Partnerships for Innovation (PFI)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Program within the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) offers researchers from all disciplines of science and engineering funded by NSF the opportunity to perform translational research and technology development, catalyze partnerships and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for societal benefit.

PFI has five broad goals, as set forth by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017 (“the Act”, S.3084 — 114th CongressSec. 602. Translational Research Grants): (1) identifying and supporting NSF-sponsored research and technologies that have the potential for accelerated commercialization; (2) supporting prior or current NSF-sponsored investigators, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations that partner with an institution of higher education in undertaking proof-of-concept work, including the development of technology prototypes that are derived from NSF-sponsored research and have potential market value; (3) promoting sustainable partnerships between NSF-funded institutions, industry, and other organizations within academia and the private sector with the purpose of accelerating the transfer of technology; (4) developing multi-disciplinary innovation ecosystems which involve and are responsive to the specific needs of academia and industry; (5) providing professional development, mentoring, and advice in entrepreneurship, project management, and technology and business development to innovators.

In addition, PFI responds to the mandate set by Congress in Section 601(c)(3) of the Act (Follow-on Grants), to support prototype or proof-of-concept development work by participants, including I-Corps participants, with innovations that because of the early stage of development are not eligible to participate in a Small Business Innovation Research Program or a Small Business Technology Transfer Program.

Finally, PFI seeks to implement the mandate set by Congress in Section 102(c)(a) of the Act (Broader Impacts Review Criterion Update) by enhancing partnerships between academia and industry in the United States, and expanding the participation of women and individuals from underrepresented groups in innovation, technology translation, and entrepreneurship. 

This solicitation offers two broad tracks for proposals in pursuit of the aforementioned goals:

The Technology Translation (PFI-TT) track offers the opportunity to translate prior NSF-funded research results in any field of science or engineering into technological innovations with promising commercial potential and societal impact. PFI-TT supports commercial potential demonstration projects for academic research outputs in any NSF-funded science and engineering discipline. This demonstration is achieved through proof-of-concept, prototyping, technology development and/or scale-up work. Concurrently, students and postdoctoral researchers who participate in PFI-TT projects receive education and leadership training in innovation and entrepreneurship. Successful PFI-TT projects generate technology-driven commercialization outcomes that address societal needs.

The Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) track seeks to achieve the same goals as the PFI-TT track by supporting instead complex, multi-faceted technology development projects that are typically beyond the scope of a single researcher or institution and require a multi-organizational, interdisciplinary, synergistic collaboration. A PFI-RP project requires the creation of partnerships between academic researchers and third-party organizations such as industry, non-academic research organizations, federal laboratories, public or non-profit technology transfer organizations or other universities. Such partnerships are needed to conduct applied research on a stand-alone larger project toward commercialization and societal impact. In the absence of such synergistic partnership, the project’s likelihood for success would be minimal.

The intended outcomes of both PFI-TT and PFI-RP tracks are: a) the commercialization of new intellectual property derived from NSF-funded research outputs; b) the creation of new or broader collaborations with industry (including increased corporate sponsored research); c) the licensing of NSF-funded research outputs to third party corporations or to start-up companies funded by a PFI team; and d) the training of future innovation and entrepreneurship leaders.

There is no limit on the number of PFI-TT proposals an organization may submit to a deadline of this solicitation. However, an organization may not submit more than one (1) new or resubmitted PFI-RP proposal to a deadline of this solicitation. This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. If an organization exceeds this limit, the first PFI-RP proposal received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review. An organization may not receive more than two (2) awards from a submission deadline of this solicitation.

Deadlines:

  • Duke Internal: May 2, 109
  • Full Proposal Deadline(s): Jan. 17, 2019; July 10, 2019

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Academic / Research U.S. institutions; includes universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the United States, acting on behalf of their faculty members;
  • Public or Non-profit, Non-academic U.S. organizations located in the United States that are directly associated with technology transfer activities (“Technology Transfer Organizations”);
  • Non-profit U.S. organizations located in the United States that partner with an institution of higher education; or
  • A U.S. consortium of 2 or more of the organizations described above.

