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Unity Faculty Gaming Seed Grant
AY 2023-24

Status:  Round 2 Open until 4/1/2023


1  Overview

The Spelman Innovation Lab seeks proposals for up to $20,000 of seed funding to startup research incorporating gaming technology.  Gaming is a relatively new academic discipline that, in recent years, has matured into a recognized area of scholarship and research.  While most closely linked with the video gaming industry, applications of gaming technology--which  includes elements of interactive media, virtual and augmented reality, simulations, and other technologies--span far beyond video games and  include applications in mental health, film, engineering design, architecture, social studies, education, training, visual and performing arts, immersive storytelling, healthcare and social justice to name a few.


The purpose of the Unity Seed Grant is to encourage faculty to explore the integration of gaming technology into existing areas of research or as a new area of scholarship.  Grants are intended to fund pilot research that will generate data intended to be the basis for the pursuit of a larger, external grant opportunity.  Funds can be used for upskilling, piloting, experimenting or to otherwise position the PI or PI Team to successfully acquire a larger, external, follow-on grant with a significant overlap in the gaming/gaming technology space.


Gaming is a broad term that encompasses the creation, use and study of gaming technology.   Example areas of inquiry can include (but are not limited to) game development, games for social change, social simulations using virtual reality, design of game controllers for accessibility, gaming for special needs education, gaming for rehabilitation, virtual reality-based historic reconstructions, research on the social impacts of games and any other scholarship that leverages gaming technology.

You are encouraged to contact the lab directors (,, with questions on this solicitation and/or the appropriateness of your proposal.

2  Funding Details

  • A total of 3 grants will be awarded over the course of 3 years (one award each year) beginning in AY2022-23.

  • The grant period is 15 months with the following award timelines:

  • The funding level is between $10,000 and $20,000 per award.

  • Awardees will receive a college budget for the awarded amount and will be the budget manager.

3  Eligibility & Requirements

  • Faculty Seed Grants are open to all full-time faculty, including faculty on multi-year appointments.

  • Faculty teams may apply.  Inter-departmental teams or teams that include faculty from another AUC institution are particularly encouraged.  In the case of cross-institution teams, the lead must be a qualified Spelman faculty.  Please note that funds from this seed grant cannot be used to support external collaborators.

  • Submission of a grant proposal is required (see the “Submission” section for details)

  • Prior awardees may not participate in subsequent rounds.

  • Funds may not be used to support existing work.  Funds may be used to build on or branch from existing work.

  • The budget should clearly support the proposed activity and may include significant personnel support, training, equipment, consultants, and other customary, research-supporting expenditures.  Travel expenses should be avoided unless they can be strongly justified.  Contact the program directors if you have specific questions. 

  • These funds cannot be used to support external collaborators, though such a collaborator may be part of the team that eventually targets the larger, external funding opportunity this seed grant aims to encourage.

  • Funds may be used to pay (non-collaborator) consultants.

  • Applicants agree that if awarded, the funds will be used for the described activity/project only.  Significant deviations from the stated plan should be cleared with the Innovation Lab directors.  Funds must be encumbered by the end of the grant period.  Unused funds should be returned to the program funding pool.

  •  Awardees agree to complete a pre- and post- survey  (<15 minutes) conducted by the Innovation Lab.

  • Awardees agree to appropriately acknowledge the Innovation Lab and the grant funder (Unity Corporation) in all presentations, publications and communications that directly result from their award.  Poster-quality logos of both entities can be found here

  • Preference may be given to fund proposals from early and mid-career faculty who do not currently have external funding.


4  Submission

Applicants must upload a (5-7 page) project proposal that includes an abstract, project narrative, budget, budget justification and suggestions for possible follow-on funding.  The proposal must be in PDF form and should be submitted through the application portal by midnight of the submission deadline.


The proposal should adhere to the following content and page  guidelines


Cover Page (1 page)

  • Proposal title

  • Principal Investigator: Full Name, Position/Title, Department, Email

  • Co-Principal Investigator(s): Full Name, Position/Title, Department, Email

  • Additional Key Personnel: Include First, Middle & Last Name, Position/Title, Department, Email

  • Project abstract


Project Narrative  (3 page max)

  • Describe the proposed area of research inquiry and/or exploration and its alignment to gaming.  What is the area of scholarly inquiry you seek to explore?  For example, “This grant will provide the opportunity to begin our exploration into the uses of mixed reality in early childhood education...”

  • Provide a general description of the proposed pilot/exploratory study and how it could lead to further funding. 

  • Clearly state why external funding is unlikely apart from receiving seed funding.

  • Describe  work done to date if applicable.

  • Briefly, describe the project team.


Research Strategy (2 pages max): 

  • Include an overview of the methodology (detailed methodology is not required) and expected results.  How will you use the funding?  Will it be used to train the PI Team?  Will you be setting up an experiment?  Will you be purchasing equipment?  etc.

  • How will these efforts and the resulting data prepare you to procure a larger grant?

  • If applicable, describe any preliminary data to be collected, and how this data will strengthen the proposed subsequent grant application.

  • Name and describe the potential contributions of all collaborators.


Sustainability Plan (1 page max)

  • Indicate potential funding sources and types of funding (e.g. NSF, NIH, private foundation, industry, etc.) to be pursued using the preliminary data obtained with this seed grant.  This does not need to be an exhaustive or finalized list.

  • Include a timeline for preparation and submission.


Budget (no page limit)

  • Use the categories below for the budget and justification.  Funds may be used in any customary way to support research, including salary for key personnel. However, these funds are not intended to support external collaborators.  Travel expenses are not encouraged, but permissible with sufficient justification.

  • If you are receiving others funds to augment the requested support, please describe the source, amount, and how these funds are used. Matching funds are not required.  

5  Review Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed based on the following criteria:


  • Does the proposals describe work that will position the PI or PI team to be competitive for an externally funded award?

  • Is the proposal sufficiently linked to some aspect of gaming?

  • Would the proposed follow-on award likely result in a sustainable area of scholarship?

  • Is the budget reasonable?

6  Reporting Requirements 

Recipients will complete a report at the conclusion of the funding cycle that: 

  • Summarizes and assesses project activities and research outcomes, including any substantive deviation from the original project aims

  • Describes efforts to sustain or build upon the successes of the seed grant funding, including funding opportunities being pursued, resulting collaborations and any significant findings.

7  About the Innovation Lab

The Spelman Innovation Lab has the objective of promoting interdisciplinary ideation, creation, design and making, particularly when such activity has a significant technical component.  To that end, in November of 2020, the Innovation Lab launched a gaming program with the intent of drawing together artists, programmers and storytellers to collaboratively generate experiences that can be characterized as video games, interactive narratives, education and training tools, and other immersive, extended reality simulations. 


8  About Unity

Unity is the world’s leading platform for developing  real-time 3D (RT3D) content. Creators, ranging from game developers to artists, architects, automotive designers, filmmakers, and others, use Unity to make their imaginations come to life. Unity’s platform provides a comprehensive set of software solutions to create interactive, real-time 2D and 3D content for mobile phones, tablets, PCs, consoles, and augmented and virtual reality devices. Apps developed by Unity creators were downloaded more than three billion times per month in 2019 on more than 1.5 billion unique devices. For more information, please visit

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