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NSF and industry partners announce sustainable polymer research funding opportunity

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Sustainable polymer research program will use data science tools to create new high-value polymers

May 3, 2024

$9.5 million is available for multidisciplinary work to enable the accelerated creation of safe, sustainable and high-value polymers on a commercial scale.

The U.S. National Science Foundation has launched a $9.5 million research funding opportunity in partnership with BASF, Dow, IBM, PepsiCo Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. Sustainable Polymers Enabled by Emerging Data Analytics (SPEED) is part of NSF's Molecular Foundations for Sustainability program and seeks to accelerate the discovery and manufacture of superior and sustainable polymers to enhance national competitiveness and tackle global challenges such as plastic waste. NSF is providing $7 million, and the five industry partners are collectively contributing $2.5 million in funding and in-kind donations.

"Synthetic polymers are in many products and materials used by our society, from concrete and plastics to paper and rubber," says NSF Chemistry Division Director David Berkowitz. "Melding frontier chemistry with advanced data science tools to design and commercialize new high-value polymers can reduce pollution and waste — and ultimately enhance the health of our planet and the resiliency of our communities."

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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 2023 budget of $9.5 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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