New Confluencenter Program to Fund Entrepreneurial Projects

New Confluencenter Program to Fund Entrepreneurial Projects

By La Monica Everett-HaynesUniversity Communications
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The "Innovation Farm" grant initiative will provide seed funding and staff support to interdisciplinary working groups.
The "Innovation Farm" grant initiative will provide seed funding and staff support to interdisciplinary working groups.

The Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry has just announced a new grant initiative that will provide critical seed funding to projects that are poised to impact the community and gain external funding.

The initiative, called "Innovation Farm," is supported by the center in partnership by the University of Arizona Office of the Vice President for Research. It provides seed funding and staff support to interdisciplinary working groups.

"Funding agencies want to see a precedent for this type of research," said Javier Durán, the center's director. "So Innovation Farm is about helping people get on their legs and creating a community of scholars that will gravitate toward the Confluencenter."

Applications are being accepted online now through March 24 for the first round of funding.

To inform the campus community about the requirements of the grant program, the center is hosting a workshop, “Confluencenter Funding Opportunities for Faculty," on Nov. 15, 10 a.m. to noon in the Copper Room of the Student Union Memorial Center. Because space will be limited, anyone who would like to participate must send an RSVP in advance to qualify, projects must:

  • Be defined as pilot activities that can span three semesters.
  • Be initiated by faculty members in the center's three core colleges, Fine Arts, Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.
  • Involve at least four faculty members with at least a .49 benefits-eligible appointment, and at least two of the four members must be from the center's core colleges.
  • Members of the general public may be part of each interdisciplinary working group, such as members of nonprofit organizations, independent artists or community and business leaders.
  • Group leaders should be tenure-eligible or tenured faculty.
  • Demonstrate a lasting effect on the institution, whether in the area of artistic life or scholarship.

"We aspire to fund ongoing and sustainable projects, those that that will clearly benefit from a pooling of intellectual and material resources," said Alice Ritscherle, the center's research coordinator.

Ritscherle and Durán said Innovation Farm ideas can include permanent art installations, technology trials, marketing campaigns, artistic performances, documentary films and the development of new research models, but are not restricted to such projects.

Teams that gain grant funding through the new program also will have access to Confluencenter facilities and staff.

In addition to having access to meeting space, faculty can also rely on the aid of Confluencenter staff when working to establish community connections, developing budget plans and writing grant proposals and preliminary reports, among other things, Ritscherle noted.

"There are so many faculty members who have these great ideas but don’t necessarily have the time or staff support to get projects off the ground," she said. "Each of these things is really critical to getting outside grants."  

Ritscherle also said the program is structured to help advance projects that may be viewed as exploratory or unconventional, but that also have important implications, not merely for academic communities, but for many other communities beyond campus.

"It's easy to take for granted how many huge advances come as a result of collaborations. Astronomers don't make their own telescopes, for example. Their work relies on the contributions of many people," Ritscherle said. "Innovation Farm is about encouraging people to work with the greater community, and vice versa, to come together in ways that are collaborative."

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