NSF-20-604: National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes
Slots: 2 per organization. In addition, an individual may be designated as senior personnel (which includes but is not limited to PI or co-PI) on at most one project team submitting to this solicitation. (Note: The senior personnel limitation above is NSF’s limitation for full proposals, and does not apply to materials submitted to the Office of Research.)
Internal Deadline: Contact the Office of Research if interested.
LOI: Not required.
External Deadline: December 4, 2020
Award Information: Type: Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: 8
Anticipated Amount: $128,000,000 to $160,000,000. Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.
Link to Award: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2020/nsf20604/nsf20604.htm
- A 1-2 page NSF-style Project Summary including the list of PIs, co-PIs, and planned collaborating institutions.
- PI’s short-version CV (ideally the 2-page NSF biosketch)
Who May Serve as PI: There are no restrictions or limits.
Purpose: The National AI Research Institutes program – a joint effort of NSF, USDA-NIFA, DHS S&T, DOT FHWA, and several industry partners – will fund Institutes comprising scientists, engineers, and educators united by a common focus on advancing the research frontiers in AI. AI Research Institutes will have as their primary focus the advancement of multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder research on larger-scale, longer-time-horizon challenges in AI research than are supported in typical research grants. They will accelerate the development of transformational technologies by grounding that research in critical application sectors that can serve as motivation for foundational research advances and provide opportunities for the effective fielding of AI-powered innovation.
In this round of Institutes, proposals are being solicited in the following high-priority areas. Submissions MUST have as a principal focus one or more of the following themes. It is advisable that a proposal address multiple themes only in cases where significant activity is planned in the six desiderata for Institutes for each theme addressed. The themes are:
- Human-AI Interaction and Collaboration
- AI Institute for Advances in Optimization
- AI and Advanced Cyberinfrastructure
- Advances in AI and Computer and Network Systems
- AI Institute in Dynamic Systems
- AI-Augmented Learning
- AI to Advance Biology
- AI-Driven Innovation in Agriculture and the Food System
For more information about each theme, visit the NSF award link above.
Scope of Research: The vision of the National AI Research Institutes program is broad and ambitious. It is expected that each AI Research Institute will pursue this vision in ways that are uniquely suited to its selected research focus, facilities, collaborations, and other unique circumstances. Proposers are encouraged to convey the unique qualities of the proposed Institute, while addressing the following desiderata common to all AI Research Institutes proposed to this program:
- AI Research Institutes advance foundational AI research that will have broad and lasting impact, adding significant new knowledge and understanding to the disciplinary areas associated with the definition of AI specified above. Institutes aimed at advancing established AI lines of research should demonstrate the potential to radically advance these areas beyond the state of the art. Institutes might also address new foundational AI research priorities that arise from rapid advances in AI and the increasing ubiquity of AI-enabled technology. These lines of research should be grounded in and integrated with broader foundational theories, paradigms, and architectures for computing and communication.
- AI Research Institutes conduct use-inspired research that both informs foundational AI advances and drives innovations in related sectors of science and engineering, segments of the economy, or societal needs. Effective use-inspired research achieves synergy among a group of researchers to enable transformative advances in AI, related sectors, and the interfaces between these areas. This dimension of an AI Research Institute will feature clear and compelling goals to advance AI and to accelerate the fielding of AI-powered innovation; it also enhances the transfer of knowledge through the meaningful exchange of scientific and technical information with external stakeholders such as industrial partners, public policy-makers, or international organizations, as well as with the broader scientific and education community. Through use-inspired research, Institutes have the potential to create and share new community infrastructure, including data and software, to further research, promote reproducibility, and support education.
- AI Research Institutes actively build the next generation of talent for a diverse, well-trained workforce. Specifically, AI Research Institutes should leverage the visionary nature of their research foci to drive new and innovative education and development tailored toward the Nation’s undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers, as well as through community colleges and skilled technical workforce training and other opportunities that advance knowledge and education of AI, including public understanding of AI. This could include innovative pedagogy and instructional materials, advanced learning technologies, project-driven training, cross-disciplinary and collaborative research, industry partnerships, and new career pathways. Institutes should offer broad, deep, and diverse experiences to build the next generation of the AI workforce, with a focus on broadening participation among the full range of groups traditionally under-represented in science and engineering. AI Research Institutes should maximize their unique position to grow the next generation of talent that will provide new discoveries and leadership.
- AI Research Institutes are coherent multidisciplinary groups of scientists, engineers and educators appropriate for a large-scale, long-term research agenda for the advancement of AI and the fielding of AI-powered innovation in application sectors of national importance. The multidisciplinary nature of these Institutes will catalyze foresight and adaptability beyond what is possible in single research projects.
- Each Institute will be comprised of multiple organizations working together to create significant new research capabilities. NSF and partner organizations seek to grow the network of National AI Research Institutes in lead organizations distributed throughout the country to grow new centers of AI leadership and leveraging existing centers of excellence as appropriate. Institutes are strongly encouraged to include organizations that can directly contribute to NSF’s commitment to broadening participation by engaging a diverse, globally engaged research community, integrating research with education and building capacity, and expanding efforts to broaden participation from underrepresented groups and diverse institutions across all geographical regions. Participants should be meaningfully integrated into a diverse Institute that is more than just the sum of the parts. Each Institute will have a lead PI with demonstrated vision, experience, and capacity to manage a complex, multi-faceted, and innovative enterprise that integrates research, education, broadening participation, and knowledge transfer. Each Institute will also be staffed with a Managing Director or Project Manager (distinct from the lead PI) and a suitable Management Team to oversee the operations of the Institute. An External Advisory Board is required for all AI Research Institutes. (Potential Advisory Board members should not be approached or identified until the Institute is funded.)
- AI Research Institutes are nexus points for collaborative efforts, creating an organization that encourages the continuing growth of collaborations with external partners to bring together people, ideas, problems, and technical approaches for maximum impact. As nexus points, Institutes have the potential to bring together the best teams and approaches from institutions of higher education, federal agencies, industry, and nonprofits/foundations. They promote organizational collaborations and linkages within and between campuses, schools, and the world beyond, and further the Institute’s mission to broaden participation in research, education, and knowledge transfer activities through a network of partners and affiliates.
Budgetary Requirements: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.