EPiQS Flexible Funding: Call for Ideas 2020
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announces a call for ideas for flexible funding grants, as part of the Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Initiative (EPiQS).
Through EPiQS, the foundation strives to accelerate progress in the field of quantum materials — solids and engineered structures characterized by novel quantum phases of matter and exotic cooperative behaviors of electrons. Flexible funding grants are a key funding approach within EPiQS, which enables the foundation to respond in a timely manner to emerging opportunities in this field of research.
Description of flexible funding grants
The goal of flexible funding grants is to drive scientific innovation by enhancing experimental capabilities at leading research institutions and supporting projects with significant potential to create breakthroughs in the field of quantum materials. These grants have two varieties: equipment grants and rapid response grants.
- Equipment grants support the development of sophisticated and sometimes one-of-a-kind instrumentation at institutions with active research programs in quantum materials.
- Rapid response grants support projects that are exceptionally timely and have very high potential impact. These projects may include experimental tests of novel important theoretical concepts and innovative, unconventional research endeavors that are unlikely to be supported through traditional funding channels due to their high-risk nature.
The total budget for flexible funding grants is about $19 million through the end of 2024. We anticipate that most of the grants will be in the range between $300,000 and $2 million. We will be very selective and focus on projects that stand out in originality and importance. We have no commitment to funding a fixed number of projects in any given calendar year. We estimate that the 2020 call for ideas may result in 2-3 funded projects. We plan annual calls for flexible funding grant ideas.
We are looking for the best ideas and want to ensure that these ideas are both submitted and identified in the review process. We will use a review process designed to minimize bias and encourage applications from individuals regardless of their age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, national origin, religion or disability.
Any scientist with a permanent appointment at a university or another research institution is eligible to submit their project idea. This includes tenured, tenure-track, and research faculty, as well as research staff members at US national laboratories, other government-funded research laboratories, and independent research institutes. Although the Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Initiative is primarily focused on US researchers, international applications with outstanding potential will also be considered.
Researchers should submit their project ideas individually through this application portal. Budgets, cover letters, or official endorsements from your institution are not required at this time. However, we strongly encourage applicants to review the foundation's indirect cost policy and verify that their institution can comply with this policy. There are no restrictions on the number of applications from any institution. Should your submitted idea be selected for the next stage in the application process, we will ask you to involve your institutional administration in official proposal development.
Each applicant can submit only one flexible funding project idea as a principal investigator (PI). In addition, an applicant can serve as a co-investigator on one additional project idea, proposed by another PI. Both single-PI and multi-PI projects will be considered. In the case of a multi-PI project, only one PI should submit the idea, whether the PIs reside at the same institution or different institutions. Rapid response grant ideas may include experimental work, theoretical studies, or a combination of the two.
Current Moore Foundation grantees, both those funded through EPiQS and those outside of EPiQS, are eligible to apply, with one exception: Materials Synthesis Investigators and Experimental Investigators selected in the recently completed 2019-2020 EPiQS Investigator competitions can not apply as PIs. However, they can be co-PIs.
Scientific and technical scope of this call for ideas
Candidates are invited to submit ideas in one of the two categories:
- Development of complex instrumentation for synthesis and/or experimental investigations of materials, which has the potential to significantly elevate the level of scientific research at your institution and beyond (equipment grant ideas);
- High-risk, high-impact project that presents a timely opportunity to advance understanding of quantum materials or produce new discoveries in the field. The research project can be experimental and/or theoretical. (rapid response grant ideas).
If your idea is relevant to both grant categories, please use the following guideline: if your estimated budget would allocate more than 50 percent of the funds toward equipment acquisition, choose the Equipment grant category; if equipment acquisition presents 50 percent or less of the estimated budget, choose the rapid response category.
The classes of materials of interest to EPiQS are:
- Strongly correlated systems, including but not limited to high-Tc and other unconventional superconductors, Mott insulators, heavy fermion systems, multiferroics and correlated oxide heterostructures;
- Frustrated magnets and other solids exhibiting exotic magnetic behavior;
- Materials exhibiting topological order;
- Two-dimensional crystals and layered systems, including but not limited to graphene, dichalcogenide monolayers and van der Waals heterostructures;
- Other low-dimensional systems, including but not limited to quantum wells and quantum wires with emergent electronic properties;
- Various ‘synthetic quantum materials’ created in any physical platform, as long as this platform hosts emergent phenomena relevant to understanding of electronic/magnetic emergent properties or real materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, cold atom systems and circuit QED systems.
Although organic-based materials exhibiting emergent electronic properties are currently not represented in the EPiQS portfolio, we will consider compelling ideas in this area as well. EPiQS is primarily concerned with advancing fundamental understanding of emergent properties of quantum materials; therefore, ideas focused on devices and other near-term practical applications of materials will not receive high priority.
Selection process and criteria
The selection of flexible funding projects will have multiple stages. This call for ideas is the initial stage, whose goal is to collect brief descriptions of innovative project ideas from the broad scientific community. Ideas submitted through this application portal will be subjected to a double-blind peer review process, in which candidates’ identities will be concealed from the reviewers, and vice versa. At this stage we are focused on getting ideas on the table rather than the past record of the researchers and we are asking that proposers exclude information that would identify them in preparing their material for review. Up to 10 of the most highly ranked ideas will be selected for the pre-proposal stage. A small number of these pre-proposals will be selected for the full proposal stage.
The ideas will be selected for the next stage in the selection process based on the following main criteria:
- The potential of the proposed experimental instrumentation to enable novel or superior approaches to probing the fundamental properties of quantum materials and/or to synthesis of novel quantum materials (equipment grant ideas);
- The extent to which the proposed instrumentation brings benefits to multiple researchers at a given institution and beyond (equipment grant ideas);
- The willingness of applicants to take risks to explore unproven and uncertain research avenues with potentially transformative impact (Rapid Response grant ideas);
- The extent to which the proposed project is timely, i.e., responds to a recently emerged opportunity in the field (both types of grant ideas).
This flexible funding competition is open to all qualified applicants, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, national origin, religion or disability. If you have any questions or need assistance or accommodation in completing this call for ideas, please contact us directly at EPiQS@moore.org or by phone at 650-213-3064.
Application process and deadline
As the first step, please register as a user of the Apply portal. During the registration process, please enter an email address that you check frequently, as we will use this email address to contact you with updates. After registering as an Apply user, enter the portal to start your idea submission. The deadline for submitting your project idea is Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 5:00 PM U.S. Pacific Daylight Time. We expect a large number of submissions and cannot commit to providing feedback to applicants. Only applicants whose ideas have been selected for the next stage will be contacted and invited, by June 30, to submit additional information. We anticipate that the final selection of EPiQS flexible funding grants for this year will be completed by September 2020.
Should you have any questions about the submission process, please contact us at EPiQS@moore.org.