The DSI Seed Funds Program supports research collaborations between data scientists and domain experts.

Program Goals

The DSI Seed Funds Program supports new collaborations with the goal of developing longer term and deeper interdisciplinary relationships among faculty at Columbia. The program aims to advance research that combines data science expertise with domain expertise. 

Proposals should represent new collaborations, which have the potential to lead to future funding opportunities with government, industry, or foundations. DSI Seed Funds should be viewed as planning grants for upcoming solicitations from DARPA, NIH, NSF, and others. 

Special consideration will be given to proposals that take into account the responsible use of data to benefit society.

Funding and Terms

DSI provides two levels of funding. Proposals should indicate which level of funding is being requested.

Funding Level Details
$25,000 (Maximum of 2 Years) Intended for projects where significant salary support of Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers, or research scientists is not needed.
$75,000 (Maximum of 2 Years) Proposed budget may include salary expenses for research support staff.

Seed Grant Terms (Both Levels)

  • Awardees will be required to submit quarterly financial reviews and biannual progress reports. 
  • Eligibility for Year 2 continued funding is determined after review of the first year progress report and a review of effective project expenditures to date. 
  • Progress reports must include details on external funding proposal submission(s) and other related activities (presentations,publications, etc.).
  • Projects that are awarded a second year of funding will be required to present their research findings to the Data Science Institute.

Avenues for Collaboration

Please be aware that DSI Research Scientists and Scholars may be available to collaborate on your proposal. Please reach out to them directly if this is of interest.

  • DSI Research Scientists and Scholars represent a wide range of expertise, from the foundations of data science to domains where data science is heavily used. Collaborating with a DSI research scientist or scholar may accelerate your research project.

Another avenue for potential collaborators is the Columbia Bridge to PhD Program in STEM

  • The Bridge to the Ph.D. Program in STEM is a structured, post-baccalaureate opportunity aimed to diversify the STEM professoriate and workforce. By including one of their scholars as part of your DSI Seed Funds research proposal, you contribute towards increasing pathways for underrepresented students to advance in STEM disciplines. The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement covers 70% of the scholar’s salary and fringe, with 30% (~$17K) expected from the sponsoring principal investigator (PI). Your DSI Seed Funds budget is eligible to cover the PI’s expected cost for sponsoring a scholar.

Criteria for Proposal

Seed fund determinations will be assessed based on the criteria below. Please consider addressing these questions in your proposal.

  1. Why is the proposed project novel? Additionally, describe the novelty of the collaboration in terms of people, disciplines, and/or schools. Contrast to prior work is recommended.
  2. Why is seed funding essential to the success of this project?
  3. How is the project necessarily inter-/multi-disciplinary?
  4. What is the intended follow-up for this project to obtain future funds, especially plans to submit to large-scale funding opportunities?

All projects must be relevant to advancing and/or applying data science as a field.

Questions can be directed to; or Radhika Patel, Chief Operating Officer at The Data Science Institute.