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Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO 1) - Research and Development, Testing and Evaluation

The Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund


The Innovation Fund is a ten-year, $1.5 billion grant program, advancing open wireless network technologies. Today’s wireless equipment market is concentrated. Some of the leading suppliers pose security risks. Open solutions can revitalize this ecosystem. The Innovation Fund, funded through the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, will make major wireless investments, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Investing in America” agenda.

The Innovation Fund will:

  • Promote 5G+ technologies that are secure, open, and virtualized. 
  • Advance the deployment of open and interoperable equipment.
  • Support the integration of networks with multiple brands of equipment.
  • Identify criteria to decide if equipment follows open standards.

The first Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO #1) had two focus areas:

  • Research and Development (R&D), and
  • Testing and Evaluation (T&E). 

Eligible Applicants

NTIA accepted applications from the following stakeholders for NOFO #1: 

  • For-profit companies,
  • Non-profit companies,
  • Institutions of higher education,
  • Industry groups, and
  • Consortia of two or more of these types of groups.

Download the NOFO for more about who can apply and next steps.

NTIA hosted listening sessions and sent out a Request for Comment (RFC) to develop this first NOFO. Both R&D and T&E are critical to developing and promoting Open RAN.

You can find information about the R&D and T&E parts of the NOFO below. You’ll also see awardee information and grant program highlights.


Research and Development

The Research & Development (R&D) focus area invests in the development of new/improved testing methods. These testing methods will assess the interoperability, performance, and/or security of networks.

Testing and evaluation are critical to advancing Open RAN. PWSCIF aims to bridge the gap in testing by funding novel testing criteria. Testing methods should be adaptable but accurate across testing environments. More specifically, the Fund awarded grants in two categories:

  1. Develop new performance indicators (PIs), and/or
  2. Develop enhanced network testing methods.

See Merit Review Section 4.1.2 for details on how NTIA evaluates proposals for this area.

Testing and Evaluation

Testing & Evaluation (T&E) grants will help expand industry-accepted T&E activities, making testing more accessible to the entire wireless ecosystem.

The T&E focus area awards grants to proposals that streamline testing and evaluation across the U.S. Advanced access to affordable T&E lowers the barriers of entry for new and emerging entities, like small companies, start-ups, and SEDI businesses.

Applicants must support industry-standard T&E activities for network suppliers. First, applicants should support testing equipment against industry-accepted test cases. Similar to the R&D area, T&E facilities should also assess broader criteria like network performance, interoperability, and/or security. This industry alignment ensures that testing reflects the real world problem set.

Grant applicants had to address the following four criteria in their applications:

  1. The strategy for making T&E more accessible.
  2. The sustainability of T&E activities beyond this NOFO.
  3. Evaluation of the Radio Unit (RU), Central Unit (CU), and/or Distributed Unit (DU) against the testing priorities listed above.
  4. How to meet NTIA reporting and security requirements.

See Merit Review Section 4.1.2 for details on how NTIA evaluates proposals for this area.

Year-One Timeline

AI Assurance

Stay on Track with Key Dates and Milestones

  1. NOFO Posted: 4/12/2023
  2. Applications Due: 6/2/2023
  3. Rolling Awards Begin: August 2023


Return to Program Documentation


April 12, 2023