AUTM Updates

Get the Details on NSF's $60M ART Program

The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) recently announced Accelerating Research Translation (ART) program is not your average funding opportunity. This is the first new NSF directorate in more than 30 years to focus on innovation, use-inspired research, technology and partnerships.

It represents research institutions’ first chance to expand technology transfer’s impact using funds authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act. And for your institution’s submission to be successful, you’ll need to fully understand the program’s unique objectives—some of which might surprise you.

Through the ART program, up to 10 higher ed institutions will each receive an award of up to $6 million and up to four years in duration. Importantly, only certain types of institutions will be eligible for these awards, to be consistent with the Planning and Capacity Building section (10391) of the CHIPS and Science Act.  AUTM leadership worked extensively to get 10391 included in the legislation and we are proud to see it come to fruition.

The ART program seeks to expand the research translation capacity of academic research institutions, but not by issuing awards to institutions with technology transfer programs that are already performing at a high level. Instead, it is focused on institutions that have developed strong research programs but need assistance in transitioning that research to benefit society.

“When highly motivated faculty members are supported by institutional infrastructure, they’re able to achieve success. But often when one of these components is lacking, it leads to very low levels of translation activity,” said Thyaga Nandagopal, NSF Division Director for Innovation and Technology Ecosystems, during an informational webinar on February 21. “As a result, we see these disconnected islands of translation where some people are successful, but others don’t feel like they can actually get there. We really want to encourage faculty members, students and post docs pursuing their research to view translation as a natural organic next step for their research outcomes.”

With proposals due May 9, applicants are encouraged to view the first webinar and follow up with an NSF webinar, to be held on March 16. This webinar will be devoted to questions from prospective applicants.

Defining levels of fundamental research activity and research translation will be up to the individual institutions, said Pradeep Fulay, an ITE Program Director and lead program officer for ART.

“Metrics for level of fundamental research activity could be your research expenditures, it could be number of publications, number of PhDs and so on,” Fulay said. “And what does low translation mean? Metrics could be related to commercialization, or impact on communities, and some of them may or may not be measurable. Every institution is different.”

In addition to building capacity for transitioning the innovative research being done now, proposals should also consider opportunities for expanding and strengthening the infrastructure and ecosystems that will support future research translation efforts. These could include educating faculty and students about translational activities (including related career paths outside of academia), developing and sustaining external partnerships, and establishing a network of ambassadors to promote research translation within an institution.