Nilay Papilla on Accelerating Research Through International Network-To-Network Collaborations

The National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations (AccelNet) program aims to accelerate the process of scientific discovery and prepare the next generation of U.S. researchers for multiteam international collaborations. This program supports strategic linkages among U.S. research networks and complementary networks outside U. S.  that will leverage research and educational resources to tackle grand research challenges that require significant coordinated international efforts. The program seeks to foster high-impact science and engineering by providing opportunities to cooperatively identify and coordinate efforts to address knowledge gaps and research needs [1].

This AccelNet Program is for the creation of international “networks of networks” in research areas aligned with a grand challenge identified as a priority by the research community or NSF, such as the NSF Big Ideas [2]. The programt awards support the connections among research networks, rather than supporting fundamental research as the primary activity. Each network of networks is expected to engage in innovative collaborative activities that promote synergy of efforts across networks and provide professional development for U.S. students, postdoctoral scholars, and early-career researchers. Two proposal categories covered by this solicitation include: Design and Implementation [3].

Program Goals:
• Accelerate the process of scientific discovery
• Prepare U.S. science and engineering students, postdoctoral scholars, and early-career researchers for success in conducting and leading multiteam international collaborations

Designed to foster “networks of networks”
• AccelNet awards support the connections among research networks, rather than supporting fundamental research as the primary activity.
• Linkages (at least 3 networks) to cooperatively identify and coordinate efforts to address knowledge gaps and research needs.
• The program is not designed to create a single new network or to scale up dissemination.

Proposals accepted under Two Tracks:
(1) Design Track -Duration up to 2 years: up to $250K
• To enable networks to develop operational links among networks and design collaborative approaches that would address knowledge gaps
• For early stage of design (e.g., identifying research and professional development needs, priorities, goals, developing partnerships)

Solicitation Specific Review Criteria
• How well does the proposal incorporate activities and network representatives likely to lay the foundation for a viable network of networks in a scientific grand challenge area?
• Are the plans to engage students, postdoctoral scholars, and early-career researchers in the identification of knowledge gaps central to the project theme and identification of professional skills central to participation in international networks of networks well-conceived?

(2) Implementation Track -Duration 3-5 years; for up to $2M

• For more established networks of networks to implement coordination across networks on a roadmap to advance theory, methods, tools, and/or integration across fields
• For networks that have (a) understanding of knowledge gaps, (b) vision of synergies, (c) developed scalable team science, (d) organizational structure for collaborative leadership and broad participation

Solicitation Specific Review Criteria
• Coordination and Management: optimally configured, structure and roles clear
• Data Management: best practices, anticipates scale and scope, expertise
• Potential to Prepare Next Generation: professional development outcomes clear
• Investments and Resource Leverage: mutual benefits and compelling novel synergies

Network of Network Characteristics
• Roadmap of the research needs of the community to foster research innovation and scientific discovery
• International engagement that is integral to the success
• Leveraged substantial resources across partners for mutual benefit
• Professional development and global research perspectives for students, particularly graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and/or early-career researchers that enhance skills and leadership in international collaboration
• Protocols for communication, collaboration, decision-making, data management, intellectual property, shared-use infrastructure, and other network activities, facilities, or products that reduce barriers

Network of Networks Participants and Benefits
Open Research Networks and Stakeholders
• An entity such as national laboratory, governmental or non-governmental organization, private industry can be a stakeholder participant
• Open membership based on shared research efforts (not organizational affiliation)
• Evolves overtime, with potential to expand network participants
Benefits in Service to the Community
• Key roles held by members of multiple networks
• Benefits to all networks
• Participation in activities not limited to the institutions of PI & Co-PIs
• Funds not limited to the institutions of PI & Co-PIs

Eligibility: Proposals may only be submitted by the following entities.
• Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities. -Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs)
• Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.

Award Information

Current Closing Date for Applications October 09, 2023
Anticipated Funding Amount $10 million, pending availability of funds
Estimated number of awards 10 to 14
Limit on number of proposals per PI or Co-PI 1
Limit on number of proposals per PI or co-PI description An individual may appear as PI or Co-PI in no more than one proposal submitted in response to this solicitation, whether Design or Implementation.
Program contact Karen R. Lips (, (703) 292-5133)


[1] NSF Program Website:
[2] NSF Big Ideas Website:
[3] Solicitation at