Investments in Forward-Thinking Solutions

The UNC System Research Opportunities Initiative (ROI) is funded by the North Carolina General Assembly to support some of the most innovative and important research projects within the UNC System.

These awards are designed to build capacity in research areas that are strategically important to North Carolina. UNC ROI awards target “game-changing research” taking place in six priority areas: advanced manufacturing; data sciences; defense, military, and security; energy; marine and coastal science; and pharmacoengineering.

ROI—our research, our solutions, our world, our economy, our state

Harnessing Energies from Across the System 

UNC ROI invests up to $3,000,000 per year in seed funding and programmatic support for potentially groundbreaking research projects.

The criteria for awarding these grants varies year by year. Often the grants support multi-institutional projects, harnessing and amplifying the unique strengths found at each of the UNC System institutions. In some years, UNC ROI specifically prioritizes mature research endeavors that demonstrate clear potential for near-term impact. In other years, the initiative aims to jumpstart promising new projects.

The acronym ROI traditionally stands for “return on investment.” The UNC System’s use of this same acronym for this program is no accident. UNC ROI invests in research that harnesses the expertise of our institutions with the remarkable potential to bring significant value to North Carolina’s economy and well-being.

ROI-funded research is probing the potential for producing power from pickle production.
ROI-funded research is exploring revolutionary 3D manufacturing processes that will enhance design freedom, reduce production time, and minimize waste.

Proposal Details

The NC General Assembly provided support in the 2014-2015 budget bill (Senate Bill 744) for: “Game-Changing Research (16011) – Funds focused investments in faculty, research and scholarship in six priority areas: advanced manufacturing; data sciences; defense, military, and security; energy; marine and coastal science; and pharmacoengineering. The investment in data sciences shall include data sciences programs at UNC Charlotte. – $3,000,000. Recurring.”

UNC System research will make shellfish safer to consume, and NC tourism and seafood industries more profitable

Proposals must:

  • Significantly advance UNC System research and scholarship in one or more of the six priority areas
  • Demonstrate the potential for near-term and long-term impact
  • Develop programs with high potential to leverage significant internal support and external funding from government, corporate, and foundation partners
  • Describe a realistic sustainability plan

Proposed activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Support for faculty hires
  • Shared equipment, core facilities, and lease/upfit of research space (labs, shops, studios)
  • Student (graduate and undergraduate) and postdoctoral support
  • Industrial research collaborations
  • Proof-of-concept funding for early data collection
  • Workshops on emerging multidisciplinary research areas
  • High-level seminar series to promote networking for innovative project formation
  • Concept development and white papers for large scale efforts
  • Travel to establish partnerships and to interact with federal and industry program officers
  • Identification and recruitment of partners (industrial, academic or government)
  • Support for release time, travel, workshops, and other expenses associated with conceptualization and preparation of large grants
  • Creation and support of resources such as websites, research collaboration sites, or other social networking tools to facilitate large scale research projects
Can microalgae be engineered to produce therapeutic antibodies for emerging diseases like Ebola, West Nile Virus, and Zika virus?