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2023 Call for Seed Research Proposals

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Summary page: March 28, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

Full proposal, presentation slides, and short video: April 11, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

Proposal discussion with CIFE members: April 20, 2023

Our economic, environmental, and social sustainability depends, in significant ways, on the performance of the built environment. By formalizing impactful and scalable engineering and management methods, CIFE aims to improve the performance of buildings and infrastructure. These methods should not only minimize the negative impacts of the built environment, but rather move the industry towards measurably improving the sustainability, resilience, and inclusiveness of the built environment.

 CIFE is seeking seed proposals that envision a contribution in this broad area of research. Proposals must be led by a Stanford academic council member and should last one year with an expected budget in the range of $80k to $120k. There is, then, an opportunity to apply for a second year of funding in next year’s seed proposal cycle. The intent of these seed grants is to enable a small research team to explore the feasibility of a larger research effort. The following topics illustrate focus areas that have been identified by CIFE’s Industry Advisory Board as particularly critical at this point. However, proposals can cut across these topics or address other topics in the broad research area outlined above.

Decarbonization of buildings and infrastructure

  • Digitalization of decarbonization (e.g., BIM-based carbon management)
  • Novel approaches for energy management of buildings and the grid
  • Incentives for building and infrastructure owners and their project teams to advance decarbonization
  • Novel project organizations and project delivery models for decarbonization


AI/data-driven design, fabrication, construction, and operation of buildings and infrastructure

  • Integration of NLP and VR for design reviews
  • Generative approaches for design space exploration
  • Multi-disciplinary design optimization
  • Supply-chain transparency for design optimization or reliable off- and on-site production
  • Automated feedback loops, e.g., from building operation and use to design
  • Autonomous operation of buildings and infrastructure
  • Data structures for building operations


 Managing innovation and knowledge

  • How to transition from a hero culture to post-heroic management with a learning organization
  • Frameworks for knowledge and innovation management for project-based companies
  • Methods for innovation assessment to address a question like: “How innovative are we really?”


Regardless of the research focus, all proposal submissions should clearly demonstrate how the proposed research drives measurable improvements across the industry. Several CIFE affiliates have expressed interest in working with Stanford research teams to define specific research opportunities.

If you want to be in touch with a CIFE member for a particular topic please contact us at

Timetable and requirements for projects for funding during AY 2023-24

March 9

Call for proposals available to the Stanford and CIFE communities.

March 28

9:00 AM PDT

Submit the summary page and request a proposal number from CIFE ( Download the Summary page template here.

April 4

Last day to request the budget for your proposal from Engineering Research Administration for departments in the School of Engineering or your local research administration staff for other Stanford departments. Note that the majority of the requested funding should normally be allocated to research students.

April 11

9:00 AM PDT

  • Submit your proposal in .docx, or .pdf format including the budget to Download the proposal template here
  • Submit the slides you plan to use for the presentation at the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting in .pptx format to Download the slide template here.
  • Submit your link to a video describing your proposal to The video should be 8-10 minutes long.

April 11

Sign up for a time slot to discuss your proposal with the TAC on April 20th. 

April 20

Discuss your proposal with CIFE’s industrial members at the TAC meeting.

May 19

CIFE award decisions announced.

July 1

Earliest start date for the proposed research – PI needs to request.

Oct. 1

Typical start date. Please submit the research summary page.

Jan. 1, 2024

Latest research start date.

Mar 1, 2024

Interim Research Update and Progress Report Due


At the requested funding time, CIFE will request that your research team complete a summary outline of the research, adhering to the template that will be provided by CIFE. Continued funding for the second half of the project is contingent on periodic updates to this research summary in accordance with the milestones listed in the proposal. 

Throughout AY 2023/24, PI(s) and RA(s) on funded seed projects are expected to be available occasionally to present the research at CIFE seminars and workshops or to visiting academics or industry professionals.

Sep. 30, 2024

Latest date for research completion unless a no-cost extension is requested.

Jan. 31, 2025

Submit final project report to CIFE for publication as a Technical Report, Working Paper, video, or website. Follow the guidelines for authors available on the CIFE website (