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UW–Madison initiative to promote university-industry research and education partnerships

February 2, 2021 By Natasha Kassulke

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education has launched a new funding effort to facilitate university research partnerships and graduate student internships in collaboration with the private sector. The strategic initiative, Promoting Industry Collaboration, is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

“We know that research collaborations between universities and industry can lead to economic development, innovation and discovery,” says Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “The goal of this initiative is to spark new collaborations with industry, stimulate innovative thinking among students, and promote translation of fundamental research.”

Award requests may be between $50,000 and $200,000; up to $2 million is targeted for this initiative. Projects can be for one or two years and are expected to leverage research strengths and other resources unique to each group to advance a shared research goal.

“The initiative also seeks to address solutions to complex social, environmental and economic challenges such as energy, food, health and security, that are best addressed through collaboration between universities and industry,” says Cynthia Czajkowski, associate vice chancellor for research in the biological sciences.

Potential proposals include those that launch cutting-edge fundamental research in science, engineering and technology with the potential to drive innovation; those focused on developing applications for university-industry cooperative research centers; and those that seed pilot studies for future proposals that specifically target partnerships between UW–Madison and industry.

The Promoting Industry Collaboration Initiative also supports semester or semester-plus-summer internships for Ph.D. students with dissertator status. The internship must be related to the student’s research project.

“This initiative should provide our Ph.D. students experience in the private sector and professional development skills relevant to multiple career pathways,” Czajkowski says.

To apply, the lead principal investigator must be a UW–Madison faculty member or a researcher with permanent PI status and the application must have an industry collaborator. By accepting this grant, all participants agree that any improvements, invention or new innovation that occurs as a result of this funding will be disclosed and assigned to WARF.

PICI awards cannot be used to fund industry personnel, but funding can be used for services and products.  Some level of matching support is required. Funding for industry personnel are expected to be covered by the industry partner and can be considered matching funds.

A cover sheet with a 300-word abstract is due March 5. The complete proposal is due April 9. Award recipients will be notified in June.

A faculty committee of subject matter experts will review the proposals to identify those that hold the most promise for meeting the goals of this initiative. The committee will then make recommendations to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, which will make final selections.

To learn more about the initiative and to find the online application form, visit

For questions regarding submitting an abstract, the full submission or eligibility, please contact the appropriate divisional associate vice chancellor for research (see For general and technical questions, email