Slots: There is no limit on the number of PFI-TT proposals an organization may submit to the deadlines of this solicitation. However, an organization may not submit more than one (1) new or resubmitted PFI-RP proposal to a deadline of this solicitation. This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. If an organization exceeds this limit, the first PFI-RP proposal received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review. An organization may not receive more than two (2) awards from a submission deadline of this solicitation.
Internal Deadline: Friday, March 8, 2024
LOI: Not required.
External Deadline: May 7, 2024
Recurring Deadlines: First Tuesday in May, Annually Thereafter; First Tuesday in September, Annually Thereafter; First Tuesday in January, Annually Thereafter
Award Type: Standard or Continuing Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 25 to 55
Anticipated Award Amount: $30,000,000
Who May Serve as PI: The PI must have the technical skills required to lead and execute the proposed research project.
In addition to the PI, PFI-TT proposals must include a Senior Personnel or co-PI who brings technology commercialization experience in the targeted fields of application or industry sector. The technology commercialization expert must have an active role in the project.
PFI-RP proposals must include, without exception, a co-PI who is a member or employee of the required Industrial Partner organization. PFI-RP proposals without an Industrial Partner co-PI may be returned without review.
The technology commercialization expert cannot use NSF-funded time and effort to perform any “Objectives Not Responsive to this Solicitation” listed in Section II.E of this solicitation. However, the expert may participate in any mandatory I-Corps training that will be provided during the term of the PFI award. Additional collaborators or organizations that bring needed multidisciplinary expertise or commercialization experience may be involved as co-PI, Senior Personnel, Other Professional, subawardee, consultant, etc.
NSF Lineage Requirement: All proposals submitted to the PFI program must meet a lineage requirement by having NSF-supported research results. Please refer to “Additional Eligibility Information” under Section IV of the link below for details.
Link to Award: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2023/nsf23538/nsf23538.htm
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) Application Portal: https://rii.usc.edu/oor-portal/. Use the template provided here: RII Limited Submission Applicant Template
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Two-Page Proposal Summary (1” margins; single-spaced; standard font type, e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 2-page limit will be excluded from review. You must use the template linked above.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
PFI has five broad goals, as set forth by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017 (“the Act”, S.3084 — 114th Congress; Sec. 602. Translational Research Grants): (1) identifying and supporting NSF-sponsored research and technologies that have the potential for accelerated commercialization; (2) supporting prior or current NSF-sponsored investigators, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations that partner with an institution of higher education in undertaking proof-of-concept work, including the development of technology prototypes that are derived from NSF-sponsored research and have potential market value; (3) promoting sustainable partnerships between NSF-funded institutions, industry, and other organizations within academia and the private sector with the purpose of accelerating the transfer of technology; (4) developing multi-disciplinary innovation ecosystems which involve and are responsive to the specific needs of academia and industry; (5) providing professional development, mentoring, and advice in entrepreneurship, project management, and technology and business development to innovators.
In addition, PFI responds to the mandate set by Congress in Section 601(c)(3) of the Act (Follow-on Grants), to support prototype or proof-of-concept development work by participants with innovations that because of the early stage of development are not eligible to participate in a Small Business Innovation Research Program or a Small Business Technology Transfer Program.
Finally, PFI seeks to implement the mandate set by Congress in Section 102(c)(a) of the Act (Broader Impacts Review Criterion Update) by enhancing partnerships between academia and industry in the United States, and expanding the participation of women and individuals from underrepresented groups in innovation, technology translation, and entrepreneurship.
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR PFI-RP PROPOSALS
PFI-RP proposals consist of use-inspired research and commercialization projects that specifically depend on highly collaborative partnerships between academic researchers and industrial partners. The proposed project should further scientific and engineering foundational outcomes to enable breakthrough technologies with the potential to address critical industrial and societal needs. Industry involvement assures that the technology development endeavor is industry-relevant. With input from their Industrial Partner(s), Principal Investigators are expected to design their applied research objectives to respond to the unmet market/societal needs. Interdisciplinary projects that enable researchers from different academic and non-academic organizations to interact with one or more industrial partners in industry-university groups or networks are encouraged. Proposals may include the participation of a non-profit organization that has research and technology translation experience. NSF funding can be used for university research/education activities and may support activities of faculty and their students and research associates in the industrial setting.
PFI-RP proposals should include one or more of the following partners:
PFI-RP proposals require a minimum of one (1) Industrial Partner. This partner (i.e., either a for-profit or not- for-profit entity that fulfills the minimum requirement) must be U.S.-based and have an established record of commercial revenues that include sales, services, or licensing. Organizations that meet the definitions of Foreign Public Entity in 2 CFR § 200.46 or Foreign Organization in 2 CFR § 200.47 may not serve as an Industrial Partner. Grants and government contracts may contribute to its revenues but may not constitute the entirety of its revenues. It is essential that the minimally qualifying industrial partner has experience in bringing a product, process, or service to the marketplace in the industry sector of the proposed technology application to ensure that the proposal team incorporates a meaningful commercial and industrial perspective. Non-profit organizations involved in technology transfer may serve as primary industrial partners if they meet the commercial revenues requirement above. A PFI project may propose more than one Industrial Partner.
Note: With regard to industrial partners, subawards can only be allocated to businesses that meet the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program eligibility requirements: (https://www.sbir.gov/faqs/eligibility-requirements) and in which the submitting organization or the participants in the proposed project hold no financial, ownership or controlling interest. Subawards are not intended to complement, circumvent or replace awards to small businesses under the SBIR/STTR program. An ideal Industrial Partner demonstrates a strategic commercial interest in the PFI-funded technology, is not expected to serve as a service provider in the project or, in the case of SBIR/STTR businesses, to receive a substantial subaward. PFI-RP proposals without an Industry Partner may be returned without review.
Once a PFI-RP proposal meets the requirement of a minimum of one (1) Industrial Partner, other partners such as academic institutions, non-profit organizations including foundations, public sector organizations may be included as research partners. Research partners should be carefully chosen to expand the technical expertise of the lead academic team. The purpose of the research partner is to add a complementary skill set to the proposing organization so that technologies (which neither party could independently develop as well or as rapidly) are accelerated towards commercialization by the Industrial Partner. The proposal must clearly describe the role of the research partner(s), the skill set they add to the proposing organization and how this will help accelerate technology development and scale-up. A research partner may receive a subaward from the lead organization. Technology Transfer Organizations (as defined in the Eligibility section) are strongly encouraged to partner with an academic research partner.
Partners in a PFI-RP proposal must agree to the management of any intellectual property (IP) rights underlying or generated by the proposed work. An executed cooperative research agreement (CRA) between the submitting organization and each collaborating partner (or among all partners) must be provided to NSF before the proposal is awarded. An example of a potential CRA is available. The letters of collaboration should state that the CRA will be provided prior to award.
Guidance for NSF-funded centers: PFI proposers are strongly encouraged to leverage the research and education capabilities of NSF-funded centers or large, multi-year, multi-faculty alliances. However, the PFI is not intended to extend work that is currently funded, for instance, by NSF or Industry-University Collaborative Research Centers. Instead, centers and alliances can avoid any overlap or duplication of effort by using PFI to generate early proof-of-concept that will attract future corporate sponsorship, to spin-off technologies graduated from NSF centers, or to enable postdoctoral researchers, and students to conduct research and gain experience in an industrial setting.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.