W.M. Keck Foundation – June 2021 Research Grants Program

The Syracuse University Office of Research and the Office of Foundation Relations are pleased to announce the launch of the Limited Submission competition for the June 2021 cycle of the W.M. Keck Foundation Research Grants Program. The W.M. Keck Foundation supports pioneering science and engineering research and the development of promising new technologies. Syracuse University may select four applicants for this program. The deadline for 1-page concept papers is June 25.

Click here to view the full competition information.

Sponsor Link: Keck program announcement
Number of Possible Internal Nominees: 4
Internal Submission Due Date: Thursday, June 25, 2020
Selection Notifications: Anticipated July 7, 2020
Sponsor Deadline: November 2, 2020

A Limited Submission is a funding opportunity for which the sponsor sets an institutional limit for the number of proposals it will accept. In order to participate, Syracuse University must organize to submit our most competitive proposal(s). This requires an internal competition.

Synopsis of the Keck Research Program

The W.M. Keck Foundation supports pioneering science and engineering research and the development of promising new technologies. The Foundation strives to fund endeavors that are distinctive and novel in their approach. It encourages projects that are high-risk with the potential for transformative impact. “High-risk” comprises a number of factors, including questions that push the edge of the field, present unconventional approaches to intractable problems, or challenge the prevailing paradigm. In all our programs, “transformative” may mean creation of a new field of research, development of new instrumentation enabling observations not previously possible, or discovery of knowledge that challenges prevailing perspectives

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in research that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

Note: It is the University’s experience that the Foundation does not fund projects which are squarely within the mission for a federal funding agency. Projects should be outside of bounds of what would normally be funded by organization such as NSF, NIH, DOE, etc.

See the Keck web site for a list of project not available for funding.

Eligibility and Funding

Senior, Mid and Early Career investigators are encouraged to apply. Co-PIs are permitted.

Historically, grants range from $500,000 to $5,000,000, and are typically $2,000,000 or less. In the last cycle, awards were $1,000,000-$1,100,000, so we advise applying for $1,000,000.


Pre-application Counseling*Phase I Application DeadlineNotification of Invitation to Submit Full ProposalFull Proposal Deadline

July 1 to August 15
November 1   January 15      February 15

Application Materials

Applicants must submit a 1-page research concept page and a summary CV. Full details of application requirements may be found on the Syracuse University Application Portal.

Limited Submission Selection Process:

If the number of proposals submitted exceeds the number that the University can submit to the sponsor, peer review will be triggered. Under the peer review process, limited submission applications will undergo peer review. This group will rank the proposals in several categories, including:

  • Does the applicant propose a project that focuses on important and emerging areas of research? Does it have the potential to be transformative in its field?
  • Does the applicant sufficiently describe the proposed project to a general science audience? Are the proposed outcomes reasonable given the scope of work?
  • Has the applicant made a sufficient case that this work is high-risk and unlikely to be funded by other sources? Evidence of rejection by federal funders is viewed favorably by Keck.

The PIs of projects selected to move forward with full proposals will be notified by email by July 7 (anticipated). Per the sponsor restrictions, no more than four submissions will be selected. After selection, the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations will work with applicants to develop proposals for submission to the Foundation.

At the discretion of the Office of Research, internal proposals submitted past the internal deadline will be considered for a full submission to the sponsor, on a case-by-case basis, if the addition of a proposal would not exceed our institutional limit.

Questions: Email LimitedSubmissions@syr.edu

View competition