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Directorate for Geosciences: International Collaboration through Lead Agency Opportunities 

A lead agency opportunity (LAO) is a flexible pathway to allow proposers from the U.S. and another country to submit a joint proposal that will undergo a single review process through the Lead Agency. LAOs are developed as activities under an existing memorandum of understanding with a foreign science agency. Some LAOs are specific to an NSF Directorate or Division, while others encompass programs across the agency. 

LAOs are not GEO’s only tool for international collaboration. For example, some international partners are written directly into solicitations, some collaboration takes place through broader international partnerships such as the Belmont Forum, and in some cases GEO has reciprocal relationships for sharing resources or facilities with international counterparts. 

Efforts such as LAOs are an important part of NSF’s international portfolio and help multiply the capacity of NSF-funded researchers to discover and innovate at a global scale. 

GEO has an active lead agency opportunity with each of the countries listed below. Please refer to the current opportunity webpages for more information about GEO-specific options for collaboration.  


Country Webpage
Germany Dear Colleague Letter, NSF 23-113 (May 2023)
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Ireland/Northern Ireland Dear Colleague Letter, NSF 20-264 (March 2020)
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Israel Dear Colleague Letter, NSF 21-119 (September 2021)
Switzerland Dear Colleague Letter, NSF 23-049 (January 2023)
Taiwan Dear Colleague Letter, (July 2020)
United Kingdom Dear Colleague Letter, NSF 16-132 (September 2016)


Learn more about other NSF pathways for international collaboration through the Office of International Science and Engineering.