Update 1 Aug 2023: This call has now closed - thank you for your interest and submissions!

Para una versión en español de esta publicación, por favor vea esta página.

Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) is excited to announce our upcoming funding call for the Open Infrastructure Fund, which marks the next step in our Collective Funding Pilot. This call will provide funding to projects that support the development of open research infrastructure services, with the aim of strengthening sustainability and resilience and increasing the adoption of open infrastructure that underpins research and knowledge creation.

Open Infrastructure Fund (pilot) at a glance:

  • Areas: capacity building, strengthening community governance, critical shared infrastructure
  • Where you are based: anywhere in the world *; 60% of these funds are reserved for individuals and organizations in Low and Middle Income Economies (LMIEs) and/or services that are widely adopted by communities in LMIEs.
  • Level of funding: 5,000-25,000 USD
  • Duration of award: projects of any duration up to 2 years, starting between November 1 and December 31, 2023.
  • Deadline for applications: July 31, 2023

See below for more details on:

About the call

This pilot and call for proposals is the next step in our journey towards increasing investment and adoption of open infrastructure, which has been a goal since our founding.

The journey has included the following efforts: our work with the infrastructure and research community via the Future of Open Scholarship, hidden costs of open infrastructure, and regional research projects, the conversations at our Funders Summit last year and at recent events we've co-organized and participated in in Accra, Ghana, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the design survey we conducted in the past weeks, These initiatives have given us an initial sense of some of the conditions necessary for open infrastructure to become the default in research and scholarship. This call for proposals is centered around three areas that we and those who contributed to these conversations view as necessary to advance an open infrastructure landscape. This call for proposals also specifically addresses ideas and regions that we see as often under-resourced by conventional funding models.

We believe that determinations regarding what counts as core needs for open infrastructure services and how these needs should be met need to be made in concert with the communities most impacted by these determinations. In this pilot, we've focussed not only on what we fund, but equally, the how. We are building on and inspired by the work of many others in this space who have been working towards building more transparent and equitable funding mechanisms, including the Open and Equitable Model Funding Program, the Open Grant Reviewers program, the Event Fund, and the Equitable Funding Practice Library. Our aim is also to explore ways to enhance access to funding for applicants in LMIEs and drive investment towards a more representative and accessible ecosystem.

What we fund

In this call for proposals, we are funding projects in the following three areas.

  1. Capacity building to improve the technical reliability and security of open infrastructure services. This includes activities such as but not limited to:

    • Creating and updating documentation to make it easier to onboard new contributors, maintainers, and users.
    • Training institutional staff and users on implementing and using (a new version of) the infrastructure.
    • Organizing events to strengthen relationships/networks among contributors, maintainers, and/or user communities.
  2. Strengthening community governance of open infrastructure services. Funding can be used to set up and/or strengthen governance structures and bodies to ensure that the infrastructure service acts in accordance with its values of openness, transparency and accountability. This includes activities such as but not limited to:

    • Organizing community workshops to discuss governance needs and (re)design governance structures.
    • Convene a dedicated committee/working group of key stakeholders to lead work on diversifying governance.
    • Work on improving governance processes, e.g. reviewing and evolving bylaws and other policies.
  3. Critical shared infrastructure. Funding can be used for efforts that would push people to directly collaborate across and work with existing systems, including but not limited to:

    • Shared technical development across two or more open infrastructure teams to enhance interoperability.
    • Adaptation and customization of existing infrastructure service(s) to serve a local community's needs, including language localization.

The total amount of funding for each area was determined through a participatory funding mechanism during our Funders Summit last year, as follows:

  • Capacity building ($32,056)
  • Strengthening community governance ($40,467)
  • Critical shared infrastructure ($57,477)

We recognize that project scopes can span more than one of the above funding areas. In the application form, we ask applicants to choose the area that their project aligns best with.

Additionally, we are committed to carving out at least 60% of total funds for individuals and organizations working in Low and Middle Income Economies (LMIEs), and/or services that are widely adopted by communities in LMIEs.

How are we defining "open infrastructure" for this call?

We look to the definition of digital open infrastructure services articulated in the UNESCO Open Science Declaration, and are especially interested in the following:

  • Not-for-profit and non-commercial platforms and services that further access to and participation in research;
  • Open source technologies that employ open standards, utilize open protocols;
  • Offerings that encourage use and re-use of content, data, and underlying code with minimal restriction.

We recognize that providers and communities may meet the above requirements in different ways and to different extents. Projects will be scored on degree of openness, engagement with and utility to the communities they serve, and degree of need. All are encouraged to apply -- see this section for the evaluation criteria.


