Collaborative ResearchCollaborative Research

Round Four Flagship Research Projects Call for Proposals

**Note: In consideraton of holidays in the US and UAE, the due date for full proposal submissions has been moved to Monday, September 11th, 5:00 PM EDT. Please see Section 4 below for details.**


Under the Masdar Institute & MIT Cooperative Program, Masdar Institute, as part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST), and MIT are requesting proposals for the fourth call for joint Flagship Research Projects in the area of Space Technologies.

Proposals are requested in two rounds. First, an up to five page “extended abstract” summarizing key elements of a proposed Flagship project team must be submitted. Based on review of these extended abstracts, invitations to submit full proposals will be issued. This call for proposals discusses the strategic goals of Flagship Research Projects in Section 1. The criteria for assessing and recommending extended abstracts and full proposals for subsequent stages are described in Section 2. The information required in extended abstracts and full proposals is delineated in Section 3.

1. Shared Research Strategy Vision for Joint Flagship Research Projects in Space Technology 

The intent of this Fourth Call for Flagship research is to foster the further development of the University’s research capacity and impact in the area of Space Technology. The Flagship Projects should be ambitious, but realistic, while capitalizing on and enhancing the University’s research strengths and building towards the government’s vision for providing leading-edge technology in space exploration with immediate benefits back to earth.

(a) Research Vision 

The scope of the Fourth Call for Flagship Research Projects is meant to foster advanced research areas in space technology with applications in small satellites, autonomous systems and remote sensing. The thrust of the research may align with one or more of the following themes: (a) real-time aerospace information sciences; (b) advanced computation methods that support design and decision-making; (c) atmosphere and space sciences and their integration with aerospace systems; (d) complex systems design, implementation and operation, and (e) advanced materials and manufacturing processes.

(b) Collaborative and Team Development 

The call for proposals is open to all faculty at Khalifa University of Science and Technology, and all MIT faculty, at any stage of career development. Research teams must comprise a minimum of three faculty members from MIT, one of whom will be the MIT Principal Investigator, and a minimum of three faculty members from Khalifa University, one of whom will be the Khalifa University Principal Investigator. At least one member of the Khalifa University project team (preferably the Principal Investigator) must be from Masdar Institute and have previous or current experience conducting joint research between Masdar Institute and MIT in a one-to-one research project, a Flagship Research Project, or a Masdar Institute-MIT Innovation Project (MMIP). Involvement of junior faculty in the project team is strongly encouraged. Potential collaborators on both sides will self-organize to form teams, identify leaders and develop collaboration strategies. A bottom-up formation of teams is crucial as it helps to ensure strong collaborative teams with complementary expertise. Efforts that leverage unique capabilities across both KUST and MIT participants are especially valued.

2. Criteria for Funding Flagship Projects in Space Systems and Technology 

The selection of the project(s) to be funded by MIT from Cooperative Program funding and by KUST from internal research funding will be based on the criteria set forth below. These are based on scientific, social and economic merit to the UAE and the scholarly mission of both entities. The overall selection criteria for these Flagship projects will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Contribution to the establishment of viable and high impact research in the area of space systems and technology.
  • Relevance of specific research topics to the objectives of economic development for Abu Dhabi and the region, as well as the needs of government and/or private enterprises, especially in the areas of energy and space systems and technology.
  • Identifying appropriate mechanisms for ensuring that the research contemplated by the proposal will be carried out jointly and collaboratively and will achieve its objectives. Principle Investigators should outline a plan and include in their respective budgets for student and faculty visits both to MIT and to KUST. Visits by each investigator for approximately 2 weeks per year to the counterpart institution are encouraged. Each project at each entity are responsible for expenses associated with these proposed visits.
  • Demonstrate the potential for development of follow-on government or industry funding.

In support of these overall selection criteria, the Joint Research Advisory Committee will consider the degree to which the following specific evaluation criteria are met:

  • the goals of the proposed work have potential positive impact on the Abu Dhabi economy, environment, or human resources and the impact is clearly articulated,
  • the proposed project is highly significant in the technical fields to which the project relates and will result in high impact scholarly publications,
  • the research expertise represented in the team is sufficiently diverse to successfully address the proposed research question,
  • the proposed leadership structure and collaboration mechanisms for the project will ensure effective collaboration and coordination across the team of researchers and students,
  • the proposed work, including concepts and methodologies, is novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense,
  • the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses are well reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project.
  • benchmarks for success are presented, milestones are identified, and potential risks and response plans are provided,
  • both teams have sufficient institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to them to do the proposed work,
  • a strong potential for a future large-scale research program and for attracting external funding support exists, and
  • the potential collaborative implications of possible export restrictions have been articulated and appropriate mitigation and contingency plans proposed.

3. Flagship Project Proposals 

Proposals must include objective measures for success for the scientific, technological, and educational goals of the University, as well as measures to ensure effective joint collaboration. The Research Advisory Committee will monitor the progress of each project and provide evaluation based in part on the number of joint publications coming out of the approved project, collaboration between research teams, filing of intellectual property disclosures, and industrial or government engagement.

