What is the IRC Research Program?
The Innovation and Research Council (IRC), comprised of multiple federal agencies with public land holdings, selects research projects that react to the urgent and visionary needs of Federal Land Management Agencies (FLMAs). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH), administers the IRC Research Program. The IRC makes the final selections on future research topics. On behalf of the IRC, FLH solicits research project proposals biannually, from IRC chartered member agencies.
The IRC Research Program is open to staff of IRC chartered member agencies. A list of these agencies can be found on the IRC website. Outside contractors may be involved, but the Project Manager listed on any application materials should be an employee of one of those agencies.
The IRC Research Program seeks to support projects that are aligned with its five Strategic Themes:
- Vulnerabilities and Resiliency
- Environmental Stewardship
- Customer Experience and Mobility
Visit the IRC Research Program Project Profiles page to learn more about the research projects that the IRC has funded in the past.
Open Season for the FY25-27 IRC Research Program starts in February 2024. If you are an employee of one of the IRC chartered member agencies and have a project that you think would be appropriate for the program, please email IRC-Research@dot.gov.
The IRC Research Program consists of the following steps.
Step 1: Intake Form
- Submission: Interested applicants fill out an intake form with high-level information about their proposed project.
- Evaluation: Submitted information is reviewed by the FLH Innovation and Research Coordinator to confirm eligibility and alignment with IRC Strategic Themes and with general Research Program expectations. Accepted applicants will be notified to move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Pitch Deck
- Submission: Accepted Applicants submit a Pitch Deck (templated PowerPoint) to provide an overview of their research proposal. Applicants shall only use the prepared Pitch Deck template. Adhering to the structure of the Deck helps ensure that all evaluation criteria are met.
- Evaluation: The review panel, which consists of members of the Research Heightened Utility and Deployment (rHUD), will review Pitch Decks prior to Pitch Day presentations (Step 3) to be familiar with the projects and identify potential questions in preparation for Pitch Days.
Step 3: Pitch Day(s)
- Presentation: Applicants will present the Pitch Deck submitted in Step 2 and may provide additional details verbally.
- Applicants have the option to not present to the review panel. Applicants who choose not to present will have an opportunity to provide explanatory notes for reviewers.
- Reviewers will have an opportunity to ask questions to better understand the research proposals. Reviewers may request follow-up information.
- Evaluation: The review panel, which consists of members of the rHUD, will consider the information presented, responses to questions, and any additional materials provided, if applicable. The review panel will rank the proposed research projects to identify “research projects of promise” for the IRC. Projects that address IRC Strategic Themes and propose relevant and feasible research will be prioritized for funding.
Step 4: IRC Review and Funding Announcement
- Evaluation: The IRC will review recommendations from the rHUD and determine a final list of prioritized projects for funding. Funding will be allocated as based on this prioritization as funds are available.
The application process for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025-2027 IRC Research Program begins in January 2024.
Application Period (Step 1: Intake Form)
Applicants Notified of Acceptance and Pitch Day Details
Step 2: Pitch Deck Development
Step 3: Pitch Days
rHUD Review and Recommendations
Proposers Notified of IRC Funding Decision
Project Kick-Off Meetings
Fall 2024/Winter 2025