Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 3/18/2024

Global Centers: Use-Inspired Research Addressing Global Challenges through the Bioeconomy

This solicitation describes an ambitious program to fund international, interdisciplinary collaborative research centers that will apply best practices of broadening participation and community engagement to develop use-inspired bioeconomy research to address one or more global challenges identified by the scientific community. Here, the "used-inspired" nature of the research refers to project outcomes leading to foreseeable benefits to society. This program will prioritize research collaborations that foster team science and community-engaged research, use knowledge-to-action frameworks whose rationale, conceptualization, and research directions are driven by the potential use of the results as illustrated by Pasteur’s Quadrant (see Stokes, Donald E. (1997), "Pasteur's Quadrant - Basic Science and Technological Innovation," Brooking Institution Press, p.196. ISBN 9780815781776). Proposals should also indicate how research will be co-generated with communities and stakeholders identified in the proposal. The proposed research should maximize the benefits of international, interdisciplinary collaborations, and describe the roles and responsibilities of each national team in achieving the goals of the proposed Global Center. Global Centers projects involving partnership between the U.S. and two or more partner countries are strongly encouraged. Global challenges must be addressed through international collaboration and researchers are encouraged to develop international teams to address research questions that can only be addressed through multilateral efforts.

The topic for the 2024 competition of the Global Centers program is Addressing Global Challenges through the Bioeconomy and may include research from any combination of research disciplines supported by NSF. The Bioeconomy is the share of the economy based on products, services, and processes derived from living systems. Research investments to advance the bioeconomy serve to accelerate scientific discovery and to enable the harnessing, engineering, and rational modulation of biological systems to create goods and services that contribute to the agriculture, health, security, manufacturing, energy, and environmental sectors of the global economy; or that provide access to unique systems that help us understand the processes and issues that we can use biotechnology to solve. Bioeconomy is built on the foundation of biotechnology and biomanufacturing, and in addition to biological science and engineering includes contributions from fields such as chemistry, materials science, geosciences, mathematics, data sciences, humanities, and the social sciences.

The world is facing many serious challenges, including, but not limited to, adapting to or mitigating the effect of climate change, developing clean energy approaches, identifying and advancing sustainable food systems, addressing water insecurity, exploring solutions to emerging infectious diseases, creating resource efficiency, sustaining biodiversity, addressing inequalities in access to biotechnologies, and developing a circular bioeconomy. For example, bio-based materials offer heightened biodegradability and biosafety as compared to reusable plastic materials that shed microplastics during use and washing and affect water security and human health.

This Global Centers solicitation in Bioeconomy offers a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary teams of scientists, educators, and practitioners to use knowledge of the bioeconomy to co-develop and execute a research plan for an international center that will address a global challenge facing humanity. The Global Centers program is meant to support multidisciplinary research that can only be achieved through international partnerships uniting complementary areas of expertise, and/or facilitating access to unique expertise or resources of the participating countries. The proposal should explain how the center will maximize the benefits of international collaborations and describe the unique contributions and the roles and responsibilities of each national team in achieving the goals of the proposed Global Center. Successful proposals will describe how the center will tackle a global challenge that can only be addressed through the diversity of knowledge, skills, and resources united in this center.

Addressing global challenges requires international engagement and must go beyond production of data to demonstrate how co-generation and co-production of research with stakeholder groups can maximize the chances of research outcomes being taken up by target groups and applied to address the global challenge. Because change requires human involvement, this process, described as the Knowledge to Action framework explicitly recognizes the need to involve appropriate scientific experts and practitioners who study and work with humans in implementing the human action aspect of the framework. Examples of human action include (but are not limited to) studies in human and societal behavior, in policy, economics, psychology, anthropology, or education. Proposals are expected to describe a center that fully integrates human action elements with the knowledge generation portions of the center to produce a holistic, multi-disciplinary center that is greater than the sum of its parts. The center should offer a plan of research in which disciplines are integrated and complement and support each other to produce world class research, train the next generation of workforce, and use best practices to ensure that participant communities and stakeholder groups are involved in all stages of the research process so that outcomes are aligned with their needs and readily adoptable.

Within the general theme of Bioeconomy, proposals submitted in the framework of this call must be centered on either or both of the two subtopics: Subtopic 1: Leveraging Biodiversity Across the Tree of Life to Power the Bioeconomy; and Subtopic 2: Biofoundries, using the Design-Build-Test-Learn process in biology. All proposals must integrate both of the two crosscutting themes into the proposed work: Crosscutting Theme A: Public engagement and co-generation of research activities to strengthen the global science and technology enterprise; and Crosscutting Theme B: Workforce Development and Education.  See Section II, Program Description for details.

Full Proposal Deadline Date: June 11, 2024

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.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities.

An individual may be listed as a PI or a co-PI on no more than one proposal submitted in response to this solicitation. Proposals exceeding this limit will be returned without review in the reverse order received.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 5 to 7

Anticipated Funding Amount: $25,000,000

The estimated number of awards and anticipated funding level are subject to the availability of funds.