Concept Paper – Template 

You identified a funding opportunity that seems to be a good fit for your proposed project. For the next several weeks (if not months) you will be committing a substantial amount of your time to the proposal writing process. Are you confident you have fully vetted this opportunity and know for certain that your proposal is responsive to the funding announcement? Before committing significant time to the proposal, consider drafting a 1-2 page concept paper to float your idea with the relevant program officer.

What is a concept paper?

Concept papers are the written equivalent of an “elevator speech.” These 1-2 page documents provide a concise overview of your proposed project. Some funders (e.g. foundations) approve concept papers before inviting full applications. Concept papers are also a good best practice for anyone interested in honing their message with potential funding sponsors. When writing a concept paper, consider the “Heilmeier Criteria.” George Heilmeier was Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the 1970s. Heilmeier developed a set of questions, referred to as the “Heilmeier Criteria,” that every proposal for a new research program had to answer.