Impact Engines

A new model for 21st century problem solving
What is an Impact Engine?

Solving today’s interconnected challenges requires more than any one individual, discipline, or even organization. It requires diverse clusters of interdisciplinary expertise and experience, each focused on a global problem and its contexts and perspectives. Northeastern University’s Academic Plan calls for the formation of these solutions-oriented clusters, called Impact Engines.

Impact Engines galvanize and organize interdisciplinary learning, research, and partnerships around solving a challenge or set of challenges, with the goal of maximum impact. Impact Engines span disciplines, colleges, campuses, and industry sectors, connecting diverse communities of problem-solvers around creating measurable change. They are a key pillar of the university’s new academic plan, and a means for Northeastern to claim leadership as an institution with broad societal impact.

What is the difference between Impact Engines and the TIER Internal Grant Program?

While both Impact Engines and TIER grants are internal mechanisms to fund interdisciplinary projects at Northeastern, their scope is different. 

Impact Engines are focused on moving the needle on solving a real-world problem in a 3-5 year timeframe. They must articulate a clear problem statement as well as milestones and metrics to measure impact. They must also involve external partners and students in some capacity. While Impact Engines may apply for external grants or funding, they are not required to do so. 

TIER 1 grants are interdisciplinary seed grants with the goal of securing future external funding. TIER 2 are available to help support major proposal development resource needs. TIER 3 grants are for developing interdisciplinary centers or initiatives that will position the university as a leader in that research area.  

Find out more about Impact Engines here and the TIER programs here.   

If you are unsure whether your idea is a better fit for an Impact Engine or TIER grant, we encourage you to contact the Impact Engine team to discuss it further.

Contact Research Development:

177 Huntington Ave | Boston MA, 02115