Centers for Chemical Innovation – Phase I (CCI) (NSF 17-564)


National Science Foundation


Preliminary Proposals: September 12, 2017

Full Proposals (by invitation only): March 06, 2018


The Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) Program supports research centers focused on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges. CCIs are agile structures that respond rapidly to emerging opportunities, promote synergy, enhance collaborations, and engage in potentially transformative research. CCIs integrate research, innovation, education, broadening participation, and informal science communication.

The FY 2018 Phase I CCI competition is open to projects in all fields supported by the Division of Chemistry. Successful proposals will have a clear chemistry focus and the potential for transformative impact in chemistry. The Division of Chemistry particularly encourages CCI centers or projects within centers aligned with Data-Driven Discovery Science in Chemistry (D3SC). Such CCI projects would seek new chemical understanding through sharing, mining and repurposing of chemical datasets and through the use of state-of-the-art data analysis techniques. Additional context for D3SC and links to related documents can be found at NSF 17-036.

The research activities may build on pre-existing efforts, but new, collaborative results attributed to the CCI award are expected. The Phase I award will also develop broader impact activities in the four required areas (see below), including piloting and developing center-scale activities commensurate with a Phase II CCI. Center development includes the development of a strategic plan covering all aspects of a CCI (see full RFP).

CCIs are expected to integrate their research with activities that broaden the impact of their research. A Phase I team might pilot activities in these areas:

  • Innovation – translation or transfer of basic research results into economic or societal benefit. This element includes intellectual property protection and a proactive plan to either engage industry in technology transfer or to commercialize technology in other ways.
  • Higher Education and Professional Development – education and professional development for undergraduate and graduate students supported by the grant, including co-mentorship or other collaborative training and continued professional development and mentoring for postdoctoral research associates. This may also include education in various aspects of innovation (intellectual property, entrepreneurship, etc.) and other higher education activities (i.e., new course materials or curricula).
  • Broadening the participation of underrepresented groups – CCI goals for increasing engagement by underrepresented groups, plans for reaching those goals, and an evaluation strategy.
  • Informal science communication – plans for communicating the CCI research to public audiences and possible ways to evaluate the impact of these outreach efforts.


Who May Serve as PI:

  • While these proposals will reflect the research of many investigators, only the name of the Principal Investigator (PI) should appear on the cover sheet. All other investigators are considered Faculty Associates (non-coPI senior personnel). An investigator may participate (as PI or Faculty Associate) in only one CCI preliminary proposal and one CCI full proposal (Phase I or Phase II) submitted to this competition. The PI must be affiliated with an eligible submitting organization.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

  • An investigator may participate (as PI or Faculty Associate) in only one preliminary proposal and one full proposal (Phase I or Phase II) submitted in response to this solicitation. The PI must be affiliated with an eligible submitting organization.

The team of investigators for a Phase I proposal must include at least four senior researchers with complementary expertise. While there is no upper limit on the number of Phase I investigators, proposers are cautioned to avoid teams that are too large to collaborate effectively. The available resources should also be carefully considered in assembling the team. CCIs may partner with researchers from industry, national laboratories and international organizations. See detailed guidance below for non-U.S. or non-academic researchers.

Available Funding:

NSF anticipates making three new Phase I awards (up to $1,800,000 for 3 years) as standard or continuing grants.

Link to Full RFP: