ASPIRE: Advanced Support for Innovative Research Excellence
Through the ASPIRE program, USC faculty have the opportunity to compete for funding
to begin a promising new research endeavor for later external funding, build up a
collaborative, interdisciplinary research project and/or invest in the university's
research infrastructure. The goal of these investments is to enhance the University
of South Carolina's research capabilities.
The Office of the Vice President for Research is proud to invest in USC's present
and future research excellence through the Advanced Support for Innovative Research
Excellence, or ASPIRE program. Through this program, USC faculty have the opportunity
to compete for funding in three primary tracks, each designed to bolster research
excellence at the university.
ASPIRE-I: Innovation funding is designed to support faculty seeking to develop a relatively new line of
research exploration for which they ultimately plan to seek new scholarly pursuits,
including external funding.
ASPIRE-II: Integration encourages interdisciplinary, collaborative research by funding meritorious projects
undertaken by groups of at least three faculty representing a minimum of two USC colleges
ASPIRE-III: Infrastructure helps faculty researchers invest in multi-user research equipment and/or facilities
that will enhance USC's research infrastructure.
Complete details about each funding track, including eligibility information, sample
requests for proposals and other required documentation are included below. If you
have additional questions about the ASPIRE program, please contact Associate Director
of Research and Grant Development, Beth Herron.
ASPIRE-I: Innovation funding is provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research
to encourage faculty to develop individual innovative research projects leading to
the pursuit of external funding or to the promotion of scholarly activities.
ASPIRE-I: Innovation is unique among the three primary ASPIRE funding tracks, in that
it includes four sub-tracks, each designed to support junior or senior faculty members
with their unique funding needs for research projects that are early in the development
process, or that have been previously funded by grants that were not renewed. The
four sub-tracks are:
Track I funds will be for Junior Faculty (tenure-track assistant professors only) and will
be awarded to encourage the development of research projects for further extramural
funding or other scholarly pursuits.
Track II funds will be awarded to research faculty (non-tenure track, assistant professor
level and above, but not for postdoctoral fellows) to encourage the development of
research projects for further extramural funding.
Track III funds will be awarded as bridge funds to faculty (tenure-track, tenured or research
faculty) who have not been able to renew their recent grants.
Track IV funds will be awarded as innovative and exploratory grants for senior faculty (tenure-track
or tenured associate and full professors) to expand or re-focus their research.
ASPIRE-II: Integration funding is provided by the Vice President's Office for Research
to support research involving at least two or more colleges/schools. This call is
aimed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between at least 3 or more faculty
members to develop preliminary data to apply for targeted program projects, Centers
of Excellence grants or similar mechanisms of extramural funding. The goal of this
internal grant is to seed new, or support existing, collaborative interdisciplinary
research that is nationally and internationally competitive and has a strong potential
to be supported and sustained by external funding agencies.
ASPIRE-III: Infrastructure funding is provided by the Office of the Vice President
for Research to develop infrastructure such as multi-user equipment and facilities
with cutting-edge technology that is critical to the growth and competitiveness of
USC's research portfolio. To pursue interdisciplinary research, it is critical that
we have a state-of-the-art research infrastructure that can be used to sustain existing,
and develop new interdisciplinary Centers of Excellence. This internal grant is aimed
at providing support for such ventures. ASPIRE III funds may be used to complement
extramural support for purchase of major equipment.
ASPIRE Requests for Proposals
The below Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are from the 2014 ASPIRE cycle (academic year
2013-14), and are provided here for detailed planning and reference purposes. Updated
RFPs will be posted for the 2015 cycle in October 2014.
Faculty apply for ASPIRE funding through USCeRA, the University of South Carolina electronic research administration software system,
but some forms must be completed outside of the system, and then attached. Additionally,
some steps in the ASPIRE application process in USCeRA might require guidance. Below,
you will find the forms and guidelines necessary to complete the application process
for ASPIRE-I, -II and -III funding.