North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) & University of Minnesota (UMN) Research Partnership

The Research and Innovation Office (RIO) is offering an interdisciplinary seed grant program aimed at developing a strategic collaboration and research partnership between the University of Minnesota and the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), a leading research institution among America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This partnership provides an opportunity to develop mutually beneficial research collaborations with talented faculty and students at NC A&T.

Phase I has emphasis on seeding the faculty-to-faculty relationships with NC A&T. In the first year of Phase I, the RIO intends to award 5 proposals with funding of up to $10K per year per proposal for initiating interactions with NC A&T peers. Each proposal will be for one year in duration. The overarching goal of this first phase is to build relationships between the faculty at both institutions. Faculty will self-identify their collaboration and partnership based on their specific research areas. Applications are invited from UMN faculty to propose innovative ideas and strategies for building trusted collaborations with the faculty at NC A&T through researcher exchange, seminars, classroom lectures, lab visits, organization of hybrid workshops, and/or other relevant activities. Each proposal should list at least ONE tenured or tenure-track faculty member from NC A&T as a non-funded collaborator.

Based upon the learning achieved in the first year of the program, the call for proposals will be refined for the second year. The Phase II of the program is expected to be launched in year 3, which will provide higher funding for conducting joint seed projects. Applicants who have completed a successful Phase I effort will be eligible to submit Phase II proposals. Collectively, the collaborations developed in Phase I and Phase II are expected to build upon their outcomes and approach for additional funding from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense (DoD), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), among others.

Funding Cycle - Phase I first year

The RIO plans to fund five awards with funding up to $10,000 per year per proposal. Each proposal will be for one year in duration.


  • 9/6/24: Letter of intent due
  • 9/9/24: Application opens
  • 9/30/24: PI submits application to approvers (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • 10/3/24: Approvers submit application to RIO (by 11:59 p.m.)
  • December 2024: Award notification
  • 1/1/25: Award period begins

Research Partnership Objectives - Phase 1:

With the strong intent to develop bi-directional research-based relationships that will form the foundation of partnerships between the two institutions, the emphasis in this program is to propose activities that will initiate long-term collaborations. Example activities to consider in the proposal are provide below:

  1. Visit potential collaborator(s) at the NC A&T campus and learn about their research interests, available infrastructure and capabilities
  2. Meet with the NC A&T administrators to discuss research vision and broader collaboration opportunities
  3. Visit core facilities and centralized infrastructure at NC A&T to learn about the resources available and capabilities
  4. Develop framework for an potential collaborative research program that combines the strengths of both campuses through a workshop
  5. Provide seminar and/or classroom lectures at NC A&T to inform students about the ongoing research activities 
  6. Host NC A&T faculty at UMN to strengthen the research collaboration. Provide the NC A&T faculty with a reciprocal opportunity to offer university-wide seminars, interact with UMN students and postdoctoral scholars, tour core facilities, and meet UMN senior leaders to discuss their research interests.

Faculty will self-identify their collaboration and partnership based on their specific research areas. 

Eligibility Requirements:

Applications will be accepted from UMN faculty 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 to apply 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.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Alignment with Phase 1 objectives.
  • Inclusion of plan to establish long-term partnership.
  • Commitment to grow the collaboration through external funding
  • Forward thinking for building mutually beneficial, complementary research programs.
  • Potential for tangible outcomes such as conference papers, publication, joint grant proposals, student participation in research projects, research mentorship etc.

Reporting Requirements:

Awardees are expected to submit, within 30 days of the award end date, a brief report of no more than two pages highlighting the outcome of the collaboration and insights on next steps for the team. The report can also provide a brief overview of the potential Phase II program.

How to Apply

Mandatory Letter of Intent

A letter of intent (see required LOI template, available soon) must be submitted to with “NC A&T & UMN Partnership Phase 1” in the subject line by 9/6/2024. Please include:

  • The title of the proposal
  • Principal investigator (PI) name, department, and email address (person in charge of correspondence with RIO)
  • A brief description of the proposed project (200 words or less)
  • The names and email addresses of two or three potential UMN faculty reviewers who would not be directly involved with the project

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 (available soon) 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 above). 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 Partnership 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.