New NSF, Agile BioFoundry Funding Opportunity

To help advance the U.S. bioeconomy, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office invite proposals from researchers at institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations (eligible PIs).

The proposals must leverage the unique Design-Build-Test-Learn capabilities available at the Agile BioFoundry (ABF) to translate the latest advances in synthetic biology and engineering biology basic research into testable prototype processes and products that are potentially scalable and manufacturable and can be appropriately validated.

The Agile BioFoundry welcomes your interest and invites you to a 30-minute coordination call to help prepare scope and capabilities usage descriptions per this NSF solicitation. Please schedule your discussion here.

Submit your scope and capabilities usage descriptions by March 18th, 2022 to

Per the requirements outlined within the NSF 22-549 solicitation…proposers must submit to the ABF a description of the scope of the project along with the expected ABF facilities that will be used in the project. The project scope, in no more than 2 pages, must outline the aims of the project the expected outcomes and the alignment of the project with NSF and DOE BETO priorities highlighted in this solicitation. There should also be included a detailed listing of the ABF capabilities that will be used during the course of the project with some description of how those capabilities contribute to the project. This section can be an additional 3 pages. Investigators are advised to consult with ABF early in their proposal planning process. 

Each proposer must thereby submit their scope document and their capabilities usage descriptions to by 5:00 PM, in their respective time zone, on March 18th, 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. As part of the application process, applicants must submit scope and capabilities usage descriptions to the ABF by March 18th, 2022, but meeting with ABF beforehand is optional. Applicants will likely find this discussion very helpful for developing their proposed scope and objectives against available capabilities. 

This is also an opportunity to pitch one’s case for meeting the needs of the solicitation. Excerpted from the NSF 22-549: Of particular interest are proposals that both leverage the DBTL capabilities of the ABF to translate basic science into bioeconomy-relevant innovation and also lead to the development of generalizable rules or theories of biological systems that enhance our understanding of basic science.

NSF is managing the application process. Please see the NSF 22-549 solicitation and details listed above.

March 18, 2022: Scope and capabilities usage descriptions are due to at 5:00 PM from the proposer’s time zone.

April 4, 2022: Full applications are due; follow submission instructions within the NSF solicitation 22-549.

For the NSF portion of the award, standard overhead is allowed. 

No. PLEASE NOTE the submission deadline for scope and capabilities usage descriptions has been revised to March 18th, 2022 (no later than 5:00 PM, in the proposer’s respective time zone), which is 14 days, instead of 2 months, prior to the April 4th, 2022 application submission deadline.

The NSF is contributing $4M to this solicitation while BETO at the DOE is contributing $1M, specifically to underwrite work at the Agile BioFoundry, on behalf of awarded proposals. Consequently, it is advisable that applications roughly reflect this distribution. For instance, a project with an overall scope of $1M might call out a range of $200K to $300K in scope, for the ABF to conduct research for the project. The ABF also welcomes the discussion of hosting students & postdoctoral researchers from awarded institutions, to work on the project and receive training at ABF facilities.

No, there are no constraints on the format.

The ABF welcomes assessment of available bench space and ABF staff time for training and overseeing guest researchers on a case-by-case basis.

Your final application should include budgeting of all the work you are proposing for your project, both for NSF funds as well as DOE (ABF) funds. Work with your ABF PI(s) to estimate the ABF budget for the work you wish to propose. Please be sure to review the budget information provided within the NSF 22-549 Solicitation.

No, the ABF need not supply these documents for your application to the NSF 22-549 solicitation. 

The ABF discusses your project with you via an initial 30 minute coordination call. Individual PIs, whose research and capabilities you ID as germane to your project, will discuss your needs with you further so that you are able to articulate the ABF scope and appropriate capabilities you need. The ABF must receive the scope (≤ 2pp) and planned ABF capabilities usage (≤ 3pp) documentation no later than March 18th, 2022 at 5:00 PM in the applicant’s time zone. 

This documentation should spell out your planned scope of ABF activity and ABF capabilities. Seek guidance from ABF’s PIs for approximate cost figures for time and materials, and include these figures in your scope document. 

While the above proportions of total current funds for this solicitation are correct, there is NO prerequisite that your budget reflects this split. Please note that we have generally recommended that applicants be aware of this split in crafting their proposals, with the recommendation of focusing ABF’s proposed tasks to areas that simply cannot be carried out at the proposer’s own labs, with NSF funds. NOTABLY, per the language of the NSF 22-549 solicitation:  The budget for the Agile Biofoundry partners through CRADA can make up no more than 49% of the total combined NSF and DOE BETO proposed work budget. Within the bounds of this requirement, the applicant is open to propose the ABF portion of their scope as they see fit. As with any application, larger scopes may carry with them somewhat greater risk, as teams work to select a final, balanced portfolio of awardees.