NSF invests nearly $10M to develop transformative bio-inspired solutions

Track M Award Announcement Banner

NSF Convergence Accelerator program awards 15 teams to pioneer innovative technologies and solutions addressing pressing societal and economical challenges.

The U.S. National Science Foundation is investing $9.75 million to advance novel solutions for complex societal and economic challenges inspired by biological systems. NSF's investment awards 15 multidisciplinary teams to Phase 1 of the NSF Convergence Accelerator's Track M: Bio-Inspired Design Innovations.  

The track leverages the understanding of living systems and utilizes expertise spanning scientists, engineers and practitioners to inspire novel approaches and technologies that reduce environmental deterioration and mitigate challenges related to infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and food production, human health and more. 

"Research in bio-inspired design has the potential to yield transformative solutions to complex challenges," said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). "With this investment, NSF is pleased to accelerate new concepts, tools, technologies and approaches that will positively impact the nation in a range of areas, from environmental preservation to advanced manufacturing and human health." 

Over the next nine months, each Phase 1 team will refine their initial idea into a proof of concept, identify team members and partners, and actively participate in the Convergence Accelerator's Phase 1 innovation curriculum. This curriculum encompasses crucial fundamentals in human-centered design, team science, use-inspired research, early-state prototyping, and effective communication, storytelling and pitching. As Phase 1 concludes, the teams will participate in a formal Phase 2 proposal and pitch to demonstrate the viability of their solutions. Teams selected for Phase 2 will continue in the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. 

"Bio-inspired design is very applicable to the NSF Convergence Accelerator program because it inherently draws approaches and techniques from the convergence of life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and medicine," said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program.  

The awardees include: 

About the NSF Convergence Accelerator 

Launched in 2019, the NSF Convergence Accelerator — a TIP program — builds upon NSF's investment in basic research and discovery to accelerate solutions toward societal and economic impact. The program's multidisciplinary teams use convergence research fundamentals and innovation processes to stimulate innovative idea sharing and development of sustainable solutions. For more information about the program, visit new.nsf.gov/funding/initiatives/convergence-accelerator. 

About TIP 

TIP harnesses the nation's vast and diverse talent pool to accelerate critical and emerging technologies and address pressing societal and economic challenges. The directorate comprises three primary focus areas: fostering innovation and technology ecosystems, establishing translation pathways, and partnering across sectors to improve U.S. competitiveness, grow the U.S. economy and engage and train a diverse workforce for future high-wage jobs. For more information about TIP, visit new.nsf.gov/tip/latest.