About the applicant(s)

  • Applicants may apply as individuals or as representatives of an organization, but must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Applicants can apply as individuals or as a team.
  • Applicants can be based anywhere in the world, except Russia, China, North Korea, and Cuba. The US and European governments have sanctions on financial relationships with organizations and people in these countries. As a result, our banks and financial service providers have wholly prohibited any payments to these countries. With uncertainty about how sanctions will impact this grant program later this year, and the inability to provide payment, we cannot support grants to regions under these sanctions.
  • Applicants can submit multiple applications.
  • IOI staff, including employees and current contractors, are not permitted to apply.
  • We welcome applications from open infrastructure service providers, as well as those who are supporting and using open infrastructure services, e.g. institutions, communities of practice, etc. For more on how we're defining open infrastructure, please see the section above.
  • We welcome applications from both new and long-established organizations, and from individuals who are new to the space as well as those who have been long-time contributors.
  • All applications will be openly reviewed on OpenReview. By submitting an application, the applicant agrees to their proposals being publicly accessible and publicly reviewed.
  • All applications require a point of contact who will commit to reporting back on the progress and impact of the award to the IOI team.
  • Applicants must abide by local laws that apply to their activities based on their residence.

About the projects

  • Projects can be of any duration up to 2 years, with a start date between November 1 and December 31, 2023.
  • Projects can be based on a proposal that has been submitted for other sources of funding.
  • Projects will be evaluated on degrees of openness. We recommend that infrastructure providers review our criteria for the Catalog of Open Infrastructure Services for guidance.
  • Projects should strive to be as maximally open, accessible, and reusable with minimal restriction as possible, utilizing open licenses.
  • Projects must not discriminate with regard to race, sex, education, ethnicity, socio-economic status, religion, ability/disability, sexual orientation, gender self-identification, age, country of origin, first language, marital status, or citizenship.
  • Projects seeking to support political campaigns, lobbying activities (in line with IRS guidelines), religious proselytizing, or promotion of violence or terrorism will not be funded.
  • Projects are encouraged to share their progress regularly openly and, where applicable, to use open licenses (e.g. Creative Commons, MIT), for project output.
  • Budget: Projects can request funding between 5,000 and 25,000 USD total cost, using this budget template. Budget items may include:
    • Software and technology, e.g. software subscription, compute costs.
    • Equipment and supplies, e.g. costs for mobile data and power.
    • Fees/salaries for staff/consultants, e.g. contract developers, event facilitators, legal support. In the description, please provide hourly rate and number of anticipated hours
    • Travel costs. In the description, please provide expected number of team members/others travelling, and to where (which event and/or location).
    • Honoraria, e.g. for interviewees, speakers, working group members.
    • Accessibility services, e.g. translators, closed-captioning, transcribing.
    • Indirect costs/overhead: the maximum indirect/overhead costs that can be requested is 10% of direct costs.

How to apply

You must apply through our OpenReview portal. We accept applications in English and Spanish.

OpenReview instructions: you, or at least one member of your application team, MUST register for an OpenReview account in order to submit the application. It can take up to 24 hours for your OpenReview account to be approved -- we recommend that you register for an account as early as possible.

Application resources

Templates: To draft the application outside the OpenReview portal, you can copy and use:

These are resources for drafting purposes -- you MUST submit applications through the OpenReview portal.

Other application resources:

Office hours

Join our upcoming office hours!

During the session, our Engagement Lead Emmy Tsang will share more about the objective, scope, and application and evaluation processes of the Fund. We’ll also answer your questions about the Fund.

We plan to host three repeated sessions. Some of these will be in both English and Spanish, facilitated by a simultaneous interpreter.

All sessions are recorded and the recordings will be shared on our website within a week after the session. We look forward to meeting you at a session!

Key dates

  • May 15, 2023: Call for proposals published
  • May 22, 2023: OpenReview portal open for submissions
  • July 31, 2023: Proposals due by 23:59 UTC
  • September 2023: Earliest notification of decisions (subject to change)
  • November 1, 2023: Expected payment date (pending due diligence and paperwork)

Selection process

We strive at IOI to foster a healthier, more equitable and inclusive research ecosystem through open, transparent work. Our proposal submission and evaluation process reflects these core values.

In alignment with our commitment to openness and transparency, all submitted proposals and associated reviewer comments will be accessible publicly via the call's OpenReview portal.

Evaluation criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Evidence of alignment with one of the three funding areas and with IOI's goal to further equitable access and participation in research:

    • The proposal articulated clear objectives for the proposed work that are aligned with the funding priorities for this call.
    • The proposal outlined specific activities to work with and involve users, supporters, and others in the projects' communities on the proposed work.
    • The proposed work is open: the project concerns/works with not-for-profit and non-commercial platforms and services, employs open standards and protocols, and encourages use and re-use of content, data, and underlying code with minimal restriction.
    • The proposal presented actions and strategies to reduce marginalization and further equitable access and participation in research.
  • Evidence of an unmet need for funding for this work at the present time:

    • The applicant clearly conveyed the need for this project for the communities this project serves.
    • The applicant demonstrates that funding for this type of work or project is scarce/neglected.
  • Feasibility and readiness for this work:

    • The objectives of the project are feasible within the established period of time of development and budget.
    • The applicant showed careful and thorough understanding of the skills and resources needed for the project, as well as potential challenges.

