Funding agency: 
National Science Foundation

The Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program within the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers researchers the opportunity to transform new knowledge into societal benefits through translational research and technology development efforts. These efforts catalyze partnerships that are expected to accelerate the commercialization of innovations that address significant societal needs.

 PFI has six broad goals:

  1.  identifying and supporting Foundation-sponsored research and technologies that have the potential for accelerated commercialization;
  2. supporting prior or current Foundation-sponsored researchers, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations that partner with an institution of higher education to undertake proof-of-concept work, including the development of technology prototypes that are derived from NSF-funded research and have potential market value;
  3. promoting sustainable partnerships between Foundation-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. catalyzing professional development activities, mentoring, and best practices in entrepreneurship and technology translation for faculty, students and researchers; and 
  6. expanding the participation of women and individuals from underrepresented groups in innovation, technology translation, and entrepreneurship. 

A new PFI solicitation (NSF 18-511) has been published and it is available here:

This solicitation offers two broad tracks for proposals in pursuit of the six aforementioned goals.

The Technology Translation (PFI-TT) track offers an NSF-funded researcher the opportunity to advance his or her prior NSF-funded research results towards developing technological innovations with promising commercial potential and societal impact. Projects are supported to demonstrate proof-of-concept, prototype, or technology development and scale-up while exposing faculty and students (and engaging them in) in innovation and entrepreneurially-focused activities that could possibly lead to partnership opportunities, the creation of new intellectual property and technologically-driven commercialization outcomes that address societal needs. Potential pathways forward within the PFI-TT track could be broader collaborative activities and partnerships, technology licensing, technology spin-outs, and expanded entrepreneurial activity.

The Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) track provides an opportunity to support technology development activities through a multi-organization collaboration. NSF recognizes that interdisciplinary collaboration is often needed to achieve successful technology development. This proposal track supports a research consortium ecosystem focused on a clear project thrust. It allows for partnerships between academic researchers and a variety of third-party organizations (such as industry, non-academic research organizations, federal laboratories, public or non-profit technology transfer organizations, and/or other universities) to conduct applied research in highly collaborative, multidisciplinary teams, on problems typically beyond the reach of a single researcher. NSF currently supports numerous research consortia (e.g., Engineering Research Centers, Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers, Science and Technology Centers, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers, Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, Centers for Chemical Innovation, and others). Such consortia could participate in PFI-RP proposals. The goal of the RP track is to catalyze robust and synergistic partnerships and collaborations between government, academia, and other public and private entities to drive and accelerate the translation of federally-funded fundamental research results into innovations that, through technology development and commercialization, will have a significant economic and societal impact.

The cognizant Program Officers of the PFI program are: 

 Please contact either of them if you have further questions regarding this funding opportunity.

February 1, 2018
Funding type: