SEEDS program addresses key issues through grants

A word cloud about agbiosciences.

The agriculture industry increasingly links with other industries to take on common challenges in key areas such as food production and security, energy and the environment and health and wellness. These industries rely on researchers to further their goals and create new opportunities. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) SEEDS program supports innovative and interdisciplinary research that can be applied to industry and the community on a global scale.

Each year, CFAES researchers are invited to participate in the SEEDS program, an internal competition for funding. Since the program was established in 1996, SEEDS has been addressing the challenges and opportunities of Ohio’s agbioscience industry. By fostering high-quality research among scientists, SEEDS enables these scientists to collect the preliminary data needed to give them a competitive edge in national programs and provides them with leverage to attract industry support.

“Agbioscience: the integration of scientific disciplines to address critical needs of food security, safety and health; environmental sustainability; and biobased energy, fuel and products.”

In FY 2017 the three faculty competitions were overhauled to meet the changing needs of CFAES. The SEEDS Early Career Investigator grants are designed to provide resources to untenured, tenure-track faculty who have been employed for less than six years. These faculty members have an opportunity to develop new methods, explore new, innovative areas of research and generate the preliminary data needed to prepare for competitive extramural proposals. A total of 31% of the proposals submitted were funded in CY 2017.

The former Interdisciplinary competition became the SEEDS Team Science Competition, allowing for additional collaboration within CFAES departments. This competition rewards proposals that generate new, innovative research in emerging areas central to the CFAES mission. It is expected that this competition will encourage the development of new scholarly teams among faculty from diverse disciplines. In CY 2017, three proposals were funded out of 18 submitted (17%).

The Partnership Competition, which replaced the Industry Small and Matching Competitions, focuses on collaboration with industry and non-profit foundations or other non-traditional sources of funding. The Partnership Competition allows for researchers to develop productive relationships with industry and community partners, engage in innovative research, generate additional support for their research programs and promote technology transfer between the University and partner. In CY 2017 this competition had a 67% funding rate.

SEEDS also provides grant opportunities for CFAES students. Both the Graduate and Undergraduate Research Programs prepare students for research career paths and encourage the creation of close student-faculty mentoring. In CY 2017, 19 student proposals were funded out of 74 submitted (26%).

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the SEEDS program in 2018, SEEDS grants have supported research projects of $24,762,327 and have received more than $145,583,880 in matching and extramural funding – a return of $5.88 for each dollar invested. Overall, the SEEDS program funds 32% of faculty submitted applications.

To read more about previously funded projects, you can download the 2016 SEEDS Report of Progress or view the 2017 SEEDS grant recipients at https://grants.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/seeds/seeds-awards. Please direct any questions about the SEEDS program to Melissa Burant, burant.2@osu.edu.