Partnerships for Innovation


Eligible organizations

Under the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017 (AICA), only the following organizations can submit proposals:

  • Academic / Research U.S. institutions, including universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the United States, acting on behalf of their faculty members;
  • Public or non-profit, non-academic U.S. organizations located in the United States that are directly associated with technology transfer activities (“Technology Transfer Organizations”);
  • Non-profit U.S. organizations located in the United States that partner with an institution of higher education; or
  • A U.S. consortium of two or more of the organizations described above.

Technology Transfer Organizations interested in submitting proposals to PFI are strongly encouraged to partner with an academic / research U.S. institution to strengthen the technical component of their projects.

Limit on number of proposals per organization

An eligible organization may submit several Technology Translation (PFI-TT) proposals to a deadline of the PFI program. However, an eligible organization may not submit more than one (1) new or resubmitted Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) proposal to a deadline of the program. If this limit is exceeded, the first PFI-RP proposal received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review.

An organization may not receive more than two (2) awards from a submission deadline.

Team requirements

The Principal Investigator (PI) must have the technical skills required to lead and execute the proposed research project.

Technology Commercialization Expert. PFI-TT proposals must include a Senior Personnel or Co-PI who brings technology commercialization experience in the targeted fields of application or industry sector. The technology commercialization expert must have an active role in the project.

Please read the solicitation to learn about limits on the activities that the Technology Commercialization Expert can perform using NSF-funded time and effort.

PFI-RP proposals must include an Industrial Partner Co-PI who is a member or employee of the required Industrial Partner organization. PFI-RP proposals without an Industrial Partner Co-PI may be returned without review.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI

A PI or co-PI may submit up to two (2) proposals to each solicitation deadline. These could be two (2) proposals to PFI-TT or one (1) proposal each to PFI-TT and PFI-RP, subject to the organizational limits described above. A PI or co-PI will not receive more than one (1) award per solicitation deadline.

PIs with currently active PFI awards are requested to complete their then-current project before submitting a new PFI proposal. Any duplicate, substantially similar or equivalent proposal submitted concurrently for review to the solicitation will be returned without review.

A PI or co-PI may resubmit a proposal that was previously declined under a previous PFI solicitation or under a previous submission deadline in this solicitation; however, the new proposal must be significantly improved and be responsive to the major comments or concerns resulting from the prior NSF review. A resubmission must include a supplemental document that includes the previous proposal number, a summary of the NSF reviewers’ comments and the PI's response to those comments (see Section V.A.J. of the solicitation). The revised proposal will be subject to a new NSF merit review.

NSF lineage requirement

Not all academic innovation projects are eligible for PFI. All proposals submitted to the PFI program must meet a lineage requirement under one of the following two paths.

1. NSF-supported research results in all fields of science and engineering:
Principal Investigator (PI) or a co-PI must have had an NSF award that ended no more than seven (7) years prior to the full proposal deadline date or be a current NSF award recipient. The proposed technology development project must be derived from the research results and/or discoveries from this underlying NSF award.

2. NSF-supported customer discovery results through the NSF I-Corps™ Teams program.
The Principal Investigator (PI) or a co-PI must have been a member of an award under the NSF I-Corps™ Teams Program. The PI or co-PI must have fully completed the training provided under the I-Corps Team award within the past four (4) years. The customer discovery activities performed under the NSF-funded I-Corps award must be based on the technology that is proposed to be translated within the PFI proposal.

The following programs do not meet the NSF lineage requirement: the I-Corps™ Nodes award, training at an NSF I-Corps Site, any I-Corps-related training imparted by federal agencies or organizations other than NSF, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Research Experiences for Teachers (RET), the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR), and any prior PFI award.

The NSF lineage requirement does not apply to the resubmission of proposals that were previously submitted and declined under the PFI-RP track of the previous PFI solicitation NSF 18-511.