Funding for simulation model
June 8, 2011 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Where to get funds for implementation of a simulation model in academia?

A geology department at a public university in the U.S, we are about to complete version 1.0 of a simulation model of a sedimentation process. The simulation model can be used for educational purposes and also in the publishing of papers.

The software has been developed for free because the developer has not charged for his work, largely because he is dating one of the profs. The developer estimates v 1.0 to have been about $6500 in development costs. He has expressed interest in being paid for any further work.

So for v 2.0, we would like to estimate a cost for the implementation of new or improved features. It would be something like:
New feature #1: $1100
New feature #1: $800
Improvement #1:$500
Improvement #1:$700
and so on.

The ballpark amount for v.20 is between $5,000 and $10,000

We would like to write a grant proposal to get funding for this development. This is different from the typical grant proposals for research, both in the work and the $ amount (usually more like $100k).

Can you suggest where we could send such a proposal to?
posted by allelopath to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That sounds like it would be a good fit for science grants: National Science Foundation
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 8:32 PM on June 8, 2011

Response by poster: The NSF is a common source of funds, of course, but for far greater amounts. I don't know if they have any way to accommodate something as small as this.
posted by allelopath at 8:34 PM on June 8, 2011

I've had similar musings in the past and spent some time trying to find such grants. I haven't had any luck, but I'll be watching this thread.

Rather than trying to find a grant for this project specifically, can you find a place for it on an existing grant? Most of the grants I've been on wouldn't bat an eye at dropping several thousand dollars for a SAS license, so perhaps you could find a place for this somewhere. Alternatively, perhaps a Feature X is helpful for Grant 1, Feature Y is helpful for Grant 2... you might have better luck spreading it around.
posted by McBearclaw at 8:48 PM on June 8, 2011

We had a software cost of around $10,000 for a research project last year and had the same issues. In the end we put it in to the Austrlaian equivalent of the NSF (and it got funded) but with add-ons to bring it up to the minimum threshold. We added a research assistant (part time), and some travel to conferences for various people, and framed the programming costs as a minor part of a much larger project. You may find you need to do something like that too. Presumably the model feeds your research on some more specific topic: make the grant proposal about that.
posted by lollusc at 8:48 PM on June 8, 2011

Do you use this in a course? My university has fairly small-scale internal course development grants (including ones focused on technology) that would likely pay for this kind of thing.
posted by advil at 8:52 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

You want to write a grant to do SCIENCE, which happens to require some software to be written. Generally you should not frame it as your end goal being this useful software, you really want to show that you want to solve large outstanding sedimentation problem X, you know how to do it, and you just need to pay for scientists to do the work and a developer to build the tools. The cost of said scientists should be significantly greater than the dollar values your listing for the software.

Also, I hope you know who owns the copyright on the software, because that can get tricky in a university setting.
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:31 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

The simulation model can be used for educational purposes and also in the publishing of papers.

Educational software and research software are two very different things, and I think you'll have trouble getting funds by arguing that it *might* be useful for both.

I think kiltedtaco is correct: your best bet for getting funding is to nest the software development costs inside a larger research project. If you really think this is primarily educational software, figure out how this software contributes to the existing field of educational software (maybe/probably in collaboration with an education prof), and apply for a science education grant... If you really think this is research software, then the proposed software development probably needs to directly support hypothesis-driven research on sedimentation of the sort that would typically be funded as geology research.
posted by JumpW at 10:10 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps the funding model for Transana might be applicable? It was initially developed through various grants (including NSF grants) but currently it charges a low fee for the executables and also accepts donations. They also request researchers to include Transana development funding in their grant proposals and provide sample text to include in the grant proposal.
posted by needled at 5:26 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Community of Science has lots of different search options. You could also contact a program officer in the appropriate NSF division with the details you gave here. There are different types of grants, e.g. it's common to get $3000-$5000 to support a conference.
posted by ecsh at 7:39 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips, we're working on it.
posted by allelopath at 6:44 PM on July 9, 2011

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