MIT-Imperial College London Seed Fund

MIT and Imperial College London share a commitment to address key global challenges. For 2021, the MIT-Imperial College London Seed Fund promotes early-stage collaboration between faculty and researchers at MIT and Imperial College London focusing on the areas of climate, health and sustainability. This is based on our linked strategic themes of: ‘climate solutions’ and ‘transition to zero pollution’ and aims to include the broader context of health and sustainability as impacted by these issues. Focusing on these themes for this year’s seed fund is part of a larger effort at MIT and Imperial to organize research and teaching to have a positive impact on these global challenges.  We encourage applications from researchers from across all disciplines of both institutions that address these important global issues. The following are some of the possible areas covered by these strategic themes:

  • ‘Climate solutions’ - The world lacks the climate solutions that will be required to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades affordably, and to adapt equitably and efficiently to the impacts -- environmental, economic, social and political -- that will occur even if that goal is met.  Finding these solutions will require coordinated global efforts to develop the science and develop and deploy the technologies and policies that are needed.  We aim to harness the research community to deliver a stream of innovations to help prevent the worst consequences of climate change and to adapt effectively and equitably to the changes that will inevitably occur. 

  • ‘Transition to zero pollution’ seeks to take a systems level view of pollution (including carbon-related pollution), from its source to its impact on human and planetary health.  The aim is to build a future that is free from human-made pollution, and this will require a complete change in almost every aspect of the modern economy e.g. manufacturing, transport, resource utilization, business models, and public policy. This transition must be underpinned by truly interdisciplinary scientific collaboration. Research covered in this theme includes but is not limited to fundamental engineering and physical sciences research, the water-food-energy nexus, environmental and human health, and innovative economic and business models.

  • Climate change and pollution affect many of the social and environmental determinants of health, including clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter. The risks to human health are complex and far-reaching, including heatwaves, infectious diseases, air pollution, malnutrition and many others. Topics in this theme are intertwined with those previously mentioned and aim to understand the impacts of climate change on human health.

The Fund aims to help kick-start early-stage, ambitious ‘blue skies’ research ideas that might not otherwise be pursued. The funding may be used to support travel costs for exchange between the two teams: one at MIT one at Imperial College London. Given the carbon footprint of travel, researchers are asked to consider which components of the proposed collaboration might be accomplished effectively via video, phone, or other creative technology solutions. 

Teams from both institutions have access to the online application portal, and any of the teams may take the lead in completing the application.

Grant awards will be evenly divided between and managed by the teams at MIT and Imperial College London to enable travel between the three locations. For instance, a $40,000 proposed budget should include:

1. Approximately $20,000 to be managed by the MIT team for:

  • the MIT team to travel to London and/or
  • workshops and meetings conducted at MIT

2. Approximately $20,000 to be managed by the Imperial College London team for

  • the ICL team to travel to Cambridge, MA and/or
  • workshops and meetings conducted at ICL

 All general MISTI Global Seed Funds criteria, application, and evaluation procedures apply.


Priority will be given to projects that:

  • present a balanced exchange between the participants
  • demonstrate complementarity between the teams
  • involve undergraduate and graduate students

Stephen Barnes

Stephen Barnes Headshot

Program Manager, UK Seed Funds