Funding Opportunity: National Science Foundation Announces New Dear Colleague Letter: Bioinspired Design Collaborations to Accelerate the Discovery-Translation Process (BioDesign)

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – February 17, 2023

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to support Bioinspired Design Collaborations to Accelerate the Discovery-Translation Process (BioDesign). BioDesign will support collaborative research projects inspired by the natural world to increase understanding of general principles about biological and/or engineering systems and utilize these principles to work towards new engineered systems or products. The overarching aim is to develop new high-impact solutions to address societal challenges. This is a collaborative initiative across the Directorates for Biological Science (BIO), Engineering (ENG), and Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP), and aligns with the growing focus on Biotechnology as a key emerging technology area.

BioDesign aims to build on existing NSF programs to support early-stage transdisciplinary research in biology and engineering that have the potential for bioinspired design applications, as well as projects focused on accelerating the translation of research results. BioDesign will support full proposals directed to certain NSF programs and will also provide supplemental funding to existing awards. Specifically, BioDesign is focused on bridging the gap between fundamental and use-inspired research. This DCL will support transdisciplinary teams to:

  • test hypotheses about the functioning of living things that are of interest to biologists and engineers
  • create an iterative process that generates ongoing feedback between the workflows of foundational and use-inspired research in order to design a device, machine, algorithm, and/or a workflow that solves a practical problem
  • develop prototypes based on these activities as part of a process of exploring pathways to larger societal and economic benefits

Participating programs are in the BIO Divisions of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) and Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB); the ENG Divisions of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) and Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET); and the TIP Division of Translational Impacts. Proposals should be submitted to the relevant program as listed in the DCL. Supplemental proposals must include a “Pathway to Translation” section, full proposals are also encouraged to include a pathway to translation description. Full proposals submitted to BIO and ENG are expected to emphasize the foundational research components, TIP proposals are expected to be more focused on “use-inspired translational research, translation to practice, and technology development.” PIs are encouraged to speak to a BioDesign program director (as listed in the DCL) before submitting a proposal.

Deadlines: Proposals to BIO and ENG are accepted anytime. Annual submission deadlines for the TIP Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program are: May 2, 2023, September 5, 2023, and January 2, 2024.

Sources and Additional Information:

National Science Foundation
Proposal Deadline
Full BioDesign DCL
Type of Funding
Posting Expires