NSF Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships

Please see the full solicitation (linked above) for complete information about the funding opportunity. Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Note the letter of intent requirement detailed below.

Program Summary 

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.

All STCs must:

  • Be directed by a faculty member with experience in leading research teams;
  • Be focused on exceptionally innovative, complex research and education projects that require large-scale, long-term funding;
  • Be based at an institution of higher education which assumes responsibility for oversight of subawards to all other partner institutions;
  • Demonstrate institutional commitment to achieving strategic goals that are shared by the lead and other partnering institutions;
  • Establish multi-institutional collaborations or linkages with other universities/colleges, national laboratories, research museums, private sector research laboratories, state and local government organizations, and international collaborations, as appropriate;
  • Develop a management plan that integrates the research, education, broadening participation, and knowledge transfer activities across all partners and affiliates;
  • Incorporate diverse teams at all organizational levels of the Center that include members of groups underrepresented in STEM;
  • Provide research and education opportunities for U.S. students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty that will result in outcomes consonant with the Center's goals;
  • Facilitate knowledge transfer through significant intellectual exchange among various types of institutions and organizations (e.g., nonprofit organizations; national laboratories; industry; Federal, state, and local governments); and,
  • Establish and convene at least annually an External Advisory Committee to provide guidance, advice and oversight.


  • CU Letter of Intent Deadline: 11:59pm MST November 29, 2021
  • CU Proposal Deadline: 11:59pm MST December 13, 2021
  • Sponsor Preliminary Proposal Deadline: 5:00pm MST February 1, 2022
  • Sponsor Full Proposal Deadline (by invitation only): 5:00pm MST August 29, 2022

Internal Letter of Intent Requirements (in PDF format)

  • The letter of intent should include the (1) tentative title; (2) list of participants including lead PI; (3) list of partnership entities; and (4) a brief 1-paragraph project summary.
  • If you are planning to submit to the internal competition, you must submit a letter of intent to ltdsubs@colorado.edu by November 29.

Internal Proposal Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Description (3 pages maximum): Please address the following: 1) center rationale including grand challenge(s) being addressed, breakthroughs being sought, potential impacts, intended legacies; 2) center plan with research overview in context of national and global landscapes of relevant scientific fields; 3) team description including role and assets each participating organization brings and roles of key personnel; and 4) integration strategies including how the proposed research areas/themes integrate with one another to realize the Center’s research vision.
  • PI Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget Overview (up to 1 page): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.


The PI must be a full-time faculty member at an institution of higher education and have an established record of leading research teams.

A PI or co-PI on one proposal in this competition may not be a participant in another STC proposal under review in the same competition. If a proposal is declined at any stage of the review process, a PI or co-PI on the declined proposal may then participate in another STC proposal. This eligibility constraint will be strictly enforced. In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, proposals will be accepted based on the earliest date and time of proposal submission (i.e., the first compliant proposal received will be accepted and the others will be returned without review).

Limited Submission Guidelines

A single organization may submit a maximum of three preliminary proposals as the lead institution. Full proposals are to be submitted only when invited by NSF. There is no limit on the number of proposals in which an organization participates as a partner institution. The STC program will not support more than one Center from any one lead institution in this competition.

Award Information

$6,000,000 annually for an initial period of five years with a possibility of continuation for five additional years.

Estimated Number of Awards: up to 5