SEAS Research Equipment Assistance Program (REAP)

Timeline

Present at Chairs meeting Thursday, January 12, 2017
Application Deadline Friday, April 7, 2017
Award Notification Saturday, May 20, 2017
Funds Available August 2017, possibly July


OVERVIEW 

The SEAS Dean’s Office is pleased to announce the first annual call for proposals for the SEAS Research Equipment Assistance Program (REAP). This resource was developed in response to a need articulated by faculty for the purchase of critical equipment to be shared by multiple users. 

This program is designed to meet faculty needs on several levels and offers a number of benefits. First, it enables faculty to purchase essential equipment that may be difficult to fund through traditional sources. Moreover, faculty are able to address space constraint concerns by leveraging shared facilities. This program also provides a means for administrative and technical support for facilities containing multiple shared pieces of equipment. Finally, it introduces a novel mechanism for recovering the depreciation cost of the equipment and replenishing the fund for long term sustainability of the program.

Preference will be given for equipment with especially high usage that is critically needed to conduct ongoing research and to secure competitive research grants. This may apply to standard equipment that is essential but difficult to cover with instrumentation proposals, government grants, or other external funding sources. For example, the DSC, differential scanning calorimeter, is essential for fundamental materials research and therefore difficult to include on proposals, yet it is impossible to conduct basic research without it. 

Faculty members within SEAS are invited to submit an application for the purchase of shared research equipment that meet the criteria listed below. Proposals will be accepted from faculty members within SEAS across all fields; however, computational equipment will not be considered for the time being. To optimize use of facilities, preference will be given to applicants who propose to share usage with multiple faculty participants and have space allotted or planned for the equipment. 

Proposal Criteria 

A. Shared usage for revenue generation

a. Estimated number of users (faculty, students, post docs)
b. Estimated number of hours per week

B. Estimated operation costs

a. Technical support (hours per week)
b. Materials & supplies
c. Maintenance contracts
d. Depreciation

C. Lab management operations

a. Please recommend lab management tools
b. Registration and use of the selected platform

Two examples of new equipment purchases and funding structure may be found below. We have modeled this program on one operating successfully at Northwestern University https://www.facilities.research.northwestern.edu/

FUNDING 

Projects will be funded at a level between $5K – $100K beginning summer 2017. The number of projects accepted each year will depend on the dollar amount of the proposals. 

The program is funded by an initial investment from the Dean’s Office with the potential for additional funding in future years. This program will enable reinvestment in the fund to create a sustainable purchase assistance program. 

The repayment plan for purchases made with program funds operates identically to a depreciation schedule, which will offset the financial assistance and be repaid over time. Depreciation is a financial concept that spreads the cost of a fixed asset over its useful life and accounts for equipment losing value over time due to use, decay, or obsolescence. The depreciation rate is calculated by the tool’s cost, useful life, and estimated salvage value. Columbia University has determined the useful life of research equipment as ten years. 

User fees for shared equipment will generate both the depreciation payment as well as cover the tool’s material costs, operating costs, and the cost of technical or administrative staff support. 

Sharing equipment is a mechanism to professionalize facilities and to encourage hiring technical and scientific staff to run the equipment. Note also that use of shared equipment with fees can be charged to grants; it also avoids any conflicts of interest, therefore helping faculty with outside startup and consulting arrangements.

One concrete goal of this program is to help faculty fund the purchase and/or replacement of essential, highly-used shared equipment.  

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION DEADLINE 

Friday April 7, 2017, 5:00 PM 

Award notifications will be made on Saturday, May 20, 2017 

Funds will be available as of August 2017, possibly July 

PROPOSAL FORMAT 

Submit the following materials via email, in .doc format to seas-specialprojects@columbia.edu by the Friday April 7, 2017, 5:00 PM deadline: 

  • Project Proposal - description of the equipment, usage information including expected shared users and level of activity, why the equipment is necessary at this time, and plans for space allocation or suggested location for shared facilities.* (5-page maximum, single space, 12-font, Times New Roman)
    *the review committee will try to match-make equipment sharing
     
  • Budget with Narrative – cost to purchase equipment, what materials and supplies are needed, what maintenance and services are needed, what are the total costs associated with the equipment
     
  • PI Questionnaire 

If you have equipment purchased by SEAS and are interested in moving to this model to cover maintenance or other costs, please email seas-specialprojects@columbia.edu

Emily Ford is also available at egf4@columbia.edu (212) 854-3483 to help and answer further questions. 

