Applications closed

Economic Impact of Digital Technologies request for proposals


Facebook is issuing a call for academic research proposals as part of its pledge to contribute $1 million to research that addresses the economic impact of digital technologies, including new tools that enable commercial opportunities. As progress in digital technology and the ongoing development of digital platforms continue to reshape the global economy, they have also contributed to the rise of new tools for conducting business in unprecedented ways. Many of these digital tools have empowered entrepreneurs and small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in particular to engage in commercial opportunities and drive growth where they may not have otherwise had access, for example, through digital payments, online consumer research, and data-driven advertising. Moreover, when growth is challenged by economic contraction or other disruptive circumstances (such as COVID-19), digital technologies may offer businesses the means to quickly adjust their practices, enabling them to minimize adverse impacts and remain resilient.

Facebook is especially interested in supporting projects that address the economic consequences and implications of developing digital technologies for small businesses. Topics of interest for this request for proposals (RFP) include, but are not limited to, measuring new types of economic impact — for example, assessing the implications of digital technologies for growth, resilience under challenging circumstances, inclusion of marginalized groups, efficiency of payment systems, or other business outcomes.

Award Recipients

University of Georgia

Sophia T. Anong

Northwestern University

Sean Higgins

University of North Texas

Xi Y. Leung

Bandung Institute of Technology

Eko Agus Prasetio

IE University

Laura Zimmermann

Applications Are Currently CLosed

Application Timeline

Notifications will be sent by email to selected applicants in Summer 2020.

Launch Date

April 6, 2020


May 20, 2020

Winners Announced

Summer 2020

Areas of Interest

Scholars may consider focusing their research on the following topics, though creative approaches beyond these areas are also encouraged:

Agile business strategies enabled by data-driven advertising and other digital technologies

  • Technological factors influencing the resilience of businesses during economic downturns, disruptions, and other market challenges
  • How digital technologies help businesses explore and uncover new economic opportunities when existing business models are not viable during emergencies, natural disasters, or other external interruptions to business operations (for example, during the COVID-19 outbreak)
  • How businesses are able to more quickly adapt to challenges stemming from natural disasters or other emergencies and respond to shifting needs and interests of their customers

The impact of digital advertising on online platforms

  • Estimation of the economic value of the internet without digital advertising
  • Evaluation of the differences (e.g., cost, effectiveness, social value) between data-driven and conventional contextual digital advertising
  • Advantages and disadvantages of existing vs. alternative models for non-advertising based online platforms and services (e.g., subscriptions, gig economy, etc.)

Understanding the relationship between, and influence of, data-driven advertising on new market entrants and novel product categories

  • Emerging metrics and practices; identification of the new signposts of business success and growth in the current digital economy
  • Impact of contextual versus data-driven advertising for unfamiliar brands or new products

The value of data-driven advertising with regard to consumers

  • Measurement of the financial impact (costs and benefits) of data-driven advertising versus contextual digital advertising for consumers
  • Assessment of the effect of digital advertising on business models for publishers (e.g., subscription or premium add-on services) on the longevity of businesses
  • Impact of data-driven advertising on the relationship between SMBs and their customers

Facebook is interested in supporting broader research efforts on the topic of the economic impact of digital technologies. Proposed research may extend beyond Facebook apps and technologies. Researchers may request between $50K to $100K to support projects that will be completed in approximately one year from award receipt.

Researchers globally are encouraged to propose projects of an empirical and theoretical nature. Those proposing theoretical research should, however, also consider how measurements might be empirically estimated. Successful proposals will demonstrate innovative and compelling research that has the potential to advance science and understanding in the topic areas and provide value to policymakers, practitioners, and organizations working in these areas.


Proposals should include

  • Summary of the project (1–2 pages): Include an explanation of the area of focus, a description of techniques, any relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes. Please also include a clear and concise statement of the scientific contribution and routes to eventual deployment.
  • A budget description (1 page): Include an approximate cost of the project and explanation of how funds would be spent. Please also account for funds for travel for the Principal Investigator (PI) to attend a faculty summit in Menlo Park, California to discuss findings in 2021.
  • Curriculum vitae(s): Provide the name of each researcher involved in the proposed work with their CV/résumé or link to Google Scholar page.
  • Administrative information: Include the institution’s tax ID number and details for both a finance contact and authorized authority that can sign award documentation.


