As noted in the 2022 National Strategy for Advanced Manufacturing (NSAM), advances in US manufacturing enable the economy to continuously grow as new technologies and innovations increase productivity, enable next-generation products, support our capability to address the climate crisis, and create new, high-quality, and higher-paying jobs. In accordance with that strategy, this solicitation aims to support fundamental research that will enable sustainable new manufacturing technologies and education to grow production and employment in America’s manufacturing sector.
Manufacturing in the future will be dictated by a combination of 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 to overcome significant barriers will be required in robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, sustainable chemistry and production, materials science, education and public policy, and workforce development to lead this global competition.
The importance of these areas of innovation has been emphasized in legislation, such as the CHIPS and Science Act, which supports research and education in semiconductor and microelectronics manufacturing and in other areas ranging from additive manufacturing to artificial intelligence. The importance of biomanufacturing is highlighted in the recent Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy, which aims to expand domestic biomanufacturing capacity for products spanning the health, energy, agriculture, and industrial sectors, with a focus on advancing equity, improving biomanufacturing processes, and connecting relevant infrastructure.The NSAM highlights the need to enhance environmental sustainability and address climate change through objectives which include decarbonization of processes and sustainable manufacturing and recycling. These documents lay out research and education priorities for the nation and for NSF.
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 catalyze new manufacturing capabilities that do not exist today. Future Manufacturing imagines manufacturing decades into the future. It supports research and education that will enhance U.S. leadership in manufacturing by providing new capabilities for established companies and entrepreneurs, by improving our health, quality of life, and national security, by expanding job opportunities to a diverse STEM workforce, and by reducing the impact of manufacturing on the environment. At the same time, Future Manufacturing enables new manufacturing that will address urgent social challenges arising from climate change, global pandemics and health disparities, social and economic divides, infrastructure deficits of marginalized populations and communities, and environmental sustainability.
Future Manufacturing will require creative convergent approaches in science, technology and innovation, empirical validation, and education and workforce development. It will benefit from cross-disciplinary partnerships among scientists, mathematicians, engineers, social and behavioral scientists, STEM education researchers, and experts in arts and humanities to provide solutions that are equitable and inclusive.
Future Manufacturing will require major advances in technologies for the sustainable synthesis and production of new materials, chemicals, quantum and semiconductor devices and integrated systems, and components and systems of assured quality with high yield and at reasonable cost. It will require 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.
Among this array of technologies and potential research subjects, three thrust areas have been identified for support in FY 2023 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. Proposals that include evidence of significant participation from minority-serving institutions, primarily undergraduate institutions, community colleges, institutions from EPSCoR states, and/or incorporate expertise in improving diversity and inclusion are especially encouraged.
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 "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 SKILLED TECHNICAL WORKFORCE: Crafting America's Science and Engineering Enterprise." Therefore, proposers responding to this solicitation must include a plan to equip students and upskill the workforce to enable Future Manufacturing. Please see "Full Proposal Preparation Instructions" for additional details.
FURTHER INFORMATION: An informational webinar will be held on Friday, February 10, 2023 from 1:00-2:00 PM EST to discuss the Future Manufacturing program and answer questions about this solicitation. Details about how to join this webinar will be posted athttps://beta.nsf.gov/events/future-manufacturing-webinar. A recording and transcript will be posted there soon after the webinar is held.