For Faculties and Principal Investigators

NWI funds research programs at NC State University as well as other universities in the US and throughout the world. The NWI consortium funds projects that fall in the TRL1-4 category, and are focused on fundamental research that benefits its industrial partners. The support for the core research comes from the membership dues augmented by our State appropriated funds.

Research thrust areas typically fall into the following areas:

  • Materials and Materials Characterization
    • what to use, and how to analyze
  • Polymer Processing & Extrusion
    • how to make
  • Engineered Structures
    • what to make
  • Micro and Macro Modeling
    • structure-property-process modeling, performance modeling, etc…
  • Sustainability

NWI funds new projects each Fall. Every year, between 10 to 15 new programs are started.  These proposals must be submitted by the date shown below according to the timeline and the processes established.

The process for establishing areas of need follows the following steps:

NWI funds research programs at North Carolina State University as well as other participating universities. Proposals are selected and reviewed every year in the Spring Industrial Advisory Board meeting, and successful projects will start at the beginning of the Fall semester normally in mid-August. The duration of each project is either two years for a Masters’s student or three years for a Doctoral student. If you are interested in submitting a proposal to NWI for consideration for funding, please refer to the guidelines below for eligibility.  The timeline for the preparation and submission of the proposals is:


  • Topic Identification:  Members submit research topics via Research Focus Groups (October)
  • Pre-Proposal Writing: PIs to create and submit 2-page pre-proposals (by 1/3/2023)
    • PI’s can collaborate with NWI Members via Research Focus Groups
  • IAB Member Review:  IAB members to prepare feedback for PIs (by 1/20/2023)
  • Proposal Writing:  Feedback will be shared with PIs with an invite to prepare a full proposal (due 4/3/2023)
  • IAB Review of Proposals:  Members consider proposals from receipt to the May IAB meeting date for voting selection.

Each thrust area is led by an industry focus group.  The focus groups identify knowledge gaps and recommend relevant research topics.  These serve as a “catalyst” for faculty to create research proposals that are relevant, basic, fundamental in nature aimed at identifying solutions that address the knowledge gaps identified.  Please review the NWI community research topics. This slide deck contains both a menu of topics by title, industry contacts for further discussion, as well as a full-page outline of each research topic organized in each of the 5 research thrust areas listed above.

While it is the PI’s responsibility to craft “basic research problems” and “demonstration examples,” experience shows the most successful proposals tend to focus on leveraging multiple discussions with experts to vet ideas and get more precise with the problem definition, with potential approaches and solutions, and with understanding demonstration opportunities. We encourage PIs to take advantage of discussions with industry volunteers and with NWI staff (contact Tom Daugherty at to learn of available industry contacts).

Although a significant number of research projects are based at NC State University, the Institute has funded research at the University of Loughborough, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, University of Tennessee, the University of Chicago at Illinois, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, University of Maryland and many others. A team project approach and inter-university proposals are encouraged. Research proposals are ranked for funding by the Industrial Advisory Board; projects with top ranking are screened by the Industrial Advisory Board Executive Committee and funded as the budget permits.

  1. Up to 30% of the proposals are selected by the Strategic Scientific Advisory Board (SSAB) made up of industrial, academic, and government representatives.  They base their decision on how well the proposal is aligned to the overall strategic research pillars of the Institute.
  2. The remaining 70% is based on membership votes.  It is our experience that proposals aligned with stated member companies’ needs and developed with representatives of one or more companies have a greater chance of obtaining member votes.

Proposal Structure & Budget

All proposals must adhere to the following guidelines; any proposal that doesn’t follow the guidelines will not be put forward to the members for review.

A typical budget will be about $50,000 per year for two or three years. Please review the guidelines below and follow this template for preparing your proposal. Proposals from institutions other than NC State must waive the overhead (F&A ) for the project to be considered.

NWI Pre-Proposal Guidelines and Template

NWI Full-Proposal Guidelines and Template

Format: All proposals must be submitted in PDF Format

These funds are provided for the support of a Masters student (2 years) or a Ph.D. student (3 years). The work must lead to a thesis or dissertation on the topic proposed. NWI does not fund research associates and does not fund contract research.

The projects are reviewed twice per year by the industrial advisory board and failure to make sufficient progress or failure to meet the deadlines for project report submission will result in the termination of the project. Please see the Research Review Meetings page for more details about reporting results.

Projects conforming to the standard format in the sample proposal above are usually more favorably received by the industrial membership.

Proposals should be submitted in electronic form, by the date indicated above to

Subject: NWI Research Proposal

Important Documentation for Current Faculty and Principal Investigators