  • The RFP is open to researchers (faculty, PhD students, post-doctoral scholars, etc) from all disciplines.
  • Each proposal must have one designated Principal Investigator (PI) who is able to receive the award funding at their institution. Additional researchers on the research team are acceptable/encouraged, but we are unable to divide gifts amongst multiple institutions.
  • Organizations must be an accredited academic institution or a non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code).
  • Applicants may submit one proposal per solicitation as the PI.
  • Awards must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations, and policies.

Budget and payment

  • Award amount can vary but will typically be between $50K and $100K.
  • Payment will be made to the PI’s host institution as an unrestricted gift. Overhead is limited to 5% for gifts and should be included in the proposed budget.

Additional Information

  • Facebook will not provide access to any Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp data for awarded projects. Any data collected by research teams must comply with Facebook’s terms and policies and the institution’s institutional review board. Please be aware that Facebook does not allow the automated scraping of public information from its apps and technologies.
  • Award recipients will be invited to a faculty summit at Facebook to discuss their findings and insights.
  • We encourage the winners to openly publish any findings or insights from their work. Successful awardees will also be listed on the Facebook Research website.

For additional questions related to this RFP, please email

Frequently Asked Questions

Terms & Conditions

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to this solicitation, including interpretation of these Terms and awards at any time. All items apply unless otherwise stated in each RFP. Please Read These Terms Carefully Before Proceeding.

  • By submitting this proposal, you are authorizing Facebook to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.
  • You agree that Facebook will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce and distribute all or a portion of your proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.
  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.
  • Applicants represent and warrant that they have authority to submit a proposal in connection with this RFP and grant the rights set forth herein on behalf of their organization.


If Facebook is offering event attendance and related travel to grant recipients, the specific travel benefits, travel dates and additional details (collectively, “Travel Benefits”) will be provided by Facebook to the grant recipient. Any Travel Benefits are subject to the terms set forth herein and at Sponsor’s sole discretion. Event dates and associated travel dates will be determined in Facebook’s sole discretion. Facebook will contact all event attendees to coordinate Travel Benefits. Any taxes (federal, state, provincial, and local) and other costs and expenses associated with the Travel Benefits will be the sole responsibility of the academic institution and/or attendees, as applicable.

It is each event attendee’s sole responsibility to comply with all travel requirements, which may include, without limitation, presenting a valid passport, visa and/or other necessary identification (including photograph) at the time of travel. Facebook is not liable for any missed events, opportunities or expenses incurred as a consequence of flight cancellation/delay or ground transportation delay. Attendee(s) may be required to provide a credit card at time of hotel check-in to cover hotel incidentals. By accepting Travel Benefits, all event attendees agrees to maintain their behavior in accordance with all applicable laws and generally accepted social practices in connection with participation in any event-related activity. Each event attendee understands and agrees that Facebook or travel providers have the right, in their sole discretion, to remove an attendee from any travel or event activity at any time if the attendee’s behavior at any point is uncooperative, disruptive, or may or does cause damage to person, property, or the reputation of Facebook or otherwise violates the policies of the travel providers, and in such a case, the attendee will still be solely responsible for all taxes and other expenses related to the travel benefits. EVENT ATTENDEES AGREE THAT THE RELEASED PARTIES ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE IN ANY WAY FOR ANY ADDITIONAL EXPENSES, OMISSIONS, DELAYS, OR RE-ROUTING RESULTING FROM ANY ACTS OF ANY GOVERNMENT OR AUTHORITY.

Facebook will not replace any lost, mutilated, or stolen Travel Benefits or any benefits that are undeliverable or do not reach the attendee because of an incorrect or changed address or contact information. If an attendee does not accept or use all Travel Benefits, the unaccepted or unused part of the benefits will be forfeited and Facebook will have no further obligation with respect to that benefit. No transfers, substitutions, or cash redemptions will be made, except at Facebook’s sole discretion. Event attendees are strictly prohibited from selling, auctioning, trading, or otherwise transferring any part of the Travel Benefits, except with Facebook’s permission, which may be granted or withheld for any reason in its sole discretion. Facebook reserves the right to substitute any Travel Benefit or portion thereof with another benefit or portion thereof of equal or greater value for any reason, including unavailability of the stated benefit.


