The University of Michigan has initiated a transformational seed funding program to support interdisciplinary basic research in the physical and life sciences. Called MCubed, the approach eliminates the gap between idea conception and initial results while encouraging collaboration. In this simple concept, each participating faculty member receives a $20,000 token, which must be combined with tokens from two other faculty members from other disciplines willing to commit to a joint research project. Faculty have the option of forming blocks of cubes around a single topic, enabling the instantaneous creation of a sizable, well-funded research team.
Launched in 2012 with a $14M investment, MCubed’s first-cycle data indicates early success: using results from their MCubed work, faculty have obtained an additional $20M of external funding to support their research.
PURPOSE AND FOCUS:
To provide immediately accessible funding for basic research while nurturing intellectual talent and collaboration.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE:
Faculty from across the entire campus. Plans call for creating programs for undergraduate and graduate students and for expanding it to possible faculty collaborations in partnership with other universities.
APPLICATION AND REVIEW:
No formal peer review. Once researchers form a cube around a project concept, they can speedily access funds.
TYPE OF SUPPORT:
Seed grant; two-year cycle.