Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)

The Directorate for Engineering's Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) supports programs to accelerate NSF-funded and other federally-funded fundamental research into market opportunities, and fosters public-private partnerships to advance technological innovation. IIP invests in high-tech small businesses and collaborations between academia and industry to transform discoveries into innovative commercial technologies with societal benefits.

Learn how to get engaged in the national innovation network

IIP supports networks of diverse people and encourages would-be and established tech entrepreneurs to participate as valued members of NSF's innovation network. Here are a few ways that you can make contributions, develop skills, and get support to translate research into technology, work directly with industry, or get funding for a deep technology startup.

NSF encourages people from all backgrounds, and geographic areas to apply for funding. We value diversity and welcome diverse perspectives.

IIP Programs

  • The Innovation Corps Program (I-Corps), an NSF-wide entrepreneurial education program, equips scientists with the tools needed to transform discoveries with commercial realization potential into innovative technologies. I-Corps uses experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship, starting a business, or industry requirements and challenges. The curriculum integrates scientific inquiry and industrial discovery in an inclusive, data-driven culture driven by rigor, relevance, and evidence. Through I-Corps training, researchers can reduce the time to translate a promising idea from the laboratory to the marketplace. I-Corps participants (typically students pursing their graduate degree or doctorate, post-doctoral researchers, or professors) can learn how to make their technology into a product by learning the art of customer discovery. If you have worked on a basic NSF research grant in the last few years you may be eligible for the National I-Corps Teams program. If you have not, we encourage you to apply to an I-Corps regional cohort. For more information about regional I-Corps, reach out to the I-Corps Program Coordinator at one of the I-Corps Nodes close to you.

  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) / Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide early stage, high-tech small businesses with grants for proof-of-concept / feasibility research that could potentially be followed by grants for cutting-edge, high-quality scientific research and development to de-risk their technologies. Also called America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, the program awards $200 million annually to approximately 400 startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $2 million in phases to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. In addition to research and development funding for startups, NSF provides funding for startups to hire students and veterans to conduct research.

  • Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC) perform cutting-edge industry-led pre-competitive fundamental research in science, engineering, and technology area(s) of interest to industry that can drive innovation and the U.S. economy.

  • The Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program gives scientists and engineers the opportunity to increase the impact of their NSF-funded research discoveries by developing their technology into a prototype or proof-of-concept. PFI accepts proposals in two broad tracks:
    • Technology Translation (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.
    • Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) supports 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.

Internship and fellowship opportunities

  • Innovative Post-doctoral Entrepreneurial Research Fellowship (I-PERF) - with funding support from NSF, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) recruits, trains, mentors, places, and funds early career STEM Ph.D. recipients from underrepresented groups to participate in entrepreneurial activities and perform innovative research at NSF Phase II SBIR/STTR awardee companies. Postdoctoral Fellowships are open to all fields in science and engineering funded by NSF within the current portfolio of active Phase II SBIR/STTR awardee companies.

  • Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) Supplemental Funding Opportunity enables graduate students already supported on an NSF grant to pursue internship and training opportunities outside of academia and augment their research assistantships with non-academic activities that will help them acquire professional development experience relevant to multiple career pathways.

  • The National GEM Consortium (GEM) is a 42-year-old non-profit organization that provides fellowships to Underrepresented Minorities to pursue their Master’s or PhD in STEM-related fields in an effort to increase the diversity in STEM. GEM has a cooperative partnership with the NSF to develop a national diversity and inclusion infrastructure for the I-Corps program. This program supports academic researchers in launching successful tech startups through entrepreneurial training providing them with critical skills for translating their research discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace.

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IIP home page image credits
Chip image credit: Tortuga Logic, Inc.
Two women with equipment for making silk image credit: Bolt Threads
Living cells implanted with sensor image credit: PharmaSeq, Inc.
Man with robot in background image credit: Courtesy of The University of Texas at Arlington.