With SLU’s Big Ideas Challenge Our Minds Are Fixed On the Future of St. Louis

Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)

SLU is currently engaged in a bold reshaping of its future. We firmly believe universities have the power to inspire transformative thinking that translates to real-world impact.

Ken Olliff, Vice President for Research at Saint Louis University (SLU) joins colleagues to discuss some big ideas.

Universities are home to some of the brightest minds: these institutions train the world’s civic, business and scientific leaders, and make discoveries that have helped to transform modern life. Universities however often mirror the past rather than look to the future.

At Saint Louis University (SLU) we recognize that our future will be determined by how we embrace change and innovation.
Over the next five years, we will dramatically grow the scale and eminence of our research enterprise, making a difference, both locally and abroad.

Three major goals have been established to create an ambitious and enabling culture at SLU:

  • Doubling the research budget from $50 million to $100 million annually.
  • Generating real impact in societal challenges through partnerships with regional research institutions, industries and investors.
  • Building a set of university-wide strategic research initiatives in which SLU can distinguish itself as a leading destination for faculty, students and talent retention.

This year we challenged our faculty and students to compete in a multi-year competition called The Big Ideas Challenge—offering increasing levels of investment for projects that showcase broad faculty engagement, strong leadership and compelling research initiatives. Our multi-year competition offers increasing levels of investment for projects that showcase broad faculty engagement, strong leadership and compelling research initiatives.

Nearly 40 proposals were submitted by teams composed of SLU faculty and students in response to the call for Big Ideas. Three proposals were awarded $50,000 each in planning grants to advance their ideas prior to submitting a full research and business plan in 6-9 months. Five groups received preliminary planning grants to further grow their ideas. And, four programs were enthusiastically endorsed by the Research Growth Committee as likely college-level research priorities that have the potential to grow into university-wide initiatives.

When The Big Ideas Challenge is concluded, SLU will have awarded $500,000 in grants toward Big Ideas that help create a better future for SLU, the city of St. Louis and beyond.

Our goal as a university is to foster the talent of our students and encourage their passions. The city of St. Louis is at a pivotal point in its history—working to reinvent itself to become a major entrepreneurial hub and attract outside talent.

We aim to be a significant contributor to these lofty goals, and working together, the university and the city can reinvent themselves and prosper.