Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs: Establishing Spokes to Advance Big Data Applications (BD Spokes)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) initiated the National Network of Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) program in FY 2015.  Four BD Hubs – MidwestNortheastSouth, and West – were established to foster multi-sector collaborations among academia, industry, and government, both nationally and internationally.  These BD Hubs are serving a convening and coordinating role by bringing together a wide range of Big Data stakeholders in order to connect solution seekers with solution providers.

In FY 2016, the Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs: Establishing Spokes to Advance Big Data Applications (BD Spokes) solicitation began extending the BD Hubs network by establishing multi-institutional and multi-sector collaborations to focus on topics of specific interest to a given region.  The first set of BD Spokes was funded in FY 2016. This solicitation calls for new BD Spoke proposals to be awarded in FY 2018.  Collaborating with BD Hubs, each BD Spoke will focus on a particular topic that requires Big Data approaches and solutions.  The set of activities managed by a BD Spoke will promote progress towards solutions in the chosen topic area.  The regional BD Hub Steering Committee will provide general guidance to each BD Spoke and will assist the BD Spoke in coordinating with the national BD Hub network, with other BD Spokes, and with the broader innovation ecosystem.

The Big Data activities of a BD Spoke will be guided by the following broad themes:

  • Accelerating progress towards addressing societal grand challenges relevant to the regional and national priority areas defined by the BD Hubs (information on priority areas can be found on each Hub’s website listed in the Introduction section below);
  • Helping automate the Big Data lifecycle; and
  • Enabling access to and spurring the use of important and valuable available data assets, including international data sets where relevant.

NSF's overall Big Data research and development (R&D) portfolio includes fundamental research, infrastructure development and provisioning, education and workforce development, and community engagement.  Not all of these aspects of the overall portfolio are covered by this solicitation. In particular, this solicitation is not meant to fund proposals in which fundamental research is the primary activity.  If research is a substantial portion of the proposed activities, please consult with a cognizant NSF program officer of this solicitation to help find a more appropriate solicitation. For example, projects focused on foundations and innovative applications related to Big Data may be better suited for submission to the Critical Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Foundations and Applications of Big Data Science & Engineering(BIGDATA) program. Similarly, projects focused primarily on privacy research may be more suited to NSF’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program.

There are two proposal categories covered by this solicitation: SMALL and MEDIUM BD Spokes.

All (SMALL or MEDIUM) BD Spoke proposals submitted in response to this solicitation must include a Letter of Collaboration from a regional BD Hub. Proposals not including a Letter of Collaboration from a BD Hub will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1


  • Duke Internal: June 1, 2017
  • Full Proposal Deadline Date:  September 18, 2017

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
  • State and Local Governments: State educational offices or organizations and local school districts.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1

An organization may participate as submitting organization (or, in the case of collaborative proposals, as the lead organization) for at most one proposal responsive to this solicitation.

Proposal submissions are limited to 1 per organization (except as non-lead in a collaborative proposal) to maintain a balanced geographic representation of the Regional Hubs and Spokes program and to increase diversity of participating institutions.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

An investigator may participate as PI or Co-PI in no more than one proposal submitted in response to this solicitation, irrespective of proposal category. However, there is no limit on the number of proposals on which an individual may serve as Senior Personnel.

These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced in order to treat everyone fairly and consistently. In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, proposals received within the limit will be accepted based on earliest date and time of proposal submission (i.e., the first proposal received will be accepted and the remainder will be returned without review). No exceptions will be made.



Amount Description

Estimated number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds. The anticipated program budget will be up to $10,000,000, also subject to the availability of funds.

SMALL: Awards with total budgets (including indirect costs) from $100,000 to $500,000 over a period of up to 3 years. These awards are intended for collaborative projects, involving multiple institutions, for establishing BD Spokes on specific topics/themes related to Big Data innovation. SMALL proposals should focus on specific topics/themes related to Big Data innovation and be consistent with the regional and national priorities identified by the BD Hubs.

MEDIUM: Awards with total budgets (including indirect costs) from $500,001 to $1,000,000 over a period of up to 3 years. MEDIUM proposals must deliver tangible outcomes, for example: (1) explicit results from data-enabled or data-facilitated inquiry in a scientific or engineering field or other domain area; (2) a prototype or proof of concept for a technology platform, data product, data standards, or other data infrastructure; or (3) an education or workforce development program with a plan for deployment and sustainment beyond the three-year award period.

For both SMALL and MEDIUM projects, budgets must be clearly justified and commensurate with the goals of the efforts.

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Social Sciences

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

* A letter of support from dean or chair - 1 to 1.5 pages
* Project summary - 2 to 4 pages -
* CV or Biosketch of project leader

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal.(Code ILN)

Instructions for setting up your account and uploading internal applications can be found here: Instructions_FINAL.pdf

Internal Deadline

June 1, 2017

External Deadline

September 18, 2017