Example A 

A PI purchases a research tool for $110,000 and the tool has a $10,000 salvage value and a ten-year useful life. 

  • Calculate the depreciable asset cost: $110,000 - $10,000 = $100,000 
  • Calculate the depreciation rate, divide the useful life (10 years) into 1 = 10% 
  • Calculate the annual depreciation amount, multiply the depreciation rate by the depreciable asset cost: $100,000 x .1 = $10,000 
  • The PI will record $10,000 of depreciation on the tool every year

Users

  • Suppose the tool has 10 users, averaging 2 hours per week, for 50 weeks per year
    • 1,000 usage hours per year
    • 10,000 / 1,000 = $10 base (depreciation / usage hours)

Costs 

  • Depreciation schedule set at $10,000 every year for 10 years 
  • Suppose annual costs are $5K
  • Suppose the tool requires 10% effort of a technical staff member with a $100K salary (including fringe benefits) = $10K
    • 15K/1,000 = $15 (maintenance + tech personnel / usage hours)

Fees 

  • Total internal user fee = $25 per hour 
  • Total external user fee (20% markup) = $30 per hour

Assuming 90% internal and 10% external users 

  • Year 1, the facility will have generated $25,500
    • Depreciation recovery reinvested into REAP = $10K 
    • Supplies and materials = $5K 
    • Technical staff = $10K
  • Year 5, the facility will have generated $382,500
    • Depreciation recovery reinvested into REAP = $50K
    • Supplies and materials = $25K
    • Technical staff = $50K
  • Year 10, the facility will have generated $287,000
    • Depreciation recovery reinvested into REAP = $100K 
    • Supplies and materials = $50K 
    • Technical staff = $100K

Example B 

A PI purchases research equipment that costs $50,000 and has a ten-year useful life. 

  • Calculate the depreciation rate, divide the useful life (10 years) into 1 = 10% 
  • Calculate the annual depreciation amount, multiply the depreciation rate by the depreciable asset cost: $50,000 x .1 = $5,000 
  • The PI will record $5,000 of depreciation on the tool every year

Users

  • If the equipment has 5 users averaging 4 hours per week for 40 weeks per year
    • 800 usage hours per year
    • 5,000/800 = $6.25 base (depreciation / usage hours)

Costs

  • Depreciation schedule set at $5,000 every year for 10 years 
  • Annual maintenance costs are $5K
  • If the equipment requires 5% effort of a technical staff member with a $100K salary (including fringe benefits) = $5K
    • 10K/800 = $12.50 (maintenance + tech personnel / usage hours)

Fees

  • Total internal user fee = $18.75 per hour 
  • Total external user fee (20% markup) = $22.50 per hour

Assuming 90% internal and 10% external users 

  • Year 1, the facility will have generated $15,300
    • Depreciation recovery reinvested into REAP = $5K
    • Supplies and materials = $5K
    • Technical staff = $5K
  • Year 5, the facility will have generated $76,500
    • Depreciation recovery reinvested into REAP = $25K
    • Supplies and materials = $25K 
    • Technical staff = $25K
  • Year 10, the facility will have generated $153,000
    • Depreciation recovery reinvested into REAP = $50K
    • Supplies and materials = $50K
    • Technical staff = $50K

PI Questionnaire 

General Information

  1. Applicant name 
  2. Managing and owning department 
  3. Name the equipment or tool. 
  4. Describe the tool and services to be provided. 
  5. List the current funded projects that might use this research equipment, include the chart string or research grant for each. 
  6. List the proposed projects and startup projects affiliated with this research equipment. 
  7. What physical space is available for the equipment? 
  8. If space is needed, please explain the constraints of your current lab and the space requirements for the requested equipment. 

Usage Criteria

  1. Please describe the base activity level for the equipment. 
  2. Please specify anticipated PIs and research groups that will use the equipment, and include number of students, post docs etc. 
  3. Please estimate the expected total machine usage hours (per month) of each user and group. 
  4. Do you anticipate the equipment will be usable for ten years, (Columbia’s standard useful life)? 

Budget and Narrative 

  1. What does the equipment cost? 
  2. Do you need scientific personnel to oversee the equipment? If so, what percentage of effort will this require and what is the estimated cost? 
  3. What materials and supplies does the equipment need to operate? 
  4. What do these materials and supplies cost? 
  5. What are the anticipated maintenance and service needs? 
  6. What do these services cost?
  7. What other costs do you anticipate? For example, are there rental service contracts, professional services, conferences related to the equipment? 
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