Research Funding Opportunities

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General information about MNSG RFPs

What. Minnesota Sea Grant provides funding opportunities for research focused on solving challenges facing Minnesota’s aquatic resources and the human communities that depend on them. Minnesota-based researchers are invited to apply and use their innovation and skills for the benefit of Minnesota and the Great Lakes region.

Who. This includes Lake Superior, its coast, and the communities that live near and depend on the coast. We encourage research proposals that includes collaborations among scientists from colleges and universities; state, federal, tribal, and private natural resource and other agencies; and industry and non-governmental organizations. Proposal lead principal investigators must be from Minnesota and cannot be federal employees.

Funders. Minnesota Sea Grant grant funding comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Program and the University of Minnesota.

Questions about funding opportunities should be directed to either Valerie Brady, MNSG associate director for research, or John Downing, MNSG director.

Minnesota Sea Grant's biennial Request for Proposals (RFP)

Every two years we award approximately $2 million in research grants through a rigorous, competitive, peer-reviewed process. Our current request for proposals is for research to be conducted during the years 2022-2024. Researchers based in Minnesota, who are not federal employees, are invited to apply. Grant awards average about $45,000 per year for two years, plus a graduate research associate whose cost does not count against the project budget.

Now open! Minnesota Sea Grant's biennial request for proposals for research to be conducted between 2022 and 2024 is now open. We typically fund projects for two years that average $45,000 in direct costs per year and include a graduate student research assistant whose cost does not count against the project budget. In this competition, we seek to address resource management issues using multidisciplinary, integrated solutions based on science, and that address economic, societal and political concerns. We are particularly interested in funding proposals that involve graduate students; that engage stakeholders throughout the entire project period; and that have a strong outreach component that includes Minnesota Sea Grant extension and communication staff. Projects should be based in Minnesota and focus on Lake Superior, its coast, tributaries, and watershed, and/or Minnesota’s inland waters. In addition, projects must be applied in nature and seek to address pressing issues important to Minnesotans.

Highlights of previously funded projects are on our Research Projects webpages.

Request for Proposals instructional document for research conducted from 2022-2024 (RFP issued December 2, 2020).


  • Preproposals are due by 4 p.m. CST, January 22, 2021. Preproposals will be evaluated and recommendations communicated to lead investigators by mid-February, 2021.
  • Full proposals are due by 4 p.m. CST, March 26, 2021.


Grant award amounts average $45,000 per year for two years, plus a graduate research associate whose cost does not count against the primary grant funding. While small subcontracts outside Minnesota are allowed, the majority of funds should go to entities within Minnesota. Minnesota Sea Grant typically awards three to five grants. Non-federal match equivalent to 30% of requested direct funds is required. Indirect charges (F&A) are not required for researchers within the University of Minnesota system.


Researchers based in Minnesota who are not federal employees are invited to apply. We encourage collaborations that include scientists from colleges and universities; state, federal, tribal, and private agencies; and industry and non-governmental organizations. Sea Grant employees may be part of the project team but their salaries cannot be included in the budget.

How to apply

Proposal submission will be through Minnesota’s eSeaGrant system, a Web-based tool for submitting, reviewing, updating and tracking proposals and projects. To register for the eSeaGrant system, the lead principal investigator must email a request to Valerie Brady MNSG associate director for research; access to the system may take 7 days. If you cannot submit using the eSeaGrant system, please contact Valerie Brady for accommodation.

General proposal process timeline

  • These grants are awarded every other year; the proposal application and review process takes approximately a year.
  • Requests for proposals released: late fall of even-numbered years.
  • Preproposals due: January of odd-numbered years. Preproposal feedback provided in mid to late February.
  • Full proposals due: Early spring (typically the end of March or early April)
  • Proposal review: Late spring and summer; proposals are reviewed by topic experts, then go before a scientific review panel, then are evaluated for relevance and need by our advisory board.
  • Award status notifications: September
  • Awards begin: February 1 of even-numbered years.

Joint Minnesota-Wisconsin-Ohio Sea Grant Request for Proposal

Minnesota Sea Grant also has a special joint Request for Proposals with the Ohio and Wisconsin Sea Grant program for research on harmful and nuisance algal blooms to be conducted from 2022-2024 is open. Preproposals will be accepted through 3 pm CST, January 15, 2021, via the Wisconsin Sea Grant website.

Special joint RFP 2022-2024.

Fast-Track and Program Development Grants

Minnesota Sea Grant typically offers four, small fast-track and/or program development grants of up to $10,000 (cost-share or match not required) for 6-12 months each year to respond rapidly to:

  • Urgent and/or unforeseen needs
  • For exploratory research to collect preliminary data prior to submitting a full proposal submission

Fast-track and program development grant must be:

  1. About Minnesota’s aquatic resources
  2. Applied and useful to our clients immediately or in the very near term (< 2 year)
  3. Of practical importance to the communities and clients served by our program

How to apply.

The application and review process is simplified and compressed. >Email an abstract of your idea to Valerie Brady MNSG associate director for research. If your proposal idea supports our mission, goals, objectives and research funding priorities, then you may be invited to submit a mini-proposal. All mini-proposal invitations will be via email with instructions for proposal submissions using our eSeaGrant system, a web-based tool for submitting, reviewing, updating and tracking proposals and projects.

Any proposal requesting funding in excess of $10,000 will receive external review.

Current Research Topics of Interest (July 2020)

  • What are the impacts of algal blooms on Great Lakes economic development? How are people changing the way they use the water and coast because of these?
  • What is the economic benefit of water or water-related sports and recreation in the Lake Superior coastal zone?
  • How can potential conflicts between the use of habitat by fish and dredging by the port authority be mitigated in the St. Louis River estuary? Where (e.g., GIS spatial data) and when (e.g., temporal data) do game fish species spawn and feed (i.e., what are those species' preferred habitat types)? What data are missing in order to answer these questions?
  • How have high lake levels and storms damaged Minnesota Point/Park Point and Minnesota’s North Shore? This investigation should include a survey of the damage has occurred, what mitigations might work, and what actions homeowners can take to prevent, prepare for, mitigate, and recover from storm damage.
  • What determines human responses to coastal risks? For example, not everyone evacuated during the 2018 fire at the Husky Refinery in Superior, Wisconsin; what drove those decisions? Understanding human response to disasters could help improve disaster prevention, preparedness and response communications, and community preparedness and resilience.

Special Grant Opportunities

The National Sea Grant Program or Minnesota Sea Grant may issue special calls for proposals related to targeted research areas. Sign up to be notified when these and other grant opportunities occur.