Federal research focuses on national priorities in areas authorized by law and delegated under executive authority. Research program priorities and research project selection reflect these limits. Federal research programs related to transportation are scattered among many different agencies and offices. The federal agencies below support research programs that accept outside research ideas and proposals:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Through its activities associated with research, engineering, and development, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducts research on and develops the systems and procedures needed for a safe and efficient system of air navigation and air traffic control. FAA also helps develop better aircraft, engines, and equipment, and tests or evaluates aviation systems, devices, materials, and procedures.

Aviation Research Grants Program
Total Annual Funding: ~ $32 million for FY17 through FY21
Research Statements Due: Based on solicitation

General Description

The Aviation Research Grants Program supports the FAA’s mission to ensure the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace in the United States; to regulate air commerce in such a manner as to best promote its development and safety; to promote a common system of air traffic control and navigation for both military and civil aircraft; and to promote, encourage, and develop civil aeronautics.

Research grants and cooperative agreements, which range from several thousand to several million dollars, support aviation-related research in topics with the potential to gain further knowledge in emerging aviation technologies.


Type of Research Funded

This program supports research in areas necessary for the long-term growth of civil aviation. Specific research areas include air traffic control automation; aviation applications of advanced technologies; human factors in highly automated environments; and aircraft safety.

The FAA has identified the following technical areas of research for which it is particularly interested in receiving proposals. These areas are crucial to the FAA’s overall mission of ensuring capacity, efficiency, and safety.

  • Human factors and aviation medicine;
  • Environment and energy;
  • Aircraft safety technology;
  • Airports;
  • Communications, navigation, and surveillance;
  • Aviation weather;
  • Capacity and air traffic control technology;
  • Systems science/operations research; and
  • Commercial space transportation.


Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

Nearly all FAA research grants and cooperative agreements are funded out of the project funds of the FAA’s individual research, engineering, and development (RE&D) programs.


Project Solicitation and Submission

The FAA accepts electronic submission of proposals through the Grants.gov website. All colleges, universities, and legally incorporated nonprofit research institutions qualify for research grants and cooperative agreements. Individuals and private for-profit entities are ineligible.

Proposals must be approved and recommended by the RE&D program managers if they are to be funded. For this reason, it is to the benefit of the grant-seeking organization to contact the appropriate FAA RE&D program manager to discuss research plans and goals before preparing an official grant proposal.


Project Selection Criteria and Tips for Writing Winning Research Statements

FAA-funded research may use any scientific methodology deemed appropriate by the grantee. It is not required that individual proposals be linked to the immediate application of research to current FAA RE&D projects. Rather, the evaluation criteria for grant and cooperative agreement proposals will include the potential application of research results to the FAA’s long-term goals for civil aviation technology.


Further Information

Find more information about the Aviation Research Grants Program the FAA program page.

Contacts

Debra Monzo
Grants Officer
Federal Aviation Administration
609-485-4962
Nicole Saiauskie
Grants Officer
Federal Aviation Administration
609-485-4781
FAA Centers of Excellence

General Description

Since its inception, the FAA Centers of Excellence (COE) program has made a major commitment on the part of the FAA to support multiyear and multimillion dollar research efforts, ensuring coordination and innovation across the university teams that make up the various COEs. This investment has resulted in significant advancements in aviation science, technologies, and technology transfer.

There are currently six active established FAA COEs, each with specific research areas. The goal is for each center to become a national resource in a particular area of transportation. The COE program has included over 70 institutions of higher learning and over 200 industry and government affiliates. Through their collaborative efforts, they have conducted research in areas which are critical to the FAA and the flying public.


Type of Research Funded

Listed below are the six active COEs and their focus areas:

  • Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance (TTHP): Curriculum Architecture; Content Management and Delivery; Simulation and Part Task Training; Human Factors; Analytics; Safety; and Program Management.
  • Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Air Traffic Integration; Airworthiness; Control and Communication; Detect and Avoid (DAA); Human Factors; and Low Altitude Operations Safety
  • Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment (AJFE):
  • Center of Excellence for the Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability (PEGASAS): The enhancement of general aviation safety, accessibility, and sustainability by partnering the FAA with a national network of world-class researchers, educators, and industry leaders.
  • Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation (CST): Space Traffic Management and Operations; Space Transportation Operations, Technologies and Payload; Human Space Flight; and Space Transportation Industry Viability.
  • Joint Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials (JAMS): The Center is a joint effort of the Center of Excellence for Composite and Advanced Materials (CECAM) and the Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials in Transport Aircraft Structures (AMTAS).

The main focus of this partnership is the research, engineering, and development of information used to assure safety and standardize certification of existing and emerging structural applications of composites and advanced materials. Specifically, projects include the evaluation of past applications, performance of applied research, and the development of standard engineering practices.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

Funding can be provided for a period of up to 10 years for both indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts and cooperative agreements (grants).

COE research grants require matching funds mandated by Congress. Cost-share contracts may be awarded following competitive process authorized by the White House. Reinvention Lab Centers may receive funding from any public or private source as set forth in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, Public Law 101-508. Centers may contract with others as appropriate.

Further Information

Find more information about the FAA COE program at the FAA program page.

Contact

Patricia Watts
FAA COE National Program Director
Federal Aviation Administration
609-485-5043

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. Department of Transportation

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) offers many opportunities to get involved in the process of developing highway research, deploying technologies and innovations, and finding solutions to complex transportation problems.

Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment
Total Annual Funding: $60 million annually through FY20
Range of Project Costs: Varies

General Description

The FAST Act established the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program to make competitive grants for the development of model deployment sites for large scale installation and operation of advanced transportation technologies to improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment.  


Type of Research Funded

Grant recipients may use funds under this program to deploy advanced transportation and congestion management technologies, including:

  • Advanced traveler information systems;
  • Advanced transportation management technologies;
  • Infrastructure maintenance, monitoring, and condition assessment;
  • Advanced public transportation systems;
  • Transportation system performance data collection, analysis, and dissemination systems;
  • Advanced safety systems, including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications;
  • Technologies associated with autonomous vehicles, and other collision avoidance technologies, including systems using cellular technology;
  • Integration of intelligent transportation systems with the Smart Grid and other energy distribution and charging systems;
  • Electronic pricing and payment systems; or
  • Advanced mobility and access technologies, such as dynamic ridesharing and information systems to support human services for elderly and disabled individuals.

A grant recipient may use up to 5% of the funds awarded each fiscal year to carry out planning and reporting requirements under the program.

Funding Levels

The FAST Act funds the program through a set-aside from the Highway Research and Development, Technology, and Innovation Deployment, and Intelligent Transportation System Research Programs. The FAST Act provides $60 million annually for the program through the 2020 fiscal year.

Federal share can include up to 50% of the cost of the project.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Eligible applicants include:

  • State or local government or political subdivision thereof,
  • Transit agency,
  • Metropolitan planning organization representing a population of more than 200,000,
  • Multijurisdictional group made up of the above eligible applicants, with a signed agreement to implement the initiative across jurisdictional boundaries, and
  • Consortium of research or academic institutions.  

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria

The selection criteria vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Further Information

Find more information about the Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment program at the program’s website.

Contact

Dave Harris
Program Manager, Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment
Federal Highway Administration
202-366-2825
Exploratory Advanced Research Program
Total Annual Funding: Varies annually; announced in Broad Agency Announcement
Range of Project Costs: Varies

General Description

The Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program was established to address the need to conduct research on longer term and higher risk breakthrough research with the potential for transformational improvements to plan, build, renew, and operate safe, congestion free, and environmentally sound transportation systems. This program supports scientific investigations and studies to advance the current knowledge and state-of-the-art in the sciences and technologies employed in the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and management of the nation’s highways.

Type of Research Funded

Through scanning and convening activities, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) engages a large number of stakeholders from within and outside the traditional highway research community to identify topics of research that promise transformation and possible breakthroughs in highway technology, processes, and policies. Topics usually include those with strong merit in advancing different fields including engineering, hard sciences, as well as social sciences to support national strategic objectives.

FHWA continues to investigate other research areas for potential breakthrough opportunities. FHWA welcomes questions or thoughts about opportunities and other areas of focus that could lead to transformation changes in highway research. At this time, however, FHWA has not identified other focus areas or topics for funding under the EAR Program.

Funding Levels

The total number of awards, and their dollar value, varies depending on the merit of the proposals received. FHWA may make more than one award or no award for each topic listed in the Broad Agency Announcement.

Schedule

Below is a general schedule that is subject to change any given year:

  • August: Broad Agency Announcement
  • October: Proposals due
  • March through September: Anticipated award dates

Project Solicitation and Submission

FHWA releases a Broad Agency Announcement that includes topics, proposal format, submission process, funding processes, and other related information. Proposals are to be submitted electronically.

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria

Evaluations are performed using the following criteria:

  • Scientific and technical merit;
  • Importance to agency programs;
  • Fund availability;
  • Past performance; and
  • Small business subcontracting plan.

Further Information

Find more information about the Exploratory Advanced Research Program at the program’s website.

Contact

David Kuehn
Team Director/Program Manager
Exploratory Advanced Research Program
Federal Highway Administration
202-493-3414
Highway Research and Development
Total Annual Funding: $125 million annually through FY20
Research Application Due: Varies

General Description

FHWA’s Highway Research and Development (HRD) program funds strategic investment in research activities that address current and emerging highway transportation needs.

The FAST Act established a list of research priorities, which include improving mobility of people and goods; reducing congestion; promoting safety; improving the durability and extending the life of the transportation infrastructure; preserving the environment; and preserving the existing transportation system. Core research and development (R&D) investment in these core areas are guided by multiyear roadmaps developed within the research program areas. High priority and emerging issues are selected for funding under the Strategic R&D portion. Additionally, Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) is conducted to identify new science, innovations, and materials in support of all areas.


Type of Research Funded

The FAST Act supports a broad range of activities that are eligible under the HRD program, including:

  • Activities to improve highway safety;
  • Activities to improve infrastructure integrity;
  • Activities to strengthen transportation planning and environmental decision-making;
  • Activities to reduce congestion, improve highway operations, and enhance freight productivity;
  • Exploratory advanced research; and
  • Operation of FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

The FAST Act provides $125 million annually for the HRD program through the 2020 fiscal year. However, not all funds are budgeted for competitive solicitations.

Schedule

Available funding opportunities are published throughout the year at the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Grants.gov website.

Project Solicitation and Submission

FHWA employs numerous solicitation methods including full and open competition, General Services Administration schedule, small and disadvantaged business set-asides, indefinite deliverable/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants. The guidelines for submission vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria

The selection criteria vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Further Information

Find more information about the FHWA Research, Development, and Technology Program and the FHWA Research and Technology Agenda at the FHWA website.

