(CLOSED) NSF Engines Builder Platform

Sponsor Name: 
NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP)
Description of the Award: 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) launched the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program in May 2022 to spur the development of inclusive and diverse innovation ecosystems across the country, with an intentional focus on regions that have not fully participated in the tech boom of the past several decades. To learn more about the NSF Engines program, please refer to the Broad Agency Announcement and the NSF Engines resources page. Many NSF Engines awardees are expected to come from regions with early-stage capacity, capital, and entrepreneurial expertise, which may require awardees to build these invaluable support mechanisms and networks from scratch.

To achieve the ambitious goals of the NSF Engines program, NSF recognizes the need to do more than deploy capital into NSF Engines communities. As such, NSF is seeking to develop the NSF Engines Builder Platform (called “Builder Platform” hereafter) that will be directly informed by the needs of the NSF Engines awardees. The Builder Platform will be responsible for providing the tailored support structures, networks, learning opportunities, and services needed by and vital to the growth of individual NSF Engines. The Builder Platform should connect NSF Engines awardees to talent, resources, and networks nimbly, moving at the pace of a startup. NSF is looking for an innovative, operationally-minded organization(s) who can develop the necessary infrastructure, partnerships, curricula, and networks that align with the NSF Engines programmatic vision and goals.

From a tactical perspective, NSF seeks one or more organization(s) who can develop and run the operational infrastructure, manage the day-to-day activities of the Builder Platform, serve as the main point of contact for NSF Engines awardees for this type of support, coalesce the key constituents and networks to support awardees, and be a thought partner with the NSF Engines leadership in developing the strategy and roadmap of the Builder Platform offering. NSF intends to build a dedicated team in-house that would work closely with the external lead organization and co-create these strategies with the selected organization(s).

In its end state, NSF expects that the Builder Platform will create a set of resources and an accompanying engaged and expanding community. The Builder Platform will connect awardees to the curated talent, capital, networks, and resources they need to thrive during and beyond their award periods. What is needed to achieve those goals will evolve over time as Type-1 and Type-2 NSF Engines awardees enter the cohort, mature over time, and new awardees join future cohort(s). Together, the NSF Engines and the Builder Platform will produce a new model that empowers awardees to thrive and drives long-term economic impact in emerging innovation ecosystems.

Scope or Mission:
The Builder Platform team will support the full portfolio of Type-1 and Type-2 NSF Engine awardees. The NSF Engines BAA notes that NSF would make up to 50 Type-1 awardees and up to five Type-2 awardees in the first phase of the program. It is expected that there will be activities and offerings that are curated to awardees at different stages of maturity (Type-1 vs. Type-2). The organization(s) developing the Builder Platform offerings will provide tailored and hands-on support to both Type-1 awardees, who are laying the groundwork to become NSF Engines in the future, and Type-2 awardees, who are primed to stand up and scale their regional innovation ecosystems over 10-year award periods as NSF Engines. To learn more about the potential pool of Type-1 and Type-2 awardees, the concept outlines submitted in June 2022 are available here. The goal of the Builder Platform effort is to support awardees’ growth and help set up their geographic regions of service for long-term success.

NSF’s Definition of Platform: the “platform” is a human-centered, high-touch support network for NSF Engines awardees. The Platform team comprises individuals who connect NSF Engines awardees, in a heavily curated manner, with the talent, knowledge, resources, and communities they need to excel. “Platform,” as used throughout this solicitation, should not be mistaken for a technology platform, website, and/or data analysis technology; instead, it should be viewed as a holistic, high-touch effort to connect and train emerging innovation ecosystem builders, namely NSF’s cohorts of Type-1 and Type-2 awardees.

NSF is especially interested in organizations with experience in supporting/partnering with:

  • Early-stage entrepreneurial ecosystems.
  • Startup and venture studios.
  • State, local and tribal governments or economic development and workforce development agencies.
  • Organizations focused on translating cutting edge, use-inspired research.
  • Community-based organizations.

Organizations that have helped entities, such as those listed above, to build their networks, develop cross-sector partnerships, and quickly and sustainably scale are encouraged to apply.

Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jun 12, 2023
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

If you intend to submit complete the notification form to provide your contact information and the title and brief description of your project.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OSVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Monday, May 8, 2023 - 4:00pm
For help or questions: 

Questions concerning the limited submissions process may be submitted to limitedsubs@psu.edu.

Mahmut Kandemir (CoE)