Limited Submission: Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI: BIC)

09/30/2013, 5:00 PM

To: All Faculty in the College of Engineering and Social and Behavioral Sciences


Below please find a limited submission opportunity with only two proposals allowed per institution. If you are interested in applying to this program please email me by September 30th.


Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI: BIC)


Program Description:
The Directorate for Engineering of the National Science Foundation invites requests for funding in the area of "smart" service systems under the Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) solicitation. Proposals should focus on platform technology motivated by existing research discoveries that has the potential to achieve transformational change in existing service systems or to spur entirely new systems. The hallmark of PFI:BIC is an academe-industry partnership crafted to collaborate on research to address the central issue of identifying and advancing key platform technologies so as to enable "smart" service systems to enter into the commercialization process and to help insure positive social outcomes that would result from successful commercialization.

The perspectives, competencies, and commitments of both academe and business are needed to address this central issue. Therefore, platform technology advancement should be informed by a deep understanding of potential service systems where the technology could be implemented. A clear understanding of the market need and the competitive landscape should help guide project activities. At least one industry partner is expected to contribute market understanding of one or more promising service applications.

Service systems are socio-technical configurations of people, technologies, organizations, and information designed to deliver services that create and deliver value to customers and other stakeholders by satisfying the needs, wants, and aspirations of customers while achieving positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes [8]. Service systems are becoming increasingly interdependent, often with interconnected configurations of customer-to-customer, provider-to-customer, and provider-to-provider links organized as a large-scale system-of-systems. Although a service process is performed for the benefit of the customer, the degree of customer involvement in the service process depends on the nature of the process. For example, during a hospital stay, patients will participate in the service process whenever interacting with nurses or physicians. Patients' response to treatment or the way patients provide information could affect the outcome of the service. However, there will be portions of the service that would occur in parallel, independently of patients' direct involvement, such as the processes involved in handing out and reading lab test results by lab technicians and physicians. In the end, the interaction of patients with this system-of-systems will have a single goal: to improve patients' health status. This is why it is said that in order to be considered a service, providers, and recipients co-create value in one or multiple points of their interaction, but sometimes the customer could receive benefits from the sub-systems operating behind the scenes.

Hence, the integration of platform technologies in service systems enabling innovation can occur at different levels of the service system [9]:

·         Service concept. Innovations in the service concept or the value proposition facilitated by platform technologies leading to the emergence of novel services never before considered. Examples include the emergence of online auction services in the 1990s or remote conferencing services facilitated by new technologies.
·         Customer interface. Innovations in the customer interface or innovations introduced in the service encounter by the use of platform technologies. Examples include self-service technologies, auto-translating technologies, auto-diagnosing technologies, etc.
·         Manner of delivery. Innovations in the way the service is delivered and the corresponding interaction with the service recipient. Examples include innovation in mailing logistics, mobile technology and apps, and online services that were initially provided over the phone or in person.
·         Processing systems. Innovation in processing systems that feed service systems through the introduction of technologies, thereby creating value in the form of more efficient service systems or higher service quality on the back end but which do not necessarily involve the interface with the customer. Examples include communication technologies to track packages or inventory and algorithms to reduce human error in pharmacies.

Proposals for platform technologies to enable "smart" service systems may address one or more of the levels described above.

Smart cities, on-demand transportation, precision agriculture, smart healthcare, and smart infrastructure are all examples of service systems with the potential to improve quality of life. Solutions to improve government services, including self-service and customized service technologies, are also likely to improve efficiency and quality. Examples of other service systems where smart technologies could make a difference include disaster mitigation and humanitarian services, communication services, utilities, consulting and professional services, and hospitality services, to name a few.

This solicitation seeks proposals that focus on platform technologies to enable "smart" service systems. Examples include, but are not limited to, low-power consumption devices, biodegradable sensors, low-cost sensors, smart phone and tablet platforms, real-time decision making software, customer needs/behavior prediction, self-service and self-customization technologies, machine learning technologies and other intelligent systems, etc.

Sponsor Deadline:
Letter of Intent – November 18, 2013
Full Proposal – January 27, 2014