Contact

Jack Jernigan
Team Director
R&T Program Development & Partnership Team
Federal Highway Administration
202-493-3363
Intelligent Transportation Systems Program
Total Annual Funding: $100 million annually through FY20
Research Application Due: Varies

General Description

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program is managed by the ITS Joint Program Office (JPO). The ITS program focuses on connected and automated vehicles, smart infrastructure, and the creation of an intelligent transportation system. The federal ITS program supports the overall advancement of ITS through investments in major research initiatives, exploratory studies, and a deployment support program including technology transfer and training.

Type of Research Funded

The 2015-2019 ITS Strategic Plan identifies research, development, and future deployment activities across six broad transportation program areas. The plan was developed with significant stakeholder input, both within and external to the U.S. DOT. The current ITS research program is focused on two key priorities: realizing connected vehicle implementation and advancing automation.

The FAST Act supports six program areas that are eligible under the ITS Program, including:

  • Automation;
  • Connected vehicles;
  • Enterprise data;
  • Interoperability;
  • Emerging capabilities; and
  • Accelerating deployment.

 Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

The FAST Act provides $100 million annually for the ITS program through fiscal year 2020.



Schedule

Available funding opportunities are published throughout the year at the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Grants.gov website.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Available funding opportunities will be published. ITS JPO employs numerous solicitation methods.

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria

The selection criteria vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Further Information

Find more information about the ITS JPO program at the FHWA website, including topics on research areas and links to hot topics.

Contact

Ken Leonard

Director

ITS Joint Program Office

202-366-9536

Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives
Total Annual Funding: $20 million annually through FY20 ($15 million in 2016)
Research Application Due: Varies

General Description

FHWA’s Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives (STSFA) program provides grants to states or groups of states to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The objectives of the program are to:

  • Test the design, acceptance, and implementation of two or more future user-based alternative mechanisms;
  • Improve the functionality of the user-based alternative revenue mechanisms;
  • Conduct outreach to increase public awareness regarding the need for alternative funding sources for surface transportation programs and to provide information on possible approaches;
  • Provide recommendations regarding adoption and implementation of user-based alternative revenue mechanisms; and
  • Minimize the administrative cost of any potential user-based alternative revenue mechanisms.

Type of Research Funded

Grant recipients will use program funds to test the design, acceptance, and implementation of a user-based alternative revenue mechanism, consistent with the program’s objectives. Projects funded under the STSFA program must address:

  • The implementation, interoperability, public acceptance, and other potential hurdles to the adoption of the user-based alternative revenue mechanism;
  • The protection of personal privacy;
  • The use of independent and private third-party vendors to collect fees and operate the user-based alternative revenue mechanism;
  • Market-based congestion mitigation, if appropriate;
  • Equity concerns, including the impacts of the user-based alternative revenue mechanism on differing income groups, various geographic areas, and the relative burdens on rural and urban drivers;
  • Ease of compliance for different users of the transportation system; and
  • The reliability and security of technology used to implement the user-based alternative revenue mechanism.

STSFA program projects may also address:

  • The flexibility and choices of user alternative revenue mechanisms, including the ability of users to select from various technology and payment options;
  • The cost of administering the user-based alternative revenue mechanism; and
  • The ability of the administering entity to audit and enforce user compliance.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

The FAST Act provides $20 million annually for the STSFA program through the 2020 fiscal year. (The program awarded $15 million in 2016.) STSFA grants shall make up no more than 50% of total proposed project costs, with the remainder coming from non-federal sources.


Schedule

Available funding opportunities are published throughout the year at the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Grants.gov website.

Project Solicitation and Submission

FHWA employs numerous solicitation methods including full and open competition, General Services Administration schedule, small and disadvantaged business set-asides, indefinite deliverable/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants. The guidelines for submission vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product. The FAST Act requires consideration of geographic diversity in awarding STSFA grants.

Project Selection Criteria

The selection criteria vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Further Information

Find more information about the FHWA STSFA program at the program website.

Contact

Angela Jacobs

Office of Operations

Federal Highway Administration

202-366-0076

Technology and Innovation Deployment Program
Total Annual Funding: $67.5 million annually through FY20
Research Application Due: Varies

General Description

FHWA’s Technology and Innovation Deployment Program (TIDP) helps develop tools and methods to accelerate adoption of proven innovative practices and technologies as standard practice; provide technical assistance and training; and establish and carry out demonstration programs. A majority of the funding will be used for strategic deployment such as agency-selected innovations and methods to accelerate their acceptance. The Every Day Counts initiative, set into law under the FAST Act, and the Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration program are prime components.

FHWA program offices and the Resource Center will utilize funding to conduct technology and innovation deployment on other program priorities and traditional outreach. Many of the programs that utilize TIDP funds are managed by the Office of Innovative Program Delivery. However, the FHWA program offices also use TIDP funds to advance technologies and innovations that benefit the nation’s highway system.

Type of Research Funded

The FAST Act supports a broad range of activities that are eligible under the TIDP, including:

  • Deploying research results and products developed under the Highway Research and Development program;
  • Establishing and carrying out demonstration programs;
  • Providing technical assistance and training to researchers and developers;
  • Developing improved tools and methods to accelerate adoption of proven innovative practices and technologies as standard practices; and
  • Implementing the Future Strategic Highway Research Program findings and results.

