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  • Discovery Challenge

    CDAC Discovery Challenge

    FY21 Cycle Solicitation: CDAC Discovery Challenge RFP & Application – FY21

    Funding Amount: Up to $250,000

    Pre-Proposal Deadline: November 2nd, 11:59pm CT

    The Discovery Challenge is a new seed funding program at the Center for Data and Computing (CDAC) that accelerates the research-to-impact process through the development of research-based, use-inspired data science technologies and tools. It focuses on cutting-edge data science and AI research and solutions that can be developed and piloted on a short timescale. The Discovery Challenge also requires the inclusion of external collaborators from industry, nonprofit organizations, or other external stakeholders that can provide critical input and accelerate the transition of research into practical use.

    Program Goals

    1. Accelerate the development of transformational AI & data science research and technologies that deliver high impact results to society,
    2. Deepen cooperation and information sharing between potential end users such as industry, government entities, nonprofit/civic or healthcare organizations
    3. Position projects to successfully scale and secure future large-scale sponsored research funding.


    Why This Challenge?

    The guiding rationale of the Discovery Challenge is that societally relevant research requires engagement with experts across disciplines– as well as multiple kinds of stakeholders, including the end users of such outputs. However, identifying, engaging with, and creating solutions for interdisciplinary challenges that also benefit (and don’t inadvertently harm) stakeholders is a non-trivial task that often requires matchmaking, stakeholder engagement, and a plan for coordination.

    In addition to seed funding, project teams will become major research initiatives at the Center for Data and Computing, benefiting from access to CDAC lab space, computing resources, corporate engagement, and technical research staff.

    For more details on the FY21 opportunity, visit the Discovery Challenge hub and contact Julia Lane ( with further questions.

  • Seed Funding

    Early-stage ideas are often too risky for traditional funding sources and require support to demonstrate feasibility and preliminary results. This is particularly important for projects that are interdisciplinary, ambitious, and expand the boundaries of existing scholarship.

    CDAC Discovery Grants

    Discovery Grants provide risk-tolerant seed funding for innovative data science projects intended to achieve a clear impact on major scientific, scholarly, and societal questions.

    Grant recipients will also benefit from a suite of resources designed to help projects scale:

    • Identification of follow on funding: assistance in developing customized, long-term plans for securing external funding in subsequent stages of the project.
    • Interdisciplinary networks: access to our network of academic, civic, government, and industry connections.
    • Community: engagement with the University data science community and beyond, through quarterly receptions for all grant cohorts, workshops, and speaker series.
    • Communications: amplification of research results through our website, news articles, and events.
    • Student & technical talent: identification of talented students through our summer internship program and access to technical staff.

    Visit our research page to learn more about our project’s investigators, outcomes, and discoveries.

    Our Autumn 2019 cycle has closed. We will announce the next call for CDAC Discovery Grant proposals in Autumn 2020. Join our mailing list to receive information about the 2020 application process. You can review our most recent RFP here

    AI + Science Grants

    Research funding for AI + Science research projects among the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago. You can review our most recent RFP here to learn about upcoming deadlines.

    Visit our research initiative page to learn more about our project’s investigators, outcomes, and discoveries.

  • Digital Transformation Institute Digital Transformation Institute

    The University of Chicago is one of six universities joining with Microsoft and in this new consortium for accelerating artificial intelligence innovation and advancing its benefits for business, government, and society. CDAC helps UChicago scientists connect with each other and peers at the other partner institutions to create strong research proposals for DTI initiatives.

    The Institute’s first call for proposals focuses on using AI to abate the spread of COVID-19 and advance the knowledge, science, and technologies for mitigating the impact of future pandemics. You can read more information about this research award program at

    Matchmaking for UChicago researchers:

    If you have a potential project and need help identifying a collaborator at UChicago, please contact Julia Lane, Executive Director of CDAC, with a brief description of the project and research question of interest.

    You can also submit an idea to the UChicago C3DTI Team Matchmaking: Collaboration Inventory.

    • Complete the form to indicate interest in collaborating on a proposal to the C3DTI’s first call for proposals and to access the spreadsheet of all potential collaborators. This collaboration inventory is open to anyone with PI status from any of the universities that are part of the consortium (University of Chicago, MIT, Princeton University, UIUC, Carnegie Mellon University).
    • UIUC also hosted a matchmaking event: for a list of projects, a recording of the webinar, and names of collaborators, please visit their wiki page.