2019 Research Innovation Fund (RIF) Request for Proposals

Updated Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 – Updates in BLUE

The Cornell Institute for Digital Agriculture (CIDA) is pursuing a vigorous research agenda for Digital Agriculture (DA) through a collection of powerful interdisciplinary and trans-college collaborations designed to foster a pipeline of practical innovations and to promote cohesiveness and cooperation among investigators interested in digital agriculture at Cornell. CIDA defines DA as a holistic, systems-level approach to agriculture that incorporates tools and devices for sensing and automating activities at a range of scales, and leverages information and computational technologies in a systems analytics framework. DA affects all components of the agri-food system and provides new methods and tools for delivering relevant, timely and targeted information and services to farmers, consumers, and policy-makers. The mission of CIDA is to enhance the productivity, profitability and the social, economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture.

The technologies that enable DA are multiple and varied, and their development is uneven and open to a range of pressures and opportunities. Genomics tools, robotics and informatics spur innovation in predictive phenotyping, comparative genomics, and breeding. Nano-biosensors embedded in plants and animals help optimize farm inputs, such as water, fertilizers and animal feed. Mobile devices facilitate real-time data collection and dissemination. Digital services and new modes of industrial organization promote rapid-cycle innovation and deliver timely information for decision making. Data storage and analytics enable vast amounts of data to be integrated into multi-dimensional models and used for prediction. Advanced data analytics and systems optimization guide technological innovations and facilitate scientific discovery and its translation into the field. Spatial analysis and remote sensing add spatial and temporal dimensions to decision-support models. Systems modeling and integration across scale can be harnessed to discover and operate disparate information loops for sustainably optimizing primary production and resource recovery.  Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructures support the integration and coordination of hardware for sensing, computation, communication, and actuation. Blockchain technology ensures data integrity and customizable privacy.

Cornell University, with outstanding faculty, staff, and students in agriculture and life sciences, social science and business, computing and information science, engineering, and veterinary medicine, is exceptionally well positioned to advance the concepts and tools of digital agriculture. To foster the collaborations needed for such endeavors, and to catalyze development of digital agriculture tools for New York and regions beyond, CIDA seeks proposals for projects that will advance digital agriculture. When awarded, these seed grants are intended to enable the PIs to compete for other sources of funding.

Requirements for funding are:

  • Projects supported by CIDA’s Research Innovation Fund must involve at least 2 faculty sponsors/mentors from different colleges and projects must be consistent with CIDA’s mission. Single-PI proposals are not allowed.
  • PIs from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Computing and Information Science, the Johnson College of Business, and the College of Veterinary Medicine are eligible to participate.
  • Projects should represent new research streams and/or new collaborations.
  • Investigators must indicate how the project and associated activities will support postdoctoral training, graduate and/or undergraduate education.
  • Recipients of CIDA funding agree to put the CIDA byline on all publications and presentations related to the funded research.
  • Recipients of CIDA funding agree to submit annual /final reports
  • Undergraduate researchers who receive CIDA funding agree to present a poster summarizing their findings in a CIDA sponsored poster session.
  • Graduate students, postdocs and faculty who receive CIDA funding agree to present their findings in the CIDA-sponsored seminar series, retreats, and/or workshops, and to contribute to other CIDA events and activities where possible.

There are four categories of funding available:

Applications due Feb. 21st, 2019 – Awards announced at the beginning of April:

1. Summer salary for a graduate student – Applications CLOSED.

2. Summer salary/stipend for an undergraduate student – Applications CLOSED.

Applications due April 15th, 2019 – Awards announced in mid-June:

3. Faculty-led research ($75,000/year for up to 3 yrs) – Faculty-Led Research CIDA Grants

Proposals must be submitted online through the portal.  Emailed proposals will not be accepted even before the deadline.

Review of questions and character limits ; You will have a section in the application to add references (limit 1500 characters, including spaces). Also, you will have the option to upload a CV. There is a 3-page limit on CVs.

  • We will be providing funding for up to 7 Faculty-Led Research CIDA Grants and up to $75,000 per year for up to 3 years.
  • Two of the 7 grants are supported by Hatch Funds and must be targeted for NYS challenges, and cannot be used to support students.
  • The other 5 grants are supported by internal funds and may support graduate students (including full tuition).
  • All grants require no indirect costs (IDC), may be used to support research staff and postdocs, and cost sharing is not required.
  • If our team’s proposal is accepted, we will ask that you agree to:
    • Make an oral presentation summarizing your progress at the annual CIDA Workshop or other CIDA-sponsored events,
    • Encourage your students or postdocs to present a poster(s) about their work at CIDA events,
    • Participate in the CIDA seminar series, and encourage other members of the project and your lab to do likewise
    • Acknowledge CIDA in all reports, posters, slides, and media posts (e.g. websites, videos, social media) pertaining to the project, including an explicit acknowledgement of CIDA funding in journal publications, with wording such as, “This work benefitted from the support of the Cornell Institute for Digital Agriculture (CIDA)”
    • In general, become an active participant in CIDA, which is critical for a faculty-driven initiative.

Applications welcome anytime:

4. Undergraduate research support for one semester, ($1,200) – Undergraduate Research Support for One Semester


Is it permissible for you to share your related DA research projects on our website?


A panel of CIDA faculty leadership will review all proposals.

Funding decisions will be made in mid-June 2019.

Please contact Tim Vanini, CIDA Managing Director, at tv37@cornell.edu with any comments or questions.