In addition, the FAST Act requires FHWA to continue its innovation partnership, Every Day Counts, and work with stakeholders to identify a new collection of target innovations, best practices, and data at least every two years.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

The FAST Act provides $67.5 million annually for the TIDP through the 2020 fiscal year. However, not all funds are budgeted for competitive solicitations.

The federal share of a project or activity carried out with funds authorized under section 6002 of the FAST Act shall be 80% unless expressly specified otherwise by the Act or otherwise determined by the Secretary.

Schedule

Available funding opportunities are published throughout the year at the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Grants.gov website.

Project Solicitation and Submission

FHWA employs numerous solicitation methods including full and open competition, General Services Administration schedule, small and disadvantaged business set-asides, indefinite deliverable/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants. The guidelines for submission vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria

The selection criteria vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Further Information

Find more information about the FHWA Technology Deployment programs at the FHWA programs page, including links to aid and innovative finance support.

Contact

Jack Jernigan

Team Director

R&T Program Development & Partnership Team

Federal Highway Administration

202-493-3363

Training and Education
Total Annual Funding: $24 million annually through FY20
Research Application Due: Varies

General Description

FHWA’s Training and Education (T&E) program supports the administration of historical training and education programs such as the National Highway Institute and Local/Tribal Technical Assistance Programs. The Centers for Transportation Workforce Development and Local Aid Support also receive funding under this program.

Type of Research Funded

The FAST Act supports a broad range of activities that are eligible under the T&E program, including:

  • The National Highway Institute;
  • The Local Technical Assistance Program;
  • The Tribal Technical Assistance Program;
  • The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program;
  • The Garrett A. Morgan Technology & Transportation Education Program;
  • The Freight Capacity Building Program;
  • The Centers for Surface Transportation Excellence; and
  • The Transportation Education Development Program.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

The FAST Act provides $24 million annually for the T&E program through the 2020 fiscal year. However, not all funds are budgeted for competitive solicitations.

Schedule

Available funding opportunities are published throughout the year at the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Grants.gov website.

Project Solicitation and Submission

FHWA employs numerous solicitation methods including full and open competition, General Services Administration schedule, small and disadvantaged business set-asides, indefinite deliverable/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants. The guidelines for submission vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria

The selection criteria vary based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Further Information

Find more information about the FHWA Technology Deployment programs at the National Highway Institute and FHWA’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery websites.

Contacts

Melonie Barrington

Training Program Manager

National Highway Institute

703-235-0968

Virginia Tsu

Director

Center Transportation Workforce Development

Office of Innovative Program Delivery

703-235-1263

Federal Transit Administration (FTA), U.S. Department of Transportation

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) engages in research to provide the transit industry and policy makers with the information and skills to make good business decisions about transit technology, operational, and capital investments. The agency also shares research results that identify best practices and show a range of outcomes that help chart the course of future investments.

Public Transportation Innovation (Section 5312)
Total Annual Funding: $100 million for FY16 through FY20
Research Statements Due: Based on solicitation

General Description

The Public Transportation Innovation program provides funding to develop innovative products and services assisting transit agencies in better meeting the needs of their customers. The purpose of the program is to advance innovative public transportation research and development to eliminate or mitigate safety hazards.

Type of Research Funded

Eligible activities include research; innovation and development; demonstration and deployment projects; and evaluation of technology of national significance to public transportation.

Funding Levels

The Public Transportation Innovation program is authorized for funding from both the Highway Trust Fund and General Fund. In addition to the $100 million that is authorized from the Highway Trust fund, the FAST Act authorized an additional $20 million from the General Fund, which is subject to annual appropriations. Funds may be allocated on a discretionary basis.

The government share of the cost of a project carried out under the Public Transportation Innovation program shall not exceed 80%. The non-government share of the cost may be derived from in-kind contributions.

Schedule

Grant opportunities are posted on the Grants.gov website under CFDA Number 20.514. (The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA, Number is the five-digit number assigned in the awarding document to most grants and cooperative agreements funded by the federal government.) Interested parties may subscribe on the Grants.gov website to receive notification of all FTA research opportunities by entering “20.514” when prompted for the CFDA Number.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Eligible recipients include federal government departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the government, including federal laboratories; state and local governmental entities; providers of public transportation; private or nonprofit organizations; institutions of higher education; and technical and community colleges.

Project Selection Criteria and Tips for Writing Winning Research Statements

To ensure proposed demonstration projects address the needs of transit agencies, FTA requires that applicants identify partnerships with at least one transit agency. FTA will assess the strength of those partnerships as part of its evaluation of applications.

Further Information

Find more information about the Public Transportation Innovation program at the FTA program page or download the fact sheet.

Contact

Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation

Federal Transit Administration

202-366-4052

Safety Research and Demonstration Program
Total Annual Funding: $7 million
Range of Project Costs: Up to $1.9 million in 2016
Research Statements Due: Mid-October

General Description

The Safety Research and Demonstration (SRD) Program is part of a larger safety research effort at the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) that provides technical and financial support for transit agencies to pursue innovative approaches to eliminate or mitigate safety hazards.

The SRD program is intended to help transit agencies:

  • Explore advanced technologies to prevent transit vehicle collisions,
  • Enhance safety of transit services by incorporating safer design elements, and
  • Evaluate cost-effectiveness and practicability of potential solutions.

