Research Excellence Fund (REF) - Infrastructure Enhancement Grants (IE)

Infrastructure Enhancement Grants

Budget Deadline: February 28, 2019 at 4 p.m.

Proposal Deadline: March 7, 2019 at 4 p.m.

PI Eligibility: Each department, school, center, and institute (one per) is allowed to designate/sponsor an academic faculty or research staff member as the PI. 

PI Limitations: A PI may only submit one proposal per category (see FAQs).

Project Duration: Projects are 13 months long, July 1st to August 31st of the following year.

Program Description

REF Infrastructure Enhancement (REF-IE) grants are designed to provide Departments/Schools and Research Centers/Institutes with resources to develop the infrastructure necessary to support sponsored research and graduate student education. Funded projects will typically focus on acquisition of equipment, enhancement of laboratory facilities, or enhancement of administrative support structure to expand the research capability of the unit. Administration support structure can include support for personnel directly responsible for the affected research infrastructure (e.g., an equipment technician or research scientist/engineer).  REF-IE grants may be up to $50,000, are limited to the award period outlined above, and cannot be extended. Unexpended funds at the end of the project period will revert to the VPR office. Two or more departments may jointly submit a proposal. This program is restricted to infrastructure that will not be housed in a Core Facility.

If submitting a health-oriented research proposal for infrastructure, please review the Portage Health Foundation Research Awards for more information.

Evaluation of Proposals

 REF-IE proposals will be evaluated on:

  • Extent of enhancement of the University's research capability.
  • The likelihood of leading to future sponsored research funding and graduate student support.
  • Contribution to the achievement of the University and strategic plans.
  • Matching funds are not required; however evidence of a departmental commitment to the project needs to be clear in the proposal, as well as reasoning for a lack of cost share.

Proposal Format

All proposals must include a completed Required Elements Checklist—IE to ensure all necessary documents have been submitted. Please review this checklist prior to writing your proposal as it explains the requirements and page limits.

The proposal must be formatted according to the following guidelines or it will be returned without review:

  • Times New Roman font at a font size of 12 point. A smaller font size may be used for mathematical formulas, equations, figures, tables, or diagram captions. This text must still be readable.
  • Margins in all directions must be at least one inch.
  • The proposal must be single spaced.
  • Page numbers should be placed at the bottom center of each page with the exception of attachments.

With an expectation of a heavy volume of submission for this competition, please adhere to all guidelines including the proposal format.

Management Plan

All REF-IE proposals must include a management plan section, which is a summary of how the equipment will be used and maintained. The proposer needs to outline the following on their Management Plan:

  • Equipment Operation
    • Identify who will be in charge of and responsible for the equipment.
    • Identify potential users of the equipment.
      • Will it be used by students?
      • Will it be used across campus?
      • Will it only be used by a specific department?
  • Training of Users
    • Identify who will train the equipment users.
    • Identify how they will be trained.
  • Use Fee Structure
  • Maintenance Plan
    • Describe how will you cover maintenance over the years.
    • Identify who will perform up-keep and maintenance of the equipment.
    • Identify how this will be executed.
    • Estimate the cost maintenance.

Budget Information

Budgets, budget justifications, quotes, and cost share forms (if cost share is used) must be submitted to the Sponsored Programs Office by the budget deadline. Budgets must be approved by the Sponsored Programs Office prior to the proposal deadline.

  • Budgets will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.
  • Proposed budgets should be clear and detailed, and must fully justify all expenditures.
  • If you are requesting equipment that is more than $5,000, quotes must be provided.
  • The F&A rate on all REF budgets is 0%.
  • Please use this provided budget spreadsheet to complete your budget.

Unallowable Expenditures

  • Faculty salary (including summer salary and academic release time).
  • Graduate student support (stipend, tuition, hourly, etc). Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowed during the summer semester.

Student Support Limitations

  • Undergraduate support is allowable and needs to be clearly justified in the proposal.
  • Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowable during the summer semester.

Cost Share

All cost share is to be disclosed in the budget justification and shown on the budget worksheet. You must also submit a completed Cost Share Authorization form (which is located on the Banner Self Service Site).

Budget Submission

Please submit all of your budget materials and completed Cost Share/Matching Support Authorization Form to

Proposal Submission Requirement

  • Please submit the required elements checklist, transmittal form, proposal, budget, cost share form (if cost share is used), quotes (if applicable), and sponsorship letter of support as one PDF file to
  • Submit one copy of final proposal to the appropriate Dean for review; the Dean will submit their letter of support directly to the Natasha Chopp at If you are submitting as the Dean, submit one copy of the final proposal to the Provost for review. The Provost will submit their letter of support directly to the Natasha Chopp at

Department, School, Center/Institute Sponsorship

To be eligible, the PI's must have a designation/sponsorship from a department, school, or center/institute. Each department, school or center/institute can designate one PI. This requires the respective department chair, school dean, or center/institute director to include with the letter of support a responsibility statement which outlines their long-range support for ensuring equipment maintenance and shared access to appropriate research faculty and staff.

Dean Requirement

The Dean will send their letter of support directly to Natasha Chopp at Letters are due within seven calendar days of the proposal deadline. If faculty members from the same college/school submit multiple proposals, the Dean needs to prioritize the proposals from the college/school based on need and benefit.

Award Modifications

If you need to make a modification to your REF award end date or budget, please send a completed Request for Modification Form (see resources box on this page) via email to The form should provide a justification for the requested change and be signed by the required individuals. Please send the document as a PDF file.