Faculty Innovation Grants (FIG)

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Program Description

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 1, 2024 by 5PM

The Faculty Innovation Grant (FIG) program supports the establishment of new research projects, taking existing research in promising new directions, or otherwise expanding research programs beyond their current scope. A FIG award may be used to initiate study of a new research question, test the feasibility of a novel approach or synthesis, or begin promising translation of theory to practice. In each case, a FIG award is intended to begin a line of research of scope and duration well beyond what is provided by the initial investment.

A FIG award may be used to demonstrate the potential of a new interdisciplinary approach or application of concepts from one field to another, and to establish an initial record of joint publication.

As described in detail below, a FIG proposal should describe the long-term goals of the project in a manner that makes clear its potential impact within and beyond the immediate field of study. Second, the proposal should identify existing barriers to proceeding with the project, including barriers to obtaining support for its continuation as well as a specific plan for addressing those barriers. Applicants should be explicit about how they expect the FIG project to obtain external support to continue their research. 

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


Grants will be limited to a maximum of $35,000. 


All tenured and tenure-track faculty, as well as research professors (Assistant, Associate and Full), are eligible to apply.  An individual faculty member or team is limited to one FIG award every two years. A faculty member with a current award may apply as a member of a team, provided that team composition is different and the project goals and scope of work are significantly different from those of the current award.  For an application to be considered, all required reports for prior Lehigh awards must be completed.  

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. Grant funds may be used for:

  • Support for graduate students, postdoctoral research scholars, hourly wage research assistants
  • 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

Grant funds cannot be used for:

  • Faculty salaries (only the Accelerator grant may include request for summer salary)
  • Purchase of general-purpose equipment and computers, unless specifically designated for research usage.
  • Visiting faculty
  • Course development
  • Purchase of reprints
  • Remodeling of alteration of facilities
  • Reimbursement of costs incurred prior to submission of the application.

This list provides some examples, and is not exhaustive.  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.

How to Apply

Application Details:

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

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

  2. Name, Department, Position Title of each participating faculty member.  One faculty member must be the main correspondent and will be responsible for all deliverables and management of the budget. All co-PIs must provide approval of the proposal submission

  3. Budget requested

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

  5. Abstract: A 250-word abstract giving a clear and concise description of the project’s objectives, proposed methodology and anticipated results in layperson’s terms.  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 to the online system 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 3 pages (not including references), that enables reviewers to judge the merits of the project using the criteria listed below. Please adhere to the following outline:

  1. Background, context and long-term goals: Describe the long-term goals and potential of the project, beyond the initial period of FIG support.
  1. Project plan: Describe the work that will be undertaken and its expected outcomes. Make it clear to reviewers that you have devised a well-crafted plan that makes good use of talent, experience and existing resources. After reading this section, reviewers should appreciate how expected outcomes would address the critical barriers that you identified in the previous section.

2. Time line: Provide a timeline for completion of the proposed work in simple, readable form such as a short paragraph or simple diagram. Unless justified based on the nature of the work involved, the work should be completed within 12 months of the start. The proposed start date may be delayed for up to six months as necessary for reasons such as recruiting students, seasonal factors in conducting fieldwork, or preparation of regulatory protocols.

3. Plans for continuation: Identify expected sources of extramural support. For each, include:

  • The agency/organization/special program to which you plan to apply and any known submission deadlines.
  • Description of how the project will be responsive to the funding source’s priorities and/or the requirements of the specific program.
  • Description of how funding through this source would advance the project in accord with your long-term plans.

4Budget: Provide a one-page itemized budget and justification with sufficient detail for reviewers to understand how the budget items support the completion of the project. The budget must be appropriate to the specific needs of the research project.

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.

5. Recent Grant Fun​ding: 

Provide 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 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. 

Please keep in mind that your proposal will be reviewed by a faculty committee with members who may not be familiar with your specific area of study. Therefore, it is important that technical terminology be kept to a minimum and that the project be described in a manner that can be readily appreciated by non-specialists. In addition to providing reviewers with appreciation of the potential of the project, it should enable them to understand the necessity of each budget item to the completion of the work.  

Review Process

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. Awards will be made by the VP for Research based on the recommendations of the review panel. 

Applications will also be evaluated according to these criteria: 

  • Originality, intellectual merit and potential impact. Do the applicants pose novel research questions, describe a new way of studying an existing question, propose novel means of bridging between theory and practice, or otherwise promise to advance an important field of scholarship, discovery or praxis?  Is there potential for a sustained research program with broad impact? Is the work significantly different in scope from that of any pending, funded or recently completed grant? 

  • Quality of the research plan. Have the applicants proposed a sound research plan that makes good use of their talents and existing resources? Have they identified critical questions about the feasibility or promise of their new ideas, or barriers to its acceptance by others in their field, including bias, and focused their plan on addressing those questions? Is the proposed timeline appropriate?

  • Budget and personnel. Is the budget appropriate for the proposed work? If a team project, is every member making a substantive contribution?

  • Long-term potential. Does the project have potential to open up new avenues for the applicants and for Lehigh? Does that potential reach beyond the initial focus of the FIG project? Could it solidify or serve to expand a research team that could be uniquely productive and competitive? Does it make productive use, or creative new use, of existing resources?  Does the project have the potential to establish or enhance connections between academic work and broader concerns? 

  • Potential for enabling external support. Have the applicants cited prerequisites to success with future funding sources on which they will depend for continuation of the project? Does their vision for the project serve the missions and priorities of those sources? If expected outcomes are achieved, are the applicants likely to be competitive in the near term?

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 VPResearch@lehigh.edu.