Sponsor Target Date for Submission of Phase 1 Research Concept Outlines (RCOs): April 15, 2019
FAS/SEAS/OSP Deadline: May 24, 2019
Sponsor Deadline for Full Proposals (if invited): June 3, 2019
Award Information: Phase 1 awards will be made up to $1M for up to 9 months. Additional funds will be available for a smaller number of Phase 2 awards. NSF anticipates funding approximately 50 Phase 1 awards.
With this Dear Colleague Letter, NSF's goals are to: (i) pilot a new NSF capability (the NSF Convergence Accelerator) to accelerate use-inspired convergence research in areas of national importance, and (ii) initiate convergence team-building capacity around exploratory, potentially high-risk proposals in three convergence topics (tracks):
  • Track A1: Open Knowledge Network (OKN) - This track aligns with Harnessing the Data Revolution, one of NSF's Ten Big Ideas. The overall goal of Track A1 is to build public-private cooperation and engage convergence teams from all areas of data science and science and engineering domains to enable the creation of a nonproprietary shared knowledge infrastructure. Phase 1 of the Open Knowledge Network NSF C-Accel Pilot track will support building the multidisciplinary and multi-institutional teams needed to identify the development paths for an OKN, with a particular focus on exploiting publicly available U.S. Government and similar public datasets.
  • Track B1: AI and Future Jobs - Tracks B1 and B2 address NSF's Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) Big Idea. The ultimate goal of Track B1 is to support research and development leading to technological tools that will connect individual workers with jobs, keeping in mind that periodic retraining and reskilling outside of traditional educational settings will increasingly become integral to successful lifetime careers. Phase 1 of the AI and Future Jobs NSF C-Accel Pilot track will support team building and creating research and development plans addressing multiple components of connecting workers with jobs of the future, such as predictive artificial intelligence tools, economic and labor market analyses of needed skills for future workplaces, and educational technologies needed for adult learning. 
  • Track B2: National Talent Ecosystem - The ultimate goal of Track B2 is to support research and development leading to innovative approaches for employers to support workers seeking the skills required for 21st century work related to AI, data science, predictive analytics, and other technologies of the future. Phase 1 of the NSF C-Accel National Talent Ecosystem Pilot track will support team building and creating research and development plans addressing multiple approaches toward re-envisioning the concepts, structures, and technologies needed for employers to support continuous learning for dynamic, digitally-intensive work, and provide access to skilled talent pathways, mentors and authentic workplace experiences. 
Phase 1 of the Pilot will use the  Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (RAISE) mechanism, a mechanism used to submit multidisciplinary project ideas to NSF. The first-step to become part of the NSF C-Accel Pilot is to submit a 2-page Research Concept Outline (RCO). Those that effectively address one of the three tracks may be invited to submit a full RAISE proposal.
In parallel with the release of Phase 1 funding, NSF anticipates releasing a call for Phase 1 awardees to submit Phase 2 proposals. Near the end of Phase 1, teams will pitch to a blue-ribbon panel. Evaluation of teams': (i) Phase 1 performance, (ii) their pitch, and (iii) their Phase 2 proposals will determine which teams are selected to advance to multi-million-dollar Phase 2 NSF C-Accel awards. Phase 2 proposals will enable the delivery of the tangible research products identified and described in Phase 1. The goals of the NSF Convergence Accelerator Pilot can be realized at the end of Phase 2 as new innovations begin to have a positive impact on society.
Questions about this announcement may be directed to Erin Hale ( erin_hale@fas.harvard.edu, 617-496-5252) or Susan Gomes ( sgomes@fas.harvard.edu, 617-496-9448).

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