University of Southern California


NSF-19-506: Partnerships for Innovation: PFI-RP Track

Slots:                                                  There is no limit on the number of PFI-TT proposals an organization may submit to a deadline of this solicitation. However, an organization may not submit more than one (1) new or resubmitted PFI-RP proposal to a deadline of this solicitation. This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. If an organization exceeds this limit, 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 of this solicitation.

Internal Deadline:                         March 8, 2019, noon PT

LOI:                                                     N/A      

External Deadline:                         July 10, 2019

Award Information:                       Type: Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 10-15

Anticipated Amount: PFI-RP projects will be funded for up to $550,000 for 36 months. Approximately 10-15 awards are anticipated.

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                      

Who May Serve as PI:                   The PI must have the technical skills required to lead and execute the proposed research project. PFI-RP proposals must include, without exception, a 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.


The technology commercialization expert cannot use NSF-funded time and effort to perform any “Objectives Not Responsive to this Solicitation” listed in Section II.E of this solicitation. However, the expert may participate in any mandatory I-Corps training that will be provided during the term of the PFI award. Additional collaborators or organizations that bring needed multidisciplinary expertise or commercialization experience may be involved as co-PI, Senior Personnel, Other Professional, subawardee, consultant, etc.


NSF Lineage Requirement: All proposals submitted to the PFI program must meet a lineage requirement under one of the following two paths: (1) NSF-supported research results, or (2) NSF-supported customer discovery results through the NSF I-Corps Teams Program.

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), 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.

In 2016, NSF unveiled a set of “Big Ideas” — 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering ( The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge — indeed to define that cutting edge — of global science and engineering leadership, and this will require collaborations among academe, industry, and public and private institutions. The PFI program strongly encourages projects with NSF Lineage aligned with one or more of the 10 Big Ideas.


The Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Program within the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) offers researchers from all disciplines of science and engineering funded by NSF the opportunity to perform translational research and technology development, catalyze partnerships and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for societal benefit.

PFI has five broad goals, as set forth by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017 (“the Act”, S.3084 — 114th Congress; Sec. 602. Translational Research Grants): (1) identifying and supporting NSF-sponsored research and technologies that have the potential for accelerated commercialization; (2) supporting prior or current NSF-sponsored investigators, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations that partner with an institution of higher education in undertaking proof-of-concept work, including the development of technology prototypes that are derived from NSF-sponsored research and have potential market value; (3) promoting sustainable partnerships between NSF-funded institutions, industry, and other organizations within academia and the private sector with the purpose of accelerating the transfer of technology; (4) developing multi-disciplinary innovation ecosystems which involve and are responsive to the specific needs of academia and industry; (5) providing professional development, mentoring, and advice in entrepreneurship, project management, and technology and business development to innovators.

The Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) track seeks to achieve the same goals as the PFI-TT track by supporting instead complex, multi-faceted technology development projects that are typically beyond the scope of a single researcher or institution and require a multi-organizational, interdisciplinary, synergistic collaboration. A PFI-RP project requires the creation of partnerships between academic researchers and third-party organizations such as industry, non-academic research organizations, federal laboratories, public or non-profit technology transfer organizations or other universities. Such partnerships are needed to conduct applied research on a stand-alone larger project toward commercialization and societal impact. In the absence of such synergistic partnership, the project’s likelihood for success would be minimal.

The intended outcoms of the PFI-RP track is: a) the commercialization of new intellectual property derived from NSF-funded research outputs; b) the creation of new or broader collaborations with industry (including increased corporate sponsored research); c) the licensing of NSF-funded research outputs to third party corporations or to start-up companies funded by a PFI team; and d) the training of future innovation and entrepreneurship leaders.


Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.