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Interdisciplinary Collaborative Research Program

NISTH Seed Grant:  ‘Where Tech meets Humanity’:

How Humanity Survives COVID-19

 NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH)

Launched in March 2019, NTU’s Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity offers a platform for interdisciplinary collaborative research into disruptive materials and technologies, data analytics and AI for the benefit of humanity.

NISTH is an interdisciplinary centre of excellence that seeks to make sense of how technological advances impact societies, cultures and human behaviour. The Institute will bolster NTU’s ability to contribute towards Singapore’s vision of becoming a Smart Nation and will focus particularly on the impact of the fourth technological revolution on urban Asia. The Institute adopts a thematic approach that cuts across broad subject areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and health sciences.

The theme is ‘20 years from 2020’ where we imagine a time period of 20 years to find solutions to the challenges Singaporean society and people globally are facing today. NISTH brings together key scientists, scholars, industries and leaders to execute change for the benefit of humanity.

We seek to support interdisciplinary cutting-edge research that is designed to positively impact society while also leading to strong scholarship that results in leading peer-reviewed outputs and successful follow-up grants.


Background of the grant

Viral outbreaks have shaped the course of human history, irreversibly influencing human behaviour and impacting  cultural norms. In the short period since COVID-19 became a pandemic, people are showing resilience, humor, creative ways of communicating, educating and caring for each other as governments, businesses and healthcare institutions globally struggle to respond.

In order to prepare Singapore and societies globally for the longer term ramifications of COVID-19 and future infectious diseases, we must understand the different responses people have had toward infectious diseases globally and historically, and also develop deep insights into and measurements of the economical, environmental, political, social and psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virus has provided new opportunities to deploy technological interventions for detection and surveillance, ensuring continuity of work and education, supporting healthcare providers, and adopting safe social behaviour (such as social distancing). In Singapore, for instance, we see the use of the voluntary bluetooth-based app TraceTogether, messaging systems for  Stay Home Notices, and many online resources and support systems. Globally, we see novel and interesting deployments of information technology and AI-based systems in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic that warrant further investigation and evaluation to assess the many impacts this technology may have on people and society.


Overview of the grant

The current grant seeks interdisciplinary collaborative projects that measure, adopt, deploy, evaluate or develop AI, data science, robotics and autonomous systems and software combined with social science and humanities approaches to uncover deep insights into:

1)     how people respond to infectious diseases across time and culture;

2)     the social and psychological consequences as well as the

3)     economical consequences,

4)     global political ramifications of COVID-19 and

5)  the conceptualization and validation of technology supported interventions to facilitate the rebuilding of society during and post COVID-19.


We especially seek to provide seed funding for collaborations between fellows from Science/Engineering/LKC and fellows from Humanities/Social Sciences/Business. Aim of the grant is to gain deep insights into the societal, economic, environmental and socio-cultural consequences of COVID-19 and to design and evaluate beyond state-of-the-art interventions to mitigate the ramifications of COVID-19 on Singaporean Society (and globally).



Support Interdisciplinary collaboration between the technical and social sciences and humanities that have a high potential to lead to findings with societal impact.

Support feasibility studies that lead to larger scale Academic-Industry-Government collaboration aimed at the assessment and adoption of technological interventions that support countering the consequences of infectious diseases generally and COVID-19 specifically.

Support the development of a larger grant proposal in the direction of the proposed research.



A team of at least 2 PI’s can apply to this interdisciplinary collaborative research program.

The team should have at least one full-time faculty member from either the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, National Institute of Education​ or Nanyang Business School AND at least one full time faculty member from LKC School of Medicine, College of Science or College of Engineering.

Eligible PI or Co-Pricipal Investigator(s) should be NTU full-time faculty who are ‘NISTH Societal Impact Fellows or interested to become one. 

Please see this webpage for details:  

Each project must have an industry, government agency, non-profit or NGO partner affiliate who will contribute in at least one of the following ways:

·         provide access to their data

·         provide access to their daily work environment

·         provide access to relevant study participants 

·         provide access to their technology

·         contribute a minimum of $5,000 in kind or in cash.


Funding Details

Use of the grant funding can include but is not limited to:

·         Developing, deploying and evaluating a novel technology-based intervention

·         Developing or validating a new method or impact measurement instrument

·         Collecting a dataset

·         Developing a case study or conducting a study

·     ​ Multi-method or longitudinal approaches to gaining insight into ethical, social, political, legal, psychological, economic, educational and healthcare consequences of infectious diseases and COVID-19 in particular

Applications will be considered for funding in the range of $10,000 to $50,000 (excluding the contributed >$5,000 in kind or cash from external partner affiliates) over a period of 1 year, or for longitudinal studies, 2 years.


Application Details

NTU Faculty may submit their application via the following link by 30 April 2020, 5pm Singapore local time.

Online Seed Grant Application Form​

Only submissions with a fully completed application form and CVs will be accepted for evaluation and assessment for awarding of grants. After an initial review, a subset of applications will be selected to provide additional detail (e.g., budgeting, project timeline, etc.).

For queries email to:​


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