Program Description

The NSF-funded regional Big Data Innovation Hubs were created in 2015 to facilitate data science opportunities around grand challenges. The Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub (MBDH) supports new community activities and initiatives via a competitive proposal process with our Community Development and Engagement (CDE) Program that is open to the 12-state Midwest stakeholder community.

We invite proposals for collaborative activities that will further develop the MBDH community in at least one of the Hub’s five Priority Areas and/or one of the Hub’s Crosscutting Theme Areas of Data Science Education and Workforce Development, and Cyberinfrastructure and Data Sharing:

  • 1. Advanced Materials and Manufacturing – Addressing data challenges to enable effective research data management in materials science, accelerating time-to-market for new materials and manufacturing processes, and preparing a data-literate workforce.
  • 2. Digital Agriculture – Building partnerships around data sharing, best practices, and new technologies, such as sensors and UAVs.
  • 3. Smart & Resilient Communities – Bringing together community members and stakeholders from multiple sectors to explore data challenges and opportunities. Often closely aligned with other theme areas, such as health, water, agriculture, and education/workforce development.
  • 4. Water Quality Exploring data challenges shared by all stakeholders in local, regional, and national watersheds, including academic scientists, municipal water managers, local community interests, and industry innovators.
  • 5. Big Data in Health – Building translational collaborations between academic research, clinicians, health advocates, and industry.

We particularly encourage activities that bring together partners from academia, industry, government, NGOs/not-for-profit organizations, community members, and that introduce new partners to data science, including historically underrepresented groups.

Individual investigator research projects are outside the scope of this call.

Information about supported projects from the 2020 and 2021 proposal cycles can be found here.

Key Dates

This call has a rolling deadline for submissions on EasyChair. Please notify us ( that you intend to develop a proposal before submitting.Currently open
Target date for notification of award/decline
Awardees may initiate planning process with MBDH staff immediately
Within 30 days of proposal submission
Final reports dueWithin 90 days of completion of the activity 
Outcomes assessmentFollowing completion of each project
  • • Links to the 2021 informational webinar video and slides

Proposal Preparation and Submission

Review Criteria

Reviewers are members of the MBDH Seed Fund Steering Committee. Steering Committee members are selected from the at-large MBDH stakeholder community, are not members of the Hub’s leadership team, and do not receive compensation. They operate independently, represent the diversity of Hub constituents and Hub areas of interest, and demonstrate independence of judgment and expertise in the area assigned to them.

Successful proposals will support community engagement via a well-defined activity that is intended to advance one or more of the Hub’s Priority Areas and/or Crosscutting Theme Areas.

The following criteria will be used by the MBDH Seed Fund Steering Committee to prioritize support:

  • 1. Does the activity help advance one or more of the Priority Areas and/or Crosscutting Theme Areas of the Hub?
  • 2. Does the activity engage new participants, especially underrepresented groups and smaller institutions, in the Hub community?
  • 3. Does the activity generate new partnerships with industry, government, and/or nonprofits?
  • 4. Is the proposed timeline and budget realistic for the stated goals?
  • 5. Does the project plan address sustainability where appropriate, such as identifying opportunities for future external funding from government agencies, foundations, or industry, and include plans for continued collaboration?

Learn More

Potential applicants may contact the Midwest Big Data Hub to learn more about the Community Development and Engagement Program and the Hub’s broader efforts to build a data science community in the region. Email: