Funding

For more detailed information about the Partnerships for Innovation, or PFI, program funding opportunity and how to submit a proposal, refer to the Resources page.

PFI funding tracks

PFI funding tracks

The PFI program offers researchers and innovators two funding track opportunities: Technology Translation and Research Partnerships.

Both tracks fund projects pursuing one or more of the following goals:

  • Translational research toward proof-of-concept of a future product, process or service.
  • Technology scale-up.
  • Demonstration of commercial potential.

The two tracks differ in the complexity of the project, their funding amounts, their duration of support, and whether they require for multi-organizational and interdisciplinary partnerships and the participation of an industrial partner.

  • Single team moving one basic research project into early technology/product development.
  • Smaller project: $250,000 for up to two years.
  • Technology commercialization expert is required.
  • Industry Partner is encouraged but not required.

Learn more about the PFI tracks in the program's solicitation.


Requirements

Requirements

Eligibility

Under the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017, only the following organizations can submit proposals to the PFI program:

  • Academic or research U.S.-based institutions of higher education, including universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges), accredited in and having a campus located in the United States, acting on behalf of their faculty members.
  • Public or nonprofit, non-academic U.S.-based organizations located in the United States that are directly associated with technology transfer activities, such as technology transfer organizations.
  • Nonprofit U.S.-based organizations located in the United States that partner with an institution of higher education.
  • A U.S.-based consortium of two or more of the organizations described above.

Project team structure

  • The Principal Investigator, PI, must have the technical skills required to lead and execute the proposed research project.
  • A dedicated student or postdoctoral researcher who must receive training in entrepreneurship and leadership development during the PFI-funded project.
  • A PFI-TT proposal must include a Technology Commercialization Expert who brings technology commercialization experience in the targeted fields of application or industry sector and have an active role in the project.
  • A PFI-RP proposal must include an industry partner who is a member or employee of the required industrial partner organization and closely collaborates with the PFI team, including mentoring faculty, students and postdoctoral researchers.

Prior NSF funding 

All proposals submitted to the PFI program must be based on NSF-funded research meeting one of the following criteria:

  • NSF-funded research that is current or has been completed within the last 7 years.
  • An NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) on the proposed technology must have been completed within the last four years.

Note, a very limited number of NSF awards do not convey NSF lineage. Refer to the PFI solicitation for details.

Important dates and actions

Annual submission deadlines for the PFI program are:

  • Second Wednesday in January.
  • Second Wednesday in July.

Supplemental funding opportunities

Supplemental funding opportunities

PFI program awardees have the opportunity to apply for variety of funding opportunities to enhance their career growth and advance their research toward economic and societal impact:

  • Allowable Patent Expenses
    Allowable Patent Expenses, or APEX, is offered as a supplement only through the PFI program. It supports the protection of intellectual property generated during PFI-funded technology development and prototyping activities.
     
  • Supporting Post-pandemic Research in Nascent Translation
    Supporting Post-pandemic Research in Nascent Translation, or SPRINT, helps restart translational research activities of PFI grantees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This supplement is only offered through PFI.

     
  • Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students
    Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students, or INTERN, traineeships accelerate the transfer of PFI technologies to industry by allowing graduate students to pursue new activities aimed at acquiring professional development experience that will enhance their preparation for multiple career pathways after graduation. This supplement is offered through a variety of NSF programs, including PFI.

Additional opportunities

Additional opportunities

Academic innovators can also participate in the PFI program through these additional opportunities:

  • Mid-Career Advancement
    Mid-Career Advancement, or MCA, supports opportunities for scientists and engineers at the associate professor rank, or equivalent, to substantively enhance and advance their research program through innovation and synergistic partnerships. MCA is offered through a variety of NSF programs, including PFI. Learn more on the NSF 101: The Mid-Career Advancement program page.
  • Advancing Educational Innovations and Broadening Participation in STEM with Blockchain Technology
    Advancing Educational Innovations and Broadening Participation in STEM with Blockchain Technology opportunity is expected to bring forward novel, impactful, equitable, accessible and cost-effective solutions to facilitate the secure, traceable, and verifiable exchange of educational data among various stakeholders and benefit the broadest possible range of users. This opportunity is offered through PFI.