In what the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI) describes as a move “breaking with tradition,” the National Science Foundation (NSF) has for the first time ever released application data before it formally accepts applications for the agency’s new “Regional Innovation Engines” program that will provide up to $160 million of funding for up to 10 years to establish each regional-scale innovation ecosystem Engine.
NSF received nearly 700 concept outlines, and those have been published to help submitters who are preparing proposals with the belief that the applications and subsequent Engines will be strengthened if applicants are able to find one another and collaborate. According to the Tennessee specific data contained in this NSF map, nine entities in the Volunteer State submitted concept outlines. Five of the nine were submitted by higher education institutions – two University of Tennessee campuses (Chattanooga and Knoxville), University of Memphis, Tennessee Technological University, and Vanderbilt University. The other four came from Memphis-based AgLaunch, two other Chattanooga organizations (The Enterprise Center and Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority), and Fathom, a Nashville-based public benefit corporation.
As noted in this May teknovation.biz article, there are two types of proposals.
- Type-1, described as development awards that provide seed funding to enable awardees to lay the groundwork for establishing a new NSF Engine, with the goal of catalyzing an innovation ecosystem for a specific topic area. Type-1 awards are intended to allow teams to prepare for the submission of a successful Type-2 proposal. The duration of a Type-1 award is up to 24 months, with a maximum proposed budget of $1 million.
- Type-2, which are intended to support awardees representing a geographical region of service that are primed to stand up a regional innovation ecosystem. Type-2 awards provide funding for up to 10 years, with a total maximum budget of $160 million.
According to the NSF posting, only the University of Memphis and Tennessee Tech are seeking Type-2 awards. All of the other concept outlines appear to be Type-1 requests or are at least classified that way.