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Donovan J. Welch Award: Home

George A. Smathers Libraries Award

Donovan J. Welch Award

Through the contribution of Donovan J. Welch, the George A. Smathers Libraries will hold a contest for one $2000 award that funds the development of a student-based solution based in technology that could become a business venture. Ideally, the project would solve a significant real-life problem in the context of a changing world. Innovative and collaborative ideas are sought that may include use of emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence, machine learning, or IoT. To ensure the success of the selected project, the student will be paired with a faculty mentor(s).

What you get

  • $2000 to support the development of the proposed solution. The award may be used for equipment, materials, or technology costs. 
  • Space in the library and use of library equipment such as VR, AR, 3D scanner, and/or 3D printer.
  • Dedicated faculty mentoring that can support either the technical or commercial aspects of the project.

Who is eligible?

  • All full-time UF students
  • Students with any major may apply  
  • We welcome applications that involve diverse approaches and disciplines that apply to STEM, liberal arts, and business including machine learning, computer science, robotics, language technologies, economics, psychology, sociology, public policy, business administration, human-computer interaction, and statistics.


  • Submit progress updates monthly.
  • Present the research at the Library Advisory Board Meeting during or following the term of the award.


The proposal should develop a prospective technology, application, or tool that focuses on one of the following five categories:

  • Promote research in an area of global concern
  • Solve a university-wide social challenge
  • Focus on a local issue, one that is important to the Gainesville (Florida) community
  • Promote inclusiveness in learning
  • Enhance virtual/remote access to education

Goals of the Award

The Donovan J. Welch Award is a program that hopes to redefine the educational model for developing innovative and collaborative leaders. The overall goals of the award are to:

  • Develop a novel technology
  • Solve real-life challenges
  • Create a network of partners who share the same ideals
  • Launch a commercial venture

To apply for the award, submit:

To apply for the award, go to: to submit:

  1. A business proposal (no more than 3 pages) that describes the proposed work to be conducted. This proposal should answer the following questions:
    • Which problem will be addressed?
    • What main questions drive the work?
    • What new technique, idea, approach or method is proposed to solve the stated problem?
    • How will success be expected and determined?
    • What are the timeline and expected outcomes?
    • What resources are needed, if any, namely in terms of data, collaborators, and computing, to complete the proposed plan?
    • What will you spend the funds on?
    • What is the impact of your project?
    • What is the scale of your solution (e.g., users, customers, businesses)
  1. A CV or resume
  2. Name, email and phone number for two references, to be contacted prior to final selection.

Submittal dates

Research proposals for Spring 2024 will be due by midnight EST on December 15, 2023, with a start date in early January 2024.

The work should be completed in one semester but may be presented during the following semester.


The research proposal will be judged according to its innovation, feasibility, and the overall quality of the project as measured by its contribution to fundamental research and potential broader impacts in addressing one of the categories listed above. The evaluation committee will consist of Mr. Donovan J. Welch, and may include representatives from the Warrington College of Business Entrepreneurship Club, the Innovation Academy, George A. Smathers Libraries, and the College of Engineering. 

We expect to make one award under each call.

Previous Award Recipients

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