Grants for research are normally funded either by large corporations or through government funding. Typically, the grantor requests research to solve a problem, or to measure outcomes through comparative analysis and offers a research grant to have this information provided.
Research grants are offered by government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others. Schools seek this type of funding to advance or fund studies they are already conducting. The fields of science, medicine, technology and energy generally have the most available funding. Many Federal research grants are multi-year grants, with the funding being released as milestones are met.
Research grants offered by corporations, and sometimes by the Federal government, may require that rights to any new products or methods be signed over to the grantor. Because of this requirement, research grants can include specific percentages allowed for administrative costs. Before applying, always read the entire RFP carefully, if assignment of rights will create problems for the requesting organization.
One note of interest: some Federal agencies, such as the National Institute of Health, will allow unsolicited research grant applications. There is guidance on the specific procedures to follow on the NIH website, concerning how to send in a request and even how to fill out the application. This information can be found at:
Unlike many grants, research grants from the government may allow for-profit, small business, public and private institutions of higher learning, as well as states and local governments to apply for and receive funds.
Private corporations may also offer research grants, and many follow a procedure similar to the government applications.
Writing research grant applications requires both technical expertise and exacting attention to detail. Even something as minor as a formatting error in one paragraph of a 150-page application can result in a denial. Getting specific training in writing these proposals is strongly recommended.