Type of Research Funded

The SRD program focuses on demonstration of technologies and safer designs. SRD goals include:

  • Advancing the development of materials, technologies, and safer designs to reduce the number of collisions and fatalities and mitigate the severity of transit-related injuries;
  • Increasing the knowledge about the interface between machinery and people—both transit workers and passengers—and reduce the potential for safety-related incidents;
  • Improving the safety culture at transit agencies, including stakeholder coordination and outreach; and
  • Supporting the development of transit safety standards, protocols, and best practices.

Funding Levels

The federal share of project costs under this program is limited to 80%. Proposers may seek a lower federal contribution. The applicant must provide the local share of the net project cost in cash or in-kind, and must document in the application the source of the local match. 

SRD projects are funded under the FTA’s Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment program authority. A total of $7 million is available for awards. 

Schedule

  • Mid-October: Project submission deadline
  • Winter: Projects selected 

Selection Process

Applicants for the SRD program must be existing FTA grant recipients. An application must clearly identify the eligible lead applicant and all project partners on the team. Eligible project partners and subrecipients may include, but are not limited to:

  • Public transportation systems;
  • Private for profit and nonprofit organizations, including technology system suppliers and bus manufacturers;
  • Operators of transportation, such as employee shuttle services or airport connector services or university transportation systems;
  • State or local government entities; and
  • Other organizations that may contribute to the success of the project team including consultants, research consortia or nonprofit industry organizations, and institutions of higher education.

Project Selection Criteria and Tips for Writing Winning Research Statements

To ensure proposed demonstration projects address the needs of transit agencies, FTA requires that applicants identify partnerships with at least one transit agency. FTA will assess the strength of those partnerships as part of its evaluation of applications.

Further Information

Find more information about the SRD program at the FTA program page.

Contact

Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation

Federal Transit Administration

202-366-4052

National Science Foundation (NSF) 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. NSF accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

Civil Infrastructure Systems
Research Applications Due: September and January

General Description

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations, and other research organizations throughout the United States. NSF accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

The Civil Infrastructure Systems (CIS) program supports fundamental and innovative research necessary for designing, constructing, managing, maintaining, operating, and protecting efficient, resilient, and sustainable civil infrastructure systems. Research that recognizes the role that these systems play in societal functioning and accounts for how human behavior and social organizations contribute to and affect the performance of these systems is encouraged. While component-level, subject-matter knowledge may be crucial in many research efforts, this program focuses on the civil infrastructure as a system in which interactions between spatially-distributed components and intersystem connections exist.

Type of Research Funded

Topics pertaining to transportation systems, construction engineering, infrastructure systems, and infrastructure management are a focus of the CIS program. Research that considers either or both ordinary and disrupted operating environments is relevant. Methodological contributions pertaining to systems engineering and design; network analysis and optimization; performance management; vulnerability and risk analysis; mathematical and simulation modeling; exact and approximate algorithm development; control theory; statistical forecasting; dynamic and stochastic systems approaches; multi-attribute decision theory; advanced computing; and incorporation of behavioral and social considerations, not excluding other methodological areas or the integration of methods, specific to this application are encouraged.

Schedule

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. submitter’s local time on the established deadline date.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Applications may be submitted at the Grants.gov website. Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant’s organization can then apply for any government grant on the Grants.gov website, including NSF grants.

See the Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov  and the Grants Learning Center on the NSF website for information about preparing and submitting a grant application.

Further Information

Find more information about the Civil Infrastructure Systems program at the NSF program page.

Contact

 Cynthia Chen

Program Director, Civil Infrastructure Systems

National Science Foundation

703-292-8360

Energy for Sustainability
Research Applications Due: October

General Description

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations, and other research organizations throughout the United States. NSF accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

The goal of the Energy for Sustainability program is to support fundamental engineering research that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production of electricity and fuels, and for energy storage. Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Research projects that stress molecular level understanding of phenomena that directly impacts key barriers to improved system level performance (e.g., energy efficiency, product yield, process intensification) are encouraged.

Type of Research Funded

Research topics of interest include electrochemical energy systems such as radically new battery systems based on existing systems that can move the U.S. more rapidly toward a more sustainable transportation future. The focus is on high-energy density and high-power density batteries suitable for transportation and renewable energy storage applications. Advanced systems such as lithium-air, sodium-ion, as well as lithium-ion electrochemical energy storage are appropriate. Advanced fuel cell systems with advanced components for propulsion for transportation are considered.

Schedule

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. submitter’s local time on the established deadline date.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Proposed research should be inspired by the need for economic and impactful conversion processes. All proposals should include in the project description how the proposed work, if successful, will improve process realization and economic feasibility and compare the proposed work against current state-of-the-art. Highly integrated multidisciplinary projects are encouraged.

Applications may be submitted at the Grants.gov website. Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant’s organization can then apply for any government grant on the Grants.gov website, including NSF grants.

See the Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov  and the Grants Learning Center on the NSF website for information about preparing and submitting a grant application.

Further Information

Find more information about the Energy for Sustainability program at the NSF program page.

Contact

Carole Read

Program Director, Energy for Sustainability

National Science Foundation

703-292-2418

Energy, Power, Control, and Networks
Research Applications Due: October to November

General Description

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations, and other research organizations throughout the United States. NSF accounts for about one-fourth of federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

Recent advances in communications, computation, and sensing technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for the design of cyber-physical systems with increased responsiveness, interconnectivity and automation. To meet new challenges and societal needs, the Energy, Power, Control, and Networks (EPCN) program invests in systems and control methods for analysis and design of cyber-physical systems to ensure stability, performance, robustness, and security.

