FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for I-Corps™ Team Solicitation

Monday, April 2, 2018

NSF 18-057

ELIGIBILITY

  1. Whom should I contact to discuss my ideas for an I-Corps™ Teams Program proposal?
  2. When is the proposal deadline?
  3. What types of NSF grants will establish the I-Corps Team's eligibility?
  4. Must an I-Corps Team member have been a Principal Investigator (PI) on the research grant that establishes the team's eligibility?
  5. Are there Intellectual Property (IP) ownership requirements for participation in I-Corps?
  6. How do I get started with applying for the I-Corps Teams Program?
  7. Do all team members need to be U.S. citizens?
  8. The innovation did not result from a recent NSF research grant. Can I still apply for I-Corps?

FORMING AN I-CORPS TEAM

  1. Can we have more than three team members?
  2. How do I find an I-Corps Mentor for my team?
  3. Does the I-Corps Mentor need to be physically located near the Team?
  4. What is the role of the I-Corps Mentor?
  5. What is the difference between the team Technical Lead and the Principal Investigator?
  6. What are the selection criteria for teams that apply?

I-CORPS TEAMS PROGRAM CURRICULUM

  1. What is the I-Corps Curriculum?
  2. When are the next I-Corps cohorts?
  3. What are the time commitment requirements for the program? What about my academic responsibilities?
  4. Will I get to choose which I-Corps cohort my team will join?
  5. How should I prepare for my cohort?
  6. What is the best way to get my team aligned with the program's expectations?
  7. What happens after the cohort?

BUDGET PREPARATION

  1. Can I include prototyping work in the I-Corps Teams proposal budget?
  2. I only need funds for prototyping and technical R&D. Is I-Corps a good fit?
  3. Can the I-Corps Teams grant be used to pay legal expenses for company incorporation or IP protection?
  4. Can the mentor receive a stipend on the I-Corps Teams grant?
  5. Can the PI receive a stipend on the I-Corps Teams grant?
  6. Can the EL receive a stipend on the I-Corps Teams grant?
  7. Can the I-Corps Teams grant be used to attend academic conferences?
  8. Can the I-Corps Teams grant be used to travel internationally?
  9. Can the I-Corps Teams grant be used to attend industry trade shows?
  10. Can the I-Corps Teams grant be used for customer discovery trips to local, regional or national customers?
  11. Can individuals who are not or did not participate in the I-Corps program attend events or conduct customer discovery on behalf of the I-Corps team?

GRANT MANAGEMENT

  1. What should I include in my annual and/or final report?
  2. Can I submit a request for a no-cost extension?
  3. Can NSF help get my team get reimbursed for customer discovery expenses?
  4. How do I request approval for international travel or travel to an academic conference under the I-Corps Teams grant?
  5. How do I request approval for prototype R&D work under the I-Corps Teams grant?

FAQs about NSF INCLUDES DCL: Announcement of an Effort to Expand the NSF INCLUDES National Network

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Read the NSF INCLUDES Dear Colleague Letter: Announcement of an Effort to Expand the NSF INCLUDES National Network (NSF 17-111)

 

  1. What is NSF INCLUDES?
  2. Could you elaborate on what you mean by collaborative infrastructure?
  3. What are collaborative change strategies?
  4. What is NSF INCLUDES seeking in Conference proposals submitted in response to this Dear Colleague Letter?
  5. What do you mean by link to the NSF INCLUDES Network? Does that refer to the goals of NSF INCLUDES or to specific projects?
  6. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from conferences?
  7. What does NSF INCLUDES want from successful EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals?
  8. How are NSF INCLUDES EAGERs different from other broadening participation efforts funded by NSF?
  9. How will you distinguish between an EAGER proposal and a Design and Development Launch Pilot proposal NSF 17-522? Wouldn't an EAGER grant end up being groundwork that could become a Design and Development Launch Pilot?
  10. What kinds of outcomes do you expect from EAGER projects?
  11. Would it be appropriate for an EAGER project to study existing collaborations/Networked Improvement Communities that are currently NSF funded?
  12. Can one institution submit both an EAGER and a Conference proposal related to the same topic? Can one institution submit more than one EAGER proposal?
  13. Can partnerships include institutions from outside of U.S.?
  14. Can a for-profit research firm apply for an EAGER or a Conference grant?
  15. On average, how many organizations should participate in this collaboration?
  16. If we don't have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, then is an EAGER or Conference grant still possible?
  17. If we do have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit an EAGER or Conference proposal?
  18. How will EAGER and Conference proposals be reviewed?
  19. What is NSF INCLUDES looking for in requests for supplemental funding?
  20. If we have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit a Supplement request?
  21. How are NSF INCLUDES Supplements different from Design and Development Launch Pilots (NSF 17-522) or other broadening participation efforts?
  22. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from Supplements?
  23. Will there be another solicitation for Design and Development Launch Pilots in FY 2018?

Blue Divider Line

  1. What is NSF INCLUDES?

    NSF INCLUDES is one of NSF's Ten Big Ideas for Future NSF Investment meant to catalyze interest and investment in fundamental research, discovery, invention and innovation. NSF INCLUDES is catalyzing novel approaches to broadening participation in STEM by creating the NSF INCLUDES National Network, composed of NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilots, NSF INCLUDES Alliances, NSF-funded broadening participation projects, other relevant NSF-funded projects, scholars engaged in broadening participation research, and other organizations that support the development of talent from all sectors of society to build the STEM workforce. NSF INCLUDES incentivizes the building of collaborative infrastructure that will bring people and organizations together who might currently be working in isolation.

  2. Could you elaborate on what you mean by collaborative infrastructure?

    By collaborative infrastructure we mean the structures and facilities that enable collaboration across organizations and institutions with a shared goal or vision; map out mutually reinforcing activities; develop goals, objectives and measures to map their progress; engage in constant communication; and advance the potential for expanding, scaling and sustaining the collaborative efforts that would not be possible otherwise. For the NSF INCLUDES National Network, collaborative infrastructure fosters coordination and collaboration by emphasizing the following five characteristics: Vision; Partnerships, Goals and Metrics; Leadership and Communication; and the Potential for Expansion, Sustainability and Scale. Every NSF INCLUDES project and the NSF INCLUDES National Network engage a broad community in a shared vision of the importance and power of diversity for scientific innovation. Partnerships and networks are at the heart of the NSF INCLUDES National Network, and through the Coordination Hub, Alliances, Design and Development Launch Pilots, and other network building mechanisms like this Dear Colleague Letter, NSF hopes to provide platforms for partnerships and collaborative action. Partnerships and networks will be driven by shared goals and metrics that allow for robust data that facilitate evidence-based decision making. NSF INCLUDES is also designed to build capacity for leadership and communication among organizations and individuals to create opportunities in STEM education and careers. Finally, collaborative infrastructure should lead to expansion, sustainability and scale by encouraging more partners to join the movement, thus enabling more connections and opportunities for large-scale change to occur.

  3. What are collaborative change strategies?

    Examples of collaborative change strategies include Collective Impact, Networked Improvement Communities, and Research + Practice Partnerships. Collaborative change strategies are frameworks used to tackle deeply entrenched, complex problems, like broadening participation in STEM. Such strategies are designed to make collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations and individuals to achieve significant and lasting change. Other potential frameworks are possible, and we encourage projects to explore various ways to harness the power of collaboration.

  4. What is NSF INCLUDES seeking in Conference proposals submitted in response to this Dear Colleague Letter?

    NSF INCLUDES invites Conference proposals that will link the NSF INCLUDES National Network to the knowledge base and results from the wider NSF broadening participation portfolio of programs and projects (the NSF website lists the NSF Broadening Participation portfolio programs). We are also interested in connecting the NSF INCLUDES National Network to the knowledge and experiences of NSF-funded center-scale activities, such as our Science and Technology Centers or Engineering Research Centers. Communicating the knowledge and results of other major NSF investments, and encouraging collaboration across NSF-funded efforts with the NSF INCLUDES National Network are also desirable goals of conferences. More ideas for NSF INCLUDES conferences include: facilitating a new or existing collaborative dialog among organizations that are interested in opportunities to connect with the NSF INCLUDES National Network; communicating research findings from the science of broadening participation research community to the NSF INCLUDES National Network; and/or providing a platform for new collaborations within the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Please send a one-page description of your Conference idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  5. What do you mean by link to the NSF INCLUDES Network? Does that refer to the goals of NSF INCLUDES or to specific projects?

    Both options are acceptable. We encourage conferences that would include current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot projects, but this is not a requirement. Linking to the NSF INCLUDES Network might also be facilitated through dialog about the goals of NSF INCLUDES and how participating organizations might become involved in efforts to: bring together dedicated partners; find solutions that work; and build a nation where everyone has opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

  6. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from conferences?

    The outcomes of NSF INCLUDES conferences include the engagement of individuals, organizations and groups with the concepts and ideas of the NSF INCLUDES National Network, with a view toward expanding the network. Additional outcomes of Conference grants may include (but are not limited to): presenting the findings from discussions at PI and other stakeholder meetings; a summary report from the conference gathering, including lessons learned about broadening participation and collaborative change; an edited volume in a journal, with articles based on the discussion by conference participants; and/or publication of scholarly journal articles based on conference discussions or resulting research.

  7. What does NSF INCLUDES want from successful EArly-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) proposals?

    In the context of this DCL, EAGERs are research projects that produce findings and results that will: generate new insights for the NSF INCLUDES National Network; suggest potential strategies for engaging NSF's existing broadening participation activities in the Network; and/or highlight lessons learned that could inform the NSF INCLUDES Launch Pilots and Alliances as they develop. EAGERs that use new theoretical approaches, methods, or data collection strategies to help foster deeper understanding of collaborative change strategies, common metrics, or how networks can expand and reach "scale" are encouraged. Studies should: be grounded in a relevant research theory or framework; apply appropriate methods; and further the evidence-based research that could illustrate the efficacy of collaborative change approaches. Appropriate goals of EAGER proposals could include developing new measures or approaches for assessing networks, or gathering preliminary data in support of theoretical approaches to understanding collaborative change. Note that these are just some ideas; NSF INCLUDES welcomes other ideas for EAGERs. EAGERs that use data science, including data analytic methodologies to understand network operations and effective expansion and management for broadening participation are especially encouraged. Please send a one-page description of your EAGER idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  8. How are NSF INCLUDES EAGERs different from other broadening participation efforts funded by NSF?

