March 24, 2022
National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Sethuraman Panchanathan announced the launch of a new research Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) on March 16th.
TIP will integrate new and existing programs focused on advancing emerging technologies, accelerating the transition from research to practice, and bolstering the STEM workforce. According to Director Panchanathan, who spoke at the FABBS annual meeting in December 2021, “By pursuing new approaches that engage the nation’s broad and diverse population in shaping research directions and outcomes, TIP will be a game-changer in terms of the pace of technological breakthroughs, future job growth and national competitiveness.” Existing programs that will be repositioned within the new Directorate include the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), Partnerships for Innovation, America’s Seed Fund, and the NSF Convergence Accelerator. Erwin Gianchandani will be the Assistant Director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, leading the new directorate. Gianchandani has worked at the Foundation since 2012 and has spent the past year working to design and develop TIP.
The new Directorate comes as Congress is still debating a reauthorization of the National Science Foundation, which would emphasize the Foundation’s investments in technology and innovation. The legislation is not yet finalized, but will likely allocate a significant portion of the NSF budget to these new efforts. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson and Frank Lucas, respectively the chair and ranking member of the House Science Committee, have spearheaded this effort in the House. They lauded the announcement of the new directorate, calling it “an opportunity to ensure NSF-funded research makes it out of the lab, and importantly, that the benefits are shared by all Americans.” Johnson and Lucas added that they “look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to send legislation to the President’s desk that supports and enables NSF’s efforts, including by providing the right balance of guidance and flexibility to ensure long-term success in their mission.”
FABBS has worked with congressional leaders to inform these efforts, including through our role in the Coalition for National Science Funding. Fiscal Year 2022 government funding legislation provided NSF a relatively small budget increase, especially considering Congressional enthusiasm for the new Directorate. We will continue to provide feedback and work to ensure that these new priority areas include brain and behavioral sciences, and that new investments in the new directorate do not come at the expense of existing programs and curiosity-driven research programs.