Abstract collage of science-related imagery

Building the Prototype Open Knowledge Network (Proto-OKN)

View guidelines


Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.


This program supports the creation of a prototype Open Knowledge Network — an interconnected network of knowledge graphs supporting a very broad range of application domains. Open access to shared information is essential for the development and evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-powered solutions needed to address the complex challenges facing the nation and the world. Knowledge graphs, which represent relationships among real-world entities, provide a powerful approach for organizing, representing, integrating, reusing, and accessing data from multiple structured and unstructured sources using ontologies and ontology alignment. Currently, private-sector investments in knowledge graphs power numerous consumer applications including web search, e-commerce, banking, drug discovery, advertising, etc. Undertaking a similar but inclusive, open, and community-driven effort and making use of publicly available data holds the potential to create a platform that would empower government and non-government users — fueling evidence-based policymaking, continued strong economic growth, game-changing scientific breakthroughs, while addressing complex societal challenges from climate change to social equity.

Projects funded by this program will provide an essential public-data infrastructure to power the next information revolution similar to the Internet — transforming our ability to unlock actionable insights from data by semantically linking information about related entities.

This Proto-OKN solicitation will support research projects in the following categories:


Theme 1 – Proto-OKN Use Cases: Projects in this category will develop a knowledge graph or “node” of the Proto-OKN that will address specific use-case challenges using well-identified data sets and a user-centric design process to help ensure usability and sustainability of the effort. Theme 1 Use Case projects will work in close collaboration with Theme 2 OKN Fabric projects to deploy their use cases on a common implementation fabric.

Theme 1 proposals may request budgets up to $1.5 million with durations up to three years. The estimated number of awards is 8 to 10, subject to availability of funds.


Theme 2 – Proto-OKN Fabric: Projects in this category will develop and deploy the necessary technologies to provide an “interconnecting fabric” for the Proto-OKN, to help link knowledge graphs developed across Theme 1 projects. Theme 2 teams will possess a strong track record of successful collaborations with technical as well as non-technical partners and will have the technical expertise necessary for successful execution. Theme 2 projects will work in close collaboration with Theme 1 Use Case projects to facilitate use of the OKN interconnecting fabric that will be created.

Theme 2 proposals may request budgets up to $1.5 million with durations up to two years. The estimated number of awards is 1 to 2, subject to availability of funds. One or both Theme 2 projects can be potentially renewed for an additional two years for a budget up to $2 million, with a goal of creating one overarching OKN fabric.


Theme 3 – Proto-OKN Education and Public Engagement: A single award will be made in this category for creating educational materials and tools targeted to the range of constituents who are expected to be engaged with the Proto-OKN. This includes end-users, senior executives/decision-makers, technical developers, students at the graduate, undergraduate, and middle and high school levels, and the public at large.  The Theme 3 team will possess the breadth of expertise and experience necessary to produce education and training materials and public engagement content for a broad spectrum of partners. The Theme 3 grantee will work in close collaboration with Theme 1 and Theme 2 grantees to develop the educational, training, and outreach materials.

Theme 3 proposals may request budgets up to $1.5 million with durations up to three years.  The estimated number of awards is 1, subject to availability of funds.

Updates and announcements

Program contacts

Chaitanya K. Baru
Senior Advisor
okn@nsf.gov (703) 292-4596 TIP/OAD
Jemin George
Program Director
okn@nsf.gov (703) 292-2251 TIP/ITE

Awards made through this program

Browse projects funded by this program
Map of recent awards made through this program