Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR): Institutes for Data-Intensive Research in Science and Engineering

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of "Big Ideas," 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergent research. When responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted through the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) within the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), once received the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.

NSF's Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) Big Idea is a national-scale activity to enable new modes of data-driven discovery that will allow fundamental questions to be asked and answered at the frontiers of science and engineering.

This solicitation will establish a group of HDR Institutes for data-intensive research in science and engineering that can accelerate discovery and innovation in a broad array of research domains. The HDR Institutes will lead innovation by harnessing diverse data sources and developing and applying new methodologies, technologies, and infrastructure for data management and analysis. The HDR Institutes will support convergence between science and engineering research communities as well as expertise in data science foundations, systems, applications, and cyberinfrastructure. In addition, the HDR Institutes will enable breakthroughs in science and engineering through collaborative, co-designed programs to formulate innovative data-intensive approaches to address critical national challenges.

Full Proposal Deadline Date: January 21, 2021


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.
  • 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.

Any individual who will serve as PI or Co-PI on the NSF award pursuant to the HDR: Coordination Hub (HDR Central) program solicitation will not be eligible to serve as PI or Co-PI on any award resulting from this solicitation.

An individual may participate as PI, co-PI, and/or other Senior Personnel in at most one Institute proposal pursuant to this solicitation. Note that any individual whose biographical sketch is provided as part of the proposal will be considered as Senior Personnel in the proposed activity, with or without financial support from the project.

In the event that any individual exceeds this limit, any proposal submitted to this solicitation with this individual listed as PI, co-PI, and/or Senior Personnel after the first proposal is received at NSF will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made.

Although there is no limit on the number of proposals per organization, no organization will receive more than one Institute award as the lead organization.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 4 to 7

4-7 awards in FY 2021 pending availability of funds and the type, scale, and variety of project ideas proposed.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $70,000,000

Up to a total of $70 million is anticipated to be available for 4-7 five-year awards.

Award size is contingent upon the scope, scale, and complexity of the proposed project, with a minimum total budget of $10 million. The size and complexity of any individual request should be justified by the amount and complexity of the work to be accomplished, and expected impact on the research community. Estimated program budget, number of awards, and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Funding Type





Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

January 21, 2021