NSF Programs

With an annual budget of $8.5 billion (FY 2021), the National Science Foundation (NSF) is the funding source for approximately 25 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

The NSF Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) has three tracks:

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU program. Undergraduate student participants in either REU Sites or REU Supplements must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States. An REU Site may be at either a US or foreign location.

By using the web page, Search for an REU Site, you may examine opportunities in the subject areas supported by various NSF units. Also, you may search by keywords to identify sites in particular research areas or with certain features, such as a particular location.

Since 1987, the REU program has supported students to conduct intensive, authentic research in any of the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics normally funded by NSF. Approximately 6,000 college and university students participate in REU sites every year, mentored by faculty members and other senior researchers. New REU sites are established based on NSF’s review of proposals submitted to an annual competition.

Major Research Instrumentation (MRI)

The NSF MRI program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training. An MRI proposal may request up to $4 million for either acquisition or development of a research instrument.

An MRI town hall video is now available. On December 7 and 8, the NSF held two virtual townhall meetings to present the Major Research Instrumentation Program, changes to the solicitation, and to respond to questions from the research community. This is a recording of one of those meetings.

Four NSF Technology Translation Programs

Following are four NSF programs that can help accelerate your cross-cutting research, bring your innovations to market, and improve societal well-being.

NSF I-Corps Program

Several EPSCoR researchers have participated in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program to evaluate the commercial potential of their innovation and have gone on to start businesses to pursue development. In Fall 2022, NSF announced a $14 million grant over five years to establish a multi-institutional Great Plains Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hub that will provide immersive, entrepreneurial training for scientists and engineers with the goal of moving ideas to commercialization. USD biomedical engineering professors Etienne Gnimpieba and Carol Lushbough were awarded an NSF I-Corps Teams Program grant to help transition technology to the marketplace. Funding Amount: $50,000 over six months.

Partnerships for Innovation (PFI)

The NSF Partnerships for Innovation program gives scientists and engineers the opportunity to increase the impact of their NSF-funded research discoveries by developing their technology into a prototype or proof of concept. Funding Amount: PFI Technology Translation projects are funded at up to $250,000 for 18 months; and PFI Research Partnerships projects are funded at up to $550,000 for three years.

America’s Seed Fund

NSF funds hundreds of deep-tech startups annually to accelerate the translation of discoveries into products and services with societal impact through the NSF SBIR/STTR Program. Each startup can receive up to $2 million to support translational research and development. NSF helps teams navigate the earliest stages of technology translation, investing roughly $200 million annually in startups. Funding Amount: Phase I projects are funded at up to $256,000 over six to 12 months; and Phase II projects are funded at up to $1 million over 2 years with opportunities for additional funding.

Convergence Accelerator

The Convergence Accelerator builds upon basic research and discoveries to accelerate solutions toward societal impact. Each funded team comprises researchers, innovators, and other partners from the academic, industry, nonprofit, government and other sectors. This creates a multidisciplinary approach and cross-cutting partnerships to develop a solution to an established problem, from a new perspective. Funding Amount: Phase I projects are funded at up to $750,000 for 12 months; and Phase II projects are funded at up to $5 million over 2 years.