    In the context of this DCL, EAGERs are research grants to help us understand how collaboration functions within the context of broadening participation in STEM. The focus of an EAGER is not on implementation but on theoretical research that grows the knowledge base. The NSF Broadening Participation Portfolio includes other programs that may fund interventions with a goal of broadening participation in STEM. Those interested in implementation might consult the list of Broadening Participation programs at NSF. Similarly, research proposals that could be submitted to the various Science of Broadening Participation tracks in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences or the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, in response to NSF 17-143, Dear Colleague Letter: Stimulating Research Related to the Science of Broadening Participation), or through the Directorate for Engineering's Broadening Participation in Engineering program should be submitted to those programs rather than as an EAGER. EAGERs are also not evaluation studies of interventions.

  9. How will you distinguish between an EAGER proposal and a Design and Development Launch Pilot proposal NSF 17-522? Wouldn't an EAGER grant end up being groundwork that could become a Design and Development Launch Pilot?

    Design and Development Launch Pilots are projects that are taking the first steps toward building and implementing collaborative infrastructure for broadening participation in STEM. An EAGER grant is a research grant. In an EAGER proposal, we will be looking for research questions that stem from a theoretical foundation, and data collection and analysis strategies that will answer those questions. Design and Development Launch Pilot proposals as described in NSF 17-522 have very specific characteristics and requirements that are significantly different from those of a research project.

  10. What kinds of outcomes do you expect from EAGER projects?

    EAGERs should produce high-quality research suitable for publication in scholarly journals and presentations at professional conferences. EAGER projects might also culminate in a "lessons learned" document or white paper to share with the NSF INCLUDES National Network. We encourage EAGER researchers to attend PI and other stakeholder meetings to share the results of the research with the NSF INCLUDES National Network.

  11. Would it be appropriate for an EAGER project to study existing collaborations/Networked Improvement Communities that are currently NSF funded?

    An EAGER proposal involving an existing collaboration would be acceptable if it is a theoretically-driven examination of specific research questions about how collaboration functions within the specific context. The proposal should provide clear research questions and a data collection and analysis plan that would answer those questions. The outcomes should include publishable research that furthers our understanding of collaborative change strategies. EAGER projects should not be evaluations of existing efforts.

  12. Can one institution submit both an EAGER and a Conference proposal related to the same topic? Can one institution submit more than one EAGER proposal?

    There is no limit on the number of EAGER or Conference proposals that an institution may submit. We do ask that you send us a one-page description of each EAGER and/or Conference idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  13. Can partnerships include institutions from outside of U.S.?

    Yes, partnerships may include institutions outside of the US, but keep in mind that NSF INCLUDES is about broadening participation in STEM within the US. If you want to include an international partner, you will need to justify how that partnership will help broadening participation by underrepresented groups within the US.

  14. Can a for-profit research firm apply for an EAGER or a Conference grant?

    The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), Chapter I.E. US commercial organizations, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education, are eligible to apply for NSF grants including submission of Conference proposals. NSF INCLUDES is particularly interested in supporting projects that couple industry research, resources and perspectives with those of universities, schools, and non-profit organizations and so welcomes proposals for collaborative projects involving the private commercial sector.

  15. On average, how many organizations should participate in this collaboration?

    NSF does not stipulate the number of partnering organizations in any collaboration. Proposers are encouraged to consider the funding amount and the activities that might be achieved given that limitation and then realistically consider how many partners are feasible.

  16. If we don't have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, then is an EAGER or Conference grant still possible?

    Having an NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot is not a prerequisite for submitting an EAGER or Conference proposal. Any organization eligible per the PAPPG may submit an EAGER or Conference proposal in response to this DCL. However, we do ask that you submit a one-page summary of your project idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  17. If we do have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit an EAGER or Conference proposal?

    Current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot grantees are eligible to submit an EAGER or Conference proposal. We do ask that you submit a one-page summary of your project idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov in advance of a full proposal submission so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your developing a full proposal.

  18. How will EAGER and Conference proposals be reviewed?

    All NSF proposals are evaluated through two merit review criteria: the intellectual merit of a proposal is its potential to advance the knowledge base in a subject area; the broader impacts of a proposal is its potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. Please make sure your EAGER and/or Conference proposal addresses both the intellectual merit and the broader impacts of your idea in both the project summary and the project description. Conference proposals that come in at or over $100,000 will undergo external merit review; those under that amount may go through internal or external NSF merit review. EAGER proposals will go through the internal NSF merit review process. We highly recommend you read the sections on EAGERs and/or Conference proposals in the NSF PAPPG before writing your proposal.

  19. What is NSF INCLUDES looking for in requests for supplemental funding?

    NSF INCLUDES supplements should involve connecting an existing NSF award or a group of NSF awards to, and becoming part of, the NSF INCLUDES National Network. NSF INCLUDES will consider supplemental funding for existing NSF grants to create opportunities among NSF-funded projects with the goal of building a collaborative infrastructure for broadening participation and connection to the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Supplements may also provide seed money for experiments using collaborative change strategies for broadening participation in conjunction with the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Supplement grantees might develop linkages between an NSF-funded project and an NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot. Supplements may also be used to generate new ideas for bringing a community of NSF-funded projects into the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Becoming part of the NSF INCLUDES National Network is the important part of any supplement activity. We do ask that you send us a one-page description of your Supplement idea to NSFINCLUDES [at] nsf [dot] gov and discuss your idea with your cognizant program officer in advance of formally submitting a supplement request, so that we may discuss with you the appropriateness of your idea prior to your submitting a supplement request.

  20. If we have a current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot project, can we also submit a Supplement request?

    Current NSF INCLUDES Design and Development Launch Pilot grantees are not eligible for Supplements.

  21. How are NSF INCLUDES Supplements different from Design and Development Launch Pilots (NSF 17-522) or other broadening participation efforts?

    Requests for supplements should describe a collaborative change strategy effort to link an existing NSF-funded activity to the NSF INCLUDES National Network and thereby become a part the NSF INCLUDES National Network. Supplements are not held to the requirements for Design and Development Launch Pilots as described in NSF 17-522 and are not considered Design and Development Launch Pilot projects. Supplements should not be used to implement a single intervention for broadening participation (e.g., offering a summer camp or an after-school program) and are not evaluation studies of interventions. In addition, NSF INCLUDES supplements are not supplements for Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or to add undergraduate or graduate assistants to your project, unless their participation is facilitating networking activities. They should also not be used to add new participants or participant groups to an existing intervention.

  22. What kinds of outcomes does NSF INCLUDES expect from Supplements?

    Supplement grantees might share data with the NSF INCLUDES National Network, present at PI or stakeholder meetings or produce a summary report of lessons learned about broadening participation and collaborative change. Other outcomes of NSF INCLUDES supplements might involve publishing scholarly journal articles about collaborative change or developing a plan or logic model for how NSF-funded projects might join the NSF INCLUDES National Network and sharing that broadly with other NSF grantees through national and disciplinary conferences. We invite other creative ideas for how to link existing NSF grantees to the NSF INCLUDES National Network through supplements. Supplement grantees are expected to participate in the NSF INCLUDES National Network by attending PI and other stakeholder meetings.

  23. Will there be another solicitation for Design and Development Launch Pilots in FY 2018?

    At this time, we do not anticipate another Design and Development Launch Pilot solicitation in FY 2018.

National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program FAQs

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

PROGRAM SOLICITATION: NSF 18-507

Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     November 27, 2017 - December 06, 2017

     November 26, 2018 - December 06, 2018

     November 25, 2019 - December 06, 2019

Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. submitter's local time):

     February 06, 2018

     February 06, 2019

     February 06, 2020

General Information

Program Title:

National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Program

Synopsis of Program:

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers.

The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. For FY2018, proposals are requested in any interdisciplinary research theme of national priority, with special emphasis on two high priority areas: (1) Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR) and (2) Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS). HDR is expected to continue as a priority research area for FY2019 and FY2020 competitions, along with a new priority area to be announced in 2018.

The NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. Strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, informal science centers, and academic partners are encouraged. NRT especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF INCLUDES to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society (https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/nsfincludes/index.jsp). Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for NRT Program

  1. What is an NRT trainee?
  2. What is an NRT traineeship?
  3. Can international students be NRT trainees?
  4. If I forgot to submit a letter of intent during the submission window, can I get a waiver to submit a full proposal in February.
  5. Is there greater funding available for the priority research areas identified in the solicitation?
  6. Can we propose research that addresses more than one priority area?
  7. If master's and doctoral students are included in one NRT project, how much overlap in their training is expected and/or preferred?
  8. Does the mention of pedagogy and mentoring training for faculty members mean that the NRT will fund professional development for faculty?
  9. Can a project propose funding for the improvement of a training model that is not entirely new but is certainly not (yet) broadly adopted?
  10. Does the fact that "Education" is not included in the "NRT" title mean that NRT will fund more proposed hands-on training and less classroom instruction?
  11. Referring to the "Key features of NRT Projects" (Section II.C of the solicitation), are we being asked to develop evidence-based strategies to broaden participation of students from diverse backgrounds, or are we being asked to apply evidence-based strategies that are already in practice?
  12. Are there preferred types of formative assessments (Section II.C of the solicitation) that we would include as central to the traineeship, or are these formative assessments open as part of the new model we are proposing?
  13. Is there a limit on cost of education that can be charged to the grant?
  14. Will NRT proposals with only external evaluators receive more preference than proposals that include internal evaluators?
  15. Can I propose an NRT project for a non-research-based Professional Master's program?
  16. Does the limit on the number of submissions per organization apply to subawardees and non-lead organizations on collaborative proposals?
  17. Can NRT projects include international partners?
  18. Will we need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of the evaluation activities and instruments described in our proposal?
  19. Will a project that focuses on a master's only program receive lower preference than projects involving doctoral students only or both doctoral and master's students?
  20. Will proposals that do not meet the eligibility requirements for submission be returned without review?
  21. Is there a list of national priority interdisciplinary research themes?
  22. Can a project focus on a research theme other than those identified in the high priority areas?

