NSF News

NSF invests $21 million to tackle 2 complex societal challenges: the networked blue economy, and trust and authenticity in communication systems

The U.S. National Science Foundation is building upon basic research and discovery to accelerate solutions in two critical research areas: the Networked Blue Economy and Trust & Authenticity in Communications. With an investment of $21 million, NSF has selected 28 multidisciplinary teams for phase one of the Convergence Accelerator program 2021 cohort.

Each team, comprised of a wide range of disciplines and expertise from academia, industry, government, nonprofit, and other communities of practice, will begin in phase 1. Over the next nine months, each team will develop their initial idea into a proof of concept, identify new team members and partners, and participate in the innovation curriculum.

"The Convergence Accelerator's innovation curriculum consists of human-centered design; user discovery; team science; early-stage prototyping; storytelling; and pitch preparation," said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. "The curriculum is designed to provide our funded teams the tools to transform their pioneering ideas into a proof of concept, then prototype and finally a solution. Teams will also be required to develop partnerships to support solution sustainability and transition to practice."

Convergence Accelerator research topics begin as an ideation process - gathering input from the community. Identified topics that meet the program's criteria are coordinated into community workshops to further develop and incorporate convergence research, and include a wide range of stakeholders. The workshop findings will then assist NSF in selecting the research topics.

"The Networked Blue Economy and Trust & Authenticity in Communication Systems topics were chosen based on community input, research priorities and immediate need to create sustainable solutions," said Maughan.

The Networked Blue Economy research track E includes 16 multidisciplinary teams. The overarching track goal is to interconnect the blue economy and accelerate convergence across ocean sectors; creating a smart, integrated, connected and open ecosystem for ocean innovation, exploration and sustainable utilization. Collectively, funded research teams will produce innovative tools, techniques, methods and educational resources, as well as solutions that improve human engagement with oceans.

Projects and institutions awarded are listed below.

The Trust & Authenticity in Communication Systems research track F involves 12 multidisciplinary teams. Modern life and economic growth are dependent on access to communications systems that offer trustworthy and accurate information. Yet, these systems can be manipulated or have unanticipated negative effects. The overarching track goal is to address the urgent need for tools and techniques to help the nation effectively prevent, mitigate and adapt to critical threats to communication systems.

Institutions and projects awarded are listed below.

More information about the Convergence Accelerator program can be found at nsf.gov.