Accelerator Grant

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Program Description

Submission Deadline: Friday, November 3, 2023 by 5PM

The Accelerator Grant program is intended to assist teams of Lehigh investigators in developing multi-investigator research programs in particularly promising areas. The Accelerator grant provides significant flexibility in the use of funds. It is granted based on a team’s identification of a major, specific area of opportunity and importance, and ways in which the group can collectively excel in that area. Grants can support forays into new areas and can help individuals or groups who have worked separately to coalesce around a theme. In all cases, they should  build upon existing, demonstrated strengths. One award per year will be made for up to $250,000 over a two-year period. For each proposal, we expect that the team will ask their college or department for additional support to bolster that provided by the VPR office.  

Funding for this program is provided by the Smith Fund for Research and Innovation in Science and Engineering for research in the natural sciences and engineering, and by university funds for research in all fields. 


An Accelerator Grant provides funding of up to $250,000 over a two-year period. 


The proposed research program must involve at least three tenure-track faculty members, including at least one tenured member of the faculty, as co-Principal Investigators. Each co-PI should have contributed to the conception of the program and preparation of the application. At least three should be clearly committed to ongoing involvement and should, collectively, be capable of sustaining it as a core team. Involvement of additional contributing members of the faculty, and prospects for drawing in additional people over time, are welcomed.

The team will designate one member as Principal Investigator (PI). The PI must be a tenured member of the faculty. The PI will often be a team member who has taken a leadership role in conception of the project and is expected to have an ongoing leadership role and/or particular ongoing commitment to the program. The PI will receive all correspondence, and must take responsibility for managing the budget and for reporting.

All Lehigh team members must have completed submission of all reports and other required materials under all prior internal grant awards. A faculty member with a current Lehigh internal grant may apply as a member of a team.

While a Lehigh team may be collaborating with colleagues elsewhere, all funds awarded under this program must be spent at Lehigh.

Allowable Costs

An internal grant award is an investment in faculty research and its broad impact. Awards may be used for a wide range of research expenses provided that a clear case is made that the expenses are essential to the project. An award may be used to build upon work supported by current funding. Grant funds may be used for:

  • Support for graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and hourly wage research assistants
  • Summer salary (capped at $5,000) * new as of Aug 2023
  • Small equipment. (Equipment costing over $15,000 must be carefully justified and formally approved)
  • Purchase of research materials including books unavailable through the library system
  • Access to off-campus research materials
  • Lab supplies
  • Travel necessary to perform research
  • Manuscript preparation
  • Necessary publication costs, costs of performing research and effectively disseminating outcomes
  • Travel to disseminate outcomes may be supported, but needs to be carefully justified. 

All expenditures must be in compliance with Lehigh’s Travel and Business Expense Policy

Non-allowable Costs

Awards may not be used to replace current funding, nor to support work within the scope of an active research grant. Further, grant funds cannot be used for:

  • Remodeling or alteration of facilities
  • Tuition
  • Purchase of general-purpose equipment and computers unless specifically designated for research usage
  • Visiting faculty
  • Course development
  • Purchase of reprints
  • Reimbursement of costs incurred prior to submission of the application.

This list provides some examples, and is not exhastive.  If you have any questions about allowable/unallowable expenses, please contact our office.  You may also consult the Travel and Business Expense Policy for further information.

Grant funds must be expended in furtherance of the goals of the project as described in the proposal.

How to Apply

Application Details

Submit your application through Lehigh’s InfoReady portal.  InfoReady will prompt you for the following:

1. Descriptive project title - suitable for publication on our public web site.

2. Name, Department, Position Title of each participating faculty member.

  • The applicant will serve as PI and will be responsible for communications, the budget, and all reports. The PI must be a member of the faculty at the level of Associate Professor or Professor. A minimum of two other members of the tenure track faculty who will have substantive and ongoing commitments to the program must be identified as co-PIs. Others who will contribute in important ways should be listed as well. 

  • All co-PIs will receive a request for acknowledgement and approval of the proposal submission.

3. IRB/IACUC status - refer to our Research Integrity site for requirements.

4. Conflict of Interest Statement

5. Abstract: a 250-word abstract suitable for a sophisticated lay audience, suitable for publication on our web site. The abstract should describe the project’s broad significance, the proposed activities and the project’s intended results.

Body of Proposal

In the proposal upload section, the following must be uploaded as a single pdf. Page margins must be at least one inch. Exclusive of any figures, text must be 11 point or larger:

1. Narrati​ve: 

A proposal narrative, not to exceed six pages (not including references), that enables reviewers to judge the merits of the project using the criteria listed below. 

After reading the narrative, reviewers should fully appreciate:

  • why the team’s chosen topic is important;
  • how the team is particularly well suited and well positioned, compared with others in the world, to address the topic, and
  • the team’s strategy for establishing and growing a sustained program.

2. Budget:

In tabular form, provide an initial budget showing amounts that the team plans to allocate to graduate student stipends and other personnel including employee benefits, supplies, materials, small equipment, equipment use charges, and travel. Include direct costs only; do not include indirect costs in the budget. If the total direct costs exceed the amount requested, identify sources of co-funding and attach letters of commitment as applicable. The total amount requested, not including any cost sharing, may be up to $250,000.

Click here to access a simple Google Sheet calculator.  Some formulas are embedded to assist you in your calculations, but you may edit the chart as needed.  Copy and paste the completed budget chart into your application, or upload it separately.

3. Grant Activity: A listing of all internal Lehigh grants and external grants completed within the past two years, currently active, and currently pending. In any case in which a non-specialist might perceive the Accelerator application to support work already funded by the completed, pending or current grant, provide a brief explanation of how the work and its goals are different.

4. Biosketches: - Short-form biographical sketches for each of the faculty members involved in the project. You may use the form prescribed by any federal agency or a listing, not to exceed two pages, of educational preparation, research activity and relevant publications, presentations, etc.

Review Process & Evaluation Criteria

Lehigh’s Internal Review Committee (IRC) will review proposals. IRC members are selected for their experience and representation of the scope of research endeavors at Lehigh. As part of the review process, applicants may be asked to present their plans to the IRC.

Reviewers will be reading and evaluating proposals within and across subject areas. Proposals should therefore describe the research program and its import in a manner that can be readily appreciated by non-specialists. Details enabling specialists to fully appreciate proposals should be kept as concise as possible.

Final selections for funding will be made based upon IRC review and available funding by the Vice Provost for Research.


Selection Criteria

Reviewers will evaluate each proposal according to each of the following criteria. While reviewers may judge that some criteria are more critical than others for a given proposal, these criteria will form the entire basis for evaluation. The following will be provided, verbatim, in instructions to reviewers:

  • The opportunity. Have the applicants identified a compelling opportunity? Have they identified a field of study, problem or research question of major importance, evidenced either by consensus in a field or the applicants’ insight, such that we should expect interest and activity in the area to increase substantially in the future? Alternatively, is there an opportunity to break free of limitations, including biases, that have limited the field?  Have they, in addition, identified outside communities, including those in a position to support the work in the future, who will become invested in the program and support its success?
  • The team. Have the applicants shown that they have a competitive advantage in this area? Collectively, are the investigators particularly well positioned to do important work in the field? Are they able to differentiate themselves from others working in the field by their individual and combined capabilities and/or the novelty of their approach? Does the group, or subsets of the group, have a history of working together productively? Will they have the facilities and other resources they need to build upon their existing strengths as described in the proposal?
  • Additional commitment: The team should make an effort to secure additional funds or release time from departments, colleges, and/or research institutes. Is the team supported by their college, department, and/or research institute
  • Plans for program development. Do the applicants present a well-conceived plan for building their program? While awardees will have significant flexibility in use of funds over a two-year period, they should describe their intended approach to growing their program, including their strategy for sustaining the program in the long term. Have they detailed initial steps and key milestones? Do these make sense in light of the current state of the field and ways in which the team expects to advance it? Is the size of the requested budget appropriate given the potential for growth of the research program? Narratives must identify targets for future support. 

Expenditures and Grant Management

If awarded, an individual research account will be established.  The PI will be responsible for assuring that the funds are spent: 

Absent justification for no-cost extension, funds remaining at the end of the 12-month award period will revert to our office to support future research projects. 

For more information, please consult our Internal Grants FAQ.

Reporting Requirements

You will be required to report annually on the progress and outcomes of your project over a 5-year period, and to cite the grant with a unique ID number in any publications, presentations or other significant work that result from the work funded by this grant.

Instructions on reporting will be provided to you by our office.  

Contact Information

Questions and requests for additional information should be directed to