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Note: This page will be updated as new information is available. Please check back frequently. (Most recent content update June 8, 2022)

This summary is provided by the Stanford Research Development Office (RDO). RDO provides proposal development support, including writing, editing and project management. Please contact Kim Baeten to discuss how we can help you.

NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines)

The NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) initiative was launched by the new NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) to expand the United States' innovation capacity by leveraging the resources, creativity, and ingenuity that exist across all geographic regions of the country.

NSF Engines is a new type of opportunity in that it has broader scope, greater translational opportunities, award size, and duration. NSF is heavily promoting it through webinars, roadshows, breakouts to help potential applicants form collaborations, office hours, and Q&A sessions, among other forms of support; further details are available in the Upcoming NSF Engines Outreach section.

Callouts following NSF Engines activities

  • Please carefully consider your topic and region as “Funding for this program will prioritize regions across the Nation without well-established innovation ecosystems….organizations operating in existing mature innovation ecosystems are welcome to join with proposers supporting other regions of service to provide such support.” (BAA, page 9) and NSF expects to fund only one Type-2 award per region (May 17 webinar). RDO highly recommends that you sign up for an office hour time slot with NSF here.
  • Selections and locking in of lead institution: At the Roadshow #3, NSF clarified that (1) they will not do a real down-select at the concept stage other than for non-compliance so vast majority of Concepts are expected to be allowed forward by NSF, and (2) the lead institution of a given concept only gets locked in at the LOI stage (due Aug 31 for Type 1, TBD for Type 2) and can still change after Concept submission.
  • RDO thus advises that Concepts participate in the limited submissions of several potential lead institutions, if applicable, to improve their chances to submit an LOI to NSF. Institutions are only allowed one submission as lead, across both Type 1 and Type 2 proposals and will thus be likely to make their decisions in advance of the Type 1 LOI deadline (Aug 31, 2022).
  • Roadshow #3, held on 6/7/2022: A recording of the panel discussion will be made available on the NSF TIP YouTube channel. RDO's notes from the northern California break out session are available upon request: email Stanford_RDO@stanford.edu.

NSF Engines Program Overview

The NSF Engines program catalyzes and fosters innovation ecosystems across the U.S. to: 

  • Advance critical technologies
  • Address national and societal challenges
  • Foster partnerships across industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society, and communities of practice
  • Promote and stimulate economic growth and job creation
  • Spur regional innovation and talent

NSF will fund Engines to carry out an integrated and comprehensive set of activities spanning use-inspired research, translation-to-practice, entrepreneurship, and workforce development to nurture and accelerate regional industries. Engines must also work to bring together an inclusive and diverse network of partners and stakeholders who will participate in the regional innovation ecosystem. In contrast to many existing NSF programs that primarily focus on scientific innovation, NSF Engines will emphasize research that meaningfully engages the consumers of research outcomes in motivating that research as well as in the subsequent prototyping and piloting of research-based solutions (i.e., co-design and co-creation), the translation of research results to practice, entrepreneurship, and direct economic growth. The program further differentiates itself from traditional NSF approaches through the nature and types of partnerships expected; the technology-translation and workforce-development outputs to be tracked and assessed; the level of post-award oversight; the budgets, which are an order of magnitude greater than traditional NSF center-scale awards; and the duration of NSF funding paired with an intentional focus on long-term sustainability.

The NSF Engines program harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines can catalyze robust partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation to positively impact the economy within a geographic region, address societal challenges, and advance national competitiveness.

The NSF Engines program is soliciting two different types of proposals:

Type-1 awards are development awards intended to enable awardees to lay the groundwork for submitting a successful Type-2 proposal to launch a full scale NSF Engine. Type-1 awardees will need to re-apply independently for a Type-2 award. Receiving a Type-1 award is not a pre-requisite for applying to a Type-2 award. Type-1 awards are up to $1 million over two years. NSF anticipates 50 Type-1 awards in this first round.

Type-2 awards are for proposers who can demonstrably claim that their proposed Engine’s region of service is at a maturity level corresponding to either the Nascent or Emergent Phase of an NSF Engine (See pg 16, section F of BAA). Type-2 awards are up to $160 million over a period of up to 10 years. Significant additional resources/contributions from other sources are expected. NSF anticipates 5 Type-2 awards in this first round with additional rounds expected in the future. NSF expects to fund only one Type-2 award per region.

Timeline

  • May 17, 2022: NSF introductory webinar (register here; recording here)
  • June 30, 2022: Type-1 and Type-2 Concept Outlines due to NSF (OSR submission deadlines apply.)
  • June 30, 2022: Internal proposal due to the VPDoR Limited Submissions Programs through the Stanford Funding Opportunities portal.
  • August 1, 2022: NSF virtual proposers day for selected concepts
  • August 31, 2022: Type-1 Letters of Intent due to NSF
  • September 29, 2022: Type-1 Full Proposals due to NSF. NSF will only review Full Proposals submitted by applicants whose Concept Outlines have been approved by NSF.
  • To be announced: Type-2 Letters of Intent and Full Proposals will be due in FY 2023; exact dates to be announced.

Eligibility

  • NSF limits the number of proposals submitted by each organization to one (further details in the Limited Submissions Process section below).
  • Faculty with PI eligibility (members of the University's Academic Council or UML faculty) are permitted to serve as PI/PD. 
  • Project Directors of Type-2 awards are expected to commit full time to leading their NSF Engine. An interim PD is allowed at the time of proposal submission if PD/CEO is named/recruited within 6 months of award start. Similar requirements do not apply for Type-1 proposals, other senior personnel, or subawardees.

Limited Submissions Process

This is a Limited Submission funding opportunity. A university-wide selection process is required prior to proposal submission to NSF. No more than one proposal is permitted from Stanford as the lead institution. Applicants will need both NSF approval and Stanford approval of their Concept Outline before being allowed to submit their LOI or full proposal. To reduce burden on proposers, the internal competition matches NSF in requirements and timing.

Find more information on the selection process and submit internal applications via the NSF Engines Competition Page available on the Limited Submissions portal page.

For questions about the limited submissions process, please email limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu.

Resources

Program Information from NSF

Upcoming NSF Engines outreach

NSF offers a variety of virtual outreach events to learn more about the NSF Engines program and connect with other interested stakeholders.

Introduction to the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program webinars

During each webinar, attendees will learn about the NSF Engines program model, including program goals, phases of Engine development, proposal and award requirements, and award types.

NSF Engines regional roadshow

Each NSF Engines roadshow is a regionally focused virtual event that includes an overview of the program, a panel discussion with leading innovation and technology ecosystem builders from across the country, and interactive breakout rooms to collaborate with others from your region. 

The roadshow for the region including California took place June 7, 2022 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Pacific time. A recording of the panel discussion will be made available on the NSF TIP YouTube channel. RDO's notes from the northern California break out session are available upon request: email Stanford_RDO@stanford.edu.

More information on roadshows, including other roadshow dates, is available on the NSF Engines Resources and Contact Information page. Note that the states and territories selected for each roadshow do not correspond to NSF-defined regions. Further details will be shared program webinar and FAQ about how regions are defined within the NSF Engines program.

Office hours

The NSF Engines program team will host several office hour appointments throughout the application period. Prospective applicants must attend "live" or watch a pre-recorded NSF Engines program webinar before signing up for an appointment slot. Members representing the same regional team should plan to join the same office hour appointment. Sign up for an office hour time slot here.

NSF Engines email list

To receive program announcements, funding opportunities, webinar updates and more, you can subscribe to the NSF Engines email list.

Stanford Support for Proposals

Created: 05.09.22
Updated: 08.04.22