Funding for the U-M Energy Community

Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (PISET)

Note: this project is currently dormant.

This program seeds new interdisciplinary research programs in sustainable energy science, technology, and policy with funding for a University of Michigan Sustainable Energy Research Fellow. Successful proposals will combine innovative research plans with concrete timelines for establishing independent funding. PISET proposal solicitations are distributed periodically; watch our news page for current solicitations. 

Criteria are as follows:

Program Structure 

Applications are welcomed for new grants from teams of two or more University of Michigan PIs in sustainable energy technologies. Interdisciplinary post-doctoral fellow must be necessary to pursue the new research direction. A joint mentorship plan must be provided with the proposal. Teams may include private partners, but funds will be dispersed only to Michigan faculty. Funds must be used to appoint Energy Institute Research Fellows. The Energy Institute will advertise the position through appropriate vehicles, and postdoctoral candidates will be vetted by the PIs and the Energy Institute. The PIs of approved projects will submit candidate’s resumes to the Review Board. Selected candidates will be invited to Michigan for an interview including a seminar presentation of dissertation research. Consensus of the PIs and Review Board will trigger an offer to the candidate. 

Cost Structure 

The Energy Institute will provide $40K towards each fellow appointment. The PIs will equally supplement this funding to provide a salary of at least $40K and corresponding benefits package. Instrumentation and infrastructure must be substantially in place for the project as these costs are not allowable under the project although this is a valid cost sharing mechanism for new proposals. PI contributions must come from discretionary funds or other suitable sources. 

Proposal Evaluation Criteria: 

-Scientific or engineering excellence, relevance to energy sustainability and anticipated impact 
-Infrastructure and research support available from PIs 
-Description of a new research direction distinct from ongoing research programs 
-Potential for external funding based on results to be developed with Energy Institute funds 
-Interdisciplinary nature of the team and appropriateness of the funding mechanism (resumes of potential postdoctoral candidates may be included in the submission). Projects must be identified with respect to their relationship to current Energy Institute themes and primary projects: 
-Carbon-free electric power generation 
-Energy storage and efficiency 
-Transportation systems and fuels 
-Energy policy, economics and societal impact  
Seed projects outside the existing Energy Institute initiatives will be considered. The decision to add a new seed area to the Energy Institute initiative will be an explicit part of the review in this case. Energy Institute will conduct reviews of proposals in consultation with ad hoc reviewers as needed from within the U-M. 

For more information contact Bart Bartlett

Pilot Program: Industry Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (Industry PISET)

Note: this project is currently dormant.

​The Energy Institute seeks industrial partners to pilot collaborative energy research with the goal of seeding a sustained research relationship with UMEI.


Challenges in the energy sphere require broad expertise and sustained research efforts that often cross disciplinary boundaries. The University of Michigan is a source of expertise that can benefit industry. However there are often barriers within a company to starting large scale projects with academic partners until the worth of the partnership can be established. UMEI will help to reduce the risk of entering new research agreements with the University of Michigan by providing an initial round of funding to seed longer term mutually beneficial relationships.

Project Framework

An ideal pilot project would satisfy the following criteria:

-Scientific or engineering excellence
-Relevance to energy sustainability and anticipated impact of a new research partnership
-Topics must fall under the umbrella of the UMEI mission of charting paths to a secure, affordable, and sustainable energy future.
-Potential for continued sponsor funding based on results to be developed with pilot project.

Shared Investment

The PISET program will match the direct costs of a sponsored research project up to $50K, with the sponsor covering $50k direct and $28k indirect costs. These funds would be used to support a post doctoral researcher are not intended for equipment purchase or student support. Follow on research can be established under several methods including an awarded project, or a Master Research Agreement (MRA) which applies to research agreements of at least $250,000 annually and spanning a minimum of three years. With the consent of the faculty principal investigator, an MRA will provide the sponsor the option to obtain an upfront negotiated license for intellectual property developed under the research contract.

A Successful Partnership

A successful PISET project will prove viability to grow an ongoing collaborative research topic between one or more UMEI faculty affiliates and an industrial partner that is mutually beneficial to both partners.  Not only can the University help industry meet its fundamental research needs, but working with industry partners on the challenges they face richly informs UMEI research and educational activities.