Opportunity number
NSF 20-611
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Due date
January 11, 2021
Big Data Information Technologies Innovation
Project funding
15-23 awards
Program funding
Funding size
To Be Announced

Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks

RFP Summary provided by the agency

Sustainable regional systems are connected urban and rural systems that are transforming their structures and processes collaboratively with the goal of measurably and equitably advancing the well-being of people and the planet. The purpose of the SRS RNs competition is to develop and support interdisciplinary, multi-organizational teams of investigators and stakeholders working collaboratively to produce cutting-edge convergent research, education, and outreach that addresses grand challenges in sustainable regional systems.

SRS RNs will study multiscale regional systems to further SRS science, engineering, and education. Key elements will include new data, methods, and models to understand interactions between natural, human-built, and social systems; improved understanding of interdependencies, mutual benefits, and trade-offs of different wellbeing outcomes for humans and the environment; new and generalizable theories of change relevant to SRS; the co-production of knowledge; and exploration of concepts of social equity in sustainable regional systems across spatial and temporal scales. SRS RN outcomes will have the potential to inform societal actions for sustainability across urban systems and the connected rural communities that make up regional systems. Subject to availability of funds and quality of proposals, this SRS RN solicitation will support projects in the following categories:

  • SRS RNs Full Scale Awards (Track 1). These awards will support fundamental convergent research, education, and outreach that addresses engineering, environmental (biology, chemistry – including sensing, chemical analytics, and recyclable plastics, atmospheric sciences, hydrology, geology), computer and data sciences, and social and behavioral sciences of sustainable regional systems in partnerships that may embrace universities, colleges, practitioners, non-profit organizations, local governments, industry, and community groups. The award size is up to $15 million total with a duration of 5 years.
  • SRS RNs Planning Grants (Track 2). These awards are for capacity building to prepare project teams to propose future well-developed SRS RN Full Scale (Track 1) proposals. Each of these Track 2 awards will provide support for a period of one year and may be requested at a level not to exceed$150,000 for the total budget.

SRS RNs will conduct innovative and pioneering fundamental research and education that is of a scale and complexity that would not be possible within a single organization, center, or through the normal collaborative modes of NSF research support in core programs

What is the mission and focus of the program: research, social, economic or others?


How do you submit to this opportunity?

Submit via grants.gov

Who are the target applicants: cities, universities, companies, small business, nonprofits, or others?

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • For-profit organizations: U.S. commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) – Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members.

Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of sub-awards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.

*Who May Serve as PI:

There are no restrictions for the allowable organizations listed above. In addition to the organizations above, individuals from the following types of organizations can be listed on the Cover Sheet as co-PIs or Senior Personnel(but not the lead PI) as sub-awardees or unpaid collaborators:

  • FFRDCs: Researchers or participants from federal agencies or federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs)cannot serve as a lead PI but may be supported by sub-awards or participate as unpaid collaborators. Non-NSF sponsored FFRDCs are required to provide a letter of support from their agency.
  • State and Local Governments: Individuals from state educational offices or organizations and local school districts cannot serve as a lead PI but may be supported by sub-awards or participate as unpaid collaborators. A letter of collaboration from their organization is required.
  • Unaffiliated Individuals: Scientists, engineers or educators in the U.S. who are U.S. citizens cannot serve as a lead PI, but may be supported by sub-awards or participate as unpaid collaborators.
  • Foreign organizations: For cooperative projects involving U.S. and foreign organizations, support will only be provided for the U.S. portion. Researchers from a foreign organization cannot be PIs OR co-PIs, and must be listed as “non-funded Senior Personnel”. A letter of collaboration from their organization is required.

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