The University of Michigan is today unveiling a new way to encourage faculty research innovation. In a $15 million program called MCubed, faculty members will receive a token for $20,000. When three faculty members decide to "cube" their tokens and work together on a project, they will receive -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- $60,000 to hire one graduate student, undergraduate student, or postdoctoral researcher to begin work on the idea. Thirty faculty members could cube together and get funds for 10 such positions. The idea is to let researchers quickly move toward testing their projects, rather than going through the long peer review process to receive an initial planning grant. Michigan officials hope these "cubed" grants will let researchers move quickly into position to apply for much larger outside grants.
“The world has changed and yet higher education’s funding model is the same. With the speed at which people communicate and share information today, we see an opportunity to do things in a very different way. This is a totally new model that could turn things upside down,” said Mark Burns, professor and chair of chemical engineering. Burns developed the idea with Alec Gallimore and Thomas Zurbuchen, both associate deans in the College of Engineering.