Challenge Grants

Award Cycle: Annual 
Limit on Proposals per PI: An individual may participate as PI on one Challenge Grant per cycle. 
Next Due Date: April 3, 2023
Award Period: July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024
Applications:  Accepted through Arizona Cultivate 


The Challenge Grant program is program focused on high-risk, high-reward research opportunities to foster new collaborations in solving our most pressing challenges. Applicants must propose transformational research instead of incremental advances.


This opportunity seeds new collaborations and activities that have the potential to offer transformative advancements and engage with blue sky thinking without institutional or implicit bias, which can emerge even with the best designed peer review process. After administrative review to confirm basic intent of the program, awards are chosen at random until funding for the program is exhausted. This will occur in two tiers (those that meet the criteria and those that exceed the criteria) based on the information outlined below.


Awardees will receive up to $50,000 over the course of the project period. Proposed projects must address a local, regional, or national grand challenge.


Proposed projects must include:

  1. Investigators from multiple colleges. Applicants must include investigators from at least three colleges. Partnerships with colleges underrepresented from traditional research opportunities and sponsorship will be elevated into the “exceeds” tier.
  2. Investigators of faculty at all ranks. Applicants must include faculty at the assistant, associate, and full professor ranks.

In addition, teams may partner with non-academic campus units. Applicants that choose to partner with non-academic units on campus will elevate into the “exceeds” tier.


Proposal preparation is not subject to the RII Proposal Preparation Guide (PPG) v8 except for final reporting purposes as a final report is expected. Instead, applicants will need to submit a PDF with the following (include word count totals at the start of each section):

  1. 250 words on the grand challenge and the team’s motivation for addressing it
  2. 500-word summary of the proposed effort targeting a non-specialist audience
  3. 250-word outcome statement
  4. 500-word narrative

In addition, applicants will need to enter information on each of the investigators (up to ten, if there are additional team members a supplemental document with a table of the team, their appointment, department, college, and subject area should be submitted) and a simple project budget should be included. You may reference the PPG for allowable budget items.


Investigators are encouraged to ensure that their department heads are aware of their proposed Challenge Grant efforts. Prior to award, RII will confirm with each investigator’s department and college.


Please note there is a new budget approval process that utilizes an applicant driven routing step after submission. Applicants will input the email address of their business officer or award/research administrator when prompted at the end of the application prior to submission. The email address should be for the person who has authority to create, review, and approve the budget. The system will send a link for approval via the email listed to the business officer or award/research administrator where they may confirm they reviewed and approved the submitted budget. This approval step is required before an application is accepted for compliance checks and formal review. The deadline for business officer or award/research administrator is April 4, 2023 at noon, so it is recommended to communicate with this individual about your budget and this process in advance.






Last updated: February 13, 2023

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