Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation - SSE & SSI


Software is an integral enabler of computation, experiment and theory and a primary modality for realizing the Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) vision, as described in Scientific discovery and innovation are advancing along fundamentally new pathways opened by development of increasingly sophisticated software. Software is also directly responsible for increased scientific productivity and significant enhancement of researchers' capabilities. In order to nurture, accelerate and sustain this critical mode of scientific progress, NSF has established the Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) program, with the overarching goal of transforming innovations in research and education into sustained software resources that are an integral part of the cyberinfrastructure.

SI2 has been a long-term investment focused on catalyzing new thinking, paradigms, and practices in developing and using software to understand natural, human, and engineered systems. The intent of SI2 has been to foster a pervasive cyberinfrastructure to help researchers address problems of unprecedented scale, complexity, resolution, and accuracy by integrating computation, data, networking, observations and experiments in novel ways. NSF expects that its SI2 investment will result in trustworthy, robust, reliable, usable and sustainable software infrastructure that is critical to achieving the CIF21 vision and will transform science and engineering while contributing to the education of next-generation researchers and creators of future cyberinfrastructure. Indeed, education at all levels will play an important role in integrating such a dynamic cyberinfrastructure into the fabric of how science and engineering is performed.

The goal of the SI2 program is to create a software ecosystem that includes all levels of the software stack and scales from individual or small groups of software innovators to large hubs of software excellence. The program addresses all aspects of cyberinfrastructure, from embedded sensor systems and instruments, to desktops and high-end data and computing systems, to major instruments and facilities. Thus, SI2 will continue to nurture the interdisciplinary processes required to support the entire software lifecycle, and will successfully integrate software development and support with innovation and research. Furthermore, it will result in the development of sustainable software communities that transcend scientific and geographical boundaries. SI2 envisions vibrant partnerships among academia, government laboratories and industry, including international entities, for the development and stewardship of a sustainable software infrastructure that can enhance productivity and accelerate innovation in science and engineering. Furthermore, SI2 recognizes that integrated education activities will play a key role in sustaining the cyberinfrastructure over time and in developing a workforce capable of fully realizing its potential to transform science and engineering. The SI2 program includes three classes of awards:

  1. Scientific Software Elements (SSE): SSE awards target small groups that will create and deploy robust software elements for which there is a demonstrated; these software elements will in turn advance one or more significant areas of science and engineering.
  2. Scientific Software Integration (SSI): SSI awards target larger, interdisciplinary teams organized around the development and application of common software infrastructure aimed at solving common research problems faced by NSF researchers in one or more areas of science and engineering. SSI awards will result in a sustainable community software framework serving a diverse community or communities.
  3. Scientific Software Innovation Institutes (S2I2): S2I2 awards will focus on the establishment of long-term hubs of excellence in software infrastructure and technologies,which will serve a research community of substantial size and disciplinary breadth.
Note: This solicitation includes only SSE and SSI classes of awards. ForS2I2 proposals in FY2016 please refer to solicitation NSF 15-553 ( At present, there is no solicitation that addressesS2I2 proposals for 2017 and beyond.
Please refer to (i) A Vision and Strategy for Software for Science, Engineering, and Education ( and (ii) Implementation of NSF Software Vision ( for further information about NSF's vision for software as part of cyberinfrastructure and the programs that support this vision. Proposers are also encouraged to consider positioning their work in the wider context of NSF priority areas and national and international initiatives where advanced cyberinfrastructure is relevant, such as, but not limited to, Understanding the Brain ( and the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) ( Prospective Principal Investigators (PIs) should be aware that SI2 is a multi-directorate activity and that they are encouraged to submit proposals for software with broad, interdisciplinary interest. PIs are encouraged to refer to core program descriptions, Dear Colleague Letters, and recently posted initiatives on directorate and divisional home pages to gain insight about the priorities for the relevant areas of science to which their proposals may be responsive.

As not all divisions are participating at the same level and divisional priorities differ, it is strongly recommended that prospective PIs contact Cognizant Program Officers in the division(s) that typically support the scientists and engineers who would make use of the proposed work, to ascertain whether the scientific focus and budget of the proposed work are appropriate for this solicitation.

