Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program
Date: September 19, 2018

Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program

The Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program in the NSF Directorate for Engineering has just released a Dear Colleague Letter requesting Topic Suggestions for the EFRI Program.

Dear Colleagues,

The NSF Directorate for Engineering is excited to share with you the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) NSF 18-105 announcing the roll-out of the FY20 Topic Selection process for the Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program.

Dear Colleague Letter: Seeking Community Input for Topic Ideas for Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program

The Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program** in the Directorate for Engineering is initiating the biennial search for emerging topics that will become the focus of research supported by the EFRI Program for FY20. This program undertakes to identify and fund research in emerging topic areas with the following characteristics: (1) Transformative; (2) Addressing a national or societal need, or grand challenge; (3) Multidisciplinary, with a significant leadership role for engineering; and (4) in an area in which the community is poised to respond (i.e., it is emerging not exploratory)

Through this DCL, we invite the research community to submit suggestions for Topic Ideas. Your ideas will serve as an important input to internal deliberations of the NSF Directorate for Engineering on defining and selecting research topics for the 2020 EFRI Solicitation.

Instructions for Topic Idea submission are provided in the DCL.

If you have questions, please contact us at:



The EFRI Program aims to focus the engineering community on important emerging areas in a timely manner. EFRI evaluates, recommends, and funds interdisciplinary initiatives at the emerging frontiers of engineering research and innovation. These transformative opportunities may lead to: new research directions; new industries or capabilities that result in a leadership position for the country; and/or significant progress on a recognized national or societal need, or grand challenge. The EFRI Program is the signature activity of the Office of Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (EFMA) in the Directorate for Engineering.

EFRI invests in high-risk multidisciplinary opportunities with high-potential payoff. Its role is to support research areas that would not fit within the scope of an existing program. These frontier ideas cannot be pursued by one researcher or within one field of expertise. They are "frontier" because they not only push the limits of knowledge of one field, but actually are at the convergence of multiple fields. The EFRI funding process is designed to both inspire and enable a group of researchers with diverse technical expertise to work together on a single frontier idea.

The EFRI Program continuously gathers information for use in deciding future research topic areas to support. This process operates constantly, ensuring input and feedback from the engineering community on promising upcoming research opportunities. Input comes from diverse sources including workshops, advisory committees, proposals and awards, technical meetings, and professional societies, as well as from researchers in the community – the focus of this DCL. From this comprehensive input, the EFRI team identifies, evaluates, and prioritizes those frontier topics that best match the EFRI criteria.