI) name, department, and email address (person in charge of correspondence with RIO)
  • Co-PI(s) and/or key collaborator names, departments, and email addresses
  • The names, email addresses, and area of expertise of 2-3 potential UMN faculty reviewers who would not be directly involved with the project
  • Total funding request
  • A brief project description (200 words or less)

Note: We do not issue invitations following the submission of the LOI. Everyone who submits an LOI is invited to submit a full proposal unless you hear from us.

Application Instructions

Application instructions provide information about system requirements, how to edit or check an existing application, required attachments, proposal requirements, budget requirements, and approval routing. 

Direct questions to

Start a New Application

Start a new application during an open funding cycle (see Availability/Deadlines). Only applications submitted through this system are accepted.

If you click on the new application link when a competition is closed you will not be able to apply and will receive a message that says, "This competition type is currently closed. Please contact for more information."

Edit an Existing Application

To edit an existing application, choose “RIO Research Infrastructure Investment Program” from the Process list (top left corner). Click on “My actions to do”. Click on the link in the "Action" column. On the next screen you will see your application. Note: Only applications created in the current competition will be accepted.


General areas of support include personnel, operating supplies and services; equipment; and limited travel.



  • Salary/fringe support for graduate or undergraduate research assistants; partial support for post-doc and civil service personnel and non-faculty P&A
  • Non-UMN personnel (e.g., consultants, honoraria). May not exceed $5000 or 20% of the total annual project cost, whichever is smaller.
  • Research subject/participant payments

Not allowed:

  • Faculty or visiting faculty salary support
  • Support for personnel to edit or index publication material or to word process manuscripts or proposals
  • Subcontracts

Operating Supplies & Services


  • General operating supplies and services (including core facility use charges) for this project, including computer supplies and software, if clearly necessary for the project. Publication costs for journal fees are limited to $1,000.
  • Professional or lab services outside the UMN. May not exceed $5,000 or 20 percent of the total project cost, whichever is smaller.

Not allowed:

  • Routine maintenance/repairs of equipment
  • Books, subscriptions, reprints
  • Utilities (e.g., phone lines)



  • Transportation and/or per-diem expenses to a) gather data or use resources otherwise not available, or to b) work with other colleagues on research of mutual interest. Note: Most scholarly meetings and conferences intended primarily to report on research are not appropriate. 
  • See rates and other travel information. Rates should be reduced proportionately for visits longer than one month in one locale, when it should be possible to make more economical arrangements. An explanation of long-term arrangements must be included in the budget justification section.

Not allowed:

  • Travel to sabbatical and single semester leave sites from Minnesota and return. Travel and per-diem expenses for single-semester leave and sabbatical sites to another site (“side trips”) for strictly research purposes may be considered.
  • Travel expenses associated with professional meetings, conferences, and short courses
  • Fees and expenses associated with conferences

Equipment or Rents and Leases


  • Minor or major equipment, including computer equipment, if specifically needed for the purpose of the proposed project. Note: It is expected that departments or other University resources (e.g., Office of Information Technology and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute) will provide computer support.
  • The justification for a computer request must include the following: 1) Specify the special features of the computer that are necessary and integral for supporting the project. 2) Explain why other University computing resources (e.g. MSI, departmental computers) cannot meet the needs of the project. 3) Explain what will be done with the computer when the research is finished.
  • Shared equipment requests must include a 30-50% match. Non/shared equipment requests of capital equipment (equal to or greater than $5,000) should also include matching funds, typically 30-50%.