Three advisory panels, one per area, are being established to review the applications. Advisory panel members are asked to comply with our Conflict of Interest policy, and their evaluation reports and comments will be shared publicly but anonymously (unless panellists choose otherwise) in the OpenReview portal.

The advisory panels will put forward a shortlist of projects for IOI and Code for Science and Society (CS&S, Invest in Open Infrastructure's fiscal sponsor) staff to conduct due diligence on, to make sure that the projects comply with funding requirements. IOI staff may request additional information from and calls with applicants at this stage. IOI staff will share the outcome of the due diligence process with the advisory panels, who, based on that, will make the final recommendations for projects to fund to the IOI Steering Committee for review and approval.

This pilot operates with a budget of 130,000USD with specific amounts for the individual funding areas, and at least 60% of the 130,000USD (78,000USD) are reserved for individuals and organizations working in Low and Middle Income Economies (LMIEs), and/or services that are widely adopted by communities in LMIEs.

Reporting and progress

We strive to minimize the reporting burden on awardees. Successful applicants will be asked to have a 45-min check-in call with member(s) of the IOI team to report on project progress every 6 months throughout the duration of the project. This helps the IOI team better understand the impact of the funding, and also offers the opportunity for grantees to raise challenges that they're facing in advancing the project. These calls will be recorded and transcribed for auditing purposes.

We recognize that projects evolve and directions and plans may change. We ask that awardees proactively communicate with the IOI team when project objectives and plans deviate majorly from the original proposal. Awardees can do this in the biannual check-in calls, or via email. IOI reserves the right to request additional reports or clarification where necessary.

Successful applicants are invited to work with IOI staff on a blog post about their project and the impact of the award at the end of the funding period.

Advisory Panel

The Open Infrastructure Fund Advisory Panel plays a critical role in advancing the aims of the Fund and ensuring that the funding addresses pressing needs in the community in a targeted manner.

We are excited to work with the following panel members who are based in 18 different countries and have diverse expertise and experience, from capacity building to open-source software development.

The panel will review proposals using the rubric and criteria designed by the IOI team and make recommendations for proposals to fund to the IOI Steering Committee for final consideration.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

If you have questions that are not answered in this list, please email Emmy at emmy [at] investinopen [dot] org - this will help us add additional questions and information here!

  • Can I apply individually or as a team? Do the team members all have to have the same affiliation?
    • You can apply individually or as a team, and team members can have different affiliations.
  • What are Low and Middle Income Economies (LMIEs)?
  • Can I submit more than one proposal?
    • Yes.
  • Is funding limited to sepcific open infrastructure services mentioned in the Catalog of Open Infrastructure Services (COIs)?
    • No, funding can be applied for to strengthen any open infrastructure services, within and beyond COIs.
  • If you are an organization located in a high income country, but the work you are proposing is located in a LMIE and have established partnerships with the organizations in these countries would the proposal be considered for the 60% consideration?
    • Yes - please describe and explain how your proposed work fit within the LMIE criteria in the submission form.
  • We need some aspects of our governance documents reviewed by a lawyer to help ensure legal compliance and prevent interference by bad actors to our community-run program. Is this allowed use of these funds?
    • Yes.
  • Can funding be used to support travelling costs, honoraria, food, hospitality, kits, etc.? Is there a cap (e.g. % total budget) on these items?
    • Yes, funding can be used to support these types of costs, and there are no caps on % budget to be spent on these items.
  • If all proposals presented were from LMIEs and each ask for 25,000 USD in critical shared infrastructure, will there be funds for only two projects?
    • Yes. That being said, we aim to fully distribute the 130,000 USD in this funding round to the best of our abilities, and to achieve that, we might ask projects to adjust their budgets and/or collaborate.
  • Where do the funds for IOI come from?
    • Please see this page. The funds for this fund comes from IOI's internal budget, with additional contributions from the Simons Foundation and the University at Buffalo library.
  • Can the budgets be executed by different institutions or should we only designate one institution?
    • We'd recommend utilizing one institution to direct the payment to, if possible, but do not have restrictions in place the prohibit payment to more than one organization. In the submission form, we ask each project team to nominate a point of contact, who should be affilitated with the institution where we would be directing the payment to.
  • Can budgets be executed by foundations that manage university funds, of a private nature, or must they be managed by the universities themselves?
    • Budgets can be executed by foundations, not-for-profits, and other non-institutional organizations, as well.
  • Are contracts or similar signed between the participating organisations for the execution of the budgets?
    • Yes, there is a standard grant agreement that is issued on our end for grant recipients that stipulate conditions for the funding, reporting requirements, and the like.


Our sincere thanks to everyone who filled in our design survey for your input and comments, and to the Metadocencia team for the Spanish translation of this post and the submission form.

Social media image by Christine Roy on Unsplash.

Posted by Emmy Tsang