Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Innovative Research Program



Christine Wiedinmyer, Associate Director for Science

The Innovative Research Program is designed to stimulate a creative research environment within CIRES and to encourage synergy between disciplines and research colleagues. The intent is to support small research efforts that can quickly provide concept viability or rule out further consideration. The program encourages novel, unconventional or fundamental research that might otherwise be difficult to fund. Funded projects are inventive, sometimes opportunistic, and do not necessarily have an immediate practical application or guarantee of success. This program supports pilot or exploratory studies, which may provide rapid results. Activities are not tightly restricted and can range from instrument development, lab testing, and field observations to model development, evaluation, and application.

The 2023 IRP competition opens February 13, 2023. Applications will be due March 27, 2023. Submit your proposal online. You must have a CIRES login and password to access the online application.

January 2022 update: CIRES is instituting a "Rapid IRP" to provide funds for research activities that are time-sensitive and urgent. Potential CIRES proposers should see the email or reach out to the Associate Director for Science for more information.


  • CIRES Research Scientists, Associate Scientists and Professors may serve as PIs. Post-docs are not eligible to serve as PIs.
    • CIRES graduate students and post-docs may submit a proposal but a CIRES Research Scientist or Professor must serve as PI.
    • Associate scientists must have support of the proposal from their supervisor. Please send a letter of support from the supervisor when the application is submitted.
  • A researcher may only be listed as a PI or contributor on ONE proposal for each competition. Multiple submissions in a given year will disqualify all applications with the individual listed.
  • If a researcher is part of a team receiving an IRP, that individual is not eligible to apply (or be part of an application team) the following year. If an application is submitted that includes the individual, the application will be disqualified.
  • Proposals may include investigators outside of CIRES if they are integral to the outcome.

Other Information

  • Project Budget cannot exceed $30,000 (in direct costs).
  • All research should be completed within one year of award. Funding for IRP must be spent within 16 months of the award. 
  • Awardees must present the results of the work at the Annual IRP poster session at the end of their award.
  • Workshops or the acquisition of normal tools such as computers are discouraged.