Institute Proposals Due Date: January 28, 2020

Planning Proposals Due Date: January 30, 2020

  • Proposal: 01/28/2020


  • Amount: $500,000 - $20M
  • Duration: 2-5 years


The National AI Research Institutes program – a joint effort of NSF, USDA-NIFA, DHS S&T, DOT FHWA, and the VA – 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.

This program solicitation describes two tracks: Planning and Institute tracks.

Planning Track: This track will support planning grants for durations of up to two years, and for up to a total of $500,000 to enable teams to develop communities and capacity for full Institute operations through diverse and sustained activities. While novel approaches are encouraged, it is anticipated that such planning activities might include workshops, development of partnerships, preliminary research and analysis, and engagement of stakeholders most appropriate for the Institute vision. These activities may also include exploratory collaborative research needed to demonstrate a basis of confidence for new convergent approaches central to the Institute vision.

Submissions to the Planning track are encouraged in any areas of foundational and use-inspired research appropriate to this solicitation, NSF, and partner organizations. This includes Planning proposals targeting the specific themes noted for the Institute track. Future solicitations in AI Research Institutes are expected to provide an opportunity for the submission of full institute proposals stemming from, but not limited to, these planning activities.

Institute Track: This track will support cooperative agreements of between $16,000,000 and $20,000,000 for between four and five years (up to $4,000,000 per year). Institute proposals must convey clear and concrete plans for foundational AI research, use-inspired motivation and technology transition opportunities, the education and workforce development activities to be undertaken, and plans for multidisciplinary research community building appropriate to the proposed Institute’s vision and mission.

In this first year of the program, Institute track proposals are being solicited in six high-priority areas. These themes represent a subset of research areas that NSF supports, and future solicitations may target additional themes or even invite Institute proposals in areas not specifically called out, or offer open tracks. Future solicitations may continue the use of such themes (in these and other areas), invite unrestricted proposals for institutes, or both.

Submissions to the Institute track MUST have as a principal focus one or more of the following themes:

  • Trustworthy AI;
  • Foundations of Machine Learning;
  • AI-Driven Innovation in Agriculture and the Food System;
  • AI-Augmented Learning;
  • AI for Accelerating Molecular Synthesis and Manufacturing; and
  • AI for Discovery in Physics.

Eligibility & Submission Requirements

An individual may be designated as senior personnel on no more than TWO project teams submitting to this solicitation. 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 the Institute track.

Contact Information

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.