Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2023 Funding Opportunity

Funding Agency:
Department of Commerce

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, also known as NOAA Ocean Exploration, is soliciting proposals for projects to conduct or support ocean exploration of poorly understood regions of U.S. waters. NOAA Ocean Exploration is the only federal program dedicated to exploring the deep ocean, closing prominent gaps in our basic understanding of U.S. deep waters and the seafloor and delivering the ocean information needed to strengthen the economy, health, and security of our nation.

Using the latest tools and technology, NOAA Ocean Exploration explores unknown or little known areas of our deep ocean, making discoveries of scientific, economic, and cultural value. Data collected are used to understand and maintain a healthy ocean, sustainably manage marine resources, accelerate the national economy, and build a better appreciation of the value and critical importance of the ocean in our everyday lives.

NOAA Ocean Exploration is soliciting proposals for interdisciplinary ocean exploration in waters under U.S. jurisdiction that support national priorities, including NOAA science and technology priorities of uncrewed systems, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, ’omics data, and citizen science (https://sciencecouncil.noaa.gov/NOAA-Science-Technology-Focus-Areas) and the Strategic Priorities for Ocean Exploration and Characterization of the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (https://www.noaa.gov/nomec/IWG-OEC, draft report to be released April 2022) developed per the National Strategy for Mapping, Exploring, and Characterizing the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (https://www.noaa.gov/nomec). The U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone contains a vast array of underutilized, and likely many undiscovered, natural resources, including critical minerals, marine-derived pharmaceuticals, and energy sources in addition to areas of significant ecological and conservation value. By supporting exploration, i.e., discovery through disciplined, diverse observations, NOAA Ocean Exploration seeks to advance our basic understanding of U.S. deep waters (waters deeper than 200 meters).


  • REQUIRED Pre-proposals: May 24, 2022
  • Full Applications: Sep. 29, 2022

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

For Fiscal Year 2023 funding, NOAA Ocean Exploration is soliciting proposals focused on any one of the following three themes:

OCEAN EXPLORATION and DISCOVERY: Proposals should be in support of the NOAA ocean exploration mission to explore unknown or poorly known ocean areas, processes, and resources in waters deeper than 200 meters. NOAA Ocean Exploration is particularly interested in exploration for, and discovery of, microorganisms, sponges, corals, and other organisms in waters deeper than 200 meters that may have biopharmaceutical or biotechnological potential. Such proposals should reference the NOAA ’omics strategy (https://sciencecouncil.noaa.gov/Portals/0/2020%20Omics%20Strategy.pdf?ve... 150026-760). All proposals should reference the National Strategy for Mapping, Exploring, and Characterizing the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (https://www.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/2021-08/NOMEC%20Strategy.pdf).

MARITIME HERITAGE: Proposals should address exploration and discovery of significant maritime heritage resources that improve historical knowledge and inform decisions concerning preservation, management and potential seafloor use. Maritime heritage projects can be conducted in any water depth. Data products must benefit other academic and resource management disciplines. The use of autonomous and other innovative technologies is a NOAA Ocean Exploration priority.

TECHNOLOGY: Proposals should feature application of new or novel use of existing ocean technologies or innovative methods that could increase the scope and efficiency of acquiring ocean exploration data and expanding its availability and use. They must be focused on the development and testing of innovative sensors and systems that could increase the capabilities of autonomous or remotely operated seagoing systems. Proposed ocean technologies must be applicable to water depths of 200 meters or greater, preferably full-ocean depth (testing in shallower water or lab-based testing is acceptable) and must address at least one of the defined ocean exploration variables as referenced in the “Exploration Variables Identified by NOAA Ocean Exploration” technical memorandum (https://repository.library.noaa.gov/view/noaa/29495). Proposals must also reference at least one of the NOAA science and technology focus areas (https://sciencecouncil.noaa.gov/NOAAScience-Technology-Focus-Areas).

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants represent U.S.-based institutions of higher education; nonprofit organizations; U.S. territory, state, local, and tribal governments and federal agencies that possess the statutory authority to accept funding for this type of work; and for-profit organizations. NOTE: Before proposals from federal agencies other than NOAA can be funded, applicants must affirm that their agency has legal authority to receive funds from another federal agency in excess of their appropriation. Because this notice is not proposing to procure goods or services from applicants, the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. section 1535) does not provide this authority. NOAA and other federal agencies that possess the statutory authority to accept funding for this type of work must agree to take FY23 funding for proposed projects (both one and two year projects) and spend those funds in FY23 (i.e., between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023).

Amount Description

NOAA Ocean Exploration anticipates approximately $3,000,000 will be available to fund proposed projects under this notice. With these funds, NOAA Ocean Exploration anticipates being able to support 4-10 awards with budgets ranging from $75,000 to a maximum of $750,000 to be spent over one or two years. Proposals for less than $75,000 or more than $750,000 will be disqualified.

Funding Type



Women and minorities encouraged


Environmental & Life Sciences

External Deadline

May 24, 2022