Some instrumentation proposals require letters of support that describe institutional support of core facilities and sometimes cost-sharing on the proposal. If you have questions about the institutional Letter of Support, please contact Phil Hockberger, Assistant Vice President for Research (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have questions about the cost-sharing Letter of Support, please contact Aaron DeLee, Assistant Grants Officer in the Office for Sponsored Research (email@example.com).
Core Facilities Administration (CFA) and Office for Research (OR) provide financial incentives (vouchers) for faculty who help support core facilities. Support of a core facility can take the form of writing a successful external grant for instrumentation that is placed into a core facility, donating a new instrument to a core facility that is purchased with retention or start-up funds, or assigning a portion of retention or start-up funds for general use of core facilities. Vouchers take the form of credits to pay for use of instruments and services in core facilities.
A. Voucher for New Instruments to Core Facilities – this program rewards faculty who donate a new, cutting-edge instrument that can benefit multiple research groups. The voucher is for use of that instrument only, and it is funded by CFA. New instruments can be purchased using either internal (recruitment/retention) or external (grant) funds. Placing an instrument into a core facility allows faculty to share the operating costs and technical support with other investigators while maintaining privileged access to the instrument of up to two weeks in advance of other users. The core facility and contributing faculty member must agree to a long-term management plan before siting the instrument in the core which includes rates, maintenance strategy and cost accounting study.
B. Voucher for General Use of Core Facilities – this program allows faculty to use any instrument or service provided by a core facility. It is supported as part of recruitment and retention packages, and it is funded by the Provost, VPR and Schools using the standard cost sharing formula. By ear-marking funds for core facilities, the University encourages these faculty to take advantage of shared resources and services, expanding the user base and contributing to a steady income stream for that core facility.
CFA and OR’s Office for Sponsored Research (OSR) jointly manage cost sharing requests related to grants submitted on behalf of Core Facilities (mandatory and voluntary - https://osr.northwestern.edu/proposals/costsharing). Cost Sharing represents the sponsored project or program costs (direct and indirect) that would normally be borne by a sponsor but instead are covered by the University or a third party, such as a subcontractor or an unfunded collaborator. “Cost matching” is often treated interchangeably with the term “cost sharing”; however, the term “cost matching” often refers to cost sharing agreements in which the amount of sponsor funding is based on an equal or proportionate commitment from the University.
Cost Sharing of New Equipment for Core Facilities – The Voluntary Cost Share Program provides support for expenses related to new equipment (service contract, personnel, accessories, travel costs associated with vendor training, etc.) that cannot be included on the grant or would require excessive rates to recover. Voluntary cost sharing is handled prior to proposal submission in conjunction with the Office for Sponsored Research. Funding for voluntary cost share is capped at 25% of first $200K and 10% of the next $800K ($130K total). Proposals with mandatory cost share requirements (i.e. NSF:MRI) exceeding the limits set by the formula above are not eligible for the Voluntary Cost Share Program.
Cost share requests, either mandatory or voluntary, must be submitted with the budget for the project, list of PI’s/major users and justification for the cost share at the time of limited submission or one month before the submission deadline. Recommendations for funding are made by CFA, approved by the VPR and must be listed in VPR’s letter of commitment.
Please contact Andrew Ott (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director of Core Facilities, if you have questions.
Acknowledgments in Grant Applications and Publications - the use of data generated in a core facility in a grant application, progress report or publication contains the implicit understanding that the PI or authors will acknowledge the use of the core facility. Since many of our facilities are supported by federal agencies, such acknowledgment is mandatory.