University of Southern California


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:                         

Submission Process:                   Email to Mike Yarsky ( and

  1. A 1-2 page NSF-style Project Summary including the list of PIs, co-PIs, and planned collaborating institutions.
  2. 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:

  1. Human-AI Interaction and Collaboration
  2. AI Institute for Advances in Optimization
  3. AI and Advanced Cyberinfrastructure
  4. Advances in AI and Computer and Network Systems
  5. AI Institute in Dynamic Systems
  6. AI-Augmented Learning
  7. AI to Advance Biology
  8. 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:

Budgetary Requirements:              Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

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