NSF - Future Manufacturing (FM)
Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time): May 14, 2021
Synopsis of Program:
The global manufacturing ecosystem has evolved dramatically in recent decades, driven by forces of technology and globalization and steered by the pursuit of greater efficiencies at scale. The Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing states that worldwide competition in manufacturing has been dominated in recent decades by the maturation, commoditization, and widespread application of computation in production equipment and logistics, effectively leveling the global technological playing field and placing a premium on low wages and incremental technical improvements .
The next generation of technological competition in manufacturing will be dictated by the use of computation to ensure the reliable translation of product designs to manufacturing plans; process controls that provide assurances that the execution of those plans will produce products that meet specifications; inventions of new materials, chemicals, devices, systems, processes, machines, and design and work methods; and new social structures and business practices. Fundamental research will be required in robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, materials science, sustainability, education and public policy, and workforce development to lead this global competition. The research supported under this solicitation will enhance U.S. leadership in manufacturing far into the future by providing new capabilities for established companies and entrepreneurs, improving our health and quality of life, reducing the impact of manufacturing on the environment and addressing global challenges such as climate change, pandemics and smart growth.
The goal of Future Manufacturing is to support fundamental research and education of a future workforce to overcome scientific, technological, educational, economic and social barriers in order to enable new manufacturing capabilities that do not exist today.
Future Manufacturing will require major advances in technologies and algorithms for the synthesis and production of new materials, chemicals, devices, components and systems of assured quality with high yield at reasonable cost. It will require new advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, new cyber infrastructure, new approaches for mathematical and computational modeling, new dynamics and control methodologies, new ways to integrate systems biology, synthetic biology and bioprocessing, and new ways to influence the economy, workforce, human behavior, and society.
Future Manufacturing requires creative convergence approaches in science, technology and innovation, empirical validation, and education and workforce development to address pressing challenges for manufacturing. At the same time, Future Manufacturing can leverage highly integrated physical, digital and social frameworks that underpin society to enable manufacturing that addresses urgent social challenges such as global health disparities, economic and social divides, infrastructure deficits of marginalized populations and communities, and environmental sustainability. Cross-disciplinary partnerships among scientists, engineers, social and behavioral economists, and experts in arts and humanities may be required to provide solutions that are equitable and inclusive. Among this array of technologies and potential research subjects, three thrust areas have been identified for support in FY 2021 under this solicitation:
Future Cyber Manufacturing Research, Future Eco Manufacturing Research, and
Future Biomanufacturing Research. This solicitation seeks proposals to perform fundamental research to enable new manufacturing capabilities in one or more of these thrust areas. This solicitation will support the following two award tracks:
Future Manufacturing Research Grants (FMRG) - up to $3,000,000 for up to four years; and
Future Manufacturing Seed Grants (FMSG) -up to $500,000 for up to two years. Interdisciplinary teams commensurate with the scope of the proposed research, education plan, and budget are required. Proposals must include demonstrated expertise among the team members to carry out the proposed research, education, and workforce development activities. The use of a convergence approach is expected . The goal of this solicitation is to enable new manufacturing that represents a significant change from current practice. Therefore, proposers responding to this solicitation must include within the Project Description a section titled Enabling Future Manufacturing. Please see "Full Proposal Preparation Instructions" for additional details.
Realization of the benefits of the fundamental research supported under this solicitation will require the simultaneous education of a skilled technical workforce that can transition new discoveries into U.S. manufacturing companies. The National Science Board has recently emphasized this perspective in its report, "THE SKLLED TECHNICAL WORKFORCE: Crafting America's Science and Engineering Enterprise."  Therefore, proposers responding to this solicitation must include a section titled Education and Workforce Development Plan that describes plans to equip students and upskill the workforce to enable Future Manufacturing. Please see "Full Proposal Preparation Instructions" for additional details.