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Public and private partnerships contribute to NSF's goal of being a global leader in research and innovation. Partnerships can accelerate discovery by expanding the kinds of questions that can be addressed; enabling access to expertise, infrastructure, or sites; and building broader communities of researchers. This, in turn, can accelerate translation of research results to products and services, and enhance preparation of the future workforce to benefit society and grow the American economy.

Building partnerships is a priority for NSF.

Building partnerships is an increasingly high priority across the federal government, and its importance is highlighted as a key element of leadership for NSF in the National Science Board's Vision 2030. Since taking the helm of NSF in June 2020, Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan has also stressed the importance of establishing and nurturing partnerships across all sectors to advance the frontier of science.

Learn more about NSF Partnerships.

NSF has developed a Partnerships Landscape Study which sketches out the contours of NSF's existing partnership landscape, provides some noteworthy examples and observations, and identifies the key steps NSF is taking to grow its capacity for partnerships into the future. To aid in decision making as new partnerships are considered, NSF has also developed Guiding Principles.

Partnerships are beneficial for all stakeholders.

NSF currently partners with other federal agencies, industry, private foundations & NGOs and foreign funders. These partnerships advance shared interests and goals among stakeholders, coordinate and enhance the impact of the investments, and complement and support research priorities across the globe. For more details, read the NSF Partnerships Landscape Study.

Federal agencies

NSF has hundreds of ongoing interagency engagements, reflecting extensive shared interests, some of which take the form of direct agency-level partnerships or co-funded projects.

Interagency partnerships...

  • advance shared interests and goals among agencies, through coordination and cooperation that amplify expertise and reduce process redundancy;
  • bring the research communities supported by different agencies together and can streamline researchers' access to the federal proposal review process;
  • facilitate information and resources sharing and boost research productivity and broader impacts; and
  • fund pieces of complex projects that fulfill each agency's specific mission in working towards shared scientific goals.


NSF currently partners with industry to advance the frontiers of science in research areas that positively impact society today.

Public-private partnerships...

  • advance NSF's strategic plan to enhance the impact of the agency's investments;
  • provide the research community with use-inspired research problems, accelerate the translation of basic research to the market, and support the development of workforce resources;
  • enable industry to tap into the full expanse of the U.S. academic research community that NSF reaches and the benefit of NSF's merit review process to select the best proposals;
  • afford industry access to the talent base of future researchers and practitioners by working closely with students;
  • enable industry to leverage intellectual property that results from jointly-funded activities - via the same licensing terms that the federal government has - and to help accelerate discovery to practice; and
  • pool together public and private resources and ensure that the sum is greater than the individual parts - including sharing the risks of early-stage research.

Private foundations and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Through partnerships with NSF, private foundations and NGOs support research priorities aligned with the mission of their organizations.


  • catalyze new research areas and bring broad communities of researchers together with NSF;
  • support innovative 'proof-of-principle' pilots that can later be taken to scale; and
  • raise profile for the foundation or NGO, building upon the trust that have been built with niche communities.

Foreign funders

International partnerships support complementary priorities between research communities in the U.S. and other countries.

International partnerships...

  • provide the U.S. research community access to expert collaborators with com-plementary expertise or working on topics of mutual interest;
  • afford access for U.S. researchers to unique facilities, infrastructure, field sites, logistical support, and data sets; and
  • result in shared best practices, contributing to creating global expectations and norms for addressing conflict of interest and other ethical issues.

Interested in partnering with NSF?

Start by finding the NSF program that best aligns with your interests and contact the representing program officer. A list of NSF programs is available here.