NSF announces award for its Regional Innovation Engines Builder Platform

NSF will work with The Engine Accelerator to develop, launch and run the NSF Engines Builder Platform 

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced a three-year, $9.5 million investment in The Engine Accelerator, a public benefit corporation with origins at MIT. The Engine Accelerator will develop, launch and run the NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) Builder Platform, a unique post-award support model that will provide tailored resources and a high level of personalized engagement and support that will significantly contribute to the success of the NSF Engines program 

The NSF Engines Builder Platform team will develop tailored support networks around and across NSF Engines awardees, connecting them with one another; create curated entry points for corporations, philanthropists, investors and other constituents who wish to partner with NSF Engines; and develop best practices and knowledge sharing around innovation ecosystems. Support from the Builder Platform will help ensure each NSF Engine successfully and sustainably meets the goals set forth in the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022." NSF Engines span nearly all key technology areas and national, societal and geostrategic challenges highlighted in the act. 

"From the day we established the NSF Engines program, NSF recognized the importance of providing hands-on support to our awardees to maximize their potential for success," said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). "The Engine Accelerator team brings deep expertise to help each of the NSF Engines Development awardees and future NSF Engines create inclusive and diverse regional coalitions that engage in use-inspired research, drive research results to the market and society, promote workforce development, and ultimately stimulate their regional economies, including creating new jobs." 

In December 2022, NSF introduced the NSF Engines Builder Platform opportunity and invited interested parties to submit feedback or a formal vision and capability statement to inform development of the platform. In the months that followed, NSF provided several virtual opportunities for proposers to learn more about plans for the Builder Platform, form connections with other stakeholders, and share their ideas, interests and feedback for this new community and partnership platform. Applications for the Builder Platform were due in June.  

The NSF Engines Builder Platform isn't a technology platform or app, but rather is an entirely new way of thinking about post-award support -- a human-centered portfolio of support structures that empowers awardees with the tools, networks and capital needed to thrive. It’s inspired and informed by the support systems pioneered by venture incubators and accelerators, national philanthropy and lessons learned from prior place-based investment efforts.   

"We are honored to partner with the NSF in supporting the awardees. Over the last six years, The Engine has helped hundreds of ambitious teams grow, scale, and take on the biggest challenges facing society. We look forward to creating a powerful support model in the NSF Engines Builder Platform and helping awardees nationwide create new industries based on breakthrough science and engineering," commented Emily Knight, president of The Engine Accelerator.

This investment and partnership demonstrate how NSF and the broader federal government are developing novel and tailored resources to ensure historic investments in the nation’s innovation capacity are impactful, effective and ultimately transformative for the American economy. The Builder Platform is an important part of the broader NSF Engines program and is expected to formally launch and onboard awardees early next year. The NSF Engines program expects to be transformational for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains globally competitive in key technology areas for decades to come. Earlier this year, NSF announced the 44 NSF Engines Development Awards spanning universities, nonprofits, businesses and other organizations across 46 states and U.S. territories. In August, NSF announced 16 finalists for the NSF Engines competition. 

Launched by NSF's TIP Directorate and authorized by the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022," the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation's science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact the economy within a geographic region, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness, and create local, high-wage jobs across the country. 

Learn more about the program on the NSF Engines website.