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DoIT offers broadband development grants

February 27, 2015

AppsCalling all aspiring app developers: NIU’s Division of Information Technology is offering up to $30,000 per year for three years to students, faculty and staff who can develop applications that help society using broadband connectivity.

The Broadband Innovation Grant Opportunity competition builds upon more than a decade of NIU work with community partners to establish what is now a 2,200-mile fiber optic network across the region and state.

“We’re primarily looking for applications that address the needs of vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed and the elderly,” explained project director Herb Kuryliw.

“We’ve developed this great network and have partnered with more than 500 community anchor institutions (schools, libraries, health care providers, public safety agencies, municipal governments and social service organizations), and now we want to encourage people to think of new ways to use it,” Kuryliw said.

The grants are intended to support innovative research and product development, and to accelerate the pace of innovation at NIU by placing technology into the hands of entrepreneurial individuals.

Two types of awards are eligible for funding: Planning/Early Stage awards and Implementation/Proof of Concept awards.

Herb Kuryliw

Herb Kuryliw

The first type (Planning/Early Stage) is designed to fund brainstorming sessions, early alpha-level prototypes, and initial planning. Proposals should identify a problem or research question, explore a research agenda, or discover appropriate methodologies or technologies. Deliverables could include reports, position papers, and plans for subsequent steps and future research or development.

The second type of award (Implementation/Proof of Concept) can be used for more fully-formed projects that are ready to begin implementation or demonstrate proof of concept. These should include a plan of work leading to concrete and tangible outcomes such as working prototypes, test beds, or demonstration projects.

Current undergraduates partnered with an NIU faculty member, current graduate students, NIU faculty and staff are all eligible to apply.

Activities NOT eligible for funding include projects that mainly involve digitization; work undertaken in the pursuit of a degree; attendance at conferences; preparation or publication of textbooks; or purchase of computer equipment and software above 40% of the grant total.

Successful programs will demonstrate innovation in approach and results. Innovation can take many forms: it may be technical, as in the creation of new software or an application, or it can make new use of an existing technology or involve a collaborative process that is in itself innovative. Full details on the program can be found online.

Grant applications will be accepted from now until April 15, 2015.