 

  1. What is an NRT trainee?

    An NRT "trainee" is a research-based STEM graduate student (M.S. or Ph.D.) who is accepted into the institution's NRT program and is expected to complete all the required program elements as described in the proposal. NRT trainees can be NRT-funded or non-NRT-funded; they do not have to receive stipend and tuition support directly from the NRT award. They can be supported from a variety of sources including research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, or other funding.

  2. What is an NRT traineeship?

    An NRT traineeship is focused on students and their technical and broader professional development. In the case of NRT, a traineeship involves a strong institutional commitment to mentoring STEM graduate students and the development of their technical and transferable professional skills (e.g., teamwork, ethics, communications, teaching, leadership, and project management) for a variety of STEM careers within or outside academia. NRT includes a focus on the students' overall development as STEM professionals, in addition to their conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research.

  3. Can international students be NRT trainees?

    Yes, they can be NRT trainees and fully participate in any NRT program elements (e.g., courses, workshops, and internships). However, NRT stipends and customary costs of education for stipend-supported trainees are restricted to U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents.

  4. If I forgot to submit a letter of intent during the submission window, can I get a waiver to submit a full proposal in February.

    No, a valid letter of intent MUST be submitted by the deadline to be eligible for full proposal submission. There is approximately a 2-week submission window for each annual competition. The PI prepares the letter but the official submission (via the AOR) must be completed before the deadline. A letter from a prior award cycle is not valid.

  5. Is there greater funding available for the priority research areas identified in the solicitation?

    No, there is no set allocation for a priority area. Funding is anticipated to be allocated in each area, including proposals submitted outside the identified priority areas.

  6. Can we propose research that addresses more than one priority area?

    Although NRT proposals may include research and training efforts that contribute to more than one priority area, each project should identify a main area (e.g. HDR, INFEWS or other) by using the appropriate title prefix. The research area should be identified in the Project Title at the time of submission using the appropriate prefix (e.g. "NRT-HDR:" or "NRT-INFEWS:" or "NRT:" for other research areas).

  7. If master's and doctoral students are included in one NRT project, how much overlap in their training is expected and/or preferred?

    The training approach is left up to the proposer to develop. Potentially, training in specific methodologies could be suitable for both master's and doctoral students together. However, some training might be better suited for master's or doctoral students separately.

  8. Does the mention of pedagogy and mentoring training for faculty members mean that the NRT will fund professional development for faculty?

    An NRT proposal may include funding for faculty training.

  9. Can a project propose funding for the improvement of a training model that is not entirely new but is certainly not (yet) broadly adopted?

    An NRT proposal may include funding to expand or improve a current training model, but the potential added value should be substantial and potentially transformative.

  10. Does the fact that "Education" is not included in the "NRT" title mean that NRT will fund more proposed hands-on training and less classroom instruction?

    No, training may include classroom instruction.

  11. Referring to the "Key features of NRT Projects" (Section II.C of the solicitation), are we being asked to develop evidence-based strategies to broaden participation of students from diverse backgrounds, or are we being asked to apply evidence-based strategies that are already in practice?

    Proposers are encouraged to build upon existing evidence-based strategies for broadening participation of students from diverse backgrounds, although they may also incorporate and test strategies that show promise of success based on available information.

  12. Are there preferred types of formative assessments (Section II.C of the solicitation) that we would include as central to the traineeship, or are these formative assessments open as part of the new model we are proposing?

    It is up to the proposers to identify the types of formative assessments. However, they should be formulated and designed to regularly inform and improve the NRT project.

  13. Is there a limit on cost of education that can be charged to the grant?

    The institution can budget for customary costs of education (e.g. tuition, health insurance, and required fees) for NRT trainees while they are receiving NRT stipend support. You may offer a discounted tuition rate if this is a customary practice for federally-funded trainees, research assistants, and/or fellows at your institution and not a practice solely for the NRT trainees.

  14. Will NRT proposals with only external evaluators receive more preference than proposals that include internal evaluators?

    All proposals must have an external evaluator. If an internal evaluator is also engaged, the project must provide justification and explain how lack of bias is ensured, including at minimum a provision for periodic external assessment of the ongoing evaluation by the external evaluator.

  15. Can I propose an NRT project for a non-research-based Professional Master's program?

    No, research is integral to the NRT program. For NRT proposals, non-research-based professional master's students are eligible to participate in NRT activities; however, they cannot be considered "trainees" (See FAQ #1 for a definition of "trainee") by the program and are ineligible to receive NRT stipend or cost of education support. NRT trainees must be in a research-based degree program that requires a thesis or dissertation.

  16. Does the limit on the number of submissions per organization apply to subawardees and non-lead organizations on collaborative proposals?

    Yes, eligible organizations may participate in only two proposals per competition. Participation includes serving as a lead organization on a non-collaborative proposal or as a lead organization, non-lead organization, or subawardee on a collaborative proposal. However, this limitation does not apply to organizations participating solely as evaluators on projects.

  17. Can NRT projects include international partners?

    Yes, NRT projects may include international partners if they provide significant added value to the projects. However, international partners cannot be subawardees and funds for their participation must be drawn from non-NSF sources.

  18. Will we need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of the evaluation activities and instruments described in our proposal?

    If your proposal is successful and awarded, you will need to provide official documentation from your institutions IRB confirming either that the planned activities involving human subjects have been approved or that your project falls into an exemption category.

  19. Will a project that focuses on a master's only program receive lower preference than projects involving doctoral students only or both doctoral and master's students?

    No, all proposals will be evaluated based on their merit. Projects involving master's students, Ph.D. students, and both master's and Ph.D. students will be evaluated equally.

  20. Will proposals that do not meet the eligibility requirements for submission be returned without review?

    Yes, proposals that do not comply with the solicitation will be returned without review. The eligibility conditions (Section IV of the solicitation) include who may submit proposals and serve as a PI, limits on the number of proposals per organization, and limits to number of proposals per PI or Co-PI. In cases where proposals are submitted that exceed eligibility limits, submissions will be accepted (beginning with the earliest submission time stamp) until the limit is reached. All submissions beyond the eligibility limits (based on submission time stamp) will be returned without review.

  21. Is there a list of national priority interdisciplinary research themes?

    No, there is not a set list of research themes. Instead, submissions that are not in one of the identified priority areas should justify that the interdisciplinary research theme is an area of high national need.

  22. Can a project focus on a research theme other than those identified in the high priority areas?

    Yes, traineeships may focus on any area of interdisciplinary research that is of high national priority. The project team should justify in the proposal why the identified area is of national importance and how a traineeship program would fulfill an unmet need.

FAQs for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

NSF 18-016

HOW APPROPRIATE IS NSF SBIR/STTR FUNDING FOR A COMPANY/PROJECT?

  1. What are SBIR and STTR? What are the differences and which is more appropriate for my project?
  2. What are the funding priorities for NSF SBIR/STTR?
  3. What is the best way to gauge whether or not a research and development (R&D) project is innovative and technically challenging enough to be funded by the NSF SBIR/STTR program?
  4. What activities and expenses are appropriate to be funded on a Phase I NSF SBIR/STTR project? What activities and expenses are not permitted?
  5. Can NSF SBIR/STTR fund work on a product that has already been developed? Can the program fund small businesses to execute their business plan?
  6. Must Phase I NSF SBIR/STTR proposers submit preliminary data as part of the proposal?
  7. Are new small businesses (start-up companies) appropriate candidates for the NSF SBIR/STTR program?
  8. Are first-time entrepreneurs appropriate candidates to participate in the NSF SBIR/STTR program?
  9. What is the expected outcome (deliverable) of a Phase I project?
  10. Is there a "fast-track" option to skip to Phase II? Is there an option to apply for Phase I and Phase II simultaneously?
  11. Are examples available of recently-funded NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I proposals and/or awards?
  12. May a small business submit multiple Phase I proposals during the same submission cycle?
  13. What are the chances of receiving an NSF Phase I SBIR/STTR award?
  14. Can NSF SBIR/STTR fund work on products whose target customers will be in the defense sector, or whose customers or end users are government entities?
  15. Both NSF and NIH fund biomedical/health projects through the SBIR/STTR program. How are the programs different? Can a small business apply to both programs?
  16. May a small business submit identical or overlapping proposals to NSF SBIR/STTR and another federal agency?
  17. If a proposing small business elects to partner with a university or research institute as part of an STTR Phase I proposal, must the partner also be part of that Phase II proposal?
  18. What options are available for pre-submission feedback, and what should be expected from this feedback?
  19. What other reasons are there for a small business apply to NSF SBIR/STTR?

ELIGIBILITY

  1. Must the proposing legal entity be formed at the time of the Phase I proposal submission?
  2. Does NSF SBIR/STTR support non-U.S. companies or work that is performed abroad?
  3. What defines the Principal Investigator (PI) role on an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I grant? What are the responsibilities of the PI? Does the PI need to have a PhD? Can the PI be a graduate student?
  4. May a faculty member at a college or university serve as the Principal Investigator on an NSF SBIR/STTR project?

PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND PROPOSAL SUBMISSION VIA FASTLANE (NSF'S ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION SYSTEM)

  1. When will the next SBIR/STTR solicitation be published?
  2. What are the first steps that a first-time proposer to the NSF SBIR/STTR program should take?
  3. What is the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)? Some guidelines in the NSF PAPPG are not spelled out in the NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation or conflict with information in the solicitation. Which policy document should I follow?
  4. What are the rules or restrictions regarding contact with NSF SBIR/STTR Program Directors? Must a small business form a working relationship with a Program Director before submitting a proposal?
  5. Is help available for navigating FastLane or troubleshooting proposal submission problems?
  6. What if there are changes or updates after a proposal is submitted (but before the deadline)? Does NSF SBIR/STTR review proposal materials as soon as they are submitted?
  7. What rules must be followed to ensure that a proposal passes the initial administrative review for completeness and continues on to the peer review process?
  8. If the System for Award Management (SAM) indicates that it will take several weeks for a proposing business's registration to be complete, what should the business do?
  9. How does a proposer know that he or she has successfully submitted an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal?
  10. How can proposers check on the status of a Phase I SBIR/STTR proposal after it has been submitted?

