MIT Research Grants

J-WAFS has a number of grant programs that provide research funding to the MIT community.  Ranging from seed grants, commercialization grants, and sponsored research requiring an MIT Principal Investigator to smaller research grants for students, over $15 million has been distributed to the MIT community over the past five years to support critical water and food research.

Open RFPs

This new J-WAFS funding opportunity is for MIT researchers to address a significant “Grand Challenge” problem in water and/or food systems. Going beyond our seed grants, we seek to fund a larger, integrated project that addresses a significant challenge in the area of water and/or food for human need. This funding opportunity targets grand challenges in food and water that can leverage multiple existing areas of expertise, programs, and Institute resources. We wish to identify challenges that can benefit from actionable, solutions-oriented research.

Cross-disciplinary approaches are highly encouraged. Projects involving collaboration with non-MIT researchers or external stakeholders are encouraged, but please note that the J-WAFS funding itself will be limited to supporting MIT research.  We recognize that there is potential overlap with topics and teams emerging from the MIT Climate Grand Challenge.  While we would avoid funding research explicitly identified by any of the five Flagship projects that emerged from that process, we are open to complementary or synergistic topics.  

Teams must be led by a Principal Investigator who meets one of these two eligibility criteria:

•    MIT professor 
•    Member of the MIT research staff with principal investigator privileges (generally senior or principal research scientist, or senior or principal engineer)

We anticipate funding one 2-3 year project with a total budget of up to $1,500,000 (overhead free).  

This funding opportunity has a multi-step process, starting with submission of brief statements of interest describing an impact area, research topic, and/or approach.  Based on these, J-WAFS will identify a set of potential topics to advance.  Subsequent ideation workshops and J-WAFS input will help assemble a small number of teams to submit concept papers.  Following an external review process, two to three final proposals will be invited.  The following dates are approximate:

April 26, 2022:    Funding opportunity announced
June 24, 2022:     One-page statements of interest due     
July 2022:    Workshops
July/August, 2022:    Team formation
Sept 30:     Team concept papers due 
October 31:     Invitations to submit full proposals issued
February 2023:    Proposals due
Spring 2023:    Final funding decisions
Fall 2023:     Research starts

Ongoing

The J-WAFS Research Affiliate program is an opportunity for corporate, government, or non-profit partners to directly support and engage with the MIT research community to pursue research to answer specific water and food sector challenges that are identified by the sponsoring partner. Sponsored research projects funded through this program vary in funding level and duration. Engagement between Research Affiliate partners and MIT researchers is coordinated through J-WAFS.

Eligibility: Proposals for direct sponsored research projects are typically upon invitation by J-WAFS, but open requests for proposals may occasionally be posted here.

Currently Closed

The MIT-IIT Ropar Seed Fund supports grants of up to $30,000 for early-stage international collaborations between MIT and the Indian Institute for Technology Ropar (IIT Ropar). The Fund primarily supports the development of research projects related to water, food, and/or agriculture that involve collaboration between faculty and researchers at MIT and their counterparts at IIT Ropar. This J-WAFS grant program is offered as part of the MISTI Global Seed Funds portfolio, and is collaboratively managed by the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) and MIT India.

Eligibility: Proposals are sought from MIT principal investigators from all departments, labs, and centers of MIT. The principal investigator submitting the proposal must be an MIT professor or a member of the research staff with principal investigator privileges (generally senior or principal research scientist, or senior or principal engineer.) Proposals must be submitted jointly with a foreign colleague affiliated with the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar (IIT Ropar). Participants working in companies are not eligible to apply. All MISTI Global Seed Funds criteria apply. 

View the RFP and apply

 

 

The J-WAFS Grant for Transforming Animal Agriculture Systems is a funding opportunity for current members of the MIT community—including students—interested in addressing problems associated with industrial animal food production (IFAP). The production of food from animals, including meat, milk, and eggs, has largely been industrialized in developed countries, providing a substantial portion of the typical diet in those countries with minimal human labor, but imposing significant environmental and other impacts that are often poorly monitored and regulated, and largely unaccounted for in economic terms. Developing countries still largely rely on smaller farms, but IFAP is expanding as these countries seek to intensify their food production systems, while meat consumption in these countries rises as per capita income increases. This grant is available to members of the MIT community interested in transforming animal agriculture systems to reduce negative impacts through innovative solutions.

