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Apply for StART

The Science Alliance is now accepting proposals for the FY23 Support for Affiliated Research Teams (StART) program.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have a 75-plus year history of working together. The Science Alliance started the Support for Affiliated Research Teams (StART) program in August 2019 as a way to continue this spirit of collaboration. Since the program launched, 13 joint research projects have been funded, totaling more than $1.4 million.

The StART program has a single call, with semiannual deadlines. Typical awards are $100k. The number of awards is dependent on the quality of proposals submitted, as well as available funds. Projects will be funded for one year, with a chance for second-year funding if the project shows strong promise of receiving new external funding as a result of the collaborative activities and is deemed meritorious in the second year’s proposal evaluation process.

The first deadline for FY 24 proposals is May 1, 2023, with funding anticipated to begin on August 1, 2023. The second deadline for FY 24 proposals will be on October 31, 2023, with funding anticipated to begin on February 1, 2024.

The StART program is managed and funded through the Science Alliance. The Science Alliance is part of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, a joint initiative between UT and ORNL focused on focused on expanding collaborative research and development and preparing the next-generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent.


StART was established to foster collaboration between UT and ORNL researchers. Therefore, each research team must include a principal investigator from UT and a confirmed collaboration with an ORNL scientist. All UT faculty members are eligible to apply, including faculty who have had previous ORNL collaborations and/or have existing joint appointments. Post-docs, research scientist, and lecturers are ineligible to apply for this program. Preference will be given to junior faculty who do not have a joint appointment and/or are establishing a new collaboration with ORNL scientists.

Expectations of Awardees

A primary focus of the StART program is to generate new funding for collaborative teams of scientists and engineers. Therefore, each funded StART team will be expected to have either submitted a new external proposal by the end of the first year or to provide the Science Alliance with a draft proposal that will be submitted within three months of the end of the performance period for the award. Second-year funding will only be available to teams that provide the above-mentioned proposal to the Science Alliance team. These proposals will count as the proposal submission for year-two internal funding as well.

Review Process and Criteria

A review committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement will review the proposals and make recommendations for funding. Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Technical merit of the proposed research
  • Potential for the establishment of a meaningful and sustainable collaboration with ORNL, including joint publications, student mentoring, team development, etc.
  • Likelihood for future external funding and target funding call/notice
  • Inclusion of graduate and undergraduate students in the research


A complete year-one application will include the following:

A. Research Proposal (3-page max, add additional pages for references)
    1. Project Summary written for a general audience (150-word max);
    2. Description of the proposed research;
    3. Description of specific funding opportunities that will be targeted for future support inclusive of funding agency, program manager/officer and prior interactions with funder;
    4. Description of all of your prior affiliations, collaborations, and publications with ORNL, and how this project represents a new interaction in a new scientific/engineering area;
    5. Description of expected extended collaborations with your ORNL colleagues, for example, joint faculty opportunities, student mentoring, team development, publications,
B.   Appendices
  • Appendix A: One-page quad chart (template available via InfoReady listed under the Competition file section – top right side)
  • Appendix B: Budget and budget justification* (template available via InfoReady listed under the Competition file section – top right side)
  • Appendix C: A letter from the ORNL PI supporting the
  • Appendix D: A one-page bio for each UT/ORNL PI that includes most recent grants, professional awards, and recent relevant

A complete year-two application will include the following:

A. Research Proposal Prepared for External Funding Agency (format will vary based on target agency)
B.   Appendices
  • Appendix A: Budget and budget justification* (template available via InfoReady listed under the Competition file section – top right side)
  • Appendix B: An endorsement letter from the ORNL investigator stating the specific impact of the previous year’s partnership and their desire to continue on with the
  • Appendix C: A one-page bio for each PI that includes most recent grants, professional awards, and recent relevant publications of both the UT and ORNL investigators
Allowable costs include:
  • Graduate
  • Undergraduate student support
  • Postdoc support
  • Supplies
  • Other incidentals to support the
  • Academic year and/or summer salary (applicable to all colleges) are allowed up to a maximum of $5,000 per year, inclusive of
  • Benefits for all personnel
Unallowable costs include:
  • Membership fees,
  • Conference registrations
  • Individuals’ accrued benefits before participating in the StART program require a department head letter covering accrued annual
  • Equipment is discouraged and is unlikely to be awarded
  • Travel – except where travel is necessary to meet with ORNL collaborators or external funding agencies and/or program
  • Expenditures above 5% outside the budget categories require approval from the
  • F&A charged to the project

Note that, if the project is selected for funding, the funds must be used as requested in your project budget unless prior approval is granted, and unused funds will be reclaimed at the end of the project year.

Apply for StART via InfoReady.

Please contact Amber Mathes at if you have any questions about the application procedure.