What is UKinSPIRE?

UKinSPIRE (Seeding Partnerships for International Research Engagement) is an internal funding opportunity for UK faculty, jointly funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and the UK International Center (UKIC). UKinSPIRE is intended to stimulate high-impact research projects in any discipline linking UK faculty and international collaborators, and to establish collaborations with new international partner institutions or add greater depth to existing institutional partnerships. UKinSPIRE funding is specifically aimed at creating a strong foundation for sustained, globally engaged collaborative research in all fields of study. Proposals should include at least one collaborator or co-principal investigator (co-PI) primarily affiliated with a research or higher education institution headquartered outside the United States.

UKinSPIRE will award between $10,000-$20,000 per project, for one fiscal year, beginning in FY24-25 (July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025). We anticipate supporting five or more projects, annually. UKinSPIRE awardees may apply for up to one additional year of support (either through extending the time to spend unused funds or through the award of additional funding of up to $20,000 for a second year) after demonstrating significant outcomes and progress towards sustainability of their collaborations.


Project Parameters

UKinSPIRE project proposals will be required to demonstrate a significant international collaboration component (i.e., the projects should propose something that could not be easily accomplished working alone) and identify at least one collaborator or co-PI primarily affiliated with a research or higher education institution headquartered outside the United States. All projects selected for funding will be required to include sustainability plans for the collaboration beyond the initial seed fund allocation (e.g., extramural research funding potential, ongoing college/unit support, etc.). All projects selected for funding will be required to delineate anticipated outcomes from the seed funding, set project implementation timelines, and identified avenues for disseminating results via co-authored publications, presentations at scholarly meetings, joint exhibitions or performances, etc.

Preference will be given to projects that:

  • Are multidisciplinary, in that they involve co-PIs from different disciplines, either from the University of Kentucky or from the partnering institution, or both
  • Develop or expand collaborations with existing international partners of the University of Kentucky
  • Include plans for campus engagement events, at UK and/or at partner institutions, that highlight the collaboration and the benefits of global engagement to the campus communities. (Such events might include joint research symposia, joint exhibitions or performances, grand rounds or colloquia featuring visiting researchers from partner institutions, etc.)
  • Include some commitment of cost-sharing, as appropriate given available resources, from the proposed partner institution
  • Include some commitment of cost-sharing from the home department/college of the UK PI
  • Explicitly address or align with one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with the understanding that the projects may address these goals in local, regional, national, and/or transnational contexts

NOTE: All international collaborative research projects supported by UKinSPIRE will comply with all internal and external policies, rules and regulations governing export control, human/animal subject use, materials and data transfer, intellectual property and/or licensing, international health, safety and security guidelines and travel restrictions.


Eligible Expenses

UKinSPIRE funding may be used for activities directly related to the proposed collaborative research, including but not limited to:

  • Expenses related to international travel to/from the partnering institutions by UK faculty, staff, postdocs, graduate students or undergraduate students who are directly engaged with the UKinSPIRE project. 

    NOTE: This is not envisioned as a travel fund to support faculty or graduate student travel to present at or attend scholarly conferences. Travel should be directly related to advancing the proposed collaborative project. Graduate and undergraduate students participating in academic credit-bearing activities outside the U.S. as part of their participation in the UKinSPIRE project will be subject to all relevant policies and procedures as established and overseen by UK Education Abroad and Exchanges and International Health, Safety and Security.
  • Expenses related to hosting visiting researchers from the partnering institutions who are directly engaged with the UKinSPIRE project, including for symposia 
  • Expenses related to the purchase of research equipment or materials necessary for completion of the project
  • Expenses related to data-gathering, surveys, sample collection and transport, access to archives, research facilities or other resources, bench fees or other activities necessary to the successful completion of the UKinSPIRE project

Expenses ineligible for inclusion in UKinSPIRE project proposal budgets include:

  • Salary and benefit for PIs, postdocs or graduate students
  • Administrative overhead for UK colleges, departments or labs
  • Tuition and fees for students participating in the project

NOTE: The above expense categories may be considered as departmental or college matching expense commitments.


Proposal Components

UKinSPIRE proposals will include:

  • A proposal cover sheet including a one-paragraph abstract (150 words or less), endorsed by the UK PI, relevant department chair and relevant Associate Dean for Research
  • A project description, 3 to 5 pages in length, including proposed activities, project timetable, expected tangible outcomes and plans for sustaining the project beyond the initial seed funding
  • Detailed budget and budget narrative for total requested funds, total matching funds by source (UK department, college, partner institution), expense categories (travel, materials and supplies, on-site research expenses, etc.)
  • A letter of intent/commitment from the proposed co-PI at the institution outside the U.S., with institutional acknowledgement/endorsement from the relevant department chair, dean, international office or central leadership of the institution.

Online resources:


Proposal Review

Proposals will be reviewed by:

  • Members of the International Partnerships & Research sub-committee of the International Advisory Council (2-3)
  • Select Associate Deans for Research (ADRs) (2-3)
  • Faculty who have previously been awarded UK Global Impact Awards for Distinguished Faculty Achievements in International Research & Scholarship (1-2) and, as the program progresses, previously funded UKinSPIRE Fellows (1-2).


UKinSPIRE Fellows

UK faculty awarded UKinSPIRE funding will be designated as UKinSPIRE fellows for the project year(s) and will be expected to participate in quarterly meetings (either virtually or in-person). These meetings will include informational sessions on international research funding sources/opportunities; international travel health, safety and security; export control compliance; data and technology protection; and other relevant topics to support international research collaboration. In addition, all UKinSPIRE fellows will be expected to provide semi-annual project updates that outline progress made against the proposed timeline, deliverables and outcomes. 

Once each year the OVPR and UKIC will jointly host a UKinSPIRE showcase, at which UKinSPIRE fellows will present highlights and results of their UKinSPIRE projects to the broader campus community. Co-PIs from partner institutions will be encouraged to participate in these showcases, either virtually or in-person.


Contact Us

For questions related to UKinSPIRE, please contact:

Tim Barnes, Executive Director
International Partnerships and Research
118 Bradley Hall