The NSF I/UCRC Program and its Role in Advancing the Energy and Environment Research

S. Priya, L. Hornak, R. Rodriguez
National Science Foundation Industry University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC), US

Keywords: solar, energy research, NSF

Summary:

The Industry University Collaborative Research Center (I/UCRC) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides funding opportunities for universities and industry to nucleate and grow long-term partnerships for conducting pre-competitive research on topics of mutual benefit in an educational environment. Each center’s research is vetted by its industry advisory board through a voting process that ensures that it aligns with the emerging needs of the consortium rather than that of any one individual company. As of 2013, there are 67 I/UCRCs operating in the United States (US) with a total of 191 university sites. Four of these sites are located outside the US: Belgium, Germany, Russia and India. This international expansion of the I/UCRC program offers a unique opportunity for participating universities and companies to access requisite expertise and facilities and enhance educational opportunities by adopting best practices that are globally applicable. In this presentation, we will briefly cover three subtopics: (i) overview of the I/UCRC program with a brief summary of the societal impacts focusing on energy and environment, (ii) opportunities offered through the I/UCRC program for developing large team national and international programs, and (iii) highlights of the research being conducted at the I/UCRCs in the areas of solar energy, advanced materials, energy harvesting and smart grids. This will be followed by an open discussion focusing on identifying industry needs and grand challenge problems in these topical areas.