PROPOSAL BUDGET PREPARATION

  1. What is a reasonable salary for the PI and other personnel on the project?
  2. Can I list a Co-PI on an NSF SBIR/STTR proposal?
  3. How should indirect costs be structured for a Phase I SBIR/STTR project if the proposing small business does not have an established indirect cost rate?
  4. Can a person be listed on the budget as a subawardee (or consultant) and also on the main budget?
  5. May I budget a subaward to a federal lab or Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC)?
  6. What types of costs can be requested on a subaward budget?
  7. May proposers submit a proposal with more than one subaward (sub-budget?)
  8. How does NSF define a project participant as a consultant (line G.3 of the budget)?
  9. What are the budget requirements for consultants?
  10. If other R&D will be performed by the proposing small business, in parallel to the NSF SBIR/STTR-funded research, should those efforts be described in the proposal?
  11. How much of the NSF-funded research and development must be performed by the awardee? (In Phase I and Phase II)?

PROPOSAL REVIEW

  1. What criteria are used to evaluate NSF SBIR/STTR proposals?
  2. Who evaluates NSF SBIR/STTR proposals? What does the review process entail?
  3. How does NSF manage confidentiality and conflicts of interest during the peer review process? What can proposers do to ensure that their proprietary information is kept safe?
  4. How important are letters of support? What does a strong letter of support contain?
  5. Some NSF SBIR/STTR companies build on basic research that was also funded by the NSF. Are companies that are proposing projects that are NOT related to NSF or any federal funding at a disadvantage?
  6. When does NSF release proposal decisions? What feedback is provided?
  7. What if the company's R&D goals, business model, team, or vision change during the Phase I review period?
  8. How does the NSF weigh the two major SBIR/STTR review criteria, Intellectual Merit and Broader/Commercial Impacts, during the review process?

PHASE I AWARD AND BEYOND

  1. What are the conditions of an NSF Phase I SBIR/STTR award?
  2. What if there are changes to the business model or R&D strategy of a small business during the Phase I NSF SBIR/STTR project?
  3. Does NSF SBIR/STTR have a Phase III?

HOW APPROPRIATE IS NSF SBIR/STTR FUNDING FOR A COMPANY/PROJECT?

  1. What are SBIR and STTR? What are the differences and which is more appropriate for my project?

    The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are both Congressionally-mandated research and development (R&D) funding programs intended to support small businesses focused on bringing innovative technology to the marketplace. At NSF, both programs have identical philosophies, review criteria, processes, and award dollar amounts, and the two programs have similar success rates. The difference between SBIR and STTR programs at NSF is that small businesses which apply to the STTR program are required to partner with a not-for-profit research institution in their proposal. Such a partnership is optional for SBIR proposals.

    We recommend that potential applicants choose between these programs by determining which set of budget requirements (see Question 44) is more appropriate for their envisioned R&D effort.

  2. What are the funding priorities for NSF SBIR/STTR?

    The NSF SBIR/STTR portfolio is divided into broad technology areas, which are listed here: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/portfolio/. However, this list is NOT exhaustive. A small business has the freedom to pursue any technology and market area (with the exception of drug development). NSF SBIR/STTR proposal review does NOT take into account how well a proposal fits into a topic. Rather, Phase I proposals are evaluated based on the merit review criteria listed here: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/resources/review/peer-review/. The program seeks to support innovative, high-risk and high-impact R&D projects with a strong case made for commercialization.

  3. What is the best way to gauge whether or not a research and development (R&D) project is innovative and technically challenging enough to be funded by the NSF SBIR/STTR program?

    NSF SBIR/STTR seeks to fund R&D that involves a high degree of technical risk. It is a good sign if the R&D has never been attempted and/or successfully done before or is attempting to overcome significant technical hurdles. Innovation takes different forms in different fields. If this is a significant question that will determine whether or not you will submit a proposal, the best approach is to send an Executive Summary to an NSF SBIR/STTR Program Director (see Question 18) and specifically ask for guidance as to whether or not the project seems to meet the technical merit review criteria.

  4. What activities and expenses are appropriate to be funded on a Phase I NSF SBIR/STTR project? What activities and expenses are not permitted?

    NSF SBIR/STTR funding is for research and development (R&D) only. Generally, NSF SBIR/STTR funding can be used for salary and wages for company employees, associated fringe benefits, materials and supplies, and a number of other direct costs needed to carry out the proposed R&D. As appropriate, NSF SBIR/STTR projects may also fund consultants to the project and subawards to partner institutions. Some types of indirect costs that are necessary for the small business to carry out the project are also appropriate.

    NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I funds cannot be used for business development, marketing and sales, production, patent costs, or any activity unrelated to the research and development of your technology (either as direct or indirect costs). Equipment purchases are not permitted on a Phase I award but are permitted in Phase II. Please consult the solicitation for more information.

  5. Can NSF SBIR/STTR fund work on a product that has already been developed? Can the program fund small businesses to execute their business plan?

    NSF SBIR/STTR funding is for R&D only. The aim of a Phase I project should be to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed innovation and thereby bring the innovation closer to commercialization. If the idea has been already proven to be technically feasible and capital is required simply to perform analytical testing on the product, execute the business plan, and/or begin manufacturing, the project is NOT a good candidate for NSF Phase I SBIR/STTR funding. Non-incremental innovations to an existing product might be appropriate if the innovation will significantly enhance commercial outcomes and if the small business must undertake R&D with a great degree of technical risk in order to achieve those outcomes. Projects that focus on incremental improvements on existing products will not be funded.

  6. Must Phase I NSF SBIR/STTR proposers submit preliminary data as part of the proposal?

    Preliminary data are not required for NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I proposals. However, in many cases, preliminary data can strengthen the case that the small business could demonstrate technical feasibility with the proposed Phase I research and development.

  7. Are new small businesses (start-up companies) appropriate candidates for the NSF SBIR/STTR program?

    Yes. NSF encourages proposals from a diversity of small businesses. In fact, most NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I awards are made to companies that are newly formed and very small. Companies with no current revenues and/or minimal history of operations are encouraged to apply. However, those small businesses must show that, if NSF SBIR/STTR funding is awarded, they have a clear plan to quickly stand up the company operations and bring together a team that is capable of carrying out the proposed Phase I project. Conversely, companies with significant history will be evaluated based on their track record of prior technology development and commercialization.

  8. Are first-time entrepreneurs appropriate candidates to participate in the NSF SBIR/STTR program?

    NSF encourages proposals from a diversity of entrepreneurs - new and seasoned. What is most important is that the team is committed to bringing the technological innovation to market. The lack of a commercialization track record does not disadvantage a team, as long as the proposers can show a path to successful commercial outcomes. Many NSF SBIR/STTR grantees are first-time entrepreneurs.

  9. What is the expected outcome (deliverable) of a Phase I project?

    The aim of the Phase I project should be to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the proposed innovation and thereby bring the innovation closer to commercialization. Typically, an expected outcome of a Phase I project is not a product that is fully ready for market launch. The R&D outcomes that can best demonstrate technical feasibility vary widely based on the technology area and the particulars of the project.

    The required deliverable at the end of an SBIR Phase I grant is a report that summarizes the project's technical accomplishments. Phase I outcomes take many forms depending on the technology area and stage of the research. Outcomes could be proof-of-concept data, a prototype, analytical/testing results of the product under development, etc.

    The Phase I R&D work is intended have high technical risk, therefore, it is understood that not all projects will achieve the desired technical outcomes. However, projects that are successful are in a better position to obtain follow-on funding, including an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase II grant. This is because a Phase I project should aim to de-risk the technical aspect or aspects of the innovation that are most important to future commercial success.

  10. Is there a "fast-track" option to skip to Phase II? Is there an option to apply for Phase I and Phase II simultaneously?

    Small businesses must receive a Phase I award before applying for a Phase II award at NSF.

  11. Are examples available of recently-funded NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I proposals and/or awards?

    Companies and projects funded by NSF SBIR/STTR can be explored on the portfolio page here: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/portfolio/. Company names and project titles and abstracts for recently funded Phase I awards in each topic area are provided on the topic webpages that are linked to from this page: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/awardees/phase-1/. NSF SBIR/STTR does not provide sample proposals.

  12. May a small business submit multiple Phase I proposals during the same submission cycle?

    No. A given small business may only submit ONE proposal to the same deadline (note that each deadline generally includes both an SBIR and an STTR solicitation). This requirement is intended to allow applicants to focus on submitting one strong proposal that best aligns with the commercial goals of their business and the NSF SBIR/STTR review criteria.

  13. What are the chances of receiving an NSF Phase I SBIR/STTR award?

    In fiscal year 2016, the Phase I funding rate was 15% for SBIR and 19% for STTR. Phase II funding rates typically vary between 30% and 55%. Although funding rate is a common question, generally, these data should not be relied upon too heavily in making a decision whether or not to submit a proposal. The possibility of receiving an award increases significantly with the fit of the project for the program and quality of the project and commercial opportunity proposed. Rather than focus on funding rate, proposers are encouraged to ensure that NSF SBIR/STTR is a good fit for their needs and that the proposed project aligns well with the program goals.

  14. Can NSF SBIR/STTR fund work on products whose target customers will be in the defense sector, or whose customers or end users are government entities?

    NSF SBIR/STTR does not dictate which markets or customers small businesses may serve. However, if an intended customer for the solution developed under the SBIR/STTR grant will be the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), proposers should consider applying through the SBIR/STTR programs at those respective agencies (DOD - http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/; DHS - http://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/sbir; NASA - https://sbir.nasa.gov/). Those agencies, and some others, focus on the acquisition of solutions developed under the SBIR/STTR program. The submission of an identical or overlapping proposal to both NSF and another agency is possible (see Question 16), if a project seems like it could be appropriate for both NSF and another agency.