Type of Research Funded

Research topics of interest include modeling, optimization, learning, and control of networked multi-agent systems, higher-level decision making, and dynamic resource allocation as well as risk management in the presence of uncertainty, sub-system failures and stochastic disturbances. EPCN also supports curriculum development integrating research and education, and innovative proposals dealing with systems research in such areas as energy, transportation, and nanotechnology. In addition to single investigator projects, EPCN encourages cross-disciplinary proposals that benefit from active collaboration of researchers with complementary skills.

Schedule

Applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. submitter’s local time on the established deadline date.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Applications may be submitted at the Grants.gov website. Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant’s organization can then apply for any government grant on the Grants.gov website, including NSF grants.

See the Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov  and the Grants Learning Center on the NSF website for information about preparing and submitting a grant application.

Further Information

Find more information about the EPCN program at the NSF program page, including proposal guidelines and a detailed list of areas covered by the EPCN group.

Contacts

 Radhakishan Baheti

National Science Foundation

703-292-8339


Eyad Abed

National Science Foundation

703-292-8339


Alireza Khaligh

National Science Foundation

703-292-8339


Anthony Kuh

National Science Foundation

703-292-8339

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R), U.S. Department of Transportation

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R) is home to all of the program offices and statistics and research activities previously administered by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), which was moved to OST by Congress in 2014. The office is charged with providing and expanding opportunities for research collaboration and coordination, while upholding the integrity and impartiality of transportation statistical data.

University Transportation Centers
Total Annual Funding: $300 million for FY16 through FY20
Research Statements Due: Varies by center

General Description

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) invests in the future of transportation through its University Transportation Centers (UTC) program, which awards and administers grants to consortia of colleges and universities across the United States. The UTC program advances the state-of-the-art in transportation research and technology, and develops the next generation of transportation professionals. Each UTC is a consortium of two- and four-year colleges and universities located in the United States or its territories. National and regional UTCs must obtain matching funds from non-federal sources in an amount at least equal to the U.S. DOT grant amount.

Type of Research Funded

Each UTC is required to establish its own procedures for identifying, selecting, and performing research tasks within the guidance provided by the U.S. DOT. In many cases, due to the matching requirements, the research programs are focused on applied research of value to specific state departments of transportation providing the necessary matching funding.

The national centers are tasked with the responsibility to outline the key national trends and collaborations around their selected research focus areas. Research in the regional centers is to be of value to the region, while the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III centers are expected to perform research according to their strategic plans.

Funding Levels

The FAST Act authorized a range of funding from $72.5 million to $77.5 million through fiscal year 2020 for up to 35 competitive grants for UTCs. A competitive award process was undertaken to make UTC selections in 2016.

Schedule

Schedules vary by center. Some operate on a federal fiscal year, while others correspond to state fiscal or calendar years.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Each UTC has its own procedures for soliciting research ideas and selecting research activities. Project solicitation is based on a center’s strategic plan and reflects the thematic area of the center.

Selection Process

Each UTC has a unique selection process, with the ability to award research typically residing in the UTC’s director or a center’s advisory board. In nearly all cases, an advisory committee is established to provide input to the UTC director.

Each project proposal must be subjected to peer review. The process for peer review varies from center to center. The selection process also includes at least one individual from U.S. DOT.

Project Selection Criteria

Centers establish their own criteria for review. In many cases, only principal investigators from the participating consortium institutions are eligible for project awards.

Further Information

Find more information about University Transportation Centers at the U.S. DOT program page, including a list of UTC centers and links to research projects.

Contacts

Kevin C. Womack

Director, Office of Research, Development and Technology


Caesar Singh

Director, University Transportation Centers Grants Program

800-853-1351

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Small Business Innovation Research program seeks innovative research proposals that address high-priority requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation and have potential for commercialization.

Small Business Innovation Research
Total Annual Funding: ~ $10 million
Range of Project Costs: Phase I: Up to $150,000; Phase II: Up to $1 million
Research Statements Due: Based on solicitation

General Description

Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to stimulate technological innovation, utilize small business to meet federal research and development needs, encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged businesses in technological innovation, and increase private sector commercialization of innovations derived from federal research and development (R&D) objectives. Twice annually, small businesses are solicited to submit innovative research proposals that address high-priority requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and have potential for commercialization.

Type of Research Funded

The SBIR program favors research that has the potential for commercialization through products and applications sold to the private sector transportation industry, state departments of transportation, U.S. DOT, or other federal agencies.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

The SBIR program awards contracts in two phases and recognizes a follow-on Phase III. Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 in total costs over six months. Phase II awards normally do not exceed $1 million in total costs over two years.

Schedule

Available funding opportunities are published throughout the year on the Federal Business Opportunities website and the Grants.gov website.

Project Solicitation and Submission

The SBIR solicitation is released once or twice a year. Information about these solicitations is only available online at the SBIR website.

The SBIR program awards contracts in two phases and recognizes a follow-on Phase III but does not fund Phase III.

  • Phase I: The objective is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposal.
  • Phase II: The objective is to develop and commercialize Phase I technologies. Contracts are only available to small businesses that have successfully completed Phase I.
  • Phase III: For small businesses to pursue commercialization objectives resulting from the Phase I and Phase II activities. Where applicable, Phase III may involve follow-on non-SBIR funded R&D or production contracts for products, processes, or services intended for use by the U.S. government.

Individuals can also suggest a topic for consideration. All submissions will be reviewed; however, not all topics will be included in future solicitations.

