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The Networked Blue Economy: Call for Proposals

March 24, 2021

The National Science Foundation is pleased to announce a new funding opportunity related to the “Networked Blue Economy.”
Over the next decade, ocean industries, resources, and sustainability will be key in addressing the nation’s needs for energy, food, and jobs. 
Unfortunately, despite pressing needs for innovation and integration, today’s Blue Economy remains far from its full potential primarily due to the disconnected, fragmented, and often closed nature of its different sectors, technologies, and communities. 
There is a need for greater integration, communication and networking between ocean stakeholders of all types, as well as an ability to collect and interpret ocean data of all forms, and to distribute this data to diverse stakeholders in a format and way that can be easily accessed, used, and understood. 
To achieve this, the NSF has issued call-for-proposals through the NSF Convergence Accelerator program, a unique program addressing national-scale societal challenges through use-inspired convergence research. Using a convergence approach and innovation processes - such as human-centered design, user discovery, team science and integration of multidisciplinary research - the program seeks to transition basic research and discovery into practice to solve high-impact societal challenges aligned to the Networked Blue Economy.  
The overarching track goal is to serve as a platform for developing highly innovative and interconnected tools, techniques, methods, and educational resources; as well as to improve human engagement with ocean resources. Collectively, funded research teams will produce tangible products, processes, and resources toward more sustainable engagement with the ocean. 
During phase one, a nine-month planning effort, selected teams are to participate in the program’s innovation curriculum designed to strengthen each team’s convergence approach and to further develop the solution concept toward phase two. 
At the end of phase one, the funded teams will participate in a ‘pitch’ competition. The oral pitch and formal proposal will be used in selecting teams for phase two. Selected teams will advance to phase two to further develop the solution from concept to prototype, and beyond; and to build a sustainability model to continue impact beyond NSF support. 
Successful submissions are expected to deliver high-impact outcomes, within a 3-year timeframe, that facilitate networking stakeholders and ocean data in such a way as to aid the further development of a sustainable blue economy. 
In April 2021 the Convergence Accelerator is hosting several information webinars for interested parties about the solicitation opportunity. To register for an upcoming webinar, visit 
For details about the solicitation, visit:
Letters of intent (non-binding) are due May 5, followed by full proposals on June 14. 
About the Convergence Accelerator
Research is often driven by a compelling societal or scientific challenge; however, it may take the researcher community years to develop a solution. To deliver tangible solutions that have a nation-wide societal impact and at a more accelerated pace, the NSF Convergence Accelerator brings together multiple disciplines, expertise, and cross-cutting partnerships to develop solutions through a convergence research approach and innovation processes. For additional information about the Convergence Accelerator, visit:
Terry Quinn
Director, Division of Ocean Sciences

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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