  15. Both NSF and NIH fund biomedical/health projects through the SBIR/STTR program. How are the programs different? Can a small business apply to both programs?

    Generally, NSF SBIR/STTR funding is not aimed at supporting clinical trials, the clinical validation of information technologies or medical devices, or studies that are performed primarily for regulatory purposes. Limited studies with human subjects may be acceptable to the extent that they are performed in support of feasibility, proof-of-concept studies of early-stage technologies.

    More specific guidance on what is funded through NSF SBIR/STTR in the biomedical and biological technologies spaces can be found on the topic pages for Smart Health (https://seedfund.nsf.gov/portfolio/#smart-health-sh) and Biomedical Technologies (https://seedfund.nsf.gov/portfolio/#biomedical-technologies-bm) and Biological Technologies (https://seedfund.nsf.gov/portfolio/#biological-technologies-bt). These topics and subtopics are NOT restrictive but give a general sense of the types of proposals solicited.

    Another way to explore what is typically funded under NIH and/or NSF is via the Award Search at SBIR.gov, which reports on all SBIR/STTR awards, regardless of the agency under which it was funded.

    Finally, the submission of an identical or overlapping proposal to both NSF and NIH SBIR/STTR is possible (see Question 16). If more guidance is necessary to decide whether or not to submit a proposal, proposers are encouraged to contact the appropriate NSF SBIR/STTR Program Director (see Question 18).

  16. May a small business submit identical or overlapping proposals to NSF SBIR/STTR and another federal agency?

    Proposers may submit overlapping proposals to different agencies, but NSF will not make awards that duplicate research funded by, or anticipated to be funded by, other agencies. It is very important to note potential overlap on the cover page of the NSF proposal. If a proposer fails to disclose that another Federal Agency has received this proposal (or an equivalent or overlapping proposal) on the proposal cover page, the proposer could be liable for administrative, civil, or criminal sanctions.

    If a proposal is selected for award by NSF and another agency, the cognizant agencies will work together to determine which agency will fund the work. Sometimes, the project scope and/or budgets will be adjusted if both projects will be funded in order to ensure that no portion of the work is double-funded. However, NSF SBIR/STTR will not co-fund a single proposal with any other agency.

  17. If a proposing small business elects to partner with a university or research institute as part of an STTR Phase I proposal, must the partner also be part of that Phase II proposal?

    First, proposing small businesses are welcome to partner with a university or research institute for SBIR, not just STTR. See Question 51 or the solicitation for budget requirements that may help determine which program is more appropriate.

    For Phase II STTR, proposing small businesses must have a research partner, similar to Phase I. However, the research partner does not have to be the same partner that was a subawardee on the Phase I STTR effort.

    If a Phase I STTR awardee does not wish to work with a research partner for Phase II, they may submit a Phase II proposal to the NSF SBIR program instead.

  18. What options are available for pre-submission feedback, and what should be expected from this feedback?

    Sometimes, a small business reviews the information on the NSF SBIR/STTR website and in the current solicitation and is able to determine whether or not to submit a Phase I proposal. Small businesses with questions or a need for more advice about whether to submit may complete our short executive summary form - a program director will get back to you shortly. The summary should discuss: the company and team; the market opportunity, value proposition, and customers; the technology/innovation; the competition; and the key technology risks to be addressed by the project. This summary should not include highly proprietary information (though its contents will not be shared outside NSF). The Program Directors will be able to answer questions and provide feedback to help determine whether or not the project is a good fit.

  19. What other reasons are there for a small business apply to NSF SBIR/STTR?

    Like applying for any funding, be it angel investment, venture funding, state funding, etc., applying for NSF SBIR/STTR funding takes time and energy. However, there are significant benefits beyond the equity-free R&D funding:

    • Valuable feedback from technical experts and commercial reviewers for every proposal received through NSF's merit review process. Even proposers who do not receive a Phase I award can benefit from the process. All applicants receive detailed feedback from NSF's expert technical and commercial reviewers, and this information may positively impact the direction of the technology development as well as the company business model.
    • A "stamp of approval" when NSF has funded a Phase I or Phase II project as NSF's recognized peer review process gives confidence to investors and partners as to the novelty and innovation of the underlying technology and technical approach.
    • Follow-on funding: Only Phase I awardees may apply for a Phase II award, which is up to $750,000. Once a small business has obtained a Phase II award, it is eligible to apply for additional awards that could approach $1.5 million in total funding, including some of the supplemental opportunities available to Phase II awardees.
    • Mentoring and training provided by the Program Directors and program workshops in Phase I and Phase II add value above and beyond the R&D funding.
    • Access to a network of startups and small businesses.

ELIGIBILITY

  1. Must the proposing legal entity be formed at the time of the Phase I proposal submission?

    The proposing small business should be a legal entity at the time of proposal submission. A legal entity is required to complete all of the necessary registrations. Phase I applicant small businesses, however, need not have commenced company operations at the time of submission.

  2. Does NSF SBIR/STTR support non-U.S. companies or work that is performed abroad?

    SBIR/STTR eligibility guidelines state that the majority (more than 50%) of a small business' equity (e.g. stock) must be directly owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Additionally, NSF SBIR/STTR only supports work that is performed in the U.S. (including work performed by subawardees and consultants).

  3. What defines the Principal Investigator (PI) role on an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I grant? What are the responsibilities of the PI? Does the PI need to have a PhD? Can the PI be a graduate student?

    The PI is often the technical lead on the project. However, another leader on the project may be named as PI as long as he or she is capable of tracking and communicating technical progress on the award. The PI is responsible for communicating with the cognizant Program Director and staff during the course of the award and monitors the performance of the project to assure adherence to performance goals, time schedules or other requirements as appropriate to the project or the terms of the grant. The PI is also responsible for submitting required reports to the NSF.

    The PI is NOT required to have a PhD or any other degree. Graduate students and post-doctoral researchers are eligible to be the PI on an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal. Many PIs have no graduate training.

    However, the PI MUST be more than 50 percent legally employed by the proposing small business by the time of the award and for the entire duration of the Phase I project. NSF normally considers a full time work week to be 40 hours and considers employment elsewhere of greater than 19.6 hours per week to be in conflict with this requirement. Additionally, anything that prevents an individual from meeting this legal employment requirement (including residency status or university policy) will make that individual ineligible to be PI.

    In addition, the PI must commit a minimum level of effort to the project described in the application (not to be confused with the greater than 50% employment requirement). The minimum level of effort for the PI is one person-month per six months of project duration.

  4. May a faculty member at a college or university serve as the Principal Investigator on an NSF SBIR/STTR project?

    In most cases, employment as a faculty member at a college or university conflicts with the primary employment requirement for the PI of an SBIR/STTR project (see Question 22). However, in some cases, the college or university can grant a leave of absence or otherwise indicate that the faculty member is permitted to be employed more than 50% of their time employed by the small business.

PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND PROPOSAL SUBMISSION VIA FASTLANE (NSF'S ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION SYSTEM)

  1. When will the next SBIR/STTR solicitation be published?

    There are no guarantees on when solicitations will be published, but for the last several years, NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitations have been published twice per year. One solicitation is published in March, with a June deadline, and another is published in September, with a December deadline. The minimum amount of time between the publication of the solicitation and the deadline for proposals will be 90 days.

  2. What are the first steps that a first-time proposer to the NSF SBIR/STTR program should take?

    Once you've decided to submit a proposal, we recommend that the small business complete four required registrations: FastLane, DUNS, System for Award Management (SAM) and SBIR Company Registry.

    1. A DUNS and Employer Identification Number (EIN) are required for FastLane registration.
    2. Register the small business AND the PI in FastLane, NSF's electronic submission system (https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov). For help in determining who should be the PI on the project, see Question 21. Registering in FastLane allows you to see the proposal submission, with the modules that correspond to different parts of the application. Taking a look early will help you better understand the information available on the "Apply" page: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/apply/.

      Please note that NSF SBIR/STTR proposals must be submitted via FastLane and will NOT be accepted via Research.gov or Grants.gov.

    3. Register the small business in the System for Award Management (SAM): https://www.sam.gov/.
    4. Register with the SBIR Company Registry. See the "Registrations" page for more details: https://www.sbir.gov/registration.

    Lastly, letters of support from outside individuals or organizations are an important part of the proposal. However, these letters take time to obtain. Proposers are recommended to start obtaining these letters as early as possible. See Question 47 for more information.

  3. What is the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)? Some guidelines in the NSF PAPPG are not spelled out in the NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation or conflict with information in the solicitation. Which policy document should I follow?

    The NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) contains NSF's general proposal preparation and submission guidelines. The SBIR/STTR programs have solicitations that modify the general provisions of the PAPPG, and, in such cases, the guidelines provided in the SOLICITATION must be followed.

    The SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitations include MANY instructions that deviate from the PAPPG. As such, the solicitations strive to include, as much as possible, the rules and guidelines that proposers should know in order to submit a proposal, referencing the PAPPG when necessary.

  4. What are the rules or restrictions regarding contact with NSF SBIR/STTR Program Directors? Must a small business form a working relationship with a Program Director before submitting a proposal?

    Small businesses are permitted to contact the NSF SBIR/STTR program directors at any time. However, program directors become increasingly busy as each proposal deadline approaches, so small businesses are strongly encouraged to contact them as early as possible, if they wish to seek guidance on submitting their proposal. If a small business does choose to engage a NSF program director, please do not contact multiple program directors in parallel without notifying them.

    However, there is absolutely no requirement to form a working relationship with a program director prior to submission. Additionally, ALL proposals that pass the initial screening for completeness undergo a rigorous peer review and will be considered for award.

  5. Is help available for navigating FastLane or troubleshooting proposal submission problems?

    The FastLane Step-by-Step Guide is a great first resource: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/fastlane/.

    As a reminder, if this guide and the solicitation conflict, the solicitation rules apply.

    For advanced questions and troubleshooting, the FastLane Help Desk is another resource and can be reached at 1-800-673-6188 (available 7 am to 9 pm Eastern time). NSF SBIR/STTR staff can be helpful regarding the contents of the proposal, but the experts for technical issues with FastLane are the FastLane Help Desk staff.

