Program Summary

Program Summary

The Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) program supports academe-industry partnerships which are led by an interdisciplinary academic research team collaborating with a least one industry partner. In this program, there is a heavy emphasis on the quality, composition, and participation of the partners, including their appropriate contributions. These partnerships focus on the integration of technologies into a specified human-centered service system with the potential to achieve transformational benefits, satisfying a real need by making an existing service system smart(er) or by spurring the creation of an entirely new smart service system. The selected service system should function as a test bed.


Service systems are socio-technical configurations of people, technologies, organizations, and information1 designed to create value by fulfilling the needs of those participating in the system. A "smart" service system is a system that amplifies or augments human capabilities2 to identify, learn, adapt, monitor and make decisions. The system utilizes data received, transmitted, or processed in a timely manner, thus improving its response to future situations. These capabilities are the result of the incorporation of technologies for sensing, actuation, coordination, communication, control, etc.


PFI:BIC funds research partnerships working on projects that operate in the post-fundamental/translational space; the proposers must be mindful of the state of the art and the competitive landscape. However, a clear path to commercialization does not need to be a central part of this proposal. These projects require additional effort to integrate the technology into a real service system, incorporating human factors considerations to assure the system's efficacy. The research tasks in turn might spawn additional discoveries inspired by this interaction of humans with the technology.


Examples of partnership activities that drive sustained innovation include the targeted allocation of resources such as capital, time, and facilities; and sharing of knowledge in a cross-organizational and interdisciplinary context. The research tasks of the project must demonstrate a highly collaborative research plan involving participation of the primary industrial partner(s) as well as of any other primary partners with the academic researcher during the life of the award.


NSF recognizes that interdisciplinary collaboration (involving many areas of expertise beyond just those related to the technology) is needed to achieve successful integration into a smart service system. The research components to be included in this project are: 1) engineered system design and integration; 2) computing, sensing, and information technologies; and 3) human factors, behavioral sciences, and cognitive engineering. The proposer must show how these components will be integrated in the context of the project as part of the research plan in the Project Description. 


WEBINARS: Webinars will be held to answer questions about the solicitation. Register on the PFI:BIC website ( Potential proposers and their partners are encouraged to attend. Also encouraged to attend are the following stakeholders: Vice Presidents for Research, Vice Presidents for Research and Innovation, and academic personnel concerned with the internal review of their respective institution's selection of candidates for submission, individuals from Sponsored Research Offices, and those focused on the identification and understanding of limited application submissions.


Awards:  Up to $1,000,000 with a duration of three years.   In other words, the total budget request to NSF for the lead institution and all other sparticipating in the project cannot exceed $1,000,000

Application Limits

Application Limits

UIC is Iimited to participation on two (2) proposals as a lead institution, preferably involving distinct application areas.

A lead academic institution that has submitted a proposal has the option to participate as a subawardee on additional proposals submitted under this solicitation.   LETTERS OF INTENT WILL BE PEER REVIEWED.  LETTERS ARE DUE SEPTEMBER 7, 2016.  SEE DETAILS BELOW.

Additional Information


UIC Letter of Intent
September 7, 2016
UIC Internal Competition
Sponsor Letter of Intent
October 14, 2016
Sponsor Application
November 16, 2016

Letter of Intent

Letter of Intent

Please submit  Letter of Intent (LOI) Form with required attachment by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7 through this website.  This LOI requires attachments - please follow the directions on the LOI form.  Please make sure to click the "Upload" button in order to upload the file to your application.  Late applications will not be sent to reviewers.   

In lieu of completing the Lay Summary section of the Letter of Intent form, please provide the following (consistent with NSF LOI requirement):

  •  Narrative - Section I, Synopsis and Section II Other Comments (each 2500 characters maximum, including spaces), should be used to convey important aspects of the project, such as information about the areas of expertise that comprise the three required components of this project: 1) engineered service system design and integration; 2) computing, sensing, and information technologies; and 3) human factors, behavioral sciences, or cognitive engineering.    Under Section III Additional Information, each of the three (3) data fields can contain a maximum of 255 characters or approximately 30 words as follows:   (1) Test Bed for Technology Integration: Briefly describe the technology-based service system and how the technology will make it "smart" or "smarter" and contribute to its efficacy.  (2) Primary Industrial Partner(s): Provide for each: Name, Founding Date, Number of Employees, Location (City & State), Commercial Revenues for the preceding calendar year, and Project Role (s). Reasonable abbreviations can be used. (3) Human Factors Research Tasks to be carried out which are essential to the design of the smart service system. List a few major research activities which illustrate how human-centered design considerations will be informed by the human factors research tasks.
  • CV - Up to 4 pages for UIC PI



Please contact Tony Halford at or 6-7036 with any questions.


If an authorized principal investigator is not listed above, please consider the limited competition still open. Contact for further information.