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NSF 13-035

Dear Colleague Letter - Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) Ideas Challenge

This document has been archived and replaced by NSF 14-018.

January 09, 2013

In 2009, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) announced a partnership program entitled “Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development” or “BREAD” administered by NSF. The objective of BREAD is to support innovative basic scientific research designed to address key constraints to smallholder agriculture in the developing world. The focus of BREAD is on novel, transformative, basic research at the proof of concept stage rather than its application or development. However, a significant distinction between BREAD and other NSF programs is that proposals to BREAD have to make a clear and well-defined connection between the outcomes of the proposed basic research and its direct relevance and potential application to agriculture in the developing world. The awards made through the first three BREAD competitions can be found at

The fourth competition will take a novel approach to fulfilling BREAD’s goals by division into two separate stages. The first stage will comprise an Ideas Challenge offering up to 25 prizes of $10,000 each for the best ideas for innovative, potentially transformative research foci that, if successfully addressed, could eventually be of significant benefit to smallholder farmers in developing countries. Ideas will be accepted in any area of basic research and technology development in all fields of biological and physical sciences and engineering as long as the proposed research challenge or idea is consistent with the BREAD Program objectives. Information about the prize winning Ideas will be posted at the Ideas Challenge web site along with additional information about the competition. The winning ideas will be focus areas for the second stage of the program, Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals, although all ideas within the scope of the BREAD Program will continue to be welcome.

Ideas Challenge

Ideas will be accepted from individuals who are graduate students, postdoctoral associates or faculty at a university, college, or non-profit research organization (including museums, research laboratories, professional societies or similar organizations that are directly associated with educational or research activities) in the U.S. or internationally. Entries should be submitted by eligible individuals (not institutions) through the Ideas Challenge web site ( (in development; available by March 1, 2013). Each entry should provide the following information in English:

  1. The idea in 100 words or fewer.
  2. Name, title, institution, email address, and telephone number of the submitter.

Entries also can be submitted by email. Instructions on how to submit by email can be found online at or by email request (

Complete entries should be submitted through or by email between April 1 and April 30, 2013. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of experts and the winners announced in May 2013 and posted on


EAGER proposal inquiries addressing one of the Ideas Challenge-winning ideas or an idea outside the Ideas Challenge will be accepted between August 1 - August 31, 2013, from a Principal Investigator (PI) or any consortium of investigators led by a PI at an eligible U.S. institution. Eligible institutions include academic institutions accredited in, and having a campus located in the U.S., U.S. non-profit research organizations including museums, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities, and consortia of only the eligible organizations listed here. Proposal inquiries will not be accepted from a non-U.S. institution serving as the lead institution. However, subawardee(s) may be eligible U.S. or non-U.S. institutions. An EAGER proposal inquiry should be one- to two-pages in length and provide a summary of the proposed activities. In addition, the PI should specify either (a) which Ideas Challenge idea would be addressed by the proposal or (b) if the idea originates outside the Ideas Challenge, how the proposal addresses BREAD goals. EAGER inquiries should be submitted between August 1 - August 31, 2013 by email to Submitted inquiries will be reviewed by an internal panel each week within the four-week submission window. Feedback inviting or declining submission of a full EAGER proposal will be provided to the PI within one-week of each panel meeting. Invited EAGER proposals should be prepared in accordance with the Grant Proposal Guide instructions and submitted through FastLane or There is a limit of one EAGER proposal per investigator serving as PI, although an investigator may serve as co-PI or collaborator on more than one proposal. Submissions that do not conform to the guidelines may be returned without review. The EAGER proposals received will undergo internal review as described in the Grant Proposal Guide and the awards will be announced in November 2013.


John Wingfield
Assistant Director for Biological Sciences
National Science Foundation