On March 11th, President Biden signed into law the FY2022 Omnibus bill that gave the National Science Foundation (NSF) $8.84 billion, an increase of $350 million over last year, or 4.1 percent. The Research and Related Activities account that hosts NSF’s research portfolio will receive $7.2 billion for FY22, an increase of 4.2 percent. No dollar amount is given in the bill for establishing the Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP), however, in the explanatory statements for Division B that cover NSF, the appropriators give the agency the greenlight to spend money on new initiatives within the new TIP Directorate. It explicitly encourages NSF to fund at least one Regional Innovation Accelerator this fiscal year, ending in September. NSF had requested $865 million for FY22 to establish the TIP Directorate: $335 million for its Innovations Ecosystems (IE) programs, $50 million for its Partnerships Office (PO), $150 million for its Technology Frontiers (TF) programs, and $329.87 million for its Translational Impact (TI) programs.
FY23 Budget Proposal
For FY2023, President Biden’s budget includes $10.5 billion for NSF. Highlights include:
- $1.5 billion will fund a research related to climate science and clean energy, including research on atmospheric composition, water and carbon cycles, modeling climate systems, renewable energy technologies, materials sciences, the impacts of global change on the Arctic region, and social, behavioral and economic research on human responses to climate change.
- $393 million will fund programs that aim to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in science and engineering, including existing programs at historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. An additional $247 million is provided to support EPSCoR jurisdictions. Programs will focus on designing curriculums; researching successful recruitment and retention methods; developing outreach or mentorship programs and fellowships; and improving science and engineering research and education capacity.
- $880 million will expand the new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships within NSF to help translate research into practical applications. The directorate will work with programs across NSF and with other federal and non-federal entities to expedite technology development in emerging areas crucial for U.S. technological leadership. An additional $2.1 billion will support investments in emerging industries, focused on priority areas such as advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, AI, biotechnology, microelectronics, semiconductors and quantum information science.
- $187 million will fund the construction of major NSF research facilities, including long-term upgrades of NSF's major Antarctic infrastructure. In addition, the budget request seeks funding for the construction and procurement of mid-scale research facilities and equipment across the nation.
- $473 million will support essential services that NSF needs to carry out its mission, including a growing research science and security framework vital to the nation's science and technology enterprise.
Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships
NSF recently established TIP, its first new directorate in 30 years. It is led by Assistant Director Dr. Erwin Gianchandani, who served as the senior adviser for Translation, Innovation and Partnerships at NSF, as well as the deputy assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Graciela Narcho is the Deputy Assistant Director for TIP, and has worked at the NSF for nearly three decades in a variety of roles including senior leadership, program management, and grants and agreements oversight.
TIP has three main goals: (i) advancing critical, emerging technologies, as well as solutions to national and societal challenges, sustaining and enhancing U.S. competitiveness on a global stage; (ii) accelerating the translation of fundamental discoveries from lab to market, advancing the U.S. economy; and (iii) creating education pathways for every American to pursue new, high-wage, quality jobs, diversifying the U.S. STEM workforce of entrepreneurs, researchers, and practitioners. TIP will invest in NSF Entrepreneurial Fellowships for Ph.D.-trained scientists and engineers to make connections between academic research and government, industry, and finance. These Fellows will receive training to become leaders capable of maturing promising ideas and technologies from lab to market. TIP will include racial equity as a foundational design principle, partnering with other NSF directorates and offices to broaden its participation research portfolio, with the goal of advancing organizational change.
TIP will also launch Regional Innovation Accelerators that tackle use-inspired, solutions-oriented research and innovation in a range of technology areas (e.g., artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, quantum information science) as well as in a diverse set of national-challenge areas (e.g., climate change and biotechnology) of priority to the Administration and Congress. However, due to limited funding in the final appropriations bill, there is only enough funding to start one accelerator, but in time the plan includes establishing 20 centers.
NSF plans to move some of its already existing programs to the TIP Directorate to establish an optimized lab-to-market approach. Among these are its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which will give opportunities for startups and small businesses to undertake high-quality scientific research and development. Also, the NSF’s Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program will provide researchers funded by NSF across all disciplines of science and engineering the opportunity to explicitly enter into partnerships, especially with industry, to accelerate discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for societal benefits. Lastly, I-Corps™ connects NSF-funded science and engineering research with the technological, entrepreneurial, and business communities, linking scientific and engineering discovery with technology development, economic opportunities, and societal needs.