April 22, 2022

The Research & Innovation Office announces an internal process for NSF’s 2022 Gen-4 Engineering Research Centers (ERC).


If you plan to submit to NSF, required notices of intent must be received at rio@colorado.edu by July 11, 2022.

While not institutionally limited in the number of submissions to NSF, RIO is implementing a campus-wide, required notice of intent process to foster cross-campus collaborations with the goal of developing the most competitive and strategic proposals possible. Cost-sharing is required; see details below under Award Information.

Below is a summary assembled by RIO. Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Summary of the ERC program

The ERC program supports convergent research (CR) that will lead to strong societal impact. Each ERC has interacting foundational components that go beyond the proposed research, including engineering workforce development (EWD) at all participant stages, diversity and a culture of inclusion (DCI) where all participants gain mutual benefit, and value creation within an innovation ecosystem (IE) that will outlast the lifetime of the ERC.  

Required Internal Notice of Intent and Guidance

The required notice of intent should include the following, all in PDF format, and be emailed to rio@colorado.edu by July 11, 2022.

  • Tentative project title;
  • List of participants including ERC Director and/or Lead PI; anticipated non-lead PIs; and anticipated core partner universities;
  • 1-page project synopsis reflecting 1) the vision and goals of the ERC; 2) its potential for societal impact; 3) an integrated plan for the Center; and 4) an overview of the research program, such as research thrust titles, goals, and fundamental gaps or barriers in knowledge/technology that it meets;
  • An ERC 3-Plane Strategic Planning Chart for your proposed engineered system concept; template is here;
  • Basic budget overview.

The following questions may be helpful when crafting the required notice of intent:

  • What are the compelling new ideas and what is the potential for high societal impact?
  • What is the engineered system? Is it high-risk but high payoff?
  • How do the proposed center's research benchmarks against the state of the art?
  • Why is an ERC necessary to tackle the idea?
  • What is the proposed management structure for the ERC? How will the ERC's infrastructure integrate and implement the four foundational components (CR, EWD, DCI, and IE) and foster the desired team formation?
  • What are the proposed strategies for engaging and developing the appropriate stakeholder community?
  • Does the proposed ERC create an inclusive environment where all the ERC participants learn to work on a team towards a common goal?


  • CU Required Internal Notice of Intent Deadline: July 11, 2022 @ 11:59 p.m. MT
  • NSF Letter of Intent Deadline: September 2, 2022 @ 3 p.m. MT
  • NSF Preliminary Proposal Deadline: October 3, 2022 @ 3 p.m. MT
  • NSF Full Proposal Deadline (by invitation only): May 8, 2023 @ 3 p.m. MT


The Lead PI must be a faculty member at the lead university. Non-Lead PIs are the co-PIs listed on the Cover Sheet after the Lead PI and may be from institutions other than the lead university. In order to provide more flexibility for the Center's management, the Lead PI and the ERC Director are not required to be the same person, however, both must be affiliated with the lead institution.

Full Proposals may be submitted only by invitation and only by the lead university designated in the preliminary proposal.

Award Information and Cost Sharing

  • Estimated Number of Awards: 1-6
    • Initial awards are generally for the first five years, with a second award based on performance and review of a renewal proposal.

The maximum annual budget allowed is as follows:

  • Year 1: $3.5M
  • Year 2: $4.5M
  • Year 3: $6M
  • Year 4: $6M
  • Year 5: $6M

Cost sharing is not a review criterion for the ERCs; it is an eligibility criterion. Because cost sharing is not a review criterion, details on cost sharing will not be shared with the reviewers.

Upon issuance of the award, the lead university is responsible to secure, retain, manage, and certify to NSF the ERC cost sharing (cash and in-kind), at the level stated in the cooperative agreement. The total level of cost sharing proposed must be calculated using the "Cost Sharing Formula" in the solicitation. The lead university is responsible for the entire amount; however, cost sharing also can include contributions by any or all of the core partner universities.

 Note: The required cost sharing level is 20% of the allocation of the NSF budget to the lead or core partner university.

Additional Background Materials