NSF Will Invest Up to $28M for STEM Open-Source Ecosystems

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The agency is looking for proposals for two phases to translate open-source products into open-source ecosystems.

The National Science Foundation is looking to foster the development of open-source ecosystems in STEM fields under a new solicitation, according to a Thursday announcement

The Pathways to Enable Open-Source Ecosystems—or POSE—program is designed to utilize “open-source development as a platform of innovation to address challenges of societal and economic importance.” It will take open-source products or research artifacts and translate these to open-source ecosystems.

According to the solicitation, “some open-source projects go well beyond their original research teams, catalyzing broad adoption across academia, industry, government and other sectors, and resulting in communities of users and intellectual content developers who coalesce around them into ‘ecosystems.’”

The program will not fund open-source tools or products or existing open-source ecosystems. Rather, the POSE program will focus on supporting new open-source ecosystems. 

According to the announcement, the goal of the POSE program is to expand the group of researchers and innovators developing and contributing to open-source ecosystems and to create safe and secure development and contribution pathways for open-source ecosystems that have large impact.

As noted in the announcement, the POSE program is looking for two types of proposals:

  • Phase I proposal for one year and up to $300,000 per project. These proposals should outline specific activities to scope and plan the establishment of an open-source ecosystem.
  • Phase II for two years and up to $1.5 million per project. These proposals will be to create a sustainable open-source ecosystem based on a robust open-source product that can meet “an emergent societal or economic need and build a community to help develop it.”

“This program will ensure more secure open-source products, increased coordination of developer contributions and a more focused route to impactful technologies,” said Barry Johnson, division director for the Division of Translational Impacts within NSF’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.

NSF expects to issue 30 to 50 awards and its total anticipated budget is $27.8 million.

NSF noted that many of its funded projects “result in publicly accessible, modifiable and distributable open-source products, including software, hardware, models, specifications, programming languages or data platforms, that catalyze further innovation.” Some of these open-source products could be used for open-source ecosystems—which include leadership, a managing organization with governance and users, among other things. According to the solicitation, NSF’s vision for the POSE program is to create more managing organizations to have more diverse and broad adoption of open-source products and increased contribution.

The POSE program is open for research and innovation from all STEM open-source ecosystems and was launched by the agency’s Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships in conjunction with all other NSF directorates. According to the announcement, the POSE program will be a “pathway to translate scientific and engineering innovations.” 

The full proposal deadline is Sept. 7, 2023 by 5pm local time. Deadlines thereafter will be the first Thursday in September annually.