Call for Applications: Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency Research Seed Funds Program

Funding Opportunity for Faculty and Research Staff

September 25, 2020

Program Goal & Topics

The Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency aims to support research, educational, and entrepreneurial activities broadly in the area of data sharing, fair use of data, blockchains or related technologies.

The Center brings together cross-disciplinary teams to advance innovation in blockchain & data transparency and closely associated topics for the good of society and industries that will drive new science and technology, develop thought leadership, and influence policy.

The call invites proposals that explore topics that are aligned with the mission statement of the Center. Proposals exploring innovations in relevant technology areas such as blockchains, security, cryptography, network science, machine learning, and also business, legal and regulatory problems related to data transparency, data ownership, valuation, and its use in specific industries and applications.

The goal of this program is to support novel projects that are exploratory and not yet ready for funding from traditional sources. We anticipate successful projects will be able to secure long-term funding from external sources after completion of the seed projects.

Funding and Obligations

Funding is available for up to five projects, up to $100,000 annually. As a condition of funding, awardees will be required to submit quarterly financial reviews and biannual progress reports. All reports must include progress on external funding proposal submission(s). Furthermore, the awardees would be expected to participate in furthering the mission of the Center by acknowledging the support in all papers on the topics, and participating in workshops and demo days, as appropriate.

Proposal Process

The deadline for submission is October 30, 2020 by 4:00 pm. We will not accept incomplete or late submissions. We anticipate notifying award recipients by November 21, 2020.

Please submit the following materials via email, in .doc or .pdf format, to: [email protected], by the October 30, 2020, 4:00 pm deadline:

  • Application Cover Page (download here)
  • Project Proposal (5-page maximum, single space, 12-font, Times New Roman)
  • Budget in Excel (download template here) with a budget justification. Funds will be awarded as an Industry Grant (PG Project) with 35% IC to be included in your budget.
  • CV’s for Faculty/Collaborators (2 page NSF style format)
  • The proposals will be reviewed by a technical committee consisting of researchers drawn from relevant Departments and Schools across Columbia University and from IBM. The final selection will be done by the Center Steering Committee.

All the software and copyrightable material created in the performance of the projects funded by these seed grants must be made publicly available, either by publication or by open source license or open copyright license. Unless otherwise agreed upon, Columbia will grant a license for patents (if any) filed for inventions developed under support of this seed funding to IBM which will be worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, and non-transferable.

Projects Funded by the Center in the past

Here is a summary of research projects funded by the Center during Year 1 (2018-2019) and Year 2 (2019-2020). Most recently the Center has supported three research projects through a special call focused on COVID-19-related research and aimed at delivering tangible results. Projects were situated in both Columbia Engineering and the Columbia Business School, from developing metrics to assess the resiliency and sustainability of a multi-tier supply chain food system to studying choice architecture to promote widespread adoption and use of contact tracing apps

Review Criteria

All projects must be relevant to data transparency and blockchain, and the proposers should select the areas closest to their proposal in the section on Program Goals. The following criteria will be used in ranking and selecting submissions for seed funding:

  1. Impact on advancing the state of the art of the proposed project
  2. Novelty of the proposed project
  3. Need of the seed funding for the success of this project
  4. The intended follow-up to apply for subsequent external funding
  5. The review committee will rank projects within each area, and recommend a portfolio of projects across the areas for possible funding
  6. Impact on establishing legal systems or policies needed for broad applications of blockchain and data transparency technologies