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Limited Submission Internal Deadline: NSF Partnerships for Innovation (PFI)

May 23, 2022 @ 5:00 pm

Limited Submissions: Internal Call for Proposals 

NSF Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) 

UNC Internal Deadline: 11:59PM, Monday, May 23, 2022 



*Please distribute to relevant faculty* 

Key Dates

UNC Internal Deadline: 11:59PM, Monday, May 23, 2022

NSF Full Proposal Deadline: July 13, 2022 

Important Information

  • Number of Applications per Institution: There is no limit on the number of PFI-TT proposals an organization may submit to a deadline of this solicitation. However, an organization may not submit more than one (1) new or resubmitted PFI-RP proposal to a deadline of this solicitation.  
  • WEBINARS: Webinars will be held to answer questions about the solicitation. Registration will be available on the NSF Partnerships for Innovation website ( Potential proposers and their partners are encouraged to attend.  

Award Information 

PFI-RP projects will be funded for up to $550,000 for 36 months. Approximately 10-15 awards are anticipated.  Please carefully review the current NSF solicitation as there are significant programmatic changes since the prior PFI call.

To Apply

Submit the following via LAMSeS by 11:59PM, Monday, May 23, 2022.

  1. PI/ Team members NSF-formatted biosketch
  2. Project Summary + Project Track Confirmation + Industrial Partner (four-page maximum)
  3. List of potential collaborators (internal and external to UNC) 
  4. Names of three internal (to UNC) experts who could speak knowledgeably about the candidate’s research and who could potentially serve on an internal review panel. 
    • Please do not include the names of faculty named on the project, chairs, deans, directors, direct reports, or others who have a conflict of interest
    • Please notify all potential internal reviewers before submitting the pre-proposal packet to ORD

Program Description 

The Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Program within the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) offers researchers from all disciplines of science and engineering funded by NSF the opportunity to perform translational research and technology development, catalyze partnerships and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for societal benefit.

PFI has five broad goals:  

  1. Identifying and supporting NSF-sponsored research and technologies that have the potential for accelerated commercialization;
  2. Supporting prior or current NSF-sponsored investigators, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations that partner with an institution of higher education in undertaking proof-of-concept work, including the development of technology prototypes that are derived from NSF-sponsored research and have potential market value;
  3. Promoting sustainable partnerships between NSF-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. Providing professional development, mentoring, and advice in entrepreneurship, project management, and technology and business development to innovators.

The Research Partnerships (PFI-RP) track seeks to achieve the same goals as the PFI-TT track by supporting instead complex, multi-faceted technology development projects that are typically beyond the scope of a single researcher or institution and require a multi-organizational, interdisciplinary, synergistic collaboration. A PFI-RP project requires the creation of partnerships between academic researchers and third-party organizations such as industry, non-academic research organizations, federal laboratories, public or non-profit technology transfer organizations or other universities. Such partnerships are needed to conduct applied research on a stand-alone larger project toward commercialization and societal impact. In the absence of such synergistic partnership, the project’s likelihood for success would be minimal. PFI-RP proposals require a minimum of one (1) Industrial Partner. This partner (i.e., either a for-profit or not- for-profit entity that fulfills the minimum requirement) must be U.S.-based and have an established record of commercial revenues that include sales, services, or licensing. 

The intended outcome of the track is:  

  1. The commercialization of new intellectual property derived from NSF-funded research outputs;
  2. The creation of new or broader collaborations with industry (including increased corporate sponsored research);
  3. The licensing of NSF-funded research outputs to third party corporations or to start-up companies funded by a PFI team; and d) the training of future innovation and entrepreneurship leaders.


NSF Lineage Requirement: All proposals submitted to the PFI program must meet a lineage requirement under one of the following two paths: (1) NSF-supported research results, or (2) NSF-supported customer discovery results through the NSF I-Corps Teams Program.


  1. NSF-supported research results in all fields of science and engineering: Principal Investigator (PI) or a co-PI must have had an NSF award that ended no more than seven (7) years prior to the full proposal deadline date or be a current NSF award recipient. The proposed technology development project must be derived from the research results and/or discoveries from this underlying NSF award.


  1. NSF-supported customer discovery results through the NSF I-Corps TeamsProgram. The Principal Investigator (PI) or a co-PI must have been a member of an award under the NSF I-Corps Teams Program ( The PI or co-PI must have fully completed the training provided under the I-Corps Team award within the past four (4) years. The customer discovery activities performed under the NSF-funded I-Corps award must be based on the technology that is proposed to be translated within the PFI proposal.



Proposals that pursue the following activities are not responsive to this solicitation and may be returned without review: basic research projects that do not involve technology translation and development activity; clinical trials, clinical efficacy or safety studies, development or validation of pre-clinical or clinical-stage drug candidates, medical devices or information technologies, or activities performed for regulatory purposes; commercial activities such as marketing, sales, corporate or business development, fundraising, intellectual property or regulatory work; straightforward engineering work; incremental development of existing products; or evolutionary modifications to broaden the scope of existing products or applications.


Internal Review Criteria 

All PFI proposals must address the following five elements. Please view the NSF solicitation for additional details.

  1. Technology Development
  2. Demonstration of Commercialization Potential
  3. Partnerships
  4. Education and Leadership Development in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  5. Broadening Participation

Additional Information 

Full solicitation:

Please contact the Limited Submissions Team with questions at





Limited Submissions Team

Office of Research Development

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



May 23, 2022
5:00 pm