• Credit: Siddhartha Pathak

Rothenberg Innovation Initiative - RI2

The Rothenberg Innovation Initiative (RI2) program is an internal grant program that provides research funds to high-risk but potentially high-reward projects that are focused on technologies that address significant challenges in the world at large, with commercial potential to address an unmet need in the marketplace.

Originally called the Caltech Innovation Initiative (CI2), in 2017 the program was renamed the Rothenberg Innovation Initiative (RI2) in honor of Caltech Trustee James F. Rothenberg and his wife Anne Rothenberg. The Rothenbergs have supported the CI2 program since its inception in 2009, and their generous endowed gift will provide ongoing, essential seed funding for research that addresses pivotal problems and could lead to commercially useful technologies. These internal grants give Caltech faculty support to develop bold ideas, bridging the gap between early-stage research and the proof of concept data often required for later-stage government support or venture capital investment necessary to introduce a novel technology into the marketplace.

Although the activities of this program are not limited to any particular area of science or engineering, RI2 has in the past supported energy and green technologies, information technology, neuroscience, biomedicine, biotechnology, and nanomaterial research projects. If you are interested in joining the Rothenbergs in support of the RI2 program, please visit our Supporting Innovation page.

RI2 awards are intended to provide support for up to two years with up to $250,000 in total funding (two years of support at $125,000 a year). Requests for a second year of funding are considered based on competitive review of both new and renewal proposals.

In order to provide ongoing support for the RI2 program, the following will apply to intellectual property resulting from RI2-funded projects: if licensed to startup company, Caltech will receive increased equity or a convertible note from the startup commensurate with RI2 funding support; if licensed to an existing company, the RI2 funding will be recouped from royalties Caltech receives under the license.

HOW TO APPLY: The RI2 Request for Proposals is sent out by the Vice Provost for Research at the beginning of each calendar year, with proposals due in early March. See below for the exact dates for 2018. The application process will be specified in the Request for Proposals. Applications are open to Caltech faculty and participation is limited to one proposal per faculty member per year. Any questions email RI2@caltech.edu. See also the Grubstake page for additional funding opportunities.

Applications should follow the format for submission and evaluation rubric provided here

Renewal applications should also incorporate a progress report - see the FAQs below

Applicants should include a signed Division Approval Form (DAF) with their proposal submission - DAF available here

Applicants should submit their proposal and DAF by email to RI2@caltech.edu

2018 application dates:

Request for Proposals distributed to faculty: February 27, 2019

Proposals due: April 12, 2019

Progress Report & Request for Second Year Funding (for 2018 awardees) proposals due: April 12, 2019

Decisions announced: late June 2019 (funding start date will be October 1, 2019)


Eligibility: The program is open to Caltech faculty, limited to one proposal per faculty member per year
Budget: budget must include faculty effort in an amount equal to 10% of the total budget request (salary+benefits). Direct costs only (including tuition remission and staff benefits as applicable), indirect costs should not be included. Applicants should include a signed DAF but no MORA is necessary. Maximum budget is $125K/year. Budgets should not include a subaward component as RI2 awards are intended to support innovative faculty research on campus.
Renewals: A 2nd year of funding may be requested. Renewals will be reviewed competitively with, not given priority over, new proposals. Renewal proposals must include the following information:
  • Format: re-list milestones from original proposal, followed by specific progress achieved for each milestone
  • List publications and ensure RI2 funding was acknowledged
  • List all relevant patent filings
  • List all other funding sources on the project – both source and amount
  • Specify post-RI2 plans: next steps scientifically and commercially, and future funding sources