The U.S. DOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center has helped the transportation community navigate its most challenging problems. Volpe’s Office of Acquisitions is a full-service contracting group that is responsible for pre-and post-contract award functions, contract administration, and contract closeout. Unsolicited proposals may be submitted when a prospective contractor’s new and innovative ideas do not fall under topic areas publicized under Volpe-initiated solicitations or programs. Guidelines for unsolicited proposal submission are provided at the Volpe Center’s website.   

Selection Process

The selection process varies based on the contracting type and the nature of the service or product.

Project Selection Criteria and Tips for Writing Winning Proposal

Businesses must meet these eligibility criteria to participate in the SBIR program:

  • American-owned and independently operated,
  • For-profit,
  • Principal researcher employed by business, and
  • Company site limited to under 500 employees.

Executive Order 13329 requires SBIR agencies, to the extent permitted by law and in a manner consistent with the mission of that department or agency, to give high priority within the SBIR programs to manufacturing-related R&D. “Manufacturing-related” is defined as “relating to manufacturing processes, equipment and systems; or manufacturing workforce skills and protection.”

Further Information

Find more information about SBIR at the Volpe Center’s program page, including previous solicitations and awards, and at the Small Business Administration’s program page.

Contact

SBIR Hotline

617-494-2051

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports a range of research programs with a focus on making transportation cleaner and more efficient; exploring pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology; and identifying and supporting revolutionary energy inventions and transformational energy technology advances.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Total Annual Funding: $636 million

General Description

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads U.S. researchers and other partners in making transportation cleaner and more efficient through solutions that put electric drive vehicles on the road and replace oil with clean domestic fuels. Through their Vehicle, Bioenergy, and Fuel Cell Technologies Offices, EERE advances the development of next-generation technologies to improve plug-in electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, advanced combustion engine and vehicle efficiency, and produce low-carbon domestic transportation fuels.

Type of Research Funded

  • Vehicle Technologies Office: This office supports research, development, and deployment of efficient and sustainable transportation technologies that will improve energy efficiency, fuel economy, and enable America to use less petroleum. These technologies, which include advanced batteries and electric drive systems, lightweight materials, advanced combustion engines, alternative fuels, as well as energy efficient mobility systems, will increase America’s energy security, economic vitality, and quality of life.
  • Bioenergy Technologies Office: This office establishes partnerships with key public and private stakeholders to develop technologies for producing cost-competitive advanced biofuels from non-food biomass resources, including cellulosic biomass, algae, and wet waste (e.g., biosolids).
  • Fuel Cell Technologies Office: This office focuses on applied research, development, and innovation to advance hydrogen and fuel cells for transportation and diverse applications enabling energy security, resiliency, and a strong domestic economy in emerging technologies.

Project Solicitation and Submission

EERE funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) are found at the following websites:

  • Grants.gov: This comprehensive website allows organizations to electronically find FOAs from all federal grant-making agencies. It provides synopses of FOAs with a link to a full funding announcement for each respective agency. The site sends out automatic updates for FOA modifications for all registered parties but does not accept application submissions.
  • EERE Funding Opportunity Exchange: This web portal provides full FOA listings and manages application submissions. EERE can only consider applications submitted through the exchange.
  • Other sources of EERE funding: This website provides information about other financial opportunities. Like FOAs, some are competitive, while others are non-competitive.

Selection Process

Most EERE awards are selected competitively through FOAs and solicitations. Competition ensures that EERE selects awards based on merit, which results in better award outcomes.

Further Information

Find more information about the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at EERE’s website.

Contact

Use the online form  to inquire about EERE funding opportunities.

Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science (IDEAS)
Range of Project Costs: Up to $500,000 per year
Research Application Due: No submission deadlines

General Description
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) supports the Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science (IDEAS) program, which provides a continuing opportunity for the rapid support of early-stage applied research to explore pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology.

This program identifies potentially disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies that challenge the status quo and represent a leap beyond today’s technology. IDEAS projects must also represent a fundamentally new paradigm in energy technology and have the potential to significantly impact ARPA-E’s mission areas.

Type of Research Funded

IDEAS awards may support proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the agency or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology program.

Current technical categories include: building efficiency, electrical efficiency, manufacturing efficiency, resource efficiency, distributed generation, grid, storage, transportation fuels, transportation storage, and transportation vehicles.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

IDEAS awards, which are restricted to maximums of one year in duration and $500,000 in funding, are intended to be flexible and may take the form of analyses or exploratory research that provides the agency with information useful for the subsequent development of focused technology programs.

Project Solicitation and Submission

There are no submission deadlines. Applicants may submit concept papers at any time during the open period of the funding opportunity announcement. ARPA-E reviews concept papers throughout the year on a rolling basis.

Selection Process

Only the most technically meritorious concepts may result in an invitation from ARPA-E to submit a full application. ARPA-E expects to notify applicants of its decision to invite or not invite a full application submission within 60 days of submission of a concept paper. Invited applicants must submit their full application within 45 calendar days from the date of ARPA-E’s invitation.

ARPA-E carefully considers all information obtained through the application process and makes an assessment of each compliant and responsive full application consistent with established merit review procedures. ARPA-E will promptly notify applicants of its determination to select or not select a full application for award negotiations within 90 days after submission of a full application.

Further Information

Find more information about the ARPA-E IDEAS program at the program’s website.

Contact

Multiple program directors manage this program; interested parties can submit an email inquiry.

