NSF AI Research Institutes - Information & Advice

UPDATE November 2, 2021

NSF recently released the new National AI Research Institutes (NAIRI) solicitation.

  • Like last year, this opportunity is a limited submission - see here for UC Berkeley's limited submissions CALmessages announcement.
  • BRDO held an Info-Session on November 2, 2021, regarding this opportunity. Here is the link to the presentation slides and the recording is linked here.
  • NSF's deadline for preliminary proposals (required) is January 14, 2022. Full proposals are due May 13, 2022.
  • NSF will hold an informational webinar on November 16, 2021. 

Please see NSF's award announcements from 2020 and 2021 for previous rounds of the NAIRI competition.

Note: This page is being updated with information and resources for the new competition as they become available.


NSF National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes: Research, Transforming Society, and Growing the American Workforce has primary focus on the advancement of multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, multi-stakeholder research on large-scale, longer-time-horizon challenges in AI research.

  • NSF information on program objectives, expected institute characteristics, and proposal requirements:
  • UCB may serve as the lead institution on only TWO proposals. There is no institutional limit on the number of proposals UCB can participate in as a non-lead, but an individual may serve as senior personnel on only ONE proposal.
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
    • FAQs for the current round of competition may be found here.
    • FAQs for the 2020 round of competition may be found here.

Highlights from the solicitation

  • Institute awards are for $4M/year for 4 or 5 years.
  • Deadline for preliminary proposals by selected teams is January 14, 2022.
  • An industry partner company is not permitted to participate in proposals to the theme(s) in which it is a funding partner. Specific to this year's competition, that means that IBM is not permitted to participate in any way as a collaborator (funded or unfunded) in a proposal to Theme 1.
  • Proposals must address one or more of the following themes, as defined in the solicitation:
    • Theme 1: Intelligent Agents for Next-Generation Cybersecurity
    • Theme 2: Neural and Cognitive Foundations of Artificial Intelligence
    • Theme 3: AI for Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry
    • Theme 4: AI for Decision making
    • Theme 5: Trustworthy AI
    • Theme 6: AI-Augmented Learning to Expand Education Opportunities and Improve Outcomes
      • Track A: AI-Driven Digital Platforms to Expand and Accelerate STEM Learning in PreK-12 Settings
      • Track B: AI-Augmented Learning for Individuals with Disabilities
  • Solicitation review criteria specify that the AI research institutes must:
    • Advance foundational AI research
    • Conduct use-inspired research
    • Actively build the next generation of talent
    • Consist of multidisciplinary groups of scientists, engineers and educators
    • Leverage multiple organizations
    • Serve as nexus points for collaborative efforts


BRDO has created a NAIRI proposal outline based on the 2020 solicitation.

Tips for building teams and centers (webpage) – This BRDO page contains information and tips on early planning and preparation for research centers that can be helpful as you plan your AI proposal. Resources listed include:

Tips for Broader Impacts, Education and Broadening Participation (webpage) - These BRDO pages provide an overview of NSF's broader impacts expectations in general (consult solicitation for more program specific requirements), as well as advice and resources to help you create a strong plan.