The MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium requests proposals for its inaugural round of seed awards.
Questions should be submitted to: mcsc@mit.edu

The MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium is a cross-institute effort, spanning all five schools and the College of Computing, aimed at accelerating implementation of large-scale, cross-sector, real-world solutions that address global climate and sustainability (C&S) challenges. The MCSC works to rapidly scale solutions by intensifying C&S efforts through industry collaboration linked with MIT expertise across interdisciplinary domains. This proposal request articulates one of several ways that the MCSC seeks principal investigator (PI) engagement to link the work of the consortium to ongoing and emerging C&S efforts on campus. To learn more about the MCSC and PI engagement across the MCSC, please visit this page on the MCSC website.

The MCSC’s efforts in implementation focus on assembling teams of MIT researchers who can leverage the expertise and interest of the MCSC member companies to amplify and extend the Institute’s strong foundation in C&S. An outcome of the MCSC’s work to date is the launch of several initial focus areas listed below. Many of these areas offer significant opportunity to link with existing efforts on campus as well as the Climate Grand Challenge teams. This Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks input and engagement from interested researchers in the MIT community related to these areas, although proposals in other C&S areas are also of interest. Proposals are encouraged to involve multi-department collaborations across the Institute.

The MCSC anticipates there will be approximately 20 seed awards, with a focus on funding postdoctoral associates or research assistants. Award sizes can be up to $250K over 2 years. This RFP is open to all who, at the start of funding, are MIT faculty or members of the research staff with principal investigator privileges. No researcher may be listed as PI on more than 2 proposals submitted to this RFP. While not necessary, submitters are welcome to identify a specific postdoctoral associates or graduate student researcher at the time of submission.

RFP issued: January 14, 2022

Grant application deadline: February 18, 2022

Notifications made: Early April (2022)

Proposals do not need to be routed through RAS and should be submitted to mcsc@mit.edu; download the proposal form here and the budget form here (if you have any trouble downloading those documents, e-mail mcsc@mit.edu). Please note that the budget form was updated February 11.

Proposals should include the following (letters of support from industry are NOT expected):

  • Proposal title
  • Brief abstract
  • PI/co-PI names and affiliations
  • These sections should be contained within three pages exclusive of figures and references
    • Motivation and research question
    • Work plan
    • Deliverables
    • Team expertise relevant to the topic at hand
    • Assessment of relevance to the MCSC
  • References
  • Proposed researcher profile, if appropriate
  • Preliminary budget and narrative explaining the costs, which should focus on postdoctoral associate and graduate student support

The criteria for selection will emphasize 1) the relevance to the consortium’s activities and mission, 2) importance to C&S and potential impact of the work, as well as 3) the extent of cross-disciplinary and cross-economy emphasis of the proposed activities. Consideration will also be made regarding how the proposed work complements ongoing research on campus and the prospects for long-term funding to continue  the project beyond the period of performance.

The proposal review and awards process will be overseen by the MCSC leadership team as well as the MCSC Faculty Steering Committee, a group of twelve faculty experts across the institute. Anyone considering submitting a proposal is encouraged to reach out to the MCSC leadership to discuss ideas and for help identifying potential collaborators as well as synergies with the MCSC member interests. The review process is iterative, the FSC and the MCSC leadership will work with submitters to refine activities to address the goals of the consortium as well as PI interests.

  1. Project management – The PI is directly responsible for performance of the work in the proposal and should not serve as proxy for
  2. Proposal Limit – No researcher may be listed as PI on more than two proposals
  3. Collaboration – Collaborations either within or between departments, but particularly cross-schools – are strongly encouraged. Awards will be made to MIT PIs only.
  4. Deliverables – PIs are expected to develop a plan for engagement in collaboration with the MCSC leadership and FSC at the beginning of the award period and revisit this plan as changes emerge, but at least at the end of the first year.

More details can be provided on the MCSC’s specific foci within these areas. Initial area descriptions are found here. Please contact mcsc@mit.edu for more information.

  1. Sustainable supply chains: roadmap for tough to decarbonize transportation modes.
  2. Value chain resilience in the context of a changing climate.
  3. Unlocking circularity across the value chain to improve materials recovery.
  4. Lowering environmental impact and increasing performance and scalability of packaging materials.
  5. Community-centered enhancement of natural carbon sinks through improved measurement, management, and implementation.
  6. Blueprinting process for de-risking carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration.
  7. Data in climate and sustainability towards better data driven decisions and research.
  8. Equity-centered sustainable solution-building in climate and sustainability.

This FAQ section will be regularly updated as we receive and answer questions that will help applicants.

Q: What is the review process for the proposals?
A: The proposal awards process will be overseen by the MCSC leadership team as well as the MCSC Faculty Steering Committee. The criteria for selection is based on relevance to the consortium’s mission and importance to climate and sustainability.

Q: I am not prepared to submit a proposal for this round, but would be interested in the future. When will your next round of funding be available?
A: We expect another call for proposals in early 2023.

Q: I am interested in working with the Consortium, but don’t fit the criteria to apply for the 2022 MCSC Seed Awards. How else can I get involved?
A: Please visit our Faculty Engagement page to see how we might be able to work together, including collaborating with our members companies, mentoring MCSC Impact Fellows, and hiring UROPs.

Q: Should I still apply if my project is not directly related to an MCSC focus area, but is still relevant or related to your work?
A: We welcome any proposal that is relevant to climate and sustainability. Please reach out if you would like input on the relevance of your topic to the consortium’s areas of focus. We expect to fund exceptional proposals in other areas.

Q: Are letters of support from industry necessary as part of the application process?
A: No; the MCSC can link teams to our member companies after submission if that is of interest.