On July 6, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a solicitation to help spur scientific and engineering-based innovation. The Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) solicitation will provide $8.0 million to support academic institution partnerships with small technology-based businesses to carry out early stage translational-research activities. The main goals of the PFI:BIC program are: to develop the innovation capacity of the academic and business participants; to increase the viability of the small business participants; and to leverage the partnerships to help develop a next-generation workforce by engaging students in the partnerships' activities. In previous years, the PFI program released one joint solicitation for both of its subprograms, BIC and Accelerating Innovation Research (AIR); however, for fiscal year (FY) 2013, NSF is releasing separate solicitations for each subprogram. The AIR solicitation has yet to be released.
The Obama Administration has taken a keen interest in investing in technology transfer and innovation capacity building activities. Within NSF, the recently created Industrial Innovation and Partnerships Division (IIP) coordinates several research programs, including PFI:BIC, focused on expanding the nation's innovation ecosystem; moving research from the laboratory bench into the market place. The Administration hopes that such efforts will bolster economic activity, reinvigorate American industrial might, and foster development of a technologically-literate globally competitive workforce.
Details of the PFI:BIC funding opportunity follow.
Letters of Intent: Letters of Intent are required and due September 26, 2012.
Due Dates: Full proposals are due December 12, 2012.
Topic Areas: Partnerships funded through the PFI: BIC program must focus on translating an existing scientific or engineering discovery into a "market-valued solution.”
Total Funding and Award Size: NSF anticipates awarding $8.0 million for 11 to 13 proposals, contingent on annual appropriations and the quality of proposals, with a maximum award size of $600,000. It is expected that projects will last two years.
Eligibility and Limitations: Institutions eligible to apply include U.S. universities and two-and four-year colleges. The lead (submitting) organization must be an academic institution. Lead academic institutions may only participate on one proposal as a lead institution, and a lead institution may not be a subawardee on any other proposal. Academic institutions must partner with at least two small technology-based businesses, but large businesses and non-profit entities may also participate.
Additional Resources: Additional information regarding this solicitation, including the full funding opportunity announcement (FOA), is available at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2012/nsf12578/nsf12578.htm?WT.mc_id=USNSF_179.
A webinar will be held within 6 weeks of the release date of the PFI:BIC solicitation to answer any questions about the solicitation. Details will be posted on the Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) website (www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=iip) as they become available.