2020-2021 Call for Research Activation proposals

Download full solicitation here

Proposals due by 5 PM, Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Note: All investigators are required to advise the appropriate administrator and/or department head on their campus of their plans to submit a proposal.  Proposals submitted to Montana Space Grant Consortium must include a campus proposal clearance form (or an equivalent) complete with signatures including budget approval and certification of non-federal cost share by the campus research or appropriate office. The form should be an electronic copy attached to the primary submission. 


The opportunity Montana faculty members have to receive funding for NASA-related research projects through the Montana NASA EPSCoR Research Initiation grant program is important, and the awards are quite competitive. For faculty from our small campuses (non MSU and UM main campuses), however, the $50,000 Research Initiation level is too high. These faculty members do not feel as if they can compete with projects from the larger campuses (MSU and UM). What the small campus faculty need is smaller awards to help kick-start projects that while rigorous, will not necessarily result in further NASA grants. Therefore, we are creating the Montana Space Grant Consortium Research Activation grant opportunity.  Research Activation awards will be for one year, for $5,000 to $15,000, and can be used for supplies, faculty time, collaboration travel, and student support. Proposal requests must have 1:1 non-federal cost share.

The goal of the Research Activation grant program is to help boost the likelihood of Montana small campus PIs proposing to higher-level research funding in areas that match scientific and technical problems of importance to NASA, and to involve students in the process. 

Proposals are welcome in all fields of science and engineering normally funded by NASA (refer to http://nasaepscor.montana.edu/interest.html and the MSGC office for guidance).  It is beneficial to research NASA’s website for recently funded areas of research. Research Activation Grants from the Montana Space Grant Consortium Program are intended to help small campus faculty or faculty new to NASA research at Montana institutions develop research programs in areas of interest to NASA. In addition, the awards can assist in Montana's economic development in aerospace-related fields by strengthening existing Montana high-tech companies, seeking new connections between Montana faculty researchers and state industries, and building university research enterprises that will foster "spin-off" startup enterprises. Grants are for a period of one year. All grantees may (but are not required to) submit a follow-on proposal to the MNE Research Initiation grant or to NASA directly for continued funding.

Faculty may make contact with NASA researchers in their field before submitting a proposal to determine and document NASA's interest in the proposed research area.  Proposals may include evidence of interest from NASA, e.g., in a letter(s) of support. The stronger the indicated support, the better the chance of obtaining funding from Montana Space Grant Consortium.

Montana Space Grant Consortium Research Activation Goals:

  • Increase the likelihood of Montana small campus PI’s proposing to higher-level research funding.
  • Increase the number of underrepresented PIs at Montana small campuses.
  • Bring the capabilities of Montana’s small campus nationally competitive researchers to the attention of NASA.
  • Build infrastructure to enhance Montana’s small campus capabilities and expertise in areas of importance to NASA, focusing on institutions of higher learning.
  • Use Montana Space Grant Consortium sponsored research to strengthen partnerships with Montana’s high-tech companies and drive the growth of Montana's aerospace-related economy.


Montana Space Grant Consortium Research Activation grants are for $5,000 to $15,000 and for one year. Requested funds must be accompanied by 1:1 cost share. See Budget Preparation Guide for details. Montana Space Grant Consortium will be able to accommodate start dates no earlier than May 1, 2020 and no later than September 1, 2020.Proposals should state the desired start date.


Faculty or appropriate professionals at Montana institutions of higher education are eligible to apply.  Research Activation Awards are intended for small campus faculty or faculty new to NASA-related research. Faculty who already have substantial off-campus funding or who are already well established members of research groups with substantial off-campus funding are not encouraged to apply, unless working with NASA represents a significant new direction.

Selection Process

All proposals are reviewed by the Montana Space Grant Proposal Evaluation Committee. This committee consists of un-conflicted Montana faculty members from around the state. The evaluation committee’s rankings are used together with Montana Space Grant Consortium overall budget constraints to determine which proposals may be funded. 

