Call for Proposals: Competitive Research Grants (CRG) Program 2021


To all KAUST Faculty,

KAUST Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) is pleased to announce the 2021 competition for its internal competitive research funding program, the Competitive Research Grants (CRG) program.

The CRG program is KAUST's internal competitive research program for curiosity- and goal-driven scientific research. Research funded under the CRG program is expected to lead to major discoveries and innovations at the frontiers of science and technology. Proposals transcending different disciplines and fields are strongly welcome.

CRG research activities are expected to contribute towards the recruitment of excellent graduate students to KAUST as well as the participation of women in research. The participation of world-class external co-investigators is also allowed, but it must be demonstrated that these collaborator(s) can provide unique and essential expertise and resources to the project.

  • The CRG program is open to full-time KAUST Faculty (i.e., Full, Associate, and Assistant Professors).
  • CRG proposal submission may not duplicate projects already supported with OSR funds.
  • Full proposal budgets exceeding the $1.05M cap will be allowed but only with prior approval from OSR.

New in CRG2021:

  • A maximum of 20% of the award budget can be allocated directly to subawardees. Up to a further 10% of the project budget can be used for collaboration growth: to support demonstrable strengthening and deepening of project collaborations at all levels (hosting collaborating researchers and team members at KAUST for longer periods (particularly encouraged), project workshops at KAUST, allowing team members to spend time at collaborating institutions, etc.).
  • A 'response to reviews' stage has been added to the review process. Applicants will have the opportunity to access and read the ad-hoc reviews for their proposal and address any inaccuracies or factual errors in a one page response. This response will go to the panel along with the ad-hoc reviews.

Two types of Proposals will be considered in the CRG program:

  1. Exploratory Proposals: Proposals for very early stage small-scale, short-term, high risk-high impact research projects, involving radically different approaches or applying new expertise. Proposals MUST focus on new topics and not be a continuation of existing work. The Exploratory Award Term is up to a maximum of 24 months with a maximum Award Budget of $400,000
  2. Full Proposals: Proposals for high-quality, novel, ambitious and innovative research projects. The Award Term can be up to a maximum of 36 months with a total Award Budget not to exceed $1,050,000. However, a 3-Yr total budget of up to $1,500,000 will be considered in exceptional cases (e.g., project involving a multi-disciplinary team of KAUST investigators), but only with prior approval from OSR (to be requested by the PI through the Letter of Intent (LOI)).

Key call dates

  • Town hall meeting: Monday, February 15, 2021 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. via Zoom
  • Letter of Intent submission to Research Services (RS) by 5:00 p.m. KSA time Sunday, March 14, 2021
  • Online Proposal Submission to RS by 5:00 p.m. KSA time Sunday, April 18, 2021
  • Anticipated Funding Decision Notification Date: November 2021
  • Award Start Date: April 1, 2022

Submission of the LOI/proposals is via the OSR online submission portal, the Proposal to Award Lifecycle Management SystemPALMS

  • No registration is required to use PALMS, your KAUST username and password will give you access.
  • The system is accessed using the network; no additional software needs to be installed.
  • You can access the system online from any location worldwide through the KAUST VPN.

Please see the PALMS User Guide for more detailed information located with the other call documents. All call documents can be downloaded from the PALMS portal by clicking the 'Download Call Documents' button located at the very top of the web page once logged in.

Please direct all questions related to Proposal preparation and Proposal budget development and submission to the Research Services Pre-Award Team at

OSR encourages your active participation and wishes you the best in this competition.