Partnerships for Innovation
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Learn about the Allowable Patent Expenses (APEX) supplement for active PFI awardees that could help defray the costs of securing a patent.

Scientists and engineers increase the impact of their NSF-funded research discoveries by developing their technology into a prototype or proof-of-concept through the Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program, one of the National Science Foundation's technology translation programs.

The intended outcomes of a PFI project are:

  • the commercialization of new intellectual property derived from NSF-funded research,
  • the creation of new or broader collaborations with industry including increased corporate sponsored research,
  • the licensing of NSF-funded research to third parties, the formation of start-up companies, and
  • the entrepreneurship training for future leaders in innovation.
Students are an integral part of the PFI program as they do research and engage in innovation and entrepreneurially-focused activities that could impact their entire career.

The PFI program selects projects that will transition the technology out of the lab and into the market for societal benefit. Only NSF-funded research and researchers who either have received NSF funding in the last seven years or have participated in NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) Teams program in the last four years are eligible.

PFI is managed by the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). As of fall 2018, NSF supports more than 230 PFI projects.

Photo credits

University of Rochester Institute of Optics professor Chunlei Guo has developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, illustrated in this image taken in his lab December 19, 2013. J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

An anechoic chamber is used for acoustic engineering to test and control noise. Mechanical engineers Andrew Barnard and Steve Senczyszyn used the foam-lined room while developing a new technology to quiet industrial heating and cooling systems. Michigan Technological University

Northern Arizona University assistant professor Fatemeh Afghah and professor of practice Bertrand Cambou are working to develop and commercialize a new generation of security solutions based on the fabrication variability of ultra-low-power memories. Northern Arizona University