IEEE $1Million Challenge call for proposals

Ideas are bigger today—and they should be. Technology is progressing faster than ever before. IEEE members have always created advancements that allow us to keep up with the changing world. The IEEE New Initiatives Committee (NIC) is looking for your help with the next big idea.


IEEE is looking for fresh ideas, innovations, and new concepts for: 

  • Broadening membership through engagement
  • Enhancing education in underserved communities
  • Experimenting with new style events

IEEE is not looking for just your ideas; turn your ideas into real solutions. That is what IEEE members do best and how you make a difference in the world. Creative and potentially disruptive approaches are encouraged—IEEE wants your outside-the-box, groundbreaking, and world-shattering ideas and solutions.

How to start
Think you have an idea for this challenge? Don’t keep it to yourself. Talk with IEEE members and volunteers, get feedback, team up, and share resources to make sure your idea is presented in the best possible way.
Submission process

What is the submission process?

A new initiative typically requires US$100,000 or more for a 12-month period. Multi-year funding is allowable, with a maximum of up to three 12-month periods. The proposal process for the challenge is a two-stage submission process: Stage one involves the submission of a preliminary proposal. If the proposal is accepted by the committee, stage two will require a full proposal and project plan for IEEE review, evaluation, and funding approval. You will also be notified if the proposal is not accepted.

Who can submit?

A preliminary proposal in response to this call may be submitted by one or more IEEE members, volunteers, or IEEE organizational units (OUs), individually or in cooperation with an IEEE staff group. IEEE NIC will look more favorably on proposals sponsored cooperatively by multiple OUs than it will on other proposals. IEEE OUs are encouraged to cooperate with each other on proposal submissions.

Note: An IEEE organizational unit is a subset of the entire IEEE membership that has been formed to carry out particular educational, geographic, professional, technical, or other appropriate activities of interest and service to those who are members of that organizational unit as permitted by law.
Source: IEEE Bylaw I-107.1

When to submit?

The deadline for submitting a preliminary proposal to the IEEE challenge is 5:00 PM ET (21:00 UTC-04) on 1 August 2019. The timeline for submitting a full proposal and project plan will be negotiated between IEEE NIC and the proposal/initiative leader. Download the IEEE New Initiative Proposal Application.

Please send submissions to the New Initiatives Committee (NIC) by email at Note: Include “$1 Million Challenge Submission” in the subject line of the email for easy identification.

For questions or inquiries, please send an email to

Tips for proposals

Make sure your idea stands out!

Quality and substance count. Talk through your idea with IEEE members and volunteers, get feedback, and revise—and then do it again. Submit fully formed ideas. Follow these tips to increase the likelihood of being selected.

Your preliminary proposal should:

  • Address a clearly defined need stated in the call for proposal:
    • Broadening membership through engagement
    • Enhancing education in underserved communities
    • Experimenting with new style events
  • Balance quality, innovation, and creativity with likelihood of success.
  • Have a set of concrete deliverables with near-term, quantifiable impacts and benefits to IEEE.
  • Include clearly defined metrics to effectively measure success.
  • Have a clear and realistic plan for successful completion of the project.
  • Be scalable and broad enough to make an impact on the larger IEEE organization.
  • Contain a brief statement about the long-term growth and financial viability of the program, product, or service.
  • Be sponsored cooperatively by multiple IEEE organizational units.
  • Have an IEEE staff project manager.
  • Have a project leader with specific expertise on the idea proposed.

What the IEEE NIC does not fund:

The IEEE NIC was created to support new IEEE initiatives that provide a benefit to IEEE members, the public, and the technical community—but IEEE NIC does not fund:

  • University, private company, and individual research and development projects, including prototypes and testing products 
  • Venture capital for patentable inventions 
  • Humanitarian activities typically funded through other IEEE mechanisms
  • Overhead (general and administrative or indirect costs) 
  • Ongoing activities or operational costs of the applicant 
  • Construction or building renovations (unless it is an extraordinary strategic initiative) 
  • Lobbying or electioneering
  • Commercial promotion activities 
  • Personal or commercial loans 
  • Grants with an individual as the sole beneficiary 
  • Scholarships to individuals or institutes 
  • Endowments 
  • Participation of specific/individual teams at competitions or conferences
  • Extensive travel and meeting expenses
For complete information, please review the New Initiatives Operations Manual (PDF, 690 KB).