Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Research & Innovation

COVID-19 Problem Statement Submission Guidance

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COVID-19 Research Project Solicitation


The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of the transportation systems, with state DOTs and local agencies at the forefront of responding to changes, while continuing to meet core missions of providing safe, efficient, and effective transportation systems. To proactively respond and inform future decision- making related to COVID-19’s impact on the transportation sector, MnDOT is investing in research to answer questions specific to the impact of the COVID crisis on Minnesota’s transportation system.


On Monday, June 1, MnDOT's Office of Research & Innovation will launch the MnDOT COVID-19 Research Campaign on the IdeaScale website. The solicitation of COVID-19 specific research proposals will remain open for two weeks, ending Monday, June 15.

The MnDOT Research Steering Committee will consider collaborative research proposals submitted on the IdeaScale website for funding. The Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) will also consider funding proposals that respond to local agency needs.


Who can submit a COVID-19 research idea?

  • Employees of MnDOT
  • Employees of a Minnesota Local Agency
  • Professors from Universities under an existing master contract with MnDOT
  • Professors from Universities finalizing new master contracts with MnDOT ( master contract must be in place by start of contracting process)
  • Consultants who are certified on the MnDOT Transportation Research Assistance Program (TRAP) (PDF) list

Who can contribute to a COVID-19 research idea in IdeaScale?

  • Anyone can contribute to an existing idea submitted into IdeaScale by commenting or adding pertinent documentation.

Additional requirements

  • Champion/Researcher collaboration. To be eligible for funding, submissions must identify at least:
    • One MnDOT or Minnesota Local Agency staff member (Champion) AND
    • One staff member from a University under (or finalizing) a master contract with MnDOT or a Consultant certified on the MnDOT TRAP list (PDF). (Researcher)

COVID-19 research solicitation timeline

  • May 22: Notice of MnDOT COVID-19 Research Opportunity
  • May 29: Suggested notification of interest to marcus.bekele@state.mn.us
  • May 22 – June 1: Initial champion/researcher collaboration
  • June 1 – June 15: Solicitation Open: Submit Proposals on IdeaScale
  • June 16 – July 23: Research proposal review & selection

Selection criteria

The MnDOT Research Steering Committee and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) will select projects based on nine key factors: 

  1. How well the research addresses a Minnesota transportation need relative to COVID-19.
  2. How well the research aligns with MnDOT Research Strategic Priorities.
  3. How well the research aligns with the LRRB goal to prioritize and fund research that focuses on local transportation system needs.
  4. How well the research avoids duplication of ongoing and funded national research efforts.
  5. How well the research complements and does not duplicate ongoing MnDOT activities.
  6. How well the research avoids efforts MnDOT has the capacity to perform on its own.
  7. The likelihood that the research objective can be successfully achieved within the constraints of the proposed time and funds.
  8. The likelihood that the research will produce implementation-ready products in the State of Minnesota.
  9. The likelihood that the research is completed within a one-year time period from notice to proceed.

Proposal questions

Below is a preview of the questions that will be asked in the IdeaScale submission form.

  1. Proposal title
    • Communicate what the research is about, in as few words as possible.
  2. Background
    • What is the problem, and whom does it affect?
    • How will the research solve the problem?
    • How will this proposal relate to addressing COVID impacts/needs?
  3. Research objective: Prepare a concise objective statement (e.g. The objective of this research is…) describing:
    • The desired outcome(s) and expected final product(s).
    • Major tasks or activities the researcher will likely have to perform in order to successfully conduct the research.
  4. Recommended research funding and research period
    • Research funding: Provide estimates of the total funds needed to accomplish the research objective(s).
    • Research period: Provide separate estimate of the time needed to (a) complete the research and (b) to engage in some level of communication and implementation activity. 
  5. Project champion and researcher
    • Project champion: Organization, contact person, phone number and email address. (Must be MnDOT Office Director or subject matter expert, city/county engineer or subject matter expert).
    • Researcher: Organization, contact person, phone number and email address. (Must be a faculty/staff member from a MnDOT master contract university or TRAP list consultant).
  6. Person submitting the proposal: Provide contact information for the individual submitting this proposal.
    • Name of individual
    • Phone number
    • Email address
    • Affiliation