Unsolicited Research Program

The Unsolicited Research Program is designed to fund innovative research projects that can significantly advance scientific knowledge and result in practical water quality solutions. The program routinely receives 10% of WRF’s allocated research budget each year.

The next Unsolicited Research Program Call for Pre‑proposals will open in 2026.


Projects funded under the Unsolicited Research Program are selected through a two-stage competitive process:

Stage 1: WRF issues a call for pre-proposals. Submitted pre-proposals are evaluated by WRF's Research Advisory Council (RAC). A short list of proposers will be invited to submit full proposals for review and consideration.

Stage 2: Applicants whose pre-proposals were short listed in Stage 1 submit full proposals to compete for funding. The full proposals are evaluated and approved by the RAC.

The total budget available for all projects funded under the Unsolicited Research Program in 2024 is $1,805,347. Funding ranges from $25,000–$175,000 for individual projects.

Program Details

Proposals may:

  • Complement the Research Priority Program
  • Address issues of regional and national significance
  • Involve the piloting of novel technologies
  • Address research on drinking water, wastewater, recycled water, and stormwater.

Selection Criteria

Pre-Proposals will be selected based on:

  • Technical and Scientific Merit
  • Project Originality
  • Technical Approach
  • Significance and Value of Research
  • Project Schedule and Qualifications of Key Personnel/Organizational Capacity

Note that the selection criteria for the full proposals may be different and will be provided to all shortlisted pre-proposers at the time of pre-proposal selection notification.

Pre-proposal Guidelines

Visit WRF's Proposal Guidelines page to access supporting documentation for the Unsolicited Research Program, including the Instructions for Submission of Pre-proposals and the Program Cover Sheet.

Pre-proposal Submission

Pre-proposals should be submitted via an online form using the link provided in the “Instructions for Submission of Pre-proposals”.

Finalist Invitation

After pre-proposals are evaluated, a short list of finalists will be invited to submit full proposals to compete for funding.

Program Highlights

Questions about the Unsolicited Research Program

Please contact Jeff Moeller, PE, Research Unit Leader and Lola Olabode, MPH, BCES, Research Program Manager, with questions about the Unsolicited Research Program.

Questions about the Proposal Submittal Process

Please contact our Senior Administrative Assistant, Caroline Bruck, with questions about proposal submittal using the online form.  She can be reached by phone at 303.347.6118.