  6. What if there are changes or updates after a proposal is submitted (but before the deadline)? Does NSF SBIR/STTR review proposal materials as soon as they are submitted?

    NSF SBIR/STTR does not start processing or viewing proposals until after the deadline date. If a proposal is submitted before the deadline date and needs to be updated (also before the deadline date, proposers may perform a Proposal File Update (PFU). Instructions are located in the FastLane Guide (https://seedfund.nsf.gov/fastlane/). See "Proposal File Update."

  7. What rules must be followed to ensure that a proposal passes the initial administrative review for completeness and continues on to the peer review process?

    Please see the "DOs and DON'Ts list" in the current Phase I solicitation.

  8. If the System for Award Management (SAM) indicates that it will take several weeks for a proposing business's registration to be complete, what should the business do?

    If the SAM registration for a company is not active by the NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I submission deadline (or does not match exactly the other company information registered in FastLane), the proposer will receive a warning when trying to submit a proposal. The proposer should continue past that warning, as it will NOT stop submission. The small business should continue to pursue SAM registration once the proposal submission is complete, because an active SAM registration is required to receive an award.

  9. How does a proposer know that he or she has successfully submitted an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal?

    When a proposal has been received by NSF, the proposer will receive a proposal number that is seven digits long and starts with the last two digits of the current federal government fiscal year. For example, proposal numbers for proposals submitted from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017 should be seven digits long and begin with "17".

    If the final proposal number has not been given, it is likely that the PI submitted the proposal but has not yet performed the final step, which is to forward to the small business's Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR)/Sponsored Research Officer (SRO), who signs and submits the proposal. Instructions for this step can be found in the FastLane Step-by-Step Guide: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/fastlane/.

  10. How can proposers check on the status of a Phase I SBIR/STTR proposal after it has been submitted?

    The listed Principal Investigator (PI) on a given proposal can log in to Fastlane, (http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/jsp/homepage/proposals.jsp) and click "Proposal Functions", then "Proposal Status." Proposals and their statuses will be listed. Navigating to an individual proposal will enable proposers to view reviewer comments, when they are available.

PROPOSAL BUDGET PREPARATION

  1. What is a reasonable salary for the PI and other personnel on the project?

    The best way to ensure that salary requests are appropriate is to justify proposed salaries that do not exceed the median levels based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Wage Data for the same geography and job title. More information on using BLS Wage Data can be found here: https://www.bls.gov/bls/blswage.htm.

  2. Can I list a Co-PI on an NSF SBIR/STTR proposal?

    NSF SBIR proposals do NOT have Co-PIs. Proposals may include subawardees, but they should not list a Co-PI. NSF STTR proposals, MUST have a subawardee research institution, with a Co-PI from that institution listed on the cover page and on the subaward budget.

  3. How should indirect costs be structured for a Phase I SBIR/STTR project if the proposing small business does not have an established indirect cost rate?

    Small businesses without an established indirect cost rate are recommended to make an estimate based on itemizing and estimating specific indirect costs that it expects to incur during the Phase I project. Common types of indirect costs are rent, utilities, some types of insurance, and other company expenses that are not directly required by the NSF project but are necessary for the overall operation of the business. It is recommended that small businesses without an established indirect cost rate keep their request for indirect costs and fringe benefits at or below the "safe rate" (i.e., total indirect costs plus fringe do not exceed 50% of total direct salaries and wages).

  4. Can a person be listed on the budget as a subawardee (or consultant) and also on the main budget?

    In general, no person should request funds (or financially benefit) through more than one institutional affiliation for a single NSF SBIR/STTR project. Therefore, individuals with a financial interest in the proposing small business (this includes company equity holders or projected employees) cannot request funds through a subaward budget or as a consultant. In rare cases, this requirement might prove unusually burdensome; therefore, it is possible to grant an exception, only if recommended by the Program Director and approved by the Division Director for the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships.

  5. May I budget a subaward to a federal lab or Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC)?

    Yes, FFRDCs and federal labs are eligible to be subawardees. A list of FFRDCs is located at: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdclist/.

  6. What types of costs can be requested on a subaward budget?

    A subaward budget (sub-budget) may request funds on the same lines as are permitted for the main project budget, but with two main exceptions. First, if the subaward is to a research institution, the sub-budget may contain a request for funds for Postdoctoral Scholar(s) in Line B.1, Other Personnel (whereas the main budget cannot). Second, subaward budgets may NOT contain funds on Line K, which is used for a fee that may only be requested by the proposing small business in the main budget.

  7. May proposers submit a proposal with more than one subaward (sub-budget?)

    Proposers may request funds for multiple subawards, as long as the requirements about total budget allocations are met (see the solicitation). For each subaward you request, a full subaward budget must be prepared, with an accompanying subaward budget that explains and justifies the subaward costs with the same level of detail as the main project budget.

  8. How does NSF define a project participant as a consultant (line G.3 of the budget)?

    Consultants (also referred to as "contractors") are persons who will work on the project, but who are not employees of the company. Consultants typically do not receive a W-2 tax form from the small business, and are often used to provide a specific service or skill based on hourly or daily compensation. Consultant services include specialized work that will be performed by professionals that are not employees of the proposing small business. Purchases of analytical services, other services, or fabricated components from commercial sources should not be listed under consultant services and should instead be reported in the budget under Other Direct Costs/Other (Line G.6). No person who is an equity holder, employee, or officer of the proposing small business may be paid as a consultant unless an exception is recommended by the Program Director and approved by the Division Director for the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships. All research on an SBIR project, including that conducted by consultants, must be carried out in the U.S.

  9. What are the budget requirements for consultants?

    Each consultant included in the budget should provide a signed commitment letter, to be included in the budget justification, stating a) what they will specifically be doing in the project; b) the number of hours or days that they are committing to the project; and c) the agreed-upon level of compensation which is not to exceed the NSF maximum of $1,000 per day (NSF defines a day as 8 hours). The budget justification must address how the consultant effort will contribute to the project. The biographical sketch of each consultant should also be included as part of the "biographical sketches" section of the proposal. If the company wishes to compensate a consultant at a higher rate, it must supply the additional funding from sources outside the NSF grant (and should explicitly state this in the budget justification).

  10. If other R&D will be performed by the proposing small business, in parallel to the NSF SBIR/STTR-funded research, should those efforts be described in the proposal?

    The funds provided by an NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I project are rarely sufficient to bring a new product to market. The NSF SBIR/STTR project focuses on specific technical goals that must be met in order to ensure the commercial success of the product or service under development. Therefore, an NSF SBIR/STTR proposal should primarily address the R&D effort proposed with the NSF funds only. Other R&D that may be performed with or funded by partners can be mentioned briefly, but the R&D plan should concentrate on only NSF-funded work.

    Any resources at the disposal of the small business or volunteered by the small business itself but will not be compensated via the Phase I award may be listed in the Facilities, Equipment, and other Resources section of the proposal if proposers are concerned about the appearance of cost sharing.

  11. How much of the NSF-funded research and development must be performed by the awardee? (In Phase I and Phase II)?

    These requirements differ for SBIR and STTR awards. For Phase I SBIR awards, a minimum of two-thirds (66%) of the R&D, as measured by the budget, must be performed by the awardee. For Phase II SBIR projects, a minimum of one-half (50%) of the R&D must be performed by the awardee. For Phase I and Phase II STTR projects, a minimum of 40% of the R&D, as measured by the budget, must be performed by the small business, and a minimum of 30% of the R&D, as measured by the budget, must be performed by the partner research institution.

PROPOSAL REVIEW

  1. What criteria are used to evaluate NSF SBIR/STTR proposals?

    All NSF proposals are reviewed for Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact. In addition, SBIR/STTR proposals have a set of additional criteria covering Commercial Impact. For more information on what this means for SBIR/STTR proposals, please see the following webpage: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/resources/review/peer-review/. The merit review criteria are also listed in the solicitation document.

  2. Who evaluates NSF SBIR/STTR proposals? What does the review process entail?

    In Phase I, technical reviewers with expertise in the field of research being proposed and/or the target market area proposed are asked to confidentially review the proposals. These technical reviewers always possess technical training and expertise in relevant areas of science, engineering, or technology. The Phase I review process relies heavily on input from these technical reviewers, with some reviewers having a mix of commercial and technical expertise. Dedicated commercial reviewers are sometimes asked to participate on Phase I panels. In addition, SBIR/STTR Program Directors with relevant technical and commercial expertise lead this process, and also directly help evaluate the technical and commercialization details of each proposal.

    In most cases, similar proposals are typically placed into groups of 4-18 called a "panel." A group of three to 10 external reviewers is assigned to a panel, with each proposal being reviewed by at least three of these reviewers. The reviewers read their assigned proposals and provide feedback, and then all of the reviewers meet in person at NSF or via video conference or conference call to discuss all of the proposals in the panel.

    In many cases, applicants still in consideration for an award will be contacted directly by NSF staff following this external review, with additional questions or concerns for the applicant to address.

    The Phase II process is similar, but a greater amount of time and effort is dedicated to the evaluation and discussion of each proposal. Additionally, each Phase II proposal generally is assigned to more reviewers. In Phase II, in addition to the technical reviewers, a minimum of two commercial reviewers review each proposal, paying particular attention to the commercialization plan.

  3. How does NSF manage confidentiality and conflicts of interest during the peer review process? What can proposers do to ensure that their proprietary information is kept safe?

    NSF proposals are considered confidential. They are not made public and are not considered a public disclosure. Proposals are kept within NSF staff and the external reviewers, who certify that no conflicts of interest are present and that they will keep the proposal documents and review contents confidential (see the Conflict of Interest form on the peer review page at: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/resources/review/peer-review/).

    SBIR/STTR data are protected from disclosure by the participating agencies for a period of not less than 4 years from end of the relevant Phase II award (or the relevant Phase I award, if no follow-on Phase II award is granted). The protection period is extended with each subsequent related award or supplement in order to avoid harmful disclosure. The SBA has a full set of FAQ items that address data rights here: http://www.sbir.gov/faq/data-rights.

