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Stanford Research Development Office (RDO)

Partnering with Stanford researchers to enhance proposal competitiveness.

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The Stanford Research Development Office (RDO) is a unit under VPDoR that aims to strengthen collaborative or strategic research, scholarship, and creative activities by helping to set PIs up for sponsored research funding success through project-opportunity alignment, early preparation, and proposal development support.

RDO is pleased to accept applications from Stanford faculty for Propel Grants, which aim to give Stanford-led teams a boost towards externally funded sponsored research awards.

Propel Grant Purpose

Propel Grants are designed to help Stanford-led research teams clear those final hurdles to submitting a competitive proposal for external funding.

Funded activities should support the development of key characteristics for grant success, which include:

  • a vetted vision, concept, and/or approach that fares well in review,
  • a demonstrated collaborative and cohesive team,
  • necessary preliminary data, proof of concept, and/or other elements to convince reviewers of feasibility,
  • alignment with and responsiveness to all sponsor and program goals, and
  • a well-written and beautifully illustrated proposal.

Two levels of funding are available.

  • $5,000: Small Propel Grants support administrative activities within the next six months.
  • Up to $50,000: Large Propel Grants support research activities within the next year.

Who should apply?

This is not a traditional seed grant. The program is intended to support projects which are:

  • already defined, with teams preparing to apply for external sponsored research funding
  • collaborative in nature and “beyond the usual” in scale* for their disciplines in terms of research scope, award budget, and team size.

*It is up to the applicants to explain how their team, project and proposal go “beyond the usual” in scale for their discipline.

RDO will award a portfolio of projects that represent the diversity and breadth of scholarly areas at Stanford. Preference will be given to disciplines or fields that have limited internal grant program support.

We are committed to creating an environment that values and embraces diversity: Applications from those persons who are typically underrepresented in their field are particularly encouraged.

3 Easy steps

  1. Evaluate your collaborative project scope and readiness for this program
  2. Determine which Propel Grant will enhance your proposal
  3. Submit your internal application
Small Propel Grant


These Small Propel Grants support collaborative teams who are actively developing or finalizing their proposal for external sponsored research funding in the next six months.

Large Propel Grant


These Large Propel Grants support collaborative teams who need to obtain specific data or other elements to convince reviewers of feasibility for their proposal for external sponsored research funding in the next year.

What previous VPDoR small planning grant recipients are saying

Yuri Suzuki Headshot

"The planning grant allowed me to pay an honorarium to my red team. This allowed us to get critical feedback on our proposal before submission from experts in my field as well as DOE leadership at SLAC." Yuri Suzuki, Professor of Applied Physics


Joe DeSimone Headshot

"Our proposal involved 5 other institutions and 16 PIs. In order to coordinate all the meetings to discuss the proposal structure, coordinate writing, and especially combining all other related materials for the grant, we needed extra admin support. This made it doable and we kept organized during the submission process." Joseph DeSimone, Professor of Translational Medicine and Chemical Engineering


Jen Dionne Headshot

"This seed planning grant was an outstanding resource for team formation, topic brainstorming, and writing activities. Having financial assistance to organize team activities allowed us to bring together the team more frequently and for more meaningful interactions than otherwise would have been possible." Jen DionneAssociate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Contact Us

We welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Please contact the program manager, Jessica Boydston, at

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