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Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research- Technology Transfer (PFI:AIR-TT)


partnerships for innovation
academe + partners → from scientific discoveries to practical use

Accelerating Innovation Research- Technology Transfer (PFI:AIR-TT)

The overall objective of the PFI:AIR-TT program is to provide funding that will enable research discoveries to be translated onto a path toward commercial reality while engaging faculty and students in entrepreneurial and market-oriented thinking. The PFI:AIR-TT solicitation supports research to overcome technology barriers/knowledge gaps in the translation of NSF-funded fundamental science and engineering discoveries toward market-valued solutions. It provides an opportunity for investigators to conduct the necessary research to develop a proof-of-concept, prototype, or scale-up of the prototype that addresses real-world constraints and provides a competitive value in a potential application space.

A proof-of-concept is the realization of a certain method or idea to ascertain its scientific or technological parameters. A proof-of-concept should be understood sufficiently so that potential application areas can be identified and a follow-on working prototype designed.

A prototype is a functional laboratory demonstration of the proof-of-concept that addresses a relevant application. The prototype should be understood well enough to identify performance parameters, design criteria, and functional limitations for scalability in a potential application area.

To learn more and get started with a grant application, please see the latest AIR Technology Transfer solicitation NSF PFI:AIR-TT 14-569.

Interactive Map-- Current PFI:AIR-TT Grantees

Click the marker icons for more details.

How the Program Works

The LOI is not used to eliminate or deter full proposal submission. The objective of the LOI is for NSF to gauge the expected number of proposals and the areas of research.

The proposed translational research must be derived from a previously NSF-funded research award that ended no earlier than 6-years prior to the AIR-TT solicitation due date.

First, the applicant submits a Letter of Intent (LOI) through FastLane in response to the solicitation.

Second, the applicant submits the full proposal through FastLane on the corresponding deadline, typically 4-6 weeks later.

Proposals responsive to the solicitation are evaluated competitively in an external merit review process by experts knowledgeable in the field and familiar with marketing and commercialization processes.
PFI:AIR-TT awards provide $200k for 18 months.

Upcoming Deadlines:
Letter of Intent - March 13, 2015
Full Proposal - April 14, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Review Criteria

Please see the solicitation for eligibility requirements. Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with NSF Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact criteria.

Additional criteria include the following:

  • The strength of the discussion of the market need and how the innovation has the potential to offer a competitive solution or competitive advantage.
  • The merit of the research plan to translate the existing research discovery to proof-of-concept, prototype or scale-up.
  • The demonstrated understanding of the technology barrier(s) or knowledge gap(s) and how the proof-of-concept, prototype or scale-up has the potential to fill that gap(s).
  • The lineage of the research discovery to relevant previous and/or current NSF research award(s).
  • The suitability of the proposed team to successfully complete the project.
  • The quality of the preliminary patent search and accompanying discussion to support the feasibility of obtaining needed licenses and/or sufficient protection for intellectual property developed.
  • The quality of the strategy for a path toward commercialization.
The quality of the plan for involvement of undergraduate, graduate students and/or post-docs, incorporating an explanation of how the proposed effort will enhance their knowledge of innovation.
*Consult the solicitation for a full listing of criteria. The solicitation overrules all other policy documents, unless otherwise stated in the solicitation.

Note: Proposals that have a minimum research component (e.g. most of the work is to generate a business plan) will be returned without review.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Program Director with a brief, high-level overview that connects the proposed research to existing or past NSF-funded research and addresses the review criteria for the AIR-TT solicitation.

You may contact the Program Director via email at any time before the submission deadline.

Projects Funded Under AIR

Check out the IIP YouTube channel for videos from our most recent AIR Technology Showcase.

Additionally, click HERE to see a list of projects funded under the Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research program.  

Note - Projects with funding amounts less than $500,000 are most likely to be PFI:AIR-TT (Technology Translation) projects. Projects with funding amounts greater than $500,000 are most likely to be PFI:AIR-RA (Research Alliance) projects.


You can learn more about PFI:AIR below:

  • The AIR-TT Solicitation 14-569 webinar was held on July 17th, 2014. A recording of the webinar can be found here. In addition, a PDF copy of the webinar slides is also available here.
  • A PFI:AIR overview webinar (covering both AIR-TT and AIR-RA) was hosted by the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable on September 30th, 2014. A recording of the webinar can be found here. In addition, a PDF copy of the webinar slides is available here.

To stay up-to-date with AIR-TT and similar programs, join the "Academic-Industry Partnerships at NSF" newsletter:

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