    Even when SBIR/STTR data are no longer under the mandatory protection, NSF still does not generally release proposal information publically. One exception occurs in the event of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which is a rare occurrence. Any sections of the proposal marked as proprietary will not be made available to the requestor, so it is important to mark sensitive sections of the proposal as clearly proprietary. In the event of a FOIA request, if the NSF is still able to contact the SBIR/STTR small business, there is a second opportunity for the business to redact proprietary information from the proposal. Because of the nature of this process, proposers are asked NOT to mark the entire proposal as proprietary.

  4. How important are letters of support? What does a strong letter of support contain?

    Letters of support are extremely important for both Phase I and Phase II proposals. Letters of support are often intended to help convince the reviewers that the proposed innovation, if developed, would solve a real market need. More generally, letters of support help validate claims made in the proposal about commercial impacts. Therefore, letters from potential end users of the technology (customers) and corporate partners/collaborators are appropriate. Letters from actual or potential investors can also help. Proposers are recommended to start early in trying to obtain these letters.

  5. Some NSF SBIR/STTR companies build on basic research that was also funded by the NSF. Are companies that are proposing projects that are NOT related to NSF or any federal funding at a disadvantage?

    No. All proposals are evaluated according the merit review criteria, and only the best proposals are funded. NSF seeks to understand how basic research, and in particular NSF-funded research, can lead to technological innovation and potentially commercialization. Therefore, proposers are encouraged to provide information about the scientific research that has led to the proposed innovation. For both SBIR and STTR, proposals based on NSF-funded basic research are welcomed. A solid base in fundamental research lends credibility to the intellectual merit of the proposal. NSF "lineage" alone (or lack of it) should not dramatically alter the fate of a proposal.

  6. When does NSF release proposal decisions? What feedback is provided?

    The schedule and pace of NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I peer review is affected by many factors. However, several general guidelines are provided below for proposals that undergo peer review. Proposers whose proposals did not pass the administrative review, and therefore are not sent to the panel review stage, may learn of this decision earlier in the process (this decision is called "return without review").

    2-4 months after the deadline date - Proposers, especially those in consideration for funding, may be contacted by the Program Director any time after the panel if the panel or Program Director have questions that must be answered in order for the proposal to be fairly and completely evaluated. This process of interaction with the Program Director is called "due diligence".

    4-6 months after the deadline date - Phase I proposals that are chosen for award or have been declined will receive their official notification. All proposals which undergo the full merit review process will be notified of the decision and will receive anonymous written reviews that can contain helpful information on how the proposal could be improved. If the reviews are unclear or more information is desired to be able to resubmit in the next cycle, proposers may contact the Program Director that managed the review process to ask for clarification and guidance.

    6-7 months after the deadline date - Phase I awards begin. Proposals submitted in June will have a start date (first funds disbursed) no later than January 1 of the next year. For December proposals, the start date is typically no later than July 1 of the next year. Many Phase I proposals will start up to six weeks earlier than these dates (i.e. as early as mid-May or mid-November).

  7. What if the company's R&D goals, business model, team, or vision change during the Phase I review period?

    Applying to NSF SBIR/STTR should not change the strategy of a small business or slow down its progress. If, during the Phase I review process, a small business makes progress on some of the technical objectives or challenges that are included in a Phase I proposal that is recommended for award, the program will typically work with the proposer to update the work plan and objectives for the Phase I project. It is very rare for a Phase I award to be jeopardized because a proposing small business has continued to conduct R&D in parallel with the Phase I review process. However, we encourage all applicants to update NSF staff of any significant changes in company status, team, or technology, if contacted by NSF during the review process.

  8. How does the NSF weigh the two major SBIR/STTR review criteria, Intellectual Merit and Broader/Commercial Impacts, during the review process?

    Intellectual Merit and Broader/Commercial Impacts are equally important for the purposes of making award recommendations.

PHASE I AWARD AND BEYOND

  1. What are the conditions of an NSF Phase I SBIR/STTR award?

    NSF SBIR/STTR award conditions can be found here: https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/special_conditions.jsp in the section at the bottom of the page. The headings at the top of the award conditions show topics of interest, like Patent Rights, Payment Schedule, and Reporting Rights.

  2. What if there are changes to the business model or R&D strategy of a small business during the Phase I NSF SBIR/STTR project?

    NSF SBIR/STTR understands that small businesses, especially those in the very early stages of development, may undergo business model changes. This may include choosing a different niche market, a different product format, etc. During Phase I, NSF SBIR/STTR works with grantees to adjust (within reason) the Phase I project objectives, work plan, and budget to reflect changes in the market understanding and business model. However, changes to a Phase I project that completely shift the focus of the project away from the initially proposed core innovation are generally not permitted. Additionally, NSF SBIR/STTR will not support alternative R&D if the work no longer meets the Phase I program standards for high technical risk.

  3. Does NSF SBIR/STTR have a Phase III?

    Some agencies that run acquisition-based SBIR/STTR programs, such as the Department of Defense, feature Phase III. In this phase, the agency chooses to enter into another agreement with the company to continue R&D related to the project. This project must be supported by non-SBIR/STTR funds.

    NSF does not acquire technologies that are developed under the SBIR/STTR program and therefore does not offer a Phase III program.

    NSF does offer Phase II grantees a number of supplemental opportunities, including a chance at up to $500,000 in additional funding under the Phase IIB program, which matches third-party investment or product/service revenues that derive from the NSF-supported project(s). See more on all these opportunities here: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/resources/awardees/supplement/overview/

FAQs for NSF INCLUDES

Monday, January 9, 2017

  1. The solicitation states that an organization may serve as the lead institution on only one Design and Development Launch Pilot. Can an organization be the lead institution for more than one preliminary proposal?
  2. Is a PI permitted to submit more than one preliminary proposal?
  3. Can a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization serve as the lead institution for a Design and Development Launch Pilot? What if an organization is a school district?
  4. If an organization has not had a previous NSF Award, is it eligible to submit an NSF INCLUDES preliminary or full proposal?
  5. Are collaborative proposals accepted?
  6. How quickly will preliminary proposal be reviewed?
  7. Should a Design and Development Launch Pilot preliminary proposal be submitted to a Directorate and Division consistent with the proposal's focus and will different Directorates fund different numbers of Launch Pilots?
  8. Are Design and Development Launch Pilot preliminary proposals expected to be interdisciplinary or are discipline-specific proposals permitted?
  9. Should all preliminary proposals use a collective impact approach in order to be competitive?
  10. The solicitation states that in FY 2017, NSF will invite proposals to form NSF INCLUDES Alliances. Must one first receive a Design and Development Launch Pilot award to be eligible to compete for an NSF INCLUDES Alliance?
  11. Must the senior leaders of an organization (e.g., President, Chancellor, or Chief Executive Officer) be the PI on a preliminary proposal?
  12. Does the organization need to have an Institutional Review Board provide human subject approvals for preliminary proposals?
  13. Do Design and Development Launch Pilot proposals need to have an evaluator and an evaluation plan?
  14. Do Design and Development Launch Pilot collaborations have to include a backbone organization?
  15. When will the National Backbone Organization be established? When will an Alliance solicitation be public?

  1. The solicitation states that an organization may serve as the lead institution on only one Design and Development Launch Pilot. Can an organization be the lead institution for more than one preliminary proposal?

    No, not as a lead institution. The solicitation limits each organization to one Design and Development Launch Pilot preliminary and full proposal as the Lead Institution. However, an organization may be a collaborating partner on multiple preliminary and full proposals.

  2. Is a PI permitted to submit more than one preliminary proposal?

    Yes, but the solicitation restricts the number of preliminary and full proposals on which an individual may serve as PI; an individual may serve as a PI or Co-PI on only two (2) preliminary or full proposals.

  3. Can a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization serve as the lead institution for a Design and Development Launch Pilot? What if an organization is a school district?

    Yes, both non-profit organizations and local school districts may submit a proposal. The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are described in the NSF Proposal and Awards Policy and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter 1, Part E, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/index.jsp.

  4. If an organization has not had a previous NSF Award, is it eligible to submit an NSF INCLUDES preliminary or full proposal?

    Yes, as long as an organization is of a type listed as eligible to submit proposals in the PAPPG (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/index.jsp), it may submit a preliminary proposal to NSF INCLUDES. Please check the NSF Prospective New Awardee Guide (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pnag/pnag161.pdf), which provides specific details about Grantee Standards that all new proposing organizations must meet to be granted an NSF award. The NSF Prospective New Awardee Guide includes a list of all documents needed should an award recommendation be made.

    Any eligible organization may, after submitting a preliminary proposal that is invited, submit a full proposal to NSF 17-522.

  5. Are collaborative proposals accepted?

    Yes, but we are restricting the type of collaborative proposal to a single submission from a lead institution with collaborating institutions as subawards. Even though the Proposal and Award Policy and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) lists two types of collaborative proposals, for this competition Launch Pilot proposals submitted from multiple institutions may only be submitted via a lead institution with subawards.

  6. How quickly will preliminary proposal be reviewed?

    NSF Program Directors will make every effort to communicate the decision to Invite/Not Invite full proposals based on panel recommendations and additional portfolio considerations via FastLane in three to four weeks from the submission deadline.

  7. Should a Design and Development Launch Pilot preliminary proposal be submitted to a Directorate and Division consistent with the proposal's focus and will different Directorates fund different numbers of Launch Pilots?

    No, all preliminary proposals and full proposals should be submitted to the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD) within the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). Support for NSF INCLUDES comes from all Directorates and Offices with award decisions made at the Foundation-level based on alignment with NSF INCLUDES' vision and goals.

  8. Are Design and Development Launch Pilot preliminary proposals expected to be interdisciplinary or are discipline-specific proposals permitted?

    There is no requirement that proposals be either interdisciplinary or discipline-specific. Organizations and teams of PIs and key personnel may come together with a specific disciplinary or interdisciplinary focus, but neither is a requirement. Key to a successful proposal is the identification of specific, high-impact broadening participation in STEM goals with measurable objectives, as well as a strong argument that the set of partners being assembled includes all who are needed to successfully achieve that goal. Examples of recent awards made through the first NSF INCLUDES solicitation may be found here.

