The MIT Schwarzman College of Computing announced a call for proposals for seed projects that explore using new AI and computing tools to achieve better management and higher worker productivity in modern workspaces. Projects are intended to be interdisciplinary and bring together faculty from computing, social sciences and management. A workshop reporting on the progress of all funded projects was held on April 4, 2024.

Funding has been provided by Andrew W. Houston ’05 and Dropbox, Inc.


Topics of interest included, but were not limited to:

  • New organizations and tasks in an AI-powered world that will lead to good jobs and greater productivity
  • New approaches for improved personal productivity and work satisfaction
  • Collaboration tools and methods for design and development
  • New modes of human-machine collaboration, in which users and AI work in complementary ways
  • New theories of human-machine interaction that incorporate uncertainty, trust and behavioral biases
  • Organizational optimization and process improvement
  • Safety and security in critical work environments such as hospitals and air-traffic control

Proposals are lightweight; documents should be 2-3 pages in length, and RAS approval is not required. The project description should include:

  • Heading: include a project title, names and DLCs (Department, Laboratory, or Center) of PIs
  • Vision: your long-term vision of a research project that will enhance the future of work
  • Plan: an outline of your initial plan, what you hope to achieve by the end of the seed funding period (2023-2024), and how you hope to use the results to engage in a deeper exploration
  • Prior work: a brief overview of prior work, by yourself and others, and how this project will build on it
  • Budget: A brief indication of how you will allocate the funds (no formal budget required)

To help proposers form teams and shape their projects, we hosted a workshop in mid April. Participants were requested to send a brief description of an idea or framing in advance (up to half a page in length); these were used to plan discussion topics and help make connections between participants. View the workshop agenda here.

Projects will be funded for one year starting on June 1, 2023. We selected seven proposals, with budgets not exceeding $300K. We expect awards to fund 1 or 2 students and some faculty time. All proposals were expected to include faculty from multiple disciplines. The seed funds are meant to kick-start new, exploratory research efforts. See a list of the awarded proposals here.

Budgets should be prepared using these fund fee guidelines: MIT’s fund transaction fee is 10% and is generally applied to all direct costs on fund accounts with certain exceptions. The 10% fund transaction fee is applied to graduate student research assistant stipend and tuition, equipment, materials and supplies, travel, and most other operating expenses. Faculty salaries are exempt from MIT sponsored research facilities and administrative (F&A) rate. The FY23 MIT F&A rate of 59.0% is applied to non-academic salaries including postdoctoral research associates. Recipients will be asked to submit a brief report (4-5 pages) summarizing accomplishments at the end of the funding period (September 1, 2024, with the possibility of a no-cost extension) that will be shared in a stewardship report to the donor.

This is a seed round, and we hope to have funding for a continuation.