Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

NSF Presenting New “CREATIV” Grant Mechanism Today

November 9th, 2011 / in research horizons, resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

NSF to announce CREATIV grant mechanism [image courtesy NSF].At 11am EST today, key officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF), led by NSF Director Subra Suresh, will present a live webcast about the Foundation’s new Creative Research Awards for Transformative Interdisciplinary Ventures (CREATIV) — a “pilot grant mechanism under the Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) initiative, to support bold interdisciplinary projects in all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research.”

The goals of the CREATIV grant mechanism are to create new interdisciplinary opportunities that are not perceived to exist presently; attract unusually creative high-risk/high-reward interdisciplinary proposals; and provide substantial funding, not limited to the exploratory stage of the pursuit of novel ideas. Importantly, CREATIV is open to all NSF-supported areas of science, engineering, and education research, including computing.

From the NSF’s Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) issued ahead of today’s webcast:

The INSPIRE initiative was introduced … with the fiscal year 2012 NSF budget request to Congress. [At the time, Suresh said]: “INSPIRE is aimed to encourage cross-disciplinary science. INSPIRE will help to break down any disciplinary barriers that may exist within NSF and encourage its program managers to use new tools, collaboration modes and techniques in the merit-review process to widen the pool of prospective discoveries that may be hidden from or circumvented by traditional means.”


CREATIV is the first grant award mechanism under INSPIRE, and will be the only one launched in FY 2012. In brief, its distinguishing characteristics are: only internal merit review is required; proposals must be interdisciplinary and potentially transformative; and requests may be up to $1,000,000 and up to five years duration. In the future, further announcements will be made regarding INSPIRE activities to be launched in FY 2013 and beyond. The funding for INSPIRE in future years is expected to increase substantially each year, reaching a steady state in FY 2016…


CREATIV is a new grant mechanism for special proposals and is not intended to handle proposals that are more appropriate for existing mechanisms. In particular, proposals of the following types should be submitted to and reviewed conventionally through existing programs or solicitations, and are not appropriate for submission through the CREATIV grant mechanism:


  • Projects in which the scientific advances lie primarily within the scope of one program or discipline, such that substantial co-funding from another distinct program or discipline is an unlikely proposition.
  • Projects that, in the judgment of cognizant program directors, can be expected to receive an appropriate evaluation through external review in regular programs.
  • Projects that continue well-established lines of research, in accordance with expected progress in their fields…


A CREATIV award must integrate across multiple disciplines, as opposed to incorporating disciplinary contributions additively. The proposal must identify and justify how the project is interdisciplinary, for example by:


  • Combining concepts/methods from multiple fields in new, surprising ways;
  • Forming a new community from a union of communities that rarely interact;
  • Proposing problem-driven research that requires a comprehensive and integrative approach to a grand challenge issue;
  • Raising new fundamental questions or interesting new directions for research at the interface of disciplines; or
  • Making major changes in understanding or use of existing concepts or methods to address complex phenomena.


A CREATIV award must be potentially transformative. The proposal must identify and justify what is potentially transformative in the project, by showing specifically how at least one of the following characteristics is fulfilled:


  • Challenges conventional wisdom;
  • Leads to insights that enable new techniques or methodologies; or
  • Redefines the boundaries among disciplines of science, engineering, or education.

To learn more about CREATIV, tune in to the live webcast beginning at 11am EST today — and check out the DCL as well as the CREATIV FAQs.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

NSF Presenting New “CREATIV” Grant Mechanism Today

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