Please note that some NSF units have additional specific information about their participation in this program:
  • Within the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)
    • The Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI) manages the SI2 program, and is especially interested in proposals as follows:
      • Proposals that develop multidisciplinary and omni-disciplinary software cyberinfrastructure, and proposals that meaningfully integrate, leverage or build on other ongoing ACI-supported programs such as the eXtreme Digital (XD) program, Campus Cyberinfrastructure - Data, Networking, and Innovation (CC*DNI), Cyber-security Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure (CICI), and Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) programs.
      • Proposals that, in addition to the software cyberinfrastructure development and ecosystem building activities that should make up the core of the work, integrate innovation and research on the effectiveness, usability, and adoption of the software, and its adaptability to new technologies, and to changing requirements.
      • Proposals that consider security, trustworthiness and reproducibility as important requirements to be met by their software. With respect to security, software developers are encouraged to demonstrate utilization of vulnerability analysis scanning tools throughout the development process (such as Coverity and SWAMP).
      • Proposals with objectives (including education and workforce-development objectives) that align with and contribute to the NSCI.
    • CISE's other divisions (Computing and Communication Foundations, Computer and Network Systems, and Information and Intelligent Systems) are interested in supporting SSE and SSI proposals that advance software infrastructure to sustain progress in CISE research areas, and that advance and adapt software engineering research to impact the software sustainability needs of other scientific disciplines.
  • The Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) is primarily interested in SSI proposals that impact both BIO-supported researchers and those supported by other directorates. PIs wishing to submit SSE projects that focus on biological sciences should consider submitting to Advances in Biological Informatics (ABI:
  • The Directorate for Engineering (ENG) is primarily interested in proposals that focus on innovative computational tools that enable advances and scientific discovery in the research areas of its Divisions of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET); Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI); and Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (ECCS). SSE proposals that are planned to become part of larger SSI-type integrated software systems, leading to increased community involvement, will be given priority in SSE funding decisions.
  • The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) is interested in software development projects that serve the academic geosciences (atmosphere and geospace, ocean, earth and polar sciences) community. Projects must demonstrate strong connections with geosciences end users and their research needs. Understanding of, and integration with, GEO and/or NSF investments in cyberinfrastructure, participation in EarthCube and interaction between geoscientists and cyber/computer scientists will be considered in prioritizing funding of SSI and SSE projects. PIs should contact and consult with both the SI2 GEO Program Officer as well as Program Officers in the relevant geosciences domains.
  • Within the Directorate for Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS):
    • The Division of Materials Research (DMR) encourages proposals that focus on innovative software tools that enable advances in the division’s research areas and at the interfaces of materials research and other research domains. The division is particularly interested in projects that develop software tools to enable and support research under the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), such as through Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF:, and under Sustainable Chemistry, Engineering, and Materials (SusChEM:
    • The Chemistry Division (CHE) encourages proposals that focus on innovative software tools that enable advances in the division’s research areas and at the interface of chemistry and other research domains. The division welcomes proposals that enable scientific advances in NSF priority areas.
    • The Physics Division (PHY) will consider proposals that focus on innovative computational tools that enable advances in the division's research areas.
    • The Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) will consider proposals to support the development of sustainable software that will enable broad community progress on key questions in astronomy and astrophysics.
    • The Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) welcomes proposals building computational tools that have broad application in mathematical sciences and related areas.
    • MPS also supports education and community development in cyberinfrastructure, for example, through proposals that include visitor support (particularly for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers), postdoctoral opportunities, or short training courses that increase interactions of domain scientists and software and/or cyberinfrastructure specialists.
  • The Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE) is interested in proposals that focus on innovative software infrastructure that supports the directorate’s research priorities, such as those outlined in SBE 2020 ( In particular, SBE is interested in proposals that will further the goals of SBE and at least one of the other directorates participating in this solicitation.
  • The Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) is interested in proposals that focus on innovative software infrastructure that supports the directorate’s research areas, namely STEM learning and learning environments, STEM workforce development, and broadening participation in STEM. For example, EHR is interested in research studies on how software tools foster science and engineering learning.

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Agency: National Science Foundation
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Applicant Eligibility
*Who May Submit Proposals: Proposals may only be submitted by the following: -Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities. -Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic in - FFRDCs may not receive funds directly from NSF under this solicitation.
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This program does not have cost sharing or matching requirements.
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