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CNS 17-001

Dear Colleague Letter: Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS), I-CorpsTM Program - Employment Opportunity for Program Director Position (Open Until Filled)

June 23, 2017

Dear Colleagues:

The Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS) within the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) announces a nationwide search to fill a Program Director position for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation CorpsTM (I-CorpsTM) program. The NSF I-Corps program is a set of activities that enables the preparation of scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of select NSF-funded basic research projects. The primary goal of I-Corps is to foster entrepreneurship that will lead to the commercialization of technology that is the result of previous NSF-funded research. The approach to entrepreneurship uses techniques developed to validate each commercial opportunity in a recognized, effective way: customer and business model development. The vehicle for commercialization activities will most often be start-ups founded by the I-Corps participants.

Formal consideration of interested applications will begin July 1, 2017, and will continue until a selection is made.

There are three distinct components of I-Corps: Teams, Nodes, and Sites. I-Corps Teams are composed of one or more principal investigators (PIs), an entrepreneurial lead (EL), and a mentor. The I-Corps Nodes serve as hubs for education, infrastructure, and research that engage academic scientists and engineers in innovation; they also deliver the I-Corps Curriculum to I-Corps Teams. The I-Corps Sites are academic institutions that catalyze the engagement of multiple, local teams in technology transition and strengthen local innovation. They also act as a pipeline for generating teams for the I-Corps Nodes. The collection of I-Corps Teams, I-Corps Nodes , and I-Corps Sites forms a National Innovation Network (NIN) dedicated to building a Nation of innovators.

At this time, NSF is seeking a Program Director to join the I-Corps staff. Program Directors at the NSF are in charge of specific programs. They solicit, receive, and review research, infrastructure, and education proposals, make funding recommendations, administer awards, conduct site visits, and execute program activities. They are also responsible for interaction with other Federal agencies, forming and guiding interagency collaborations, and service to Foundation-wide activities.

The I-Corps Program Director team in CISE/CNS is expected to contribute to the development of a vision and plan for the I-Corps program with colleagues across the Foundation, and then co-lead the execution of that plan to build, utilize, and sustain a NIN and ecosystem that further enhances the development of technologies, products, and processes that benefit society. The interconnected I-Corps Nodes and Sites of this NIN may be diverse in geographic locations, research areas, resources, tools, programs, and capabilities. It is expected that the NIN will have the flexibility to grow or reconfigure as needs arise.

The I-Corps Program Directors will ensure that the I-Corps program fosters an understanding of how to:

  • identify, develop, and support promising ideas that can generate value;
  • create and implement tools and resources that enhance our Nation's innovation capacity;
  • gather, analyze, evaluate, and utilize the data and insight resulting from the experiences of the I-Corps Teams; and
  • share and leverage effective innovation practices on a national scale to improve the quality of life for the U.S. citizenry.

Persons wishing to apply for this position are referred to the CNS divisional webpage,, for a description of the division; and to the webpage,, for a description of the I-Corps program. Persons are also encouraged to contact the current I-Corps Program Directors, who are identified on the I-Corps webpages, for more information.

NSF Program Directors bear the primary responsibility for carrying out the Foundation's overall mission to support innovative and merit-evaluated activities in fundamental research and education that contribute to the nation's technological strength, security and welfare. The positions require a commitment to high standards of intellectualism and ethical conduct, a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity.

Qualifications of a successful candidate include a PhD degree in an appropriate field plus after award of the PhD, six or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position; or a Master's degree in an appropriate field plus award of the degree, eight or more years of successful research, research administration, and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position. The position requires effective oral and written communication skills. Experience in translating research from the academic lab to the market place and familiarity with the I-Corps Program are highly desirable. The incumbent is expected to function effectively both as individual within the specific NSF program and as a member of crosscutting and interactive teams. The incumbent must also demonstrate a capability to work within NSF and across government agencies to promote NSF activities and to leverage program funds through interagency collaborations.

The position may be filled using one of the following appointment alternatives:

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Appointment: Under an IPA appointment, a candidate's home institution receives a grant to cover the appointee's salary and benefits, and the candidate remains an employee of his/her home institution while performing duties at NSF. Persons eligible for an IPA assignment with a Federal agency include employees of state and local government agencies or institutions of higher education, Indian tribal governments, and other eligible organizations in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. Initial assignments under IPA provisions may be made for a period up to two years, with a possible extension for up to an additional two years.

Visiting Scientist, Engineer or Educator (VSEE) Appointment: A VSEE appointment will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act. Visiting Scientists are on non-paid leave status from their home institution and placed on the NSF payroll as Federal employees. NSF withholds Social Security taxes and pays the home institution's contributions to maintain retirement and fringe benefits (i.e., health benefits and life insurance), either directly to the home institution or to the carrier. Appointments are usually made for one year and may be extended for an additional year by mutual agreement.

Temporary Excepted Service Appointment: Appointment to this position will be made under the Excepted Authority of the NSF Act. Candidates who do not have civil service status or reinstatement eligibility will not obtain civil service status if selected. Candidates currently in the competitive service will be required to waive competitive civil service rights if selected. Usual civil service benefits (retirement, health benefits and life insurance) are applicable for appointments of more than one year. Temporary appointments may not exceed three years.

For additional information on NSF's rotational programs, please visit:

Applications will be accepted from US Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will be considered as an IPA only. We also ask that you complete and submit the Applicant Survey Form. This will help NSF to ensure that our recruiting efforts are attracting a diverse candidate pool; it will be used for statistical purposes only.

NSF is relocating to Alexandria, VA. In late summer 2017, NSF will begin the transition from its current location in Arlington, VA, to 2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314. The new location is adjacent to a Metro station (Eisenhower Avenue on the Yellow Line) and there is ample parking in the area. There are several amenities nearby, such as restaurants, hotels, and shops.

Applicants should send a copy of their CV and a cover letter explaining the reasons they are interested in the position. This letter should describe how an applicant's experiences fit with the position of I-Corps Program Director (referencing the CV), why this position would be of mutual benefit to NSF and to the applicant's institution, and how the applicant foresees this assignment benefiting his or her careers. It is preferred that application materials and questions be sent to the CISE/CNS via email to with "I-Corps Program Director" in the subject line.