NSF Regional Innovation Engines BAA

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Considering NSF Engines' high-impact potential and complexity, RIO is institutionally coordinating the submission of concept outlines to NSF. While NSF currently allows more than one concept outline to be submitted, ultimately, CU Boulder may submit only one lead proposal. As such, CU Boulder is administering an internal process with the goal of putting forward the most competitive and strategic proposal possible—either Type 1 or Type 2 later in the year.

Given the importance of partnerships both on campus and regionally, complete this shared spreadsheet with information on your Engines concept to facilitate campus team formation. NSF has compiled this list for regional partners.

Program Summary 

The Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program catalyzes and fosters innovation ecosystems across the U.S. to: 

  • Advance critical technologies;
  • Address national and societal challenges;
  • Foster partnerships across industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society, and communities of practice;
  • Promote and stimulate economic growth and job creation; and
  • Spur regional innovation and talent.

The NSF Engines program is soliciting two different types of proposals: Type-1 and Type-2.

  • Type-1 awards are development awards intended to enable awardees to lay the groundwork for submitting a successful Type-2 proposal to launch a full-scale NSF Engine. Type-1 awardees will need to re-apply independently for a Type-2 award. However, receiving a Type-1 award is not a pre-requisite to apply for a Type-2 award.
  • Type-2 awards are for regions and proposing teams that are prepared to launch an NSF Engine by the expected award date. Applicants are encouraged to review the BAA for guidance on determining the appropriate proposal type for your region.

Funding for this program will prioritize regions across the Nation without well-established innovation ecosystems. Engines in regions of the country where prospective ecosystem members exist, but where innovation activities are only loosely connected, are of particular interest. Centered around a given topic area, each Engine must aim to achieve the following overarching objectives:

  1. Develop, recruit, and maintain a trusted network of partners that work together to create and enhance the capacity for innovation in a region of service, spanning a diversity of sectors and organizational types.
  2. Drive innovation informed by:
    • National, societal, and/or economic challenge(s) that motivates the choice of the topic area for the Engine;
    • The needs of the regional stakeholders; and
    • Limits and gaps in current research, technologies, and industry practices.
  3. Create startups and small businesses and expand existing businesses by the development and advancement of critical technologies and innovations.
  4. Cultivate the regional workforce through the training and education of technicians, researchers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and other community members.
  5. Embody a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) throughout its leadership and activities.
  6. Develop an Engine that can sustain itself beyond the period of the NSF award by:
    • Increasing the level of industrial and commercial investment in research and development (R&D) and workforce development activities within the region of service;
    • Meeting the evolving regional workforce needs; and
    • Developing new revenue streams through the creation of startup ventures, products, and other innovative business models
  7. As the ecosystem matures, intentionally prioritize inclusive economic growth opportunities that create community wealth, including for those stakeholders and residents who do not directly participate in the NSF Engine.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MT June 13, 2022

Type-1 and Type-2 Concept Outlines: 5:00pm June 30, 2022

Type-1 Letters of Intent: 5:00pm August 31, 2022

Type-1 Full Proposals: 5:00pm September 29, 2022

Type-2 Letters of Intent/Full Proposals: TBA – FY 2023

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Proposal Type: Type-1 or Type-2
  • Concept Outline Narrative (2 pages maximum): Please include details on and clearly mark the following sections: 1) topic area; 2) region of service; 3) Engine purpose and vision; and 4) regional importance/impact. For Type-2 only, also include details about workforce development and partnerships.
  • PI Biosketch
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6752/home


The Project Director must be a senior member of the submitting organization’s leadership and will also serve as the full-time CEO for the Engine. At the time of proposal submission, this role may be filled by an interim CEO until a full-time CEO is named or recruited. Designation of a full-time CEO must occur within the first six months of the start date of the award.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Only one proposal is allowed as the lead organization.

Award Information

Type-1: Up to $1,000,000; up to 24 months; 50 awards anticipated

Type-2: Up to $160,000,000; up to 10 years; 5 awards anticipated