Technology Transfer Organizations interested in submitting proposals to PFI are strongly encouraged to partner with an Academic / Research U.S. institution to strengthen the technical component of their projects.

The PI must have the technical skills required to lead and execute the proposed research project.

In addition to the PI, PFI-TT proposals must include a Senior Personnel or co-PI who brings technology commercialization experience in the targeted fields of application or industry sector. The technology commercialization expert must have an active role in the project.

PFI-RP proposals must include, without exception, a co-PI who is a member or employee of the required Industrial Partner organization. PFI-RP proposals without an Industrial Partner co-PI may be returned without review.

The technology commercialization expert cannot use NSF-funded time and effort to perform any “Objectives Not Responsive to this Solicitation” listed in Section II.E of this solicitation. However, the expert may participate in any mandatory I-Corps training that will be provided during the term of the PFI award. Additional collaborators or organizations that bring needed multidisciplinary expertise or commercialization experience may be involved as co-PI, Senior Personnel, Other Professional, subawardee, consultant, etc.

There is no limit on the number of PFI-TT proposals an organization may submit to a deadline of this solicitation. However, an organization may not submit more than one (1) new or resubmitted PFI-RP proposal to a deadline of this solicitation. This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. If an organization exceeds this limit, the first PFI-RP proposal received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review. An organization may not receive more than two (2) awards from a submission deadline of this solicitation.

Amount

$550,000

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 50 to 65

PFI-TT projects will be funded for up to $250,000 for 18-24 months per award; approximately 40-50 awards are anticipated. PFI-RP projects will be funded for up to $550,000 for 36 months. Approximately 10-15 awards are anticipated.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $20,000,000

Anticipated Funding Amount is subject to the availability of funds and the quality of proposals received.

Funding Type

Grant

Eligibility

Faculty
Institutional

Category

Community Outreach and Engagement
Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Interdisciplinary
International Opportunities
Medical
Medical - Translational
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

* NSF Biosketch of lead PI

* Project Summary (1 page limit): The Project Summary should be written in the third person and consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity and shall begin as follows: "This PFI-TT project ..." or “This PFI-RP project…”. Do not include proprietary information in the summary.

Proposals that do not contain a complete Project Summary will not be accepted by FastLane or will be returned without review. The Project Summary is completed in FastLane by entering information into the three text boxes in the Project Summary module. Information MUST be entered into all three text boxes, or the proposal will not be accepted. Do not upload your Project Summary as a PDF file.

The summary MUST clearly address the following items:

Overview: A summary paragraph that briefly discusses the societal need for the proposed technology, the areas of application, the key technological hurdles that need to be overcome, and the potential outcomes of the proposed activity. There should be information presented to help identify the areas of technical expertise in science and engineering that are to be considered in reviewing the proposal and the areas of application that are the initial target markets of the technologies to be developed. Provide here the NSF award number and title that satisfies the lineage requirement. This can be an NSF research award, or an NSF I-Corps Team award as described in the lineage requirements.

Intellectual Merit: A summary paragraph addressing the intellectual merits of the proposed activity; e.g., areas where the project will advance knowledge, goals of the proposed applied research, technical hurdles that will be addressed by the proposed research (which should be crucial for the success of the project).

Broader Impacts: A summary paragraph describes the expected broader societal, commercial and educational outcomes of the proposed project.

Please submit internal materials through My Research Proposal. (Code ILN)  https://www.grantinterface.com/Common/LogOn.aspx?eqs=ApVvmgXCk2Uj7AzWyDE...

Instructions for both creating an account (if you don't already have one) and submitting your materials can be found here: https://www.ctsi.duke.edu/myresearchproposal

Internal Deadline

May 1, 2019

External Deadline

July 10, 2019