By submitting an RFP, except where prohibited by law, each applicant grants to the Released Parties (defined below) (and their agents, successors, and assigns) the irrevocable, transferable, sublicensable, absolute right and permission to use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce, and distribute applicants’ RFP proposal (with or without reference to each person associated with the RFP) in perpetuity on the internet in any language, throughout the world, for the limited purposes of administering and promoting the RFP, Facebook’s Research program, and publicizing the gift recipients.

General Rules

Facebook’s decisions will be final in all matters relating to this RFP, including interpretation of these Terms and award of gifts at any time. Facebook shall have no liability for organizations’ use of any gifts provided hereunder, including any use of gifts not in connection with the RFP.

All grant funds or other benefits provided by Facebook in connection with this RFP shall be used only in accordance with applicable laws and shall not be used in any way, directly or indirectly, to facilitate any act that would constitute bribery or an illegal kickback, an illegal campaign contribution, or would otherwise violate any applicable anti-corruption or political activities law. Gifts may not be transferred (a) to any individual, entity, or country prohibited by any applicable U.S. or non-U.S. export controls and trade sanctions; (b) to anyone on U.S. or non-U.S. government restricted parties lists; or (c) for any purpose prohibited by applicable export controls and trade sanctions, including nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or missile technology applications without the required government authorizations. You acknowledge that Facebook is subject to U.S. economic restrictions and trade sanctions. As such, Facebook reserves the right to deny distribution of any gift when required by applicable law. The applicants agree to comply with all applicable laws and regulations during throughout the RFP and while using any funds that may be received by Facebook.

Applicants agree not to accept an award made by Facebook if (a) it would interfere with their official duties, (b) it does not comply with applicable regulations, policies, and rules of applicant’s institution, or applicable laws, regulations, rules, judgments, and orders of any court or governmental authority; or (c) it conflicts with any other obligation the applicant or applicant’s institution have to any other party. Applicant also shall not perform any official action to improperly benefit Facebook.

Applicants acknowledge that they may not use Facebook’s logos or trademarks without prior written approval. All requests for use of the Facebook name or trademark must be submitted via the online form available at




Released Parties are not responsible and/or liable for any of the following: any delivery failure or other error in RFP-related correspondence, transmission or materials; technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the RFP or the processing of applications; or any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from applicant’s participation in the RFP. Without limiting any other provision of these Terms, no Released Party is responsible or liable for any injury or damage to the persons or property of applicants or any third party based on use by such party of any RFP submission made available as part of this RFP. Without limiting any other provision in these Terms, the Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any applicant for any inability to proceed with the RFP or failure to provide a gift or any part thereof, in the event that any of the RFP activities or Facebook’s operations or activities are affected, as determined by Facebook, by any cause or event beyond the sole and reasonable control of Facebook.

Disputes/Governing Law

Except where prohibited by law, any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action between an applicant and any Released Party arising out of or connected with this RFP or these Terms must be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action or legal action on behalf of any group. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will an applicant be permitted or entitled to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental or consequential damages, or any other damages, including attorneys’ fees, other than the applicant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (if any), not to exceed ten dollars ($10) and each applicant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

Except where prohibited by law, this RFP and any dispute arising under these Terms or related to these Terms or the RFP (whether for breach of contract, tortious conduct, or otherwise) will be governed by the internal laws of the State of California, U.S.A., without giving effect to its conflicts of law or choice of law principles or rules that would cause the application of the laws of any other jurisdiction. Except where prohibited by law, any legal actions, suits or proceedings related to this RFP (whether for breach of contract, tortious conduct, or otherwise) will be brought exclusively in the state or federal courts located in or having jurisdiction over San Mateo County, California, U.S.A., and each applicant accepts and submits to the personal jurisdiction of those courts with respect to any legal actions, suits or proceedings arising out of or related to this RFP.