Illustration with the Earth, binary code, DNA and abstract imagery

TIP Pilot Efforts

Why we pilot

A “science-of-science" approach 

TIP views pilots as experiments that offer an opportunity to learn something new or improve the agency’s overall approach to funding research and innovation. Specifically, each pilot involves defining a hypothesis, testing it, and then assessing the outcomes to inform if the approach is worthy of further investment and scaling.

Please note: NSF does not solicit proposals for pilots.

Our recent pilots


Entrepreneurial Training Pilot Before and After I-Corps

A $5 million entrepreneurial training and mentoring pilot program for academic researchers offers training that specifically builds upon and extends NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™). Led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this pilot will help researchers launch a startup to commercialize technology.

NobleReach Emerge Pilot

A $5 million collaboration between NSF and NobleReach Emerge to identify and accelerate the translation of NSF-funded research into biotech and bio-inspired designs with impacts. NSF and NobleReach Emerge staff selected research with potential commercial applications then connected researchers with NobleReach Emerge experts.


NextCorps Pilot

A $4.5 million pilot designed to help maximize the chances of success for startups by making available novel curriculum and support methodologies, including techno-economics training and methods to evaluate financials. The pilot is led by NextCorps, a startup accelerator based in Rochester, New York.

Compass Pilot

A $2 million pilot to support the increased involvement and success of entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented groups to bring their innovations to communities and the public with broad societal benefits. The new pilot is led by the Public Policy Lab, a nonprofit innovation lab.

Industries of Ideas

A $4.5 million pilot to develop approaches to assess the impact of NSF investments on regional firms and jobs in key technology areas. Industries of Ideas is led by teams at the University of MichiganThe Ohio State University and the Social Science Research Council.

NSF Research Traineeship

A new track of the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program designed to help graduate students at non-R1 institutions of higher education (IHEs) – institutions without high research activity – develop the skills, knowledge and competencies needed to pursue a range of careers in STEM.

Recent Prize Challenges

PETs Prize Challenges

The Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) Prize Challenge encouraged privacy-preserving artificial intelligence solutions to tackle financial crime and improve pandemic responses.

VITAL Prize Challenge

The Visionary Interdisciplinary Teams Advancing Learning (VITAL) Prize Challenge encourages teams to develop innovative learning technologies for K-12 students.

Pilot outcomes

Framework for Technology Assessment

A network of universities funded by TIP completed a yearlong, nearly $4 million pilot effort with the release of a report – Securing America’s Future: A Framework for Critical Technology AssessmentThe findings of this initial work set the foundations for the Assessing and Predicting Technology Outcomes program.