Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SSE, SSI, S2I2): Software Elements, Frameworks and Institute Conceptualizations

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) is a bold and long-term investment that maintains a sustained focus on realizing the Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21,, which envisions a highly reusable and interoperable cyberinfrastructure architecture that integrates large-scale computing, high-speed networks, massive data archives, instruments and major facilities, observatories, experiments, and embedded sensors and actuators, across the nation and the world, to help make great strides towards revolutionizing virtually every science and engineering discipline.

Software is a primary modality through which CIF21 innovation and discovery has been realized. Software permeates all aspects and layers of cyberinfrastructure (from application codes and frameworks, programming systems, libraries and system software, to middleware, operating systems, networking and the low-level drivers), and catalyzes new thinking, paradigms and practices in science and engineering. Software, in fact, is a cyberinfrastructure in itself. 

This software cyberinfrastructure requires a robust, agile architecture and a highly usable and reusable service model, one that allows evolution in order to address increasing scale and complexity, accommodate disruptive hardware trends, allow ever-increasing data volumes, complex application structures and workflows, and emerging considerations such as security, reproducibility, fault tolerance and energy efficiency. Additionally, software must support new scientific and engineering frontiers and their computational methodologies. Education is an important element needed to sustain this vision. SI2 contributes to an able workforce capable of exploiting the full capability of the cyberinfrastructure and the promise for innovation in science and engineering.

The SI2 program focuses on supporting robust, reliable and sustainable software that will support and advance sustained scientific innovation and discovery. Thus, proposals are strongly encouraged to describe their approach to quality software development through a defined software engineering process that includes software testing, the appropriate use of analysis tools and capabilities such as those made available through the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP,, and collaborations with resources such as Software Carpentry ( and the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure (CTSC,, in order to gain access to expertise where needed, such as in software design and engineering, as well as in cybersecurity.

The Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (CISE/ACI) partners with Directorates and Offices across the Foundation to support SI2, a long-term comprehensive program focused on realizing a sustained software infrastructure that is an integral part of CIF21. The goal of this program is to catalyze and nurture the interdisciplinary processes required to support the entire software lifecycle, and result in the development of sustainable community software elements and reusable components at all levels of the software stack. The program addresses all aspects of cyberinfrastructure, from embedded sensor systems and instruments, to desktops and high-end data and computing systems, to major instruments and facilities.

The SI2 program aspires to support vibrant partnerships among academia, government, and industry researchers, including international entities, for the development and stewardship of a sustainable software infrastructure that can enhance productivity and accelerate innovation in science and engineering.

For 2017, and in addition to regular SI2 proposals, the SI2 solicitation welcomes proposals that advance the objectives of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), an effort aimed at sustaining and enhancing the U.S. scientific, technological, and economic leadership position in high-performance computing (HPC) research, development, and deployment. Information about the NSCI together with the strategic plans, results of community workshops, background studies and other relevant resources, which suggest priority areas in both the domain sciences and the HPC and software infrastructure, are available at Proposers are encouraged to review these materials for priority areas identified by the research community.

There are no restrictions or limits for SSE and SSI proposals. Each organization may only submit one S2I2 Conceptualization proposal within the calendar year.

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

  •  Duke Internal Deadline for S2I2 Conceptualization Proposals:  Feb. 28, 2017
  • Sponsor Deadline for S2I2 Conceptualization Proposals:  April 11, 2017


  •  SSE Proposals: March 07, 2017
  •  SSI Proposals: September 19, 2017

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

As in previous rounds of this program, SI2 includes three classes of awards:

  1. Scientific Software Elements (SSE): SSE awards target small groups that will create and deploy robust software elements for which there is a demonstrated need that will advance one or more significant areas of science and engineering.
  2. Scientific Software Integration (SSI): SSI awards target larger, interdisciplinary teams organized around the development and application of common software infrastructure aimed at solving common research problems faced by NSF researchers in one or more areas of science and engineering. SSI awards will result in a sustainable community software framework serving a diverse community or communities.
  3. Scientific Software Innovation Institutes (S2I2): S2I2 awards are intended to establish long-term hubs of excellence in software infrastructure and technologies, which will serve a research community of substantial size and disciplinary breadth. S2I2 includes two subclasses of awards: Conceptualization Awards, which are planning awards aimed at organizing an interdisciplinary community and understanding their software requirements and challenges; and Implementation Awards, which will be made to implement community activities that support software infrastructure, for example, such as those developed by the conceptualization awards. Only Conceptualization proposals will be accepted for this solicitation cycle. However, successful Conceptualization proposals must reflect the quality, commitment, and planning that will be needed to lead to full Implementation awards. Conceptualization proposals submitted to NSF in response to this solicitation must exhibit clear relevance to the overall SI2 program and should be responsive to this solicitation and its review criteria. Proposals that are not relevant or not responsive to the solicitation will not be considered for funding and will be returned without review. Conceptualization proposals must also be in areas not covered by current Conceptualization and Implementation awards. For a list of awards, see Implementation of NSF Software Vision (

Eligibility Requirements

An individual may participate as PI, co-PI or other Senior Personnel in at most one full proposal in the pair of SSE and SSI competitions that occurs in a given calendar year. Thus, an individual may not participate on more than one SSE or SSI proposal, or on an SSI proposal that follows an SSE proposal on which the individual is participating. 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 an individual exceeds this limit, any proposal submitted to this solicitation with this individual listed as PI, co-PI, or Senior Personnel after the first proposal is received at NSF will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. For this purpose, a multi-institution collaborative project is treated as one proposal that is considered submitted when the last component proposal is submitted.

There is no limit on the number of S2I2 Conceptualization proposals per PI, though there is a limit of one S2I2 Conceptualization proposal per institution per calendar year.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 23

The number of SSE and SSI awards will be determined by separate review processes and will be based on quality of proposals, availability of funds, and responsiveness to priorities of the participating directorates/divisions. Up to 10 SSE awards, 12 SSI awards and 3 S2I2 Conceptualization are estimated, subject to the availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $17,500,000

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds. Up to $5,000,000 is expected to be available for SSE awards, up to $11,000,000 is expected to be available for awards to SSI proposals, and up to $1,500,000 is expected to be available for S2I2 Conceptualization awards, subject to availability of funds.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
International Opportunities

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 via the upload feature on the ORS website.

* A letter of support from dean/chair - 1 to 1.5 pages
* Project summary - 2 to 4 pages - Please include to which type of proposal you are applying
* NSF Biosketch

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
* Project summary - 2 to 4 pages
* CV or Biosketch of project leader

Applicants will need to submit internal materials through My Research Proposal.(Code ILN)

Instructions for setting up your account and uploading internal applications can be found here: Instructions_FINAL.pdf


Internal Deadline

February 28, 2017

External Deadline

March 7, 2017