Supports the growth of inclusive innovation ecosystems through capacity-building efforts at institutions of higher education with limited research capacity — preparing these institutions to participate in NSF Regional Innovation Engines at a future time.
The purpose of this solicitation is to broaden participation in innovation ecosystems that advance emerging technologies (e.g., advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, semiconductors and microelectronics) by supporting capacity-building efforts at institutions of higher education (IHEs) interested in growing external partnerships. Creation of this program is motivated by the commitment of the National Science Foundation (NSF), including the newly established NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP), to accelerating scientific and technological innovation nationwide and empowering all Americans to participate in the U.S. research and innovation enterprise. Establishing more inclusive innovation ecosystems will require broad networks of partners working together in support of use-inspired research; the translation of such research to practice or commercial application; and the development of a skilled workforce. The NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program, housed within the TIP Directorate, seeks to grow inclusive innovation ecosystems around the country. Growing such ecosystems will only be successful if all interested IHEs within a region are able to participate and contribute their unique set of skills and expertise. However, NSF appreciates many Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), and two-year institutions lack the infrastructure and resources needed to grow external partnerships and effectively contribute to innovation ecosystems, and thus are currently unable to effectively engage with the NSF Engines program.
This solicitation aims to provide MSIs, PUIs, and two-year institutions with limited or no research capacity (see Section IV for details) with the support necessary to become equitable partners with teams competing under the current and subsequent NSF Engines program funding opportunities. Importantly, participation in this solicitation is not predicated on an existing partnership with organizations submitting an NSF Engines proposal. Rather, it is expected that the capacity-building efforts funded under this solicitation will provide significant innovation partnership opportunities irrespective of future participation in an NSF Engine.