Minerva Research Initiative (MRI)

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense

Just as the Cold War gave rise to new ideas and fields of study such as game theory and Kremlinology, the challenges facing the world today call for a broader conception and application of national power that goes beyond military capability. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is interested in receiving proposals for the Minerva Research Initiative (http://minerva.defense.gov), a university-led defense social science program seeking fundamental understanding of the social and cultural forces shaping U.S. strategic interests globally. OSD is particularly interested in projects that align with and support the National Defense Strategy, found at: https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-S...

The Minerva Research Initiative (Minerva) emphasizes questions of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. It seeks to increase the Department’s intellectual capital in the social sciences and improve its ability to address future challenges and build bridges between the Department and the social science community. Minerva brings together universities and other research institutions around the world and supports multidisciplinary and cross-institutional projects addressing specific interest areas determined by the Department of Defense. The Minerva program aims to promote research in specific areas of social science and to promote a candid and constructive relationship between DoD and the social science academic community


  • White Papers: June 20, 2019
  • Full Proposals: Sep. 26, 2019

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

The Minerva Research Initiative competition is for research related to nine (9) topics listed below. Innovative white papers and proposals related to these research areas are highly encouraged. Detailed descriptions of the interest areas—which are intended to provide a frame of reference and are not meant to be restrictive—can be found in Section IX, “Minerva Topics.”

  • Topic 1: Peer/Near-peer Statecraft, Influence, and Regional Balance of Power
  • Topic 2: Power, Deterrence, and Escalation Management
  • Topic 3: Alliances and Burden Sharing
  • Topic 4: Economic Interdependence and Security
  • Topic 5: Economic Viability, Resilience, and Sustainability of Logistics Infrastructure
  • Topic 6: Multi-Domain Behavioral Complexity and Computational Social Modeling 
  • Topic 7: Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Ethics, and Social Interactions
  • Topic 8: Models and Methods for Understanding Covert Online Influence
  • Topic 9: Automated Cyber Vulnerability Analysis

Proposals will be considered both for single-investigator awards as well as larger teams. A team of university investigators may be warranted because the necessary expertise in addressing the multiple facets of the interest areas may reside in different universities, or in different departments of the same university. The research questions addressed should extend across a fairly broad range of linked issues where there is clear potential synergy among the contributions of the distinct disciplines represented on the team. Team proposals must name only one Principal Investigator as the responsible technical point of contact. Similarly, one institution will be the primary recipient for the purpose of award execution. The relationship among participating institutions and their respective roles, as well as the apportionment of funds including subawards, if any, must be described in both the proposal text and the budget. As well, the basic research contribution of the project must be clearly described in the proposal text.

Eligibility Requirements

All responsible sources from academia, including DoD institutions of higher education and foreign universities, may submit proposals under this FOA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Institutions (MIs) are encouraged to submit proposals and join others in submitting proposals. No portion of this FOA, however, will be set aside for HBCU and MI participation.

Teams are encouraged and may submit proposals in any and all areas. Non-profit institutions and commercial entities may be included on a university-led team as subawardees only, receiving funding for their efforts accordingly. Federally Funded Research & Development Centers (FFRDCs), including Department of Energy National Laboratories, are not eligible to receive awards under this FOA. However, teaming arrangements between FFRDCs and eligible principal applicants are allowed provided they are permitted under the sponsoring agreement between the Government and the specific FFRDC. 

Number of Applications: There is no limit to the number of applications that an individual PI may have submitted by their institution in response to this FOA.



Amount Description

• Total Amount of Funding Available: $15.0M over 3 years. • Anticipated Number of Awards: 10–12 • Anticipated Range of Individual Award Amounts: $150 K/year to $1.0 M/year • Previous Years’ Average Individual Award Amounts: $440 K/year • Anticipated Period of Performance: 3-5 years

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

September 26, 2019