Evaluation Criteria

 Montana Space Grant Consortium receives proposals from a wide variety of fields. As a result, the panel will be diverse in backgrounds and proposals should be aimed at a general audience, not an experts in the field.

 The panel will consider:

1) Scientific/Engineering merit,

2) NASA connection,

3) Feasibility,

4) Broader impacts,

5) Suitability of the proposed research team,

6) Montana undergraduate and graduate student impact, and


Economic development/technology transfer impact.

Proposal format (collected into a single PDF file)

Submit electronically as a single PDF file via the uplink and instructions at http://spacegrant.montana.edu.  All proposals must include a campus proposal clearance form complete with signatures including budget approval and certification of non-federal cost share by the campus research office. The form should be an electronic copy attached to the primary submission. Note: Failure to provide all information requested below may jeopardize the proposal’s review.

Title Page: proposal title, P.I. name, address, phone number, e-mail address and total budget request (indicate both amount of NASA funding requested and amount offered as cost share).

Table of Contents

Abstract: limit to 250 words

Body of proposal: 7 pages maximum, double spacing, 12 point font, one inch margins:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Project description including approach and methods.
  3. Goals, objectives, and evaluation (metrics, milestones, timeline). Goals and objectives should specific, measurable and appropriate. Project goals and objectives must further one or more of the MSGC Research Activation goals. Include information on how the project will be evaluated, including metrics and milestones/timeline.
  4. Description of team member roles.
  5. Description of all contacts and communications with NASA Centers regarding this proposal. Explain how the proposed research relates to NASA’s existing research and needs. (If appropriate)
  6. References (not included in page count).

Letters of support, including from NASA personnel, if appropriate.   

Biographical info: Include two-page CVs for all investigators. In addition, provide a list of current and pending grant support, title of proposals, dates, funding agency, and amount of awards.

Budget: See Budget Preparation Guide below.

Justification/Explanation of budget: Describe how the budget will allow the proposed research; provide detail on salaries, benefits, supplies, travel expenses, user fees, indirect costs, etc.

Budget Preparation Guide

Budget format: use this budget template 

Budget requests are allowed for $5,000 to $15,000 total, including appropriate F&A or indirect costs. Smaller budget requests increase fundability. Budgets, particularly form and amount of cost share funds (shown in the second column labeled “cost sharing”) must be approved and certified by signatures on a Proposal Clearance Form or an equivalent.

Salary breakdown must include amount of time each person being paid from the grant and/or time committed as cost share. The breakdown should be indicated in staff hours or by the percentage of the individual's total effort (FTE). Fringe benefits for salaries should be shown as individual line items.

Cost share. All proposals should have a certified 1:1 non-federal cost share. Cost share may be in the form of cash match, faculty release time, waived equipment use fees, etc. Questions regarding the validity of a cost share fund source should be directed to the local office of sponsored programs and/or the MSGC office. Proposals submitted with less than the required amount of cost share will be reviewed and considered for funding. If selected, however, the proposal can only be funded for an amount equal to the final cost share amount.

All funded participants, including on cost share, must be US citizens.

Show a complete breakdown of estimated travel costs, including airfare and per diem, registration fees and car rental costs.

No foreign travel or civil servant travel are allowed on any grant or cost share funds.

Consultant fees require a resume, work statement, and a breakout of hourly rate.

Permanent equipment may not be charged to or used as cost share. Generally, the definition of equipment is any component or set of components needed to work together that cost over $5,000.

Postage, general office supplies and peripheral purchases may not be charged to the grant. See OMB Circular A-21 for additional general grant restrictions and rules.

Please feel free to contact the MSGC office with have budget questions. Submitted proposals often have errors in the budget, which lead to difficulties in review and evaluation. Let us help fix these before submission.

Proposal submission:

Questions? Contact Randy Larimer, MSGC Deputy Director, via email: rlarimer@montana.edu.