The US Launches AI Researchers’ Portal

To make it easier for all AI researchers to locate and explore the many relevant Federal resources and funding programs, the National AI Initiative Office has established an AI Researchers Portal on AI.gov. It was created in partnership with Federal departments and agencies and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development coordination office. 

The AI Researchers Portal—a program within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy—is the latest page added to the NAIIO website. Announcing its launch on Twitter, officials described it as “a central connection to many federally-supported resources for America’s AI research community.”

The portal connects AI researchers to Federal resources that can support their research, including data, computing, testbeds, and AI-relevant grant funding programs. This portal is one of many tools and approaches for advancing the Nation’s leadership in AI research and development – the first goal of the National AI Initiative.

The AI Researchers Portal provides pointers to informational guides for navigating Federal research funding processes for those new to AI research. It includes resources for learning about the Federal grant lifecycle and processes through Grants 101, as well as links to Grants.gov, Research.gov, and Challenge.gov.

“Our Nation’s AI innovation begins with the inspirational ideas of researchers from all across the country. However, advancing state of the art in AI and related areas requires more than a good idea. It needs supporting resources, including access to research funding, high-quality datasets, computational infrastructure, and testbeds. Unfortunately, discovering resources well-suited for AI research can demand a significant amount of time. While experienced researchers know how to find these resources, those newer to the field often don’t know where to begin.”

says the press release issued by Lynne Parker, the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office Director.

The Federal government currently offers at least 140 research funding programs that provide grants to AI investigators who want to explore innovative ideas. The AI Research Program Repository on the AI Researchers Portal provides a searchable directory of these AI-relevant Federal grant programs. In this repository, grant programs can be filtered by the offering department or agency, the particular AI strategy topic that is covered (as outlined in the National AI R&D Strategic Plan: 2019 Update), and whether it is considered “core AI”, which advances the foundations of AI, or “other AI”, which refers to use-inspired AI research in fields such as cybersecurity or materials discovery.

High-quality datasets are also critically important for training many types of AI systems. The Data Resources section of the portal provides links to several quality Federal datasets and repositories useful for AI research. It includes NASA’s clearinghouse for open data, NOAA’s Big Data Program datasets, NIH-supported available data repositories, NIST’s Science Data Portal, and the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Open Data Portal.

Cutting-edge computational infrastructure is often required for AI research, including supercomputing, cloud computing, and other types of computing resources. The Computing Resources section of the AI Researchers Portal connects researchers with a variety of Federal programs facilitating access to the computational infrastructure that can advance AI research. These computing infrastructure programs include NSF’s CloudBank, Neocortex, Open Science Grid, and XSEDE programs; NIH’s STRIDES Initiative; and the multi-agency and multi-stakeholder COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium.

Finally, testing and testbed environments can often accelerate progress in AI research. Testbed resources support research progress through benchmarking, enabling reproducibility testing, and building communities of discovery and practice. The AI R&D Testbed Inventory provides a searchable repository of 40 Federally-funded testbeds relevant for AI research. In this repository, testbed resources can be filtered by the hosting organization, the Federal funding agency, the domain of application, and whether the facility is virtual or physical.

AI Researchers Portal is envisioned to help US researchers more easily navigate and connect with available resources, making them more productive and successful in advancing state of the art in AI and related fields. Please contact us at the National AI Initiative Office if you have ideas for making this portal more useful, inclusive, or effective. Additionally, let us know if you are aware of other Federally-funded AI resources that should be added to the AI Researchers Portal.