You are here

IRC Research Program Application and Process

The Innovation and Research Council (IRC) funds 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, and the IRC makes the final selections for funding. FLH solicits research project proposals and nominations from FLMA staff bi-annually for IRC consideration.

The IRC Research Program seeks to support projects that are aligned with its five Strategic Themes:

  • Infrastructure
  • Safety
  • 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.


The IRC Research Program consists of the following steps. More detailed instructions will be posted closer to the start of Open Season, which will be in February 2024. Please check back to this website for more details if you are interested in applying.

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 to provide an overview of their research proposal.
  • 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)

January-February 2024

Applicants Notified of Acceptance and Pitch Day Details

March 2024

Step 2: Pitch Deck Development

April 2024

Step 3: Pitch Days

May-June 2024

rHUD Review and Recommendations

June-July 2024

IRC Meeting

August 2024

Proposers Notified of IRC Funding Decision

August 2024

Project Kick-Off Meetings

Fall 2024/Winter 2025

Updated: Wednesday, August 9, 2023