UCSC Campus Seed Funding

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, UC Santa Cruz invites Principal Investigators on the Santa Cruz campus to apply for research support through our Campus Seed Funding program. Separate from the broader CITRIS Core Seed Funding initiative, which funds collaborative research between the four CITRIS campuses, the UC Santa Cruz Campus Seed Funding program focuses on strengthening interdisciplinary connections here on the Santa Cruz campus. Through the program we will fund early-stage research, which furthers the CITRIS and the Banatao Institute mission and has strong promise of securing external funding.

For 2020 the program will fund projects focused on providing solutions to issues related to Pandemic/Disaster Preparedness.  The program ordinarily requires projects to include at least two PIs from different UC Santa Cruz campus divisions — while that is still strongly encouraged for 2020, in order to streamline our process and encourage response in this unprecedented time, projects with a single PI will be accepted this year.

Pandemic/Disaster Preparedness proposals may address, but are not limited to:

Broader Impacts

  • Education innovation: Zoom has become the ad-hoc replacement for most instruction; what technologies and new approaches can make remote education more effective? How do we ensure access to all students?
  • Future of work: again, Zoom is the new office for many, yet many essential workers, from meat packers to farmworkers to grocery clerks, have been placed at greater risk, revealing glaring inequities in our workforce – how can we innovate to support both workers able to work virtually and those who cannot? What kinds of innovations, including in digital informatics and robotics, can help?  
  • Community Building: vulnerable populations across many demographic lines are inordinately impacted by social isolation – what tools and strategies can we use to better direct resources and support?
  • Food Supply: perishable products like dairy, eggs and produce are being composted at industrial scale, while lines at food banks stretch for miles in some states – how can we track and redirect these resources?
  • Technology-enabled policy responses to address dis- and misinformation, privacy concerns and surveillance, or communication network analysis to identify the flow and effect of COVID-19-related information.

Detection & Surveillance

  • Novel analytics on the threat, vulnerabilities, and spread of COVID-19.
  • Innovations to identify and support populations vulnerable to COVID-19 using digital health or machine intelligence — including but not limited to older adults, those with underlying health conditions, and homeless persons.

Treatment Innovations   

  • Enhanced telehealth methodologies to support healthcare professionals in the diagnosis and care of patients with COVID-19.
  • Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning (AI/ML) predictive analytics to support diagnosis, care and treatment of persons with COVID-19.
  • Technology-enabled strategies to support care processes for the healthcare workforce serving persons with COVID-19.
  • Innovations in personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the healthcare workforce.
  • Use of robotics in healthcare settings to reduce risk to human care providers or otherwise complement their work.
  • Development of decision-support methodologies, tracking systems, visualizations, or dashboards for use by clinicians and/or policymakers.

Info Session: Friday, May 15th 12:00-1:00 pm (RSVP here)

Submission Deadline: June 22, 2020

Awards Announced: late June 2020

Funds Released: late June 2020

Questions: mmatkin@ucsc.edu

CITRIS and the Banatao Institute create information technology solutions for society’s most pressing challenges. Established in 2001, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) leverages the interdisciplinary research strengths of four UC campuses – Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Davis and Merced – to advance the University of California’s mission and the innovative spirit of California. The institute was created to shorten the pipeline between world-class laboratory research and the development of cutting-edge applications, platforms, companies, and even new industries. 


Want help connecting with a PI from another division? Fill out our matchmaking form.

View or download a sample draft of the Application Form.

Answers to your Frequently Asked Questions.

UCSC – 2020 Campus Seed Funding

Area of Interest: Research that includes a focus on Information Technology and proposes to solve a significant societal issue related to Pandemic/Disaster Preparedness.
Total Funds Available: minimum of $100,000
Project Amount: $1,000 – $40,000
Eligibility: All applicants must have PI status on UCSC campus.
At least two PIs from different campus divisions (Engineering, Physical and Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, Arts) are encouraged, but NOT required.



  • May 2020: Call for 2020 CITRIS and the Banatao Institute UCSC Seed Fund proposals announced online, via email to existing CITRIS PIs and distributed to campus news outlets.
  • Friday, May 15th 12:00-1:00 pm: Zoom Info Session (RSVP here)
  • Late May 2020: in-person and online information session for potential applicants. Dates and details will be posted on the Seed Funding webpage.
  • May-June 2020: Matchmaking and multi-division team formation occurs among Principal Investigators. Complete the seed funding interest form for assistance with finding compatible co-PIs. 
  • May 12, 2020: Online application portal opens for submissions. Link to the portal will be posted on the Seed Funding webpage.
  • June 22, 2020 at 11:59pm PST: Applications are due online.
  • Late June 2020: Awardees are notified.
  • July 1, 2020: Performance period begins for 2020 Seed Fund Award projects.
  • Sept 20, 2021: Final reports for 2020 Seed Fund Award projects are due.

Eligibility and Proposal Requirements:

  • Projects are expected to include a focus on Information Technology and propose to solve a significant societal issue related to Pandemic/Disaster Preparedness. Proposals that include applications of such technology in developing regions and/or underserved communities are welcome.
  • Exclusions:
  • CITRIS Seed Funding may not be used for faculty salary or non-resident tuition.  
  • Principal Investigators may participate in a maximum of one proposal per application cycle.
  • Principal Investigators who have previously received seed funding through the CITRIS Core Seed Funding or UCSC Campus Seed Funding Initiatives must submit an online status report for the previous project(s) before being considered for a CITRIS UC Santa Cruz Campus Seed Fund Award.
  • To encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration, each proposal for 2020 is encouraged to include at least two Principal Investigators, from at least two different UCSC divisions: Engineering, Humanities, Social Sciences, Arts, Physical and Biological Sciences, but is NOT required.

Evaluation Criteria:

CITRIS UC Santa Cruz Campus Seed Funding proposals are evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Feasibility: Can the stated goals be achieved within 12 months?
  2. Creates solution to a societal challenge: Is the societal problem and its scale clearly identified? Will the proposed project help to address this challenge?
  3. Potential for follow-on funding: Has this area of research been identified by federal agencies or other funders as an area of future investment? Will the CITRIS Seed Fund Award help the investigators make a stronger case for future external funding?
  4. Alignment with CITRIS mission and the charter of the Banatao Institute: Does the proposal contribute to solving a societal issue through the creation or application of Information Technology?
  5. Inclusion of pre-tenured faculty is highly encouraged but not required.

Submission Instructions and Requirements

The online application portal can be accessed here on the CITRIS UC Santa Cruz Campus Seed Funding webpage. You can easily submit and manage your applications online when the portal opens on May 12, 202o. We suggest that the Lead PI initiates the online application for each proposal team, using a campus email account. Any listed co-PI(s) will receive an automatic email link to log on and view or edit the joint proposal. To help you prepare, please have the following information ready to complete the online application:

❏ Name, home department, and CV link for each PI

❏ Project Title

❏ Abstract (250 words max)

❏ Brief narrative (2-3 pages) What problem does the proposal address? What new technology will be developed? Will the project apply existing technology in a novel way? If successful, what would be the impact of the new technology or application? What qualifications do the team members offer to address the challenge?

❏ Budget narrative with allocation of funds between PIs (paragraph). Please include name and email of Research Administrator for each PI.

❏ Up to five references (web links). These may refer to the challenge being addressed or to previous work that the PIs intend to build upon.

❏ Optional: upload a one-page .pdf or image file to illustrate the project.

❏ List of prior CITRIS Core Seed Awards (if any): PI names, year, project title.