AWS Public Sector Blog

Accelerate research with supplemental funding from the National Science Foundation’s CloudBank

On 17 May 2022, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the availability of a new funding opportunity for any principal investigator (PI) with an active award from the NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), for use of cloud services and technologies via CloudBank, a cloud access entity offering NSF-funded researchers federated, streamlined access to public clouds, to democratize access to advanced technologies for data and compute-intensive research. PIs can submit requests for use of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, on a rolling basis, with funding made available for the duration of one year. This is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for federally-funded researchers to explore the capabilities of the AWS Cloud, at no additional cost.

Qualified researchers from hundreds of institutions nationwide can apply for this funding to supplement existing research projects, to gain on-demand access to over 500 instance types with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), virtually unlimited scalability, and more than 200 fully-featured services including advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and database services to drive novel insights from research. These technologies can power innovation today for nearly any research workload. Researchers around the world have successfully leveraged the cloud to reduce compute time on microbiome genomics data from seven years to seven days; to create a centralized, secure data repository for water sector data of 30 million consumers; to map forest dryness across the western US using AI; and more.

Read on to learn how to estimate costs and apply for this new funding opportunity, how to access no-cost training and enablement resources to make the most of your research, and how access to CloudBank can simplify your research journey in the AWS Cloud.

How to apply for NSF CloudBank funding in two simple steps

Step 1: Estimate your costs

When applying for resources through CloudBank, include an estimate of cloud costs as part of your request. You can get started with the AWS Pricing Calculator, which makes it simple to estimate monthly costs.

In the AWS Pricing Calculator, choose Create estimate, and then select your planned resources by service. The AWS Pricing Calculator provides an estimated cost per month. For more information, see What is AWS Pricing Calculator?

Once completed, you will be provided a unique URL for your estimate, which you will share with CloudBank as part of your application.

Step 2: Apply for funding

Apply directly through CloudBank here. There is no need to submit an updated proposal to the NSF for your active CISE award.

Simply cite your active CISE award number, identify “Amazon Web Services” as the cloud vendor, input your estimated costs from Step 1, and provide a high-level description of your proposed cloud use and how you calculated your estimate.

CloudBank anticipates proposal determinations within two weeks. There are no submission deadlines, and cloud awards will not count against future, supplemental funding requests for existing awards.

Benefits of the CloudBank program

The CloudBank program, created by the NSF in 2019 in a collaboration among the University of California San Diego, University of California Berkeley, and University of Washington, provides researchers and educators with access to cloud resources, education, training, solution consulting, and financial allocations for select NSF solicitations. When applying for resources through CloudBank, researchers and educators can select AWS as their cloud vendor. Benefits of participating in the program include:

  • No overhead/indirect costs: Projects funded via CloudBank are covered under the terms of the NSF cooperative agreement, which waives indirect costs. Funds are centrally managed by CloudBank.
  • Centralized user portal: Users have access to a simple-to-navigate CloudBank portal, where research teams can manage cloud resources, and gain access to training and documentation, a catalog of cloud services, and cost monitoring and accounting services.
  • Budget management: CloudBank provides overspend risk mitigation through usage planning and active usage monitoring. PIs can control, create, and monitor multiple accounts for team members (e.g. faculty and graduate students) and place limits on their individual cloud spend.

Users of CloudBank benefit from the expertise and support of AWS Advanced Consulting and Education Partner, Strategic Blue. Strategic Blue provides flexibility, transparency, and savings though financial optimization and streamlines access to the AWS Cloud. Coordinating with CloudBank, Strategic Blue helps researchers manage grant allocations to prevent budget overages. Through its partnership with AWS, Strategic Blue is able to provide flexible cloud usage and pricing terms to make the cloud work for everyone.

Make the most of your research with AWS research training and enablement

Are you curious how the latest advances in high performance computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, or quantum technologies in the cloud can accelerate your research, but not sure where to start? Check out these five ways to use AWS for research that you can start immediately.

CloudBank funding can be used for any of the more than 200 AWS Cloud services, including the full suite of compute, storage, and advanced data analytics capabilities. CloudBank-supported researchers and educators are using AWS today to create novel machine-learning algorithms, to conduct deep-learning for industrial applications, to train students in big data and cloud computing, and to enhance cybersecurity protection of autonomous vehicles.

To get started, AWS offers no-cost, self-paced training for cloud users through our Skill Builder platform with over 500 no-cost digital courses, learning plans, and 19 Ramp-Up Guides, covering everything from foundational capabilities in compute and storage services like Amazon EC2 and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3); to more advanced concepts and deep-dives for services like AWS Fargate for serverless containerization; AWS Internet of Things (IoT) Core to stream data from devices to the cloud for enhanced monitoring and analytics, securely and at scale; and Amazon SageMaker for a fully-managed service to build, train, and deploy ML models for any use case.

The AWS Research Team is dedicated to enabling you and your research team to take advantage of capabilities in the cloud. We host dozens of topical on-demand and live webinars for researchers and research IT specialists, as well as ten-minute tutorials specifically for researchers.

To learn more about CloudBank, visit the NSF FAQ and CloudBank FAQ pages.

Please contact the AWS Research Team directly if there is anything we can do to help accelerate your research. Learn more about research and technical computing on AWS. If you have questions about this particular CloudBank opportunity, you can reach out directly to CloudBank via email.

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