Partnerships for Innovation (PFI)

The U.S. National Science Foundation's Partnerships for Innovation, or PFI, program assists researchers and innovators from academia, nonprofit and public organizations in accelerating the development of breakthrough technologies and speeding solutions forward.

PFI-funded researchers apply an iterative process of translational research and customer discovery to develop prototypes that address a product-market fit and inform future products or services.   

PFI’s program approach

The PFI program offers researchers a technology testbed to gain market insights, launch a commercial application or facilitate industry adoption. The program helps researchers translate basic research into technologies and spurs university spinoff companies. During the PFI program, researchers will experience one or more intended outcomes:



Develop groundbreaking technologies



License NSF-funded intellectual property

Industry Partnerships


Engage in industry partnerships



Gain innovation and entrepreneurial skills


Moving ideas from the lab to the market

The PFI program gives researchers the opportunity to perform translational research and technology development, catalyze partnerships and accelerate the transition of discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace for national and societal benefit. The program supports researchers from all NSF-funded science and engineering disciplines.

Aligned with the national priorities outlined in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017, the PFI program has five broad goals:

  • Accelerate the commercialization of NSF-sponsored research and technologies.
  • Enable partnerships between NSF-funded awardees, their organizations, industry, nonprofits and public organizations to undertake proof-of concept work.
  • Promote a sustainable university-based innovation ecosystem.
  • Provide entrepreneurial education, professional development opportunities and tools to academic innovators.
  • Broaden the participation of women, minorities and persons with disabilities in translational research, innovation and entrepreneurship.