Applications Open for U-M Taubman College’s 2023 Urban Technology Prototype Grants

Taubman College’s Urban Technology Prototype Grant has returned for its second year with the theme “Green Seeds.” Applications are now open for software or hardware projects in the realm of urban technology, with a focus on sustainability and climate action. Grant winners will receive $15,000 in project funding to develop their project. Focused and concrete projects in their early stages are encouraged to apply. 

The Prototype Grant, or Protogrant, aims to spotlight and support the exciting work happening in the new and emerging field of urban technology. Offered for the first time in 2021, the grant connects the growing Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology program at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College with practitioners in the public and private sectors. 

Previous grant recipients include JustAir, a neighborhood-level air quality monitoring dashboard; Fides, a Blockchain-based app that enables individuals to own and control their geolocation data; and Tiny Town, an online game that encourages interactive and intergenerational storytelling about cities. 

“The grant is ‘kindling’ for Taubman College’s research in the area of urban technology,” said Bryan Boyer, director of the Bachelor of Science in Urban Technology program and assistant professor of practice in architecture. “Several Taubman College faculty including Rob Goodspeed, Kathy Velikov, Geoff Thün, myself, and others have done research in urban technology, which will continue to grow at the college. But we’re also conscious that there are other ways of exploring urban technology and interesting experimentation happening beyond the academy. How do we shoot up a flare to let those people know that we exist and want to meet them? That’s what the Protogrant is doing.” 

This year’s theme, “Green Seeds,” celebrates the technologies that support decarbonization, climate-resilient infrastructure, just energy transitions, and circular economies. With climate change central in conversations about urban futures, developing new tools and processes becomes essential for a sustainable reimagination of urban design and living. 

This year’s program is supported by a gift from Caryn Seidman Becker, chairman and CEO of CLEAR, who received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan in 1994, as well as funding from Taubman College. 

Recipients will have access to university resources and work remotely with a Taubman College faculty mentor on their projects. The six-month period from July through December 2023 will culminate in an event at Taubman College to present the work and collectively reflect on its implications.

“The Protogrant is a way to show the community of practitioners in tech that there are willing partners who have deep expertise on the urban side of things and a hunger to combine talents, which happens when we pair each grantee with a faculty mentor,” said Boyer. 

Applications are open from now until 11:59 EST on January 30, 2023. More details about the grant and application process are available here.