Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 2/2/2023

Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE)

The Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems (POSE) program aims to harness the power of open-source development for the creation of new technology solutions to problems of national and societal importance. Many NSF-funded projects result in publicly accessible, modifiable, and distributable open-source products, including software, hardware, models, specifications, programming languages, or data platforms, that catalyze further innovation. In some cases, an open-source product that shows potential for wide adoption forms the basis for a self-sustaining open-source ecosystem (OSE) that comprises a leadership team; a managing organization with a well-defined governance structure and distributed development model; a cohesive community of external intellectual content developers; and a broad base of users across academia, industry, and government. The overarching vision of POSE is that proactive and intentional formation of managing organizations will ensure a broader and more diverse adoption of open-source products; increased coordination of external intellectual content developer contributions; and a more focused route to technologies with broad societal impact. Toward this end, the POSE program supports the formation of new OSE managing organizations based on an existing open-source product or class of products, whereby each organization is responsible for the creation and management of processes and infrastructure needed for the efficient and secure development and maintenance of an OSE.

POSE constitutes a new pathway to translate scientific innovations, akin to the Lab-to-Market Platform that NSF has pioneered over many decades. Whereas programs like the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) and Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR and STTR) represent an integrated set of programs to provide researchers with the capacity to transform their fundamental research into deep technology ventures, POSE is specifically focused on another translational pathway–supporting the transition from open-source research artifacts to OSEs.

Importantly, the POSE program is not intended to fund the development of open-source products, including tools and artifacts. The POSE program is also not intended to fund existing well-resourced, open-source communities or ecosystems. Instead, the program aims to support new managing organizations to catalyze distributed, community-driven development and growth of new OSEs. The expected outcomes of the POSE program are to grow the community of researchers and innovators who develop and contribute to OSE efforts, and to enable pathways for the safe and secure development of OSEs that have broad societal impacts. OSEs can stem from any areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research and development.

This solicitation seeks two types of proposals, allowing teams to propose specific activities to scope and plan the establishment of an OSE (Phase I), and to establish a sustainable OSE based on a robust open-source product that shows promise in the ability to both meet an emergent societal or national need and build a community to help develop it (Phase II).

Phase I: OSE Scoping and Planning Proposals

Phase I projects are for open-source research products with a small community of external users though the product may not necessarily have external content developers. The objectives of Phase I projects are to: (1) enable scoping activities that will inform the transition of promising research products that are already available in open-source formats into sustainable and robust OSEs that will have broad societal impacts, and (2) provide training to teams interested in building such an OSE.

Each Phase I proposal must describe the current context and, to the extent known at the time of the Phase I proposal, the long-term vision and potential impact of the proposed OSE. The proposals should also include specific scoping activities that will inform plans for ecosystem discovery; organizational and governance structure; continuous development, integration, and deployment of the open-source product(s); and community building for users and intellectual content developers. Phase I scoping activities are intended to help teams determine (a) whether their open-source product is suitable and ready to be transitioned into an OSE; (b) whether there is a user base that is ready to serve as early adopters; and (c) whether there is a distributed intellectual content developer community that can help develop and maintain the core product going forward.

Phase I proposals are limited to a total budget of $300,000 with durations of up to one year. The Project Description can be up to 7 pages for Phase I proposals.

Please note that the Phase I proposals described in this solicitation are a solicitation-specific project category and are separate and distinct from the Planning type of proposal described in Chapter II.F.1 of the PAPPG. When preparing a Phase I proposal in response to this solicitation, the "Research" type of proposal should be selected. 

Phase II:  Establishment and Expansion Proposals

Phase II projects are for open-source research products with a small community of external users and external content developers.  The objective of Phase II projects is to support the transition of a promising open-source product into a sustainable and robust OSE. Phase II proposals are expected to have conducted the scoping activities (not necessarily via a Phase I award) needed to develop a detailed project plan to support the community-driven distributed development and deployment of successful open-source tools into operational environments. The proposals must include a community outreach plan that outlines activities to engage the intended intellectual content developer community that will further develop and maintain the technology and identifies user communities and/or organizations that will serve as early adopters of the technology. 

Each Phase II proposal must describe the current context and the long-term vision and impact of the proposed OSE. The proposal should also include a well-developed, cohesive plan for building an OSE, including ecosystem establishment/growth, organizational and governance structure, a framework for continuous development, integration, and deployment of the technology, methods for evaluating the OSE’s effectiveness, and activities to ensure security and privacy, build the community, and sustain the ecosystem.  

Phase II proposals are limited to a total budget of $1,500,000 with durations of up to two years. The Project Description can be up to 15 pages for Phase II proposals.

Phase I awardees are not obligated to submit Phase II proposals in the future.

An NSF POSE Phase I award is not required for the submission of a Phase II proposal.

Full Proposal Deadline: Sep. 7, 2023

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.
  • For-profit organizations: U.S.-based commercial organizations, including small businesses, with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education and a passion for innovation.
  • State and Local Governments: State educational offices or organizations and local school districts.

Who May Serve as PI:


For Institution of Higher Education:

By the submission deadline, any PI, co-PI, or other senior project personnel must hold either:

  • a tenured or tenure-track position, or
  • a primary, full-time, paid appointment in a research or teaching position

at a US-based campus of an Institution of Higher Education (see above), with exceptions granted for family or medical leave, as determined by the submitting organization.

Individuals with primary appointments at overseas branch campuses of U.S. institutions of higher education are not eligible. Researchers from foreign academic institutions who contribute essential expertise to the project may participate as senior personnel or collaborators but may not receive NSF support.

Individuals with primary appointments at non-US based non-profit or non-US based for-profit organizations are not eligible.

For all other eligible proposing organizations:

The PI must be an employee of the proposing organization who is normally resident in the US and must be acting as an employee of the proposing organization while performing PI responsibilities. The PI may perform the PI responsibilities while temporarily out of the US.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 30-50

If a proposal involves multiple organizations, it must be submitted as a single proposal with subawards; separately submitted collaborative proposals are not permitted.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $27,800,000

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.