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Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education  (INSPIRE)  Crosscutting Programs  NSF Wide Programs

This program has been archived.

An INSPIRE Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) was posted November 20, 2015.  You may find the DCL here.


Harvard University psychologists seek to unlock secrets of children's complex thinking

Unlocking the secrets of children's complex thinking: The studies

Researchers investigate remarkable approach to desalination

Radically modified cells may stunt brain tumor growth

Hunting the spark of creativity

Researchers envision switching a heart beat on and off with light

Name Dir/Div Name Dir/Div
Jessica  H. Robin OD/OISE  Richard  A. Behnke  


Contacts at the NSF directorate and office level:  The interdisciplinary research Points of Contact may be helpful, as elaborated in the next note.

Note to all prospective INSPIRE principal investigators about contacts at NSF:  As explained in greater detail in the solicitation, before writing or submitting an INSPIRE proposal, PIs must make a formal inquiry by submitting a FastLane Letter of Intent (LOI), and must obtain a full-proposal invitation authorized by the INSPIRE Management Team on the basis of evaluation of the LOI by NSF staff.  All invitations will reflect interest in considering a full proposal by at least two NSF program directors (PDs) from intellectually distinct NSF divisions or programs.  The LOI must list at least two or three PDs, depending on the PI's choice of funding opportunity.  It is in the PI's interest to list the most appropriate possible PDs.  The PDs should not be senior managers (director, deputy director, office head, office director, assistant director, deputy assistant director, division director, deputy division director, section head).  PIs are encouraged to study program web pages to identify appropriate PDs.  Some keyword searching of the NSF web site may be helpful in finding appropriate NSF divisions and programs, for example by using the "Search Funding Opportunities" box in the left-hand column of the home page, or the "Search Award For" box in the Award Search database  The interdisciplinary research Points of Contact may also be helpful at the directorate and office level.

An informational INSPIRE webcast was held on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. During the webcast the INSPIRE funding mechanism,  the current INSPIRE solicitation (NSF 13-518), and the FY2013 INSPIRE competition were discussed. INSPIRE Program Officers addressed frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answered questions submitted by the online audience. The webcast has been archived and is available through the TV Worldwide webpage. Registration is required to view the archived webcast.


Solicitation  13-518

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 17-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 30, 2017. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 17-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.




The INSPIRE awards program was established to address some of the most complicated and pressing scientific problems that lie at the intersection of traditional disciplines.  It is intended to encourage investigators to submit bold, exceptional proposals that some may consider to be at a disadvantage in a standard NSF review process; it is not intended for proposals that are more appropriate for existing award mechanisms.  INSPIRE is open to interdisciplinary proposals on any NSF-supported topic, submitted by invitation only after a preliminary inquiry process initiated by submission of a required Letter of Intent.  In fiscal year 2013, INSPIRE provides support through the following three pilot grant mechanisms:

  • INSPIRE Track 1.  This is essentially a continuation of the pilot CREATIV mechanism from FY 2012, which was detailed for 2012 in Dear Colleague Letter NSF 12-011
  • INSPIRE Track 2.  These are "mid-scale" research awards at a larger scale than Track 1, allowing for requests of up to $3,000,000 over a duration of up to five years.  Expectations for cross-cutting advances and for broader impacts are greater than in Track 1, and the review process includes external review.
  • Director's INSPIRE Awards.  These are prestigious individual awards to single-investigator proposals that present ideas for interdisciplinary advances with unusually strong, exciting transformative potential.

All NSF directorates and programmatic offices participated in INSPIRE in FY 2012 and are continuing their participation in FY 2013.


Frequently Asked Questions for NSF 13-518, INSPIRE (NSF 13-040)

Dear Colleague Letter - CREATIV: Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures (nsf 12-011)

FAQs for CREATIV: Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures (nsf 12-012)


FY 2012 INSPIRE Links

What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program