EMERGING FRONTIERS IN RESEARCH AND INNOVATION (EFRI): Engineered Living Systems (ELiS) and Brain-Inspired Dynamics for Engineering Energy-Efficient Circuits and Artificial Intelligence (BRAID)

ISSUED BY: National Science Foundation


The Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program of the NSF Directorate for Engineering (ENG) serves a critical role in helping ENG focus on important emerging areas in a timely manner. This solicitation is a funding opportunity for interdisciplinary teams of researchers to embark on rapidly advancing frontiers of fundamental engineering research. For this solicitation, we will consider proposals that aim to investigate emerging frontiers in one of the following two research areas: Engineered Living Systems (ELiS), and Brain-Inspired Dynamics for Engineering Energy-Efficient Circuits and Artificial Intelligence (BRAID; see details below). This solicitation will be coordinated with the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO), the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), the Directorate for Geosciences (GEO), and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), along with Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Department of Defense – Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). EFRI seeks proposals with potentially transformative ideas that represent an opportunity for a significant shift in fundamental engineering knowledge with a strong potential for long term impact on national needs or a grand challenge. The proposals must also meet the detailed requirements delineated in this solicitation. INFORMATIONAL WEBINAR: The Emerging Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Activities (EFMA) Office will host an informational webinar in October 2021 to discuss the EFRI program and answer questions about the FY 2022/23 solicitation: https://www.nsf.gov/events/event_summ.jsp?cntn_id=303513&org=EFMA.

The National Science Foundation recently released a new topic as part of its Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program, titled, Brain-inspired Dynamics for Engineering Energy-Efficient Circuits and Artificial Intelligence (BRAID). This topic will support interdisciplinary research to create a new engineering science of brain-inspired engineered learning systems. Neuroscience research is in a period of explosive growth, producing new understanding of biological learning processes and their efficiency that remains largely untapped. This revolution in our understanding of the brain has revealed, for example, the critical interplay of temporal dynamics across time scales from milliseconds to lifetimes and neural structures across spatial scales from nanometers to entire brains. BRAID seeks to exploit emerging advances in neuroscience for the design of engineered learning systems that would exhibit the flexibility, robustness, and efficiency of biological intelligence, exemplified respectively by the continual and causal learning needed for adaptive autonomy, the abstraction and generalization needed to learn from few examples and to identify relevant strategies from previously learned concepts and contexts, and the energy efficiency needed to extend the benefits of learning and autonomy throughout the built environment.

Each proposal submitted in response to the BRAID topic of the EFRI solicitation must address at least two out of the three threads (shown below):
• Thread 1: Theoretical Neuroscience
• Thread 2: Brain-informed Hardware Design – going beyond neuromorphic engineering
• Thread 3: Algorithmic Learning for Resilient Adaptive Technologies
While responses to all three threads are encouraged, response to Thread 1 is mandatory.

The full solicitation (21-615) can be found here: https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/opportunities/emerging-frontiers-research-and-innovation.


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General Information:






September 9, 2021


September 9, 2021


March 10, 2022


Full Solicitation (21-615) See full listing