Open Funding Opportunity Announcements (ARPA-E)
Total Annual Funding: $100 million for FY18
Range of Project Costs: $500,000 to $10 million

General Description

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) catalyzes transformational energy technologies to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States. ARPA-E funds high-potential, high-impact energy projects that are too early for private sector investment but could significantly advance ways to generate, store, distribute and use energy. ARPA-E plays a unique role in Department of Energy’s (DOE) research and development organization, complementing and expanding the impact of DOE’s basic science and applied energy programs.

ARPA-E focuses on energy technologies that can be meaningfully advanced with a targeted investment over a defined period of time. ARPA-E’s rigorous program design, close coordination with other DOE offices and federal agencies, competitive project selection process, and hands-on engagement, ensure thoughtful expenditures while empowering America’s energy researchers with funding, technical assistance, and market awareness.

In addition to its focused funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), which are targeted at specific technical areas, ARPA-E issues periodic Open FOAs, approximately every three years. ARPA-E uses Open FOAs to identify high-potential projects that address the full range of energy-related technologies, including areas that are outside of the current portfolio.

Type of Research Funded

Areas of interest for Open FOAs include electricity generation by both renewable and non-renewable means; electricity transmission, storage, and distribution; energy efficiency for buildings, manufacturing and commerce, and personal use; and all aspects of transportation, including the production and distribution of both renewable and non-renewable fuels, electrification, and transportation energy efficiency.

Funding Levels

Funding awards range from $500,000 to $10 million.

Project Solicitation and Submission

Previous Open FOAs were issued in 2009, 2012, and 2015. Concept papers are due February 12, 2018, for the 2018 program cycle.

Selection Process

ARPA-E seeks applicants that can demonstrate that their proposed technology can achieve the technical targets specified in the FOA for a focused program, and that the technology can have significant impact on the agency’s missions. In an Open FOA, the burden of demonstrating potential impact lies solely upon the applicant, who must make the strongest possible case for why the proposed technology will matter—that it has the potential to change future energy.

Further Information

Find more information about the ARPA-E Open FOA program at the agency’s website.

Contact

 Multiple program directors manage this program; interested parties can submit an email inquiry.

Other ARPA-E Transportation-Related Programs
Total Annual Funding: $1.85 billion for FY17 through FY20
Range of Project Costs: Up to $500,000 per year

General Description

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) catalyzes transformational energy technologies to enhance the economic and energy security of the United States. ARPA-E funds high-potential, high-impact energy projects that are too early for private sector investment but could significantly advance ways to generate, store, distribute and use energy. ARPA-E plays a unique role in Department of Energy’s (DOE) research and development organization, complementing and expanding the impact of DOE’s basic science and applied energy programs.

ARPA-E focuses on energy technologies that can be meaningfully advanced with a targeted investment over a defined period of time. ARPA-E’s rigorous program design, close coordination with other DOE offices and federal agencies, competitive project selection process, and hands-on engagement, ensure thoughtful expenditures while empowering America’s energy researchers with funding, technical assistance, and market awareness.

ARPA-E is tasked to identify and support revolutionary energy inventions and transformational energy technology advances, which requires constant evolution of its programmatic focus. This is accomplished by establishing dynamic technical programs (each lasting about three years) designed to accelerate innovation in high-potential areas. 

Type of Research Funded

Currently active ARPA-E transportation-related programs include the following:

  • Next-Generation Energy Technologies for Connected and Automated On-Road Vehicles (NEXTCAR): The projects that make up NEXTCAR are enabling technologies that use connectivity and automation to co-optimize vehicle dynamic controls and powertrain operation, thereby reducing energy consumption of the vehicle.
  • Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems (RANGE): The projects that comprise the RANGE program seek to develop transformational electrochemical energy storage technologies that will accelerate the widespread adoption of electric vehicles by dramatically improving their driving range, cost, and safety.
  • Renewable Energy to Fuels Through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids (REFUEL): Projects in the REFUEL program seek to develop scalable technologies for converting electrical energy from renewable sources into energy-dense carbon-neutral liquid fuels and back into electricity or hydrogen on demand.
  • Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy (REMOTE): The projects that comprise the REMOTE program seek to enable highly efficient biological conversion of methane to liquid fuels for small-scale deployment.
  • Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA): The TERRA program is facilitating improvement of advanced biofuel crops, specifically energy sorghum, by developing and integrating cutting-edge remote sensing platforms, complex data analytics tools, and high-throughput plant breeding technologies.
  • Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET): The projects in the TRANSNET program aim to minimize energy consumption in personal transportation without having to improve current infrastructure or vehicle efficiency.

Funding Levels and Project Time Frame

As of December 2015, ARPA-E has funded over 450 projects with approximately $1.3 billion through 29 focused programs and open funding solicitations. Funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) are issued for single-phase efforts of up to 12 months and up to $500,000.

Project Solicitation and Submission

ARPA-E issues periodic FOAs, which are focused on overcoming specific technical barriers around a specific energy area. ARPA-E also issues periodic Open FOAs to identify high-potential projects that address the full range of energy-related technologies, as well as funding solicitations aimed at supporting America’s small business innovators.

Further Information

Find more information about ARPA-E transportation-related programs at the agency’s website. For information about ARPA-E’s current FOAs and detailed information on the ARPA-E funding application process, visit ARPA-E’s Funding Opportunity Exchange.

Contact

Multiple program directors manage this program; interested parties can submit an email inquiry.