BioFoundries to Enable Access to Infrastructure and Resources for Advancing Modern Biology and Biotechnology (BioFoundries)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

Grand challenge questions requiring a deeper understanding of biological systems and technologies are as diverse as life itself. Understanding the complexity of living systems and their interactions with human-derived products and processes, ensuring the safe, ethical and equitable access to and co-generation of knowledge and products,  requires the sustained development of technologies, sophisticated instrumentation, workflow pipelines and their automation, and advanced computing that are beyond the capabilities found in the laboratories of individual investigators. Broad access to these tools, workflows, processes, and knowledge bases in a facility that is capable of bespoke design and process scale-up, in response to user needs, is essential for addressing grand challenges and translating the knowledge created into applications for the bioeconomy, to meet societal and national needs.

BioFoundries is an infrastructure program from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that is designed to accelerate advances in the biological sciences, chemical biology, biotechnology, and bioengineering via access to modern infrastructure, technology, and capacity. BioFoundries will provide the intellectual, technical, digital, and physical frameworks needed for tight integration of technology innovations and applications with foundational interdisciplinary research and training, by:

  1. serving as access points for new biological technologies, workflows, processes, automations, and knowledgebases to enable transformative discoveries;
  2. catalyzing new innovations and transformative discoveries by supporting in-house and external user-initiated research programs that take full advantage of technological and methodological advances;
  3. continuing to develop novel technologies, workflows, processes, automations, and knowledgebases that are both forward-looking and user-responsive;
  4. increasing the reproducibility of life science discoveries and data and knowledge sharing capabilities;
  5. training the next generation of the scientific workforce; and
  6. facilitating pathways to translation.  

Leveraging lessons learned from existing national and international biofoundries, NSF encourages researchers to consider a diversity of models (centralized, distributed, consortium) in the design and implementation of BioFoundries. Each BioFoundry should enclose a scientific ecosystem, that includes in-house research scientists across all relevant disciplines supported by NSF, technical staff including cyberinfrastructure experts, external users, and other contributors who, collectively, form a community of practitioners and share tools, reagents, workflows, software, samples, and data. Knowledge sharing should be a central tenet, designed to strengthen collaborations among researchers and enable them to work in new ways and to foster new modalities of research and education/training, for the purpose of accelerating discovery and advancing development.  BioFoundries should promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in their in-house programs and external user programs.  BioFoundries should also promote new avenues for translating such knowledge and technology broadly in ways that benefit society. 

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1


  • Duke Internal Deadline: June 13, 2023
  • Letter of Intent (required): August 1, 2023
  • Full Proposal: October 2, 2023

​​​​​​​NOTE: If the internal deadline has passed and you are interested in this opportunity, please email to find out if it is still open.

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Not-for-profit, non-degree-granting domestic U.S. organizations, acting on behalf of their employees, for example (but not limited to) independent science centers, observatories, research laboratories and similar organizations that are directly associated with the Nation's research activities. These organizations must have an independent, permanent administrative organization (e.g., a sponsored projects office) located in the United States, its territories, or possessions, and have 501(c)(3) tax status.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 1. One (1) per organization as lead institution.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or co-PI: 1. Individuals may appear as Senior Personnel (Principal Investigator/Project Director, co-PI, and other faculty or equivalent with biographical sketches included in the proposal even though their names may not be listed on the proposal Cover Sheet) on only one proposal.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 2 to 4

The number of awards will depend on the availability of funds and the quality of the proposals.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $52,000,000 to $72,000,000

Awards totaling $15,000,000 to $24,000,000 over a six-year period are anticipated. The proposed budget must be commensurate with the scope of the project and thoroughly justified in the proposal. BioFoundries funding will be provided yearly. Pending availability of funds, it is anticipated that $37,000,000 will be available in Fiscal Year 2024.

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds and the quality or responsiveness of proposals received in response to this solicitation.

Awards will be made via cooperative agreements. Pending availability of funds, NSF anticipates that the initial ramp-up period (Years 1 and 2) will incur higher costs due to the need for equipment purchases and /or facility commissioning and lower personnel costs in the absence of major equipment, and proposed budgets should reflect this.

Proposals Involving Multiple Organizations. Of the two types of collaborative proposal formats described in the PAPPG, this solicitation allows only a single proposal submission with subawards administered by the lead organization (PAPPG Chapter II.E.3.a). The requirement for a single organization to submit the proposal is meant to facilitate effective coordination among participating organizations and to avoid difficulties that ensue in funded projects when individuals change organizations and/or cease to fulfill project responsibilities.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life 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.

  • NSF biosketch of the PI.
  • Describe the Managing Personnel: Should include the PI, Co-PIs, and any other Senior Personnel serving in the roles of Research Leads, Technology Development Lead(s), Education Lead(s), Managing Director, User Facility Coordinator, and any external collaborators. If you don't have all of these team members identified, include who you can identify currently.
  • Provide a Synopsis of the proposed BioFoundry (keep to 1-2 pages):
    • Statement of the vision for the proposed BioFoundry linking it to a grand challenge in science or engineering of biological systems and their technologies.
    • Description of its research program and technology development activities.
    • Description of the knowledge sharing and enabling activities of the user facility.
    • Education and training plan.


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

Instructions for creating an account (if needed) and submitting your materials:

Internal Deadline

June 13, 2023

External Deadline

August 1, 2023