The Maryland Catalyst Fund


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 help UMD faculty to be more competitive for extramural research awards.

The Maryland Catalyst Fund program is overseen by the Vice President for Research (VPR) and managed by the VPR’s Research Development Office, 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.

Program guidelines PDF

Universal Funding Form


Funding Categories

The Maryland Catalyst Fund consists of five funding categories: 

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New Directions Funds

Fearless Ideation Workshops

Big Opportunity Funds

Strategic Growth Funds

Reinforcement Grants for operating support




Only tenured/tenure-track and professional track faculty (at the rank of 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; postdoctoral fellows are also ineligible.


New Directions Fund - Past Awardees

The inaugural competitions for campus-wide New Directions Fund awards took place in the fall of 2018, with work beginning in January 2018.

Brief abstracts for awardees are linked below.

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2020 New Directions Proof of Concept awardees

2019 New Directions Proof of Concept awardees

2020 New Directions LEGO awardees

2019 New Directions LEGO awardees

Abstracts from the "Tier 1" program that preceded the New Directions Fund are listed here.



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Division of Research
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541
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Did You Know

UMD's Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, which simulates the weightlessness of space, is one of only two such facilities in the U.S.