The Maryland Catalyst Fund


The University of Maryland Catalyst Fund (Click link for a PDF of program guidelines and details found on this page.)

The Maryland Catalyst Fund program – formerly known as the Faculty Incentive Program – is the University of Maryland’s internal faculty research support program and a key resource in the university’s overall effort to expand its research activity, visibility and impact. The program is designed to enable innovative research, incentivize the pursuit of large, complex, and high-impact research initiatives, and prepare UMD faculty to be more competitive for extramural research awards.

The Maryland Catalyst Fund consists of five funding categories (detailed in Table 1). 

  • New Directions Fund for faculty pursuing a new line of research, or pursuing particularly innovative research, writing, and/or creative work in fields where external funding is scarce. (Click link for category-specific guidelines and details)
    o Annnual Due Dates: May 1 and November 1.
    o Find current/open competitions on UMD InfoReady portal
  • Fearless Ideation Workshops supporting brainstorming events in high potential multidisciplinary topics leveraging unique strengths within UMD.(Click link for category-specific guidelines and details)
    o Applications are accepted four time a year: February 1, May 1, August 1, and Nov. 1
    o Find current/open competitions on UMD InfoReady portal
  • Strategic Growth Fund proposal support for faculty actively pursuing a major research opportunity in one of the following categories:
    o Priority Topics (defined/updated biannually)
    o Headliner Awards
    o Future Research Leaders seeking to lead their first multi-investigator award
  • Big Opportunity Fund, proposal support for faculty actively pursuing a large, high-visibility, externally-funded research opportunity (typically ≥$2M/year).
  • Reinforcement Funds, operating support to cover unfunded requirements that would be critical to the operation of a proposed large-scale externally-funded research award.


Table 1


Maryland Catalyst Fund program is overseen by the Vice President for Research (VPR) in coordination with UMD academic units and the Provost. All awards are supported by Designated Research Initiative Fund (“DRIF”) contributions from both faculty organizational unit(s) and central resources from the VPR and the Provost, and all award decisions are made subject to the availability of funds.

Definition of Unit:
For all Maryland Catalyst Fund categories, the term “unit” can be defined as any combination of benefiting department(s)/college(s)/center(s)/individual researcher, etc. Formulas used for the “unit” cost-sharing portion are at the discretion of the benefiting entities.

Eligibility Criteria for all funding categories:
Only tenure-track and professional track faculty at the rank of assistant professor, assistant research scientist or higher, whose full-time, home position is at UMD, are eligible to be the Principal Investigator of any Maryland Catalyst Fund award.

Visiting, adjunct, and affiliate faculty are not eligible to apply; also ineligible are postdoctoral fellows and graduate or undergraduate students.

NOTE: All Maryland Catalyst Fund Awards are subject to availability of funds.
For all questions, please contact:
Hana Kabashi

Erin Fitzgerald



Tier 1 Awards

Click on the years below to expand details.

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Current Winners


Previous Winners












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University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541

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