Funding for the U-M Energy Community

The Energy Institute serves as the "front door" for the University's energy initiatives and partnerships, and new projects are always in development. For general information about partnering with UMEI, contact Programs and Development Manager Susan Fancy

Mobility Transformation Center Funding Opportunity                                                        
Click here to view this info as a PDF. 

The Michigan Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) is a public/private partnership that will build and operate a new system of mobility and, by 2022, prove its commercial viability.  MTC is launching three pillar projects: Connected Ann Arbor, Connected Southeastern Michigan, and Automated Ann Arbor.  A PowerPoint file introducing the scope of the MTC projects can be found here:  These three pillars will ensure the University of Michigan creates and maintains world-leading research capabilities, technologies, policies, platforms and living laboratories for vehicle connectivity and automation serving society’s needs for the movement of people and freight.  Key MTC resources include (i) the Mobility Transformation Facility designed to enable connected and automated vehicle research and development to be commissioned around July 2015; and (ii) Collections of field naturalistic driving data.   Overall funding for MTC’s activities is coming from industry and government sources, as well as direct investment by a range of U-M units. MTC has created a Leadership Circle, with fourteen founding members who have pledged financial support, including MTC’s development of the three pillar projects, and the conduct of a pooled research program.  This RFP, the second released by MTC, is therefore funded in large part by the membership fees from the LC companies.  Projects selected for this RFP are expected to develop key mobility system concepts and technologies that support the goals, and leverage the resources, of MTC.  The project PIs are encouraged to work closely with researchers from these LC companies to develop their research project concept, and during the execution of the projects.   

MTC Research Topics

MTC will consider a wide array of research topics, including but not limited to

  • Automation
  • Business models
  • Congestion management and reduction
  • Connectivity
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Analytics
  • Energy
  • Human Factors
  • Infrastructure Design and urban planning
  • Insurance implications
  • ITS Interoperability
  • Legal Issues
  • Mobility/Congestion
  • Public Policy
  • Regulatory Issues
  • Safety
  • Standards
  • Social Implications

More specifically, the LC members of MTC have indicated that the following areas are of highest value to them:

            For Connected Vehicles/Infrastructure: Day one value, Supporting infrastructure, and Public-private business model.

            For Automated Vehicles: Robust technology, Liability, and Customer acceptance.

            For Cross-cutting areas: Cybersecurity, Data analytics, Consumer behavior, Standards and infrastructure design.

The following are research questions that are of high interest to the founding member companies of MTC’s Leadership Circle:

  • What applications beyond safety bring day one value to the road users and stakeholders?
  • Reliable measure to quantify the benefits and acceptance of vehicle connectivity
  • What is the business model of infrastructure deployment?
  • How will a full scale Security Credential Management System (SCMS) function?
  • How do we certify new and additional connected and automated vehicle applications and hardware?
  • What role does the built infrastructure play in a connected and automated environment and specifically what upgrades or updates would be required?
  • The capabilities of cloud and non-cloud enabled automation.
  • What specific value does V2X bring to an automated vehicle?
  • What are the specific cybersecurity risks/needs of automated vehicles and the infrastructure?
  • What any changes if any are required to our legal system to      maximize the value to connected and automated vehicles?
  • How will fault be assessed in Automated Vehicle (AV) crashes?
  • Review of existing standards, efforts and gaps in automated and connected vehicles.

Program Structure

  • MTC strongly encourages proposals to be led by multiple University of Michigan PIs, and ideally from multiple units (departments and research groups).  Both Tenured/Tenure track faculty and research faculty (research scientists and research professors) are eligible to apply.
  • The proposal must include clear elaboration on how the research activities support one or more MTC pillars, address one or more of the LC’s high-priority research questions (see above) and/or MTC’s research goals, and how the team plans to leverage MTC resources. 
  • Teams are encouraged, but not required, to include non-university participants, especially researchers from the LC companies.  However, funds will be dispersed only to Michigan faculty.
  • Projects with total funding up to $200,000 will be considered.
  • Projects are encouraged to request MTF usage time, at no direct cost to the project.
  • Projects with a final demonstration phase to showcase the research results are highly encouraged.

Total funding available for this round of competition is about $1.6M.

Proposal Evaluation

The proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by MTC faculty council members and selected additional reviewers.  The review criteria include: 

  • Rigor and innovation of the proposed research.
  • How well the project supports and complements the vision, deployment pillars and leading research questions of MTC.
  • Quality of the proposing team, including external partners.
  • Potential for external funding.

Proposal Deadlines

Proposals for this round of funding are due January 31st, 2015.  The decision is expected to be made before March 10 for start date as early as May 1. 

Proposal Structure

  • Coversheet:  obtain signatures on the attached coversheet and include as the first component of the PDF file
  • Project Summary: follow the format shown on page 5 of this document
  • Proposal narrative:
    • Introduction: no more than 1 page
  • Technical approach: no more than 4 pages
  • Key innovation and relevance to MTC pillars: no more than 1 page
  • Plan for collaboration and attracting external funding: no more than 1 page
  • Itemized Budget and budget justification: no more than 2 pages total
  • Short bios of the PIs: no more than 2 pages for each member

Please send your proposal in the form of a single PDF file to Vicki Waters at ( 

Partnerships for Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies (PISET)

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. The current program flyer is viewable here

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. 

Proposal Deadlines 

Applications  are due on October 31, 2014. For more information, contact Bart Bartlett


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

​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.