NSF Science and Technology Centers (STCs) - Information & Advice
UPDATE November 9, 2021
NSF’s Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships program supports exceptionally innovative, complex research and education projects on a national scale in any area of NSF-supported research. (Awards are up to $6M total costs/year for 5 years, with the possibility for another 5 years.)
- This opportunity is a limited submission - see here for UC Berkeley's limited submissions CALmessages announcement. The campus limited submission deadline is December 6, 10am.
- BRDO held an Info-Session regarding this opportunity on November 9. The slides of the session can be found here and the recording of the session (including the Q&A) will be linked here soon.
- In addition to the limit on campus submissions, please note that an individual serving as PI or co-PI on a proposal may not participate in any other STC proposal to NSF under review at the same time.
- NSF's deadline for preliminary proposals (required) is February 1, 2022. Full proposals (by invitation only) are due August 29, 2022.
Note: This page is being updated with information and resources for the new competition as they become available.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY
The Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships program supports exceptionally innovative, complex research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term awards. STCs focus on creating new scientific paradigms, establishing entirely new scientific disciplines and developing transformative technologies which have the potential for broad scientific or societal impact. STCs conduct world-class research through partnerships among institutions of higher education, national laboratories, industrial organizations, other public or private entities, and via international collaborations, as appropriate. They provide a means to undertake potentially groundbreaking investigations at the interfaces of disciplines and/or highly innovative approaches within disciplines. STCs may involve any area of science and engineering that NSF supports. STC investments support the NSF vision of creating and exploiting new concepts in science and engineering and providing global leadership in research and education.
Centers provide a rich environment for encouraging future scientists, engineers, and educators to take risks in pursuing discoveries and new knowledge. STCs foster excellence in education by integrating education and research, and by creating bonds between learning and inquiry so that discovery and creativity fully support the learning process.
NSF expects STCs to both involve individuals who are members of groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering at all levels within the Center (faculty, staff, students, and postdoctoral researchers) as well as be a leader in broadening participation in STEM. Individuals who may be underrepresented in STEM include those who identify as women, persons with disabilities, Blacks and African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders. The terms for these racial and ethnic populations are derived from the US government's guidance for federal statistics and administrative reporting (OMB Statistical Policy Directive No. 15, Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting). Although these social identities are listed separately, they do not exist in isolation from each other and the intersection of one of more of these social identities may need to be considered when designing plans for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the STC Center. Centers may use either proven, or innovative mechanisms based on the relevant literature, to address issues such as recruitment, retention, success, and career progression of all individuals in the Center.
Centers must undertake activities that facilitate knowledge transfer, i.e., the exchange of scientific and technical information with the objective of disseminating and utilizing knowledge broadly in multiple sectors. Examples of knowledge transfer include technology transfer, providing key information to public policy-makers, or dissemination of knowledge from one field of science to another.
- NSF information on program objectives, expected institute characteristics, and proposal requirements:
- UCB may serve as the lead institution on THREE 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
- NSF has not released official FAQs for the current round of the competition.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SOLICITATION
- Center awards are for $6M/year for 5 years.
- Deadline for preliminary proposals by selected teams is February 1, 2022.
Useful Information from previous rounds of the competition
Outline for a 2019 STC pre-proposal (doc) – This outline was created by BRDO based on the solicitation and NSF review criteria, providing a suggested structure and overview of proposal components to help teams put together complete and compliant pre-proposals to NSF.
Additional information and guidance
The STC program is highly competitive: Previous competitions have attracted ~250 pre-proposals with 40-50 full proposals invited, ~10 proposed centers selected for site visits, and three to five new centers funded.
Analysis of the new STC solicitation (doc) – This analysis by Lewis-Burke Associates highlights key differences compared to the last STC competition. Please note that this analysis is for UC Berkeley only.
Advice from successful NSF centers, relevant to STC pre-proposals (doc) – In this BRDO document, faculty who have led or participated in NSF centers provide their first-hand experiences and insights on the STC competition, center vision, goals, teams, and other concepts essential to an effective STC pre-proposal.
Tips for writing a compelling STC pre-proposal (doc) – In this half-page document, BRDO has compiled tips for crafting a competitive pre-proposal, especially in light of NSF’s increased emphasis on impact and significance at the pre-proposal stage.
Summary profiles of current and past STC centers (2002-2016) (doc) – This overview by BRDO lists the different STCs, their goals, partners and educational activities in one place.
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 write your STC pre-proposal. Resources listed include:
- Annotated presentation on Collaborative Research: Preparing for Centers (ppt) – This BRDO presentation covers key characteristics of a research center; why and when to pursue center funding; and tips for early planning and team-building.
- Notes from the faculty panel discussion on preparing for centers (doc) – This document offers faculty experiences and best practices for bringing a team together and starting the process of collaborative proposal writing, including the importance of team selection and in-person meetings (see especially question 3, on pp. 2-3).