3.1 Funding 

In the first three calls for proposals, nine Flagship Research Projects were funded based on competitive evaluation of submissions. This fourth and final call for proposals is expected to fund one or two additional Flagship Research Projects (for a total of ten or eleven Flagship Research Projects under the second five years of the Cooperative Program). Flagship Research Projects are expected to be three years in duration. Funding at MIT for the MIT investigators and components will be up to $600K, inclusive of benefits and overhead, per year in each of the three years; funding at KUST is intended to achieve comparable level of effort, consisting of funds for the KUST’s investigators and components up to $480K, inclusive of benefits and an internal overhead charge, per year in each of the three years. For KUST, the budget formation will be based on the Masdar Institute template which will be distributed to KUST faculty shortlisted proposals only. MIT will use the MIT budget template that will be distributed to MIT faculty shortlisted proposals only. KUST budgets will be submitted to KUST OSP and MIT budgets will be submitted to the MIT/MI Collaborative Office.

3.2 Flagship Project Extended Abstract and Technical Proposals 

The Flagship Research Project extended abstracts and technical proposals, to be prepared jointly by both KUST’s Principal Investigator and MIT faculty and researchers should include the following elements. For the extended abstract submissions, short versions of the indicated components are required, while the full technical proposals should include full responses or descriptions of all components.

  • Project description (scope of work) and objectives, including discussion of novelty, potential for significant results within said time frame, the utility of the anticipated project results (particularly to Abu Dhabi and the region), and value created at the two participating institutions from the experience gained during the collaboration. [Extended Abstract and Full Proposal]
  • Disclose and describe related existing research funding and projects and how this proposal will be complementary and not duplicative of those efforts. [Full Proposal]
  • Letters of support from potential industrial and government sponsors. [Full Proposal]
  • Review of prior work in the area. [Full Proposal] • Work plan, including description of project tasks [Extended Abstract] and individual responsibilities. [Full Proposal]
  • Description of the methodologies and analytic techniques to be employed, including discussion of the novelty of the proposed research or methodologies. [Full Proposal]
  • Identification of needed facilities and equipment [Extended Abstract].
  • Analysis and availability of facilities, equipment, and other resources (both new and existing) required for the research to be conducted. [Full Proposal]
  • Description of how the team will organize and mechanisms to ensure effective collaboration, including potential for student or staff exchanges, and plans for joint research publications from the research work being undertaken. Postings or visits by faculty and students for short periods (e.g. two weeks or longer) at each other’s Institution are strongly encouraged (and should be accounted for within the proposed budget). [Extended Abstract and Full Proposal]
  • Description of the larger and planned activities to foster development of a substantial follow-on research effort. [Extended Abstract and Full Proposal]
  • Work schedule, milestones and other deliverables. [Full Proposal]
  • Project budgets for expenditures (one from the MIT Principal Investigator which includes the budgets of the MIT Co-PIs to be approved and funded, and one from the KUST Principal Investigator (including a prior Masdar Institute faculty member) with his/her team members on the proposed project. A description and cost for any seminars and workshops which could potentially be conducted in connection with the research should be included. Anticipated international and local travel should be included as well. [Full Proposal].
  • Description of the qualifications of the proposed individuals to perform the research. Biographical data (appendix) on technical project personnel (non-student). [Extended Abstract and Full Proposal]

3.3 Project Six and Twelve Month Evaluations

Each project will submit a six and twelve month progress report to be reviewed by the Joint Research Advisory Committee. The metrics that will be tracked include the following:

  • Budget Expenditure to Date (absolute and % of expected)
  • Number of Students Working on Project
  • Number of Post-Doc or Research Staff Working on Project
  • Number of Non-Joint Publications
  • Number of Joint Publications
  • Number of Non-Joint Invention Disclosures
  • Number of Joint Invention Disclosures

Final reports must include proposal stated outcomes and whether those outcomes were achieved.

4. Submission Details 

Call Timetable

  • Call Announcement: Tuesday, 20 June 2017 (updated Thursday, 29 June 2017)
  • Stage 1 Deadline for Abstract Submission: Monday, 24 July 2017 (5:00 PM EDT)
  • Stage 2 Notifications: Thursday, 10 August 2017
  • Stage 2 Deadline for Full Proposal Submission: Monday, 11 September 2017 (5:00 PM EDT)
  • Anticipated Notifications: Thursday, 5 October 2017
  • Anticipated Project Start-up: Thursday, 12 October 2017

Proposal Documentation

Full proposal template: (here)

Budget templates: Will be released individually by Khalifa University and MIT to their respective faculty with second stage notification.

Submission Process

The cover sheet, proposal and appendices are to be submitted electronically on the due date to Peter Jones ( and John Radkowski (, including a copy to Dr. Duane Boning (, Patricia Vargas ( and

The Lead Principal Investigator will receive an email from the MIT & MI Cooperative Program confirming receipt of the proposal. If you do not receive this confirmation email within 48hrs of submission, please submit a follow-up enquiry to prjones@MIT.EDU and

MIT project budgets should only be forwarded to Paul Arsenault, Administrative/Financial Officer of the MI&MIT Cooperative Program at, with a copy to Patricia Vargas, Executive Director at Please contact Paul Arsenault on the MIT side regarding assistance in developing your MIT budgets.

KUST project budgets should only be forwarded to John Radkowski ( Please contact John Radkowski for assistance in preparing KUST project budgets.

NOTE: In addition, institutional policy of each university should be followed regarding internal approvals relating to the submission of research proposals. Any queries relating to this process should be addressed to the appropriate ‘Institutional Support’ contact as listed below.

Contact Information

Call Enquiries

John Radkowski
Interim Coordinating Director, Office of Research Services
Khalifa University of Science and Technology
Phone: +971 2 8109656
With copy to:

Dr. Duane Boning
Co-Chair, MI & MIT Joint Research Advisory Committee
Director of MIT & MI Cooperative Program
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Phone: +1-617-253-0931
With copy to:

Institutional Support 

KUST and