Up to $50,000 in total funding is available, so 2-3 grants between $15-25K each will be funded based on the winning proposal(s). The grants are intended to further work being pursued by individuals as part of their MIT research, innovation & entrepreneurship, coursework, or related activities. 

Examples of relevant challenges could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Reducing the environmental footprint of animal agriculture
  • Addressing the social and economic impacts of animal agriculture
  • Improving animal and human health

More examples are included in the RFP.

Eligibility: Faculty members, full-time research staff, currently matriculated MIT graduate and undergraduate students, or small teams with at least 50% MIT participation and an eligible individual in the leadership role will be considered for funding. Grants can be used over the course of one year to support travel, technology pilots, scale-up studies, community outreach and education, etc. Local partners are encouraged but the grant funding should support MIT activities. Funds may not be used for MIT equipment purchases.

The J-WAFS Solutions program aims to help MIT researchers commercialize breakthrough technologies and inventions by transforming promising ideas at MIT into innovative products and cutting-edge spinout companies. ($150,000 per year, one year.)  

J-WAFS Solutions has the mission of moving water and food technologies from labs at MIT into the commercial world, where they will improve the productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of the world's water and food systems. The J-WAFS Solutions program is part of a research partnership with Community Jameel, a social enterprise organization led by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel. 

Eligibility: To be eligible for the 2022 J-WAFS Solutions grant cycle, projects should be aligned with the J-WAFS mission and/or adjacent themes in energy, AI, plant health (food crops) and animal health (livestock). Research should be aimed at conceptualizing and developing products and services that will have a significant impact on water, food, or energy sustainability and security, with related economic and societal benefits. Special consideration will be given to projects that also incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Project examples are:

  • AI / machine learning (ML) in agritech
  • Energy-efficient irrigation
  • Battery/energy storage for solar-powered desalination
  • AI / ML detection of food- and water-borne pathogens
  • AI / ML discovery of veterinary medicines (particularly where relevant to securing food systems)

Projects on topics other than those listed that align with the J-WAFS mission and are aimed at solving other water and food systems challenges are also welcome.

Concepts proposed for J-WAFS Solutions grants should already have completed basic research. Applicants should be interested in commercializing the technology and the technology should be 1-3 years from commercialization.

These grants support innovative MIT research that has the potential to have significant impact on water and food supply challenges. ($75,000 per year, overhead free, up to two years). 

Seed grant proposals should be for new, innovative projects that are sufficiently distinct from prior research. We are looking for early-stage projects that can benefit from one or two years of funding in order to: (1) establish proof of concept or gather critical data that will position the project to qualify for other future sources of funding; or (2) have a clear and significant outcome without subsequent awards. Projects that are intended to have real-world impact are favored. Multidisciplinary projects and projects that have well defined regional or international reach are welcome. New collaborations including team members in different schools of MIT are encouraged, as are proposals from junior faculty. Relevant interactions with industry are also encouraged.

The templates for grant proposal documents are available for download from within the proposal submission siteMIT researchers submitting proposals can create an account to get access and begin the submission process.

Eligibility: Proposals are sought from MIT principal investigators from all departments, labs, and centers of MIT. The principal investigator submitting the proposal must be an MIT professor or a member of the research staff with principal investigator privileges (generally senior or principal research scientist, or senior or principal engineer.) PIs may participate on up to two submissions per year.  Previously as well as currently funded J-WAFS PIs are also eligible. 

Download the RFP (2022)
 

View the Seed Grant Request for Proposals FAQ

The J-WAFS Grant for Water and Food Projects in India is a funding opportunity for current members of the MIT community interested in addressing a water or food challenge in India. Grants of $15,000 are intended to further work being pursued by individuals as part of their MIT research, innovation & entrepreneurship initiatives, coursework, or related activities, or support a relevant new activity.

The grant is for development projects or projects benefiting low-income populations. Examples of relevant challenges may include but are not limited to:

  • Economically appropriate water purification technologies, esp. for rural areas
  • Water distribution and management strategies, esp. for rural areas
  • Other water quality issues, e.g. sanitation, monitoring, etc.
  • Food safety issues
  • Food preservation and waste reduction
  • Water for agriculture, especially smallholder farms
  • Agricultural innovations and improvements

Eligibility: Faculty members, full-time research staff, currently matriculated MIT graduate and undergraduate students, or small teams with at least 50% MIT participation and an eligible individual in the leadership role will be considered for funding.

Download the RFP