This program is designed to increase the incidence of commercializing innovative unproven technologies in historically underfunded/underrepresented areas. NSF Engines does this by accelerating emerging technologies to drive regional economic growth while addressing key societal challenges in the regions it serves. The program accomplishes this by funding regional coalitions of partnering organizations to establish NSF Engines that will catalyze technology and science-based regional innovation ecosystems. There are two types of proposals Type-1 and Type-2.
Type-1 awards are for Engines that are still in the beginning phases of development. These awards are intended to enable awardees to lay the groundwork for submitting a successful Type-2 proposal to launch a full-scale NSF Engine (think of it as a pre-seed stage in small business terms). The Type-1 awards are for projects that have been designed but not implemented. While the proposal preparation process is similar for both types of proposals, there are several key differences to note when preparing a Type-1 proposal.
One key difference is in proposal length. Unlike a Type-2 proposal’s Project Description, which can be 30 pages, the Project Description for a Type-1 proposal is limited to 15 pages. Similarly, the number of awards will differ greatly, with a maximum of 50 Type-1 awards being granted (compared to up to 5 Type-2). Duration and budget differ as well. The duration of a Type-1 award is up to 24 months, and the maximum proposed budget for each Type-1 award must not exceed $1,000,000 (compared to ten years and $160M for a Type-2). While all concept papers, regardless of the type, were due June 30th, 2022, the due dates for the two subsequent application steps for Type-2 have not yet been published. The due dates for Type 1 are as follows.
- Type-1 Letters of Intent: Due August 31, 2022
- Type-1 Full Proposals: Due September 29, 2022
Merit review criteria
Additional Review Criteria also exist for Type-1 Proposals. In addition to intellectual merit and broader impacts, Type-1 proposals will be evaluated on how well or completely they address the following questions:
- Purpose and Vision: See the guidance for Concept Outlines.
- Regional Importance and Impact: See the guidance for Concept Outlines.
- Leadership Team: Does the proposal provide a reasonable plan for forming a visionary and effective leadership team, including the recruitment of a full-time CEO? Does the proposal describe a well-informed process by which all necessary disciplines, skills, perspectives, and capabilities will be brought together to form an interdependent, multidisciplinary, and diverse leadership team that can work and communicate effectively?
- Partnerships: Is the set of partners identified appropriate for addressing the proposed work? Are the partners relevant to the region and topic of choice, and is their role in the economic development of the region well-described? Does the proposal have an initial set of partners from multiple organizations? Does the proposal clearly define the types of partnerships needed for a Type-1 proposal and identify potential partners for a Type-1 proposal?
- Workforce Development: Does the vision for a workforce development plan address regional needs relevant to the proposed Engine mission? Does the proposed vision promote a well-justified balance in the training of diverse technicians, practitioners, researchers, and entrepreneurs?
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility: How well does the proposal describe the requirement that the Engine should embody diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility throughout all of its activities? Are there clear, measurable goals and metrics specified?
- Risk Identification and Adaptability: How well does the proposal address the opportunities, risks, and the competitive landscape for the proposed Engine, including existing efforts funded under other government programs?