University of Chicago Big Ideas Generator



Big Ideas Generator (BIG) powers bold, early-stage projects at UChicago that have potential to grow into significant research agendas.


Our priority is to provide flexible resources to probe the key elements of a fledging project: the rigor of the theoretical assumptions and the potential intellectual impact. We do this by providing funding, operational guidance, and access to a network of UChicago colleagues who share enthusiasm for charting novel research directions.


Seed Funds (up to $30,000) provide flexible resources to explore uncertain, early-stage ideas. Seed grants are quite open in format to support a focused initial exploration.

Vision Funds (up to $100,000) are designed to systematically test the theoretic assumptions underlying a research project and support its potential to grow into a larger research initiative. Vision grants are peer-reviewed and focused on supporting data-generation activities.

Funding decisions for both levels are made by the Faculty Advisory Board.


BIG supports projects that are both early stage and ambitious. Exploring the large-scale potential of a project may involve customized support from the BIG team and Arete, a strategic research development unit at the Office of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories. Support may involve developing a long-term operational plan and assistance in seeking additional external support in subsequent stages of the project.


Ideas take shape in conversations. We aim to provide as many opportunities for conversations with unlike-minded colleagues across campus as possible. Attend quarterly Chalk Talks (rapid-fire faculty presentations on intriguing problems from different fields), workshops, BIG Ideas dinners, and other great events.

Meet the Team