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NYU Abu Dhabi

Review time of internally-funded university research grant proposals dropped from 3 months to 6 weeks

“Budget tracking was all done manually – paper forms, applications, PDFs, Excel files. It was a very disjointed process because a lot of things took place via email.”
Nada Messaikeh, Associate Provost for Research Administration, NYUAD


New York University, Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) is a research institution with a fully integrated liberal arts and science college. NYUAD community members conduct research at the forefront of almost every field, from leading scholars to some of the brightest students in the world. In 2019, NYUAD generated more articles published in the world’s top science journals than any other United Arab Emirates institution.

NYU Abu Dhabi offers a variety of internally funded competitive grant opportunities to faculty. The challenge the university faced was that the workflow involved in awarding these grants was paper-based with stand-alone forms required to complete RFP applications, budgets, and proposals. These forms were manually submitted via email for offline approvals. The whole process was time-consuming involving multiple meetings and was rife with inconsistencies.

Nada Messaikeh, Associate Provost for Research Administration, recalled, “It all started on paper. Budget tracking was all done manually – paper forms, applications, PDFs, and Excel files. It was a very disjointed process because a lot of things took place via email.”

The challenge of having a chaotic, decentralized, disconnected system caused several ongoing inefficiencies that often introduced a certain amount of human error into the process. “When you have a very fragmented system you automatically create inefficiencies because you rely on humans,” said Nada, “We missed a request for a no-cost extension, and at one point we missed a submission. It wasn’t anybody’s fault—we just had dozens upon dozens of emails coming in on the same day.”

NYUAD needed a solution that would provide an end-to-end solution covering the entire grants lifecycle and help them streamline:

  • Manual processes including the approval process
  • Data, forms, and information to reduce the number of emails and redundant communication
  • Fragmented, siloed information caused by the lack of a central database
  • The reporting process, to improve speed and accuracy


Cayuse helps organizations create a connected research enterprise across the entire research lifecycle with over 22 apps designed to optimize processes, minimize risk, and reduce administrative burden.

Data resides in one central and connected hub, the Cayuse research enterprise platform, which is designed to easily connect to an organization’s key systems and supports a variety of analytics for anyone with access to the platform.

NYUAD chose Cayuse for its straightforward, supported implementation process to streamline internal funding competitions and bring order and transparency to the process of submitting, reviewing, and scoring proposals. They also wanted complete visibility of the data on which research grant awards were based.

The university purchased the Cayuse platform with Competitions, powered by InfoReady, to support their internal competition management, Sponsored Projects to manage the entire research lifecycle, and Human Ethics for IRB and human protocol compliance management.

The implementation involved establishing a sound governance structure, faculty representation on the project steering committee, and a specific focus to deliver enough flexibility to allow the university to adapt to potential changes as it evolves into a steady-state, research-centric institution.

The process for applying for and managing each type of grant award was standardized to avoid confusion among faculty and research administrators. All components were integrated to directly address the challenges of the entire office of research administration.


NYUAD quickly began reaping the benefits of Cayuse’s fully integrated, automated solution.

Automated workflows save time and effort

Their internal funding application process is now managed within a single system with a streamlined, automated workflow process via a clear and easy-to-use interface. As a result, proposals review time is cut in half; what used to take three months to review with hundreds of email communications now takes only six weeks, with a 267% reduction in the number of emails exchanged. The percentage of third-reminders to complete a review dropped from 10% of all protocols to less than 1%.

The system also made it easy for PIs to find all necessary proposal-related information and files in one place. The new online internal and external proposal review and scoring save NYUAD faculty and staff time and effort, allowing them to focus on other important issues.

Streamlined, connected processes drive efficiency and transparency

NYUAD was pleased just how much the Human Ethics application and protocol submissions process was streamlined while also providing complete transparency on the review process. And, having a Sponsored Projects app for all post-award grant management processes in one central system has eliminated unnecessary emails, meetings, and paperwork significantly reducing workflow inefficiency for the university.

The team at NYUAD is very happy to have a central repository of all proposal and award information where they can provide faculty members with a holistic view of all internal funding received while at NYUAD.