LLNL LDRD projects are of four types: strategic initiatives, exploratory research projects, feasibility studies, and Laboratory-wide-competition projects. Each type has its distinctive purpose, duration, and funding limits.
Strategic Initiatives (SI)
The purpose of an SI project is to achieve a leap forward in answering key science, technology, and engineering challenges identified in the Laboratory’s strategic planning. The Laboratory director takes an active role in their selection and progress and in the dissemination of results. An SI project is usually large in scope, typically funded for up to three years at $1.5 to $3M per year, and conducted by a large, multidisciplinary, cross-organizational team of scientists and engineers.
Exploratory Research (ER)
An ER project typically engages a multidisciplinary, cross-organizational team of scientists and engineers in innovative R&D for the purposes of (1) forging a new direction for an existing program, (2) responding to a research challenge within a mission area, or (3) making a breakthrough that enlarges the Laboratory’s core competencies and scientific reputation. ER projects, which are the majority of LDRD projects, are funded for up to three years, with an annual budget between $300K and $1.3M per year.
Feasibility Studies (FS)
An FS provides a flexible way for researchers to propose small, short-term projects to determine the feasibility of a particular technical approach to a mission-relevant science and technology challenge. Feasibility studies are limited to a year in duration, with a maximum funding of $175K.
Laboratory-Wide (LW) Competition
LW projects emphasize innovative basic research and out-of-the-box thinking. To encourage the innovation and creativity of individual researchers, the LDRD Program requires neither filtering by management nor alignment with the Laboratory’s strategic-investment strategy, though alignment with DOE missions is mandatory. LWs may be funded up to $275K per year.