Simons Foundation Math and Physical Sciences Award – DUE: 10-3-18

Toshiba K-5 Grant – DUE: 10-1-18
August 5, 2018
VentureWell E-Team Grants – DUE: 10-3-18
August 15, 2018

The Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) division invites applications for the Simons Collaborations in MPS program.

Amount: $2 million per year
Deadline for LOI: 10-3-18
Deadline for Full Proposal: 2-15-18


The aim of the Simons Collaborations in MPS program is to stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in mathematics, theoretical physics and theoretical computer science.

Basis for Awards

A Simons Collaboration in MPS should address a mathematical or theoretical topic of fundamental scientific importance, where a significant, new development creates a novel area for exploration or provides a new direction for progress in an established field. The questions addressed by the collaboration may be concrete or conceptual, but there should be little doubt that answering them would constitute a major scientific milestone. The project should have clearly defined initial activities and goals by which progress and success can be measured. The support from the foundation should be seen as critical for the objectives of the project.

The project should involve outstanding researchers with a range of career stages. Excellence of the scientific leadership is one of the main criteria in the selection process. The project should be organized and managed in a manner engendering a high level of collaboration.

Collaboration Director and Principal Investigators (PIs)

Each collaboration is led by a collaboration director, who is expected to determine the scientific agenda, coordinate the scientific activities of the other members, determine (in collaboration with the other members) the scientific themes, coordinate a collaboration website, and organize collaboration meetings and activities as appropriate, including a two-day annual conference at the foundation. The director will be the foundation’s main point of contact for the activities of the collaboration and will be responsible for monitoring the overall progress of the research effort and deciding on research directions and personnel as the collaboration evolves.

PIs are expected to perform research that advances the goals of the collaboration and to collaborate as appropriate with other members of the collaboration. PIs are also expected to assist the director and other PIs in fulfilling the additional collaboration obligations outlined above.

Attendance at the annual conference, monthly meetings and other lectures is expected for each collaboration member.

Proposals should specify a core group of founding PIs. Additional PIs may be added at later stages as the collaboration evolves. Inter-institutional and international collaborations are allowed.

Level and Duration of Funding

A Simons Collaboration in MPS is budgeted at up to $2 million per year for an initial period of four years. The scientific impact of the collaboration will be evaluated at the year-four annual meeting and an extension of three additional years may be granted. The foundation would allow the annual budget to vary somewhat from $2 million, as long as the total four-year budget is no more than $8 million.

Please be cognizant of the notification and award start dates when preparing the year-one budget, particularly with regards to the hiring of postdoctoral fellows.

Allowable Expenses

The funding provided under a Simons Collaboration in MPS may be used to support research expenses in the following categories:

  • Up to one month of summer salary support and related benefits for the collaboration director and each PI/co-I — These salary funds are not substitutional (cannot be used to relieve a university of salary costs) and cannot be used to reduce teaching loads below the departmental norm. They can only be used to supplement the salary similarly to a summer salary in the U.S. system.
  • Conferences and working meetings appropriate to the needs of the collaboration.
  • Teaching reduction down to the level of only one course per semester for the collaboration director — Teaching reduction for other collaboration members is not an allowable expense.
  • Salary support and related benefits, including tuition support, for staff/research scientists and postdoctoral, graduate and/or undergraduate research assistants.
  • Support for visitors and collaborators, including travel, meals and lodging expenses.
  • Research equipment, supplies and other expenses directly related to the research, including computers, computer support, professional literature, publication expenses and professional membership dues.
  • Collaboration-related domestic or international travel for collaboration members per the institution’s travel policies — Parking, hotel, taxi, registration and other related travel and conference costs are allowable.
  • Support costs for a Collaboration administrator.
  • Other expenses related to the support and administration of the Collaboration (i.e., web design).

Expenditures in other expense categories may be possible but must be approved in advance by the foundation.

Please see the foundation’s grant policies on our website for further guidelines. Note that travel expenses are not capped at $4,000 per year per individual for this program.

The collaboration budget must include discretionary funds, amounting to at least 10 percent of the collaboration budget, to be held at the foundation and made available to be used at the discretion of the director for the annual meeting, workshops, the addition of PIs to the collaboration and other related collaboration expenses. Please note that typical annual collaboration meetings hosted at the Simons Foundation with around 60 participants cost $100,000; this includes travel to/from the meeting. Please factor this in when preparing the budget. Costs for meetings and workshops held at the foundation will be paid directly by the foundation from the discretionary funds.


Personnel: The collaboration director must hold a tenured faculty, or equivalent, position at a U.S. or Canadian institution with a Ph.D. program in the director’s department. PIs must hold a tenured or tenure-track faculty, or equivalent, position at an educational institution. There are no restrictions on the department and/or discipline of the director or PIs. PIs and other collaboration participants may be from non-U.S. institutions.

An individual may be part of more than one letter of intent (LOI) or full proposal, as long as all eligibility requirements are met. There is no LOI limit per institution or individual. A PI on a currently funded collaboration project cannot be part of an LOI or proposal. Additionally, current Math+X Investigators cannot be funded PIs in a collaboration.

Institutions: Funding to U.S. national labs or salary support of scientists employed at these labs is not allowed. Scientists employed at national labs may be non-funded collaboration members, and collaboration funding may be used to support travel or local expenses related to the participation of the lab-based scientist in collaboration activities, or to support travel and local expenses of students or postdoctoral fellows appointed at universities who work with collaboration members at national labs.

For-profit institutions are also not eligible to receive grant funds.

Unspent Funds

Unexpended funds totaling 25 percent or less of the approved annual budget will automatically carry forward to the next funding year. A carry forward of unexpended funds totaling more than 25 percent of the approved annual budget will require formal approval. The director and PIs may apply for up to a 12-month no-cost extension request for non-PI summer salary and fringe benefit funds unexpended at the conclusion of the collaboration. Unspent funds at the end of the collaboration must be returned to the foundation.


The director will provide the foundation with one progress report for the entire collaboration within 60 days after the completion of each grant year. The institution of each PI will be responsible for submitting a separate financial statement for each award within 60 days after the completion of each grant year.

Number of Awards

The foundation expects to make up to two awards in 2019.

How to Apply

Letter of Intent:
Collaboration directors must submit an LOI through proposalCENTRAL ( LOIs are due by October 3, 2018, at 11:59:59 p.m. EDT.

Please refer to the How to Apply tab for further instructions.

Notification of the status of the LOI will be sent by December 1, 2018.

Please note that the volume of interest in this program is such that the foundation is not able to provide advance guidance on potential proposals. We use the LOI stage to assess suitability and novelty. The foundation recommends submitting an LOI if an applicant believes his/her research meets the criteria outlined in the RFA.

Full Proposal

A review of the LOI may lead to a request for a full proposal, which will be due by February 15, 2019, at 11:59:59 p.m. EDT.

After review of the full proposals, project teams may be invited to come to the foundation to present their research plan.