NSF and Industry Partners Announce Sustainable Polymer Research Funding Opportunity

By Staff
2 Min Read

The U.S. National Science Foundation has launched a $9.5 million research funding opportunity in partnership with BASF, Dow, IBM, PepsiCo Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.

Sustainable Polymers Enabled by Emerging Data Analytics (SPEED) is part of NSF’s Molecular Foundations for Sustainability program and seeks to accelerate the discovery and manufacture of superior and sustainable polymers to enhance national competitiveness and tackle global challenges such as plastic waste. NSF is providing $7 million, and the five industry partners are collectively contributing $2.5 million in funding and in-kind donations.

“Synthetic polymers are in many products and materials used by our society, from concrete and plastics to paper and rubber,” NSF Chemistry Division Director David Berkowitz said. “Melding frontier chemistry with advanced data science tools to design and commercialize new high-value polymers can reduce pollution and waste — and ultimately enhance the health of our planet and the resiliency of our communities.”

SPEED is one of several NSF efforts to advance fundamental research in sustainable chemistry, a national priority highlighted in the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022” which called on NSF to support sustainable chemistry research and education by fostering collaborative research and development partnerships among universities, industry and other organizations.

The funding from SPEED will support multidisciplinary teams and convergent research that can enable the accelerated creation of safe, sustainable, high-value molecules on commercial scales. The effort also aims to support the development of the U.S. STEM workforce needed for such advances.

A key focus is harnessing the predictive potential of emerging data tools and analytics, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to streamline industry adoption of new discoveries and yield societal benefits faster and more reliably. Those benefits include enhancing U.S. manufacturing capabilities and growing a circular economy around the creation of renewable, degradable and recyclable products.

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