  9. Should all preliminary proposals use a collective impact approach in order to be competitive?

    No, the use of the collective impact framing and approach is not required. However, each preliminary proposal must articulate and justify the framework for collaboration, the processes for the development of a shared goal for broadening participation, and identify shared metrics and mutually reinforcing activities. Keep in mind that whatever framework is used must provide for expansion, impact and scale, and must include openness to multiple (and new) partners.

  10. The solicitation states that in FY 2017, NSF will invite proposals to form NSF INCLUDES Alliances. Must one first receive a Design and Development Launch Pilot award to be eligible to compete for an NSF INCLUDES Alliance?

    Yes, only organizations with Design and Development Launch Pilot awards may compete for NSF INCLUDES Alliances. Design and Development Launch Pilot awardees are expected to carry out and report on the results of projects to demonstrate their ability to implement a collective impact-style approach to address their selected broadening participation challenge. The project is expected to demonstrate how teams and organizations can be reconfigured and joined together to form an NSF INCLUDES Alliance with common goals and purposes, shared metrics for success, and with a strategy for how the effective practices of the Alliance can be expanded. The accomplishments of a Launch Pilot will be assessed as part of the review of the subsequent NSF INCLUDES Alliance proposal. New partners may be invited to join a Design and Development Launch Pilot that is submitting an Alliance proposal.

  11. Must the senior leaders of an organization (e.g., President, Chancellor, or Chief Executive Officer) be the PI on a preliminary proposal?

    No, the PI may be any individual eligible to be a PI at an organization or institution. NSF does encourage senior leaders to take a direct and personal role in helping to build collaborative alliances, as suggested by NSF Director France Córdova in her Dear Colleague Letter (NSF 16-048).

  12. Does the organization need to have an Institutional Review Board provide human subject approvals for preliminary proposals?

    No, IRB approvals are not needed for preliminary proposals, although they may be needed for full proposals. For guidance on IRB approvals needed for full proposals, please consult the NSF web site about the protection of human subjects (https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/human.jsp). Further guidance is also provided in the NSF PAPPG (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/pappg_2.jsp#IID5).

  13. Do Design and Development Launch Pilot proposals need to have an evaluator and an evaluation plan?

    Yes, part of the Design and Development Launch Pilot activities should be to develop common goals and shared metrics for success of the launch pilot collaboration. This requires the assistance of an evaluator on the team from the beginning of the project, along with some questions for the evaluation effort to answer, as well as a plan for data collection and analysis.

  14. Do Design and Development Launch Pilot collaborations have to include a backbone organization?

    Not necessarily. While a Launch Pilot proposal may not be ready to engage a backbone or support organization, part of the process of developing a collaboration should include assessing the needs the collaboration might have for a backbone or support organization and the development of a plan to include one in a broader effort. Backbones or similar support organizations will be required for full alliances, and there will be a national backbone infrastructure that Alliances will be expected to link to; but the purpose of a Design and Development Launch Pilot is to explore the feasibility of creating collaborations that may or may not include a backbone or support organization from the outset.

  15. When will the National Backbone Organization be established? When will an Alliance solicitation be public?

    We anticipate a solicitation for a national backbone organization to support the work of the national NSF INCLUDES network to be forthcoming in calendar year 2017, followed by a solicitation for Alliances later in the year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  1. What are the major changes in submission?
  2. Why was the "Submission Target Date" changed to “Proposals Accepted Anytime”?
  3. When can I submit a proposal?
  4. Is there a 90-day waiting period for proposal submission from the time the solicitation was released?
  5. Do I need to confirm that the date I want to submit my proposal is acceptable?
  6. Is there a preferred time of year to submit a proposal in response to a "No Deadline" solicitation?
  7. Is there any advantage to submitting at or near the beginning of a fiscal year?
  8. Will this new submission plan affect the Merit Review process?
  9. When will I be notified of the funding recommendation for my proposal?
  10. May I submit a one-page description to the Program Directors to make sure the proposal is a program fit for PGRP?
  11. What is the “Collaborations and Other Affiliations” workbook and how should it be submitted?

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

  1. My proposal was declined and I’ve decided to collaborate with someone else who would be a better choice for PI. May that person resubmit the proposal?
  2. May I be PI on more than one proposal submitted to this PGRP solicitation in a 12-month period?
  3. May I be a co-PI on more than one proposal submitted to this solicitation?
  4. May I be a PI on a proposal and co-PI on another proposal submitted to this solicitation?

FOCUS AREAS IN THE SOLICITATION

  1. It looks like proposals that focus on developing tools or community resources are no longer invited in this new solicitation. Is this true?
  2. I would like to submit a proposal to the ECA opportunity during my tenure year. Am I still eligible?
  3. I would like to submit a proposal to the ECA (or the MCA) opportunity. Am I required to include a co-PI who will serve as a mentor (for the ECA) or facilitate training in plant genomics (for the MCA)?
  4. I would like to submit to the ECA (or the MCA) opportunity, but my institution does not have a tenure process. My institution has a similar process called a “rolling five” appointment [or some other type], but true tenure is not available. Am I still eligible to apply to either opportunity?

OTHER

  1. How can I communicate my comments about the changes in this solicitation?
  2. What if my question is not addressed by these FAQs?

The following set of questions and answers refer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the PGRP Program Solicitation NSF 16-614: Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf16614 . They are not intended to be a modification of the Program Solicitation.

Before preparing PGRP proposals, please read the PGRP (NSF 16-614) solicitation and refer to the general information about NSF proposal submission including the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) submission guidelines available at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=papp.
FAQs about FastLane, the NSF site for submitting proposals, can be found at https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/NSFHelp/flashhelp/fastlane/FastLane_Help/fastlane_help.htm#fastlane_faqs_introduction.htm.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

  1. What are the major changes in submission?

    Instead of a "target date" or "deadline," proposals may now be submitted at any time.

  2. Why was the "Submission Target Date" changed to “Proposals Accepted Anytime”?

    PGRP is evaluating whether increasing submission opportunities will have different outcomes from a single competition per year with a preset target date. These include:

    • Attracting new ideas and participants into the PGRP program
    • Encouraging the development of transdisciplinary collaborations
    • Offering the community flexibility to select a submission date that allows time for building effective collaborations
    • Increasing the quality of proposals submitted 
  3. When can I submit a proposal?

    Proposals are accepted anytime.

  4. Is there a 90-day waiting period for proposal submission from the time the solicitation was released?

    No. There is no waiting period. You may submit a proposal as soon as the solicitation is released.

  5. Do I need to confirm that the date I want to submit my proposal is acceptable?

    No. Any submission date is acceptable.

  6. Is there a preferred time of year to submit a proposal in response to a "No Deadline" solicitation?

    No. However, it is important for project planning purposes to note that proposals submitted after April of each fiscal year will be recommended for funding with start dates after October 1, the first day of the next fiscal year.

  7. Is there any advantage to submitting at or near the beginning of a fiscal year?

    No. The selection of a submission date should be based on the best time for the PI(s) to submit a high quality proposal.

  8. Will this new submission plan affect the Merit Review process?

    No, the ability to submit proposals any day, any time does not affect the review process. PGRP will continue to provide ad hoc and/or panel review for all proposals submitted. We expect to hold several panels per year in response to proposal submission load.

  9. When will I be notified of the funding recommendation for my proposal?

    PGRP intends to recommend proposals for award or decline within six months of submission.

  10. May I submit a one-page description to the Program Directors to make sure the proposal is a program fit for PGRP?

    Yes. We encourage the PI of a project to contact a PGRP Program Director before submitting a proposal to ensure program fit.

  11. What is the “Collaborations and Other Affiliations” workbook and how should it be submitted?

    The Collaborators and Other Affiliations workbook provides information to help Program Directors select reviewers who do not have any potentially biasing relationships (personal or professional) with either the PI/co-PI(s) or the submitting institution(s). Information regarding collaborators and other affiliations must be provided for each individual identified as senior project. A workbook template is found at https://www.nsf.gov/bio/ios/ioscoatemplate.xlsx and instructions for filling out the workbook are included in the solicitation and on the first tab of the template. Per the instructions in the PGRP solicitation, the workbook must be prepared using the designated template and submitted as a Single Copy document with the proposal. After submission of the proposal, the workbook should be sent as an attachment to an email message to the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS), using the email address provided in the template.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

  1. My proposal was declined and I’ve decided to collaborate with someone else who would be a better choice for PI. May that person resubmit the proposal?

    Yes, but he/she may not resubmit within 12 months counted from the date of submission of the declined proposal. The proposal would be returned without review if it is resubmitted within 12-months regardless of the PI composition.

  2. May I be PI on more than one proposal submitted to this PGRP solicitation in a 12-month period?

    No. An investigator may serve as PI on only one proposal during a 12-month period, counted from the date of submission of a proposal as PI.

  3. May I be a co-PI on more than one proposal submitted to this solicitation?

    Yes. You may be a co-PI on more than one proposal. However, investigators should be aware that time commitments are considered in the review process of all proposals. Overly committed co-PIs may reduce reviewer confidence that project objectives can be achieved.

  4. May I be a PI on a proposal and co-PI on another proposal submitted to this solicitation?

    Yes. This is acceptable under the new solicitation.

FOCUS AREAS IN THE SOLICITATION

  1. It looks like proposals that focus on developing tools or community resources are no longer invited in this new solicitation. Is this true?

    Definitely not! The area called RESEARCH-PGR still invites proposals that focus solely on tool and resource development in addition to proposals that focus on genome-wide scale hypothesis-driven research. Please contact PGRP Program Directors if you have additional questions.

  2. I would like to submit a proposal to the ECA opportunity during my tenure year. Am I still eligible?

    You are eligible for up to 4 years from the start of the tenure appointment. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact a PGRP Program Director for guidance.

  3. I would like to submit a proposal to the ECA (or the MCA) opportunity. Am I required to include a co-PI who will serve as a mentor (for the ECA) or facilitate training in plant genomics (for the MCA)?

    No. You are not required to include a co-PI. However, reviewers will be asked to comment on mentoring and/or training. For that reason, it is in your best interest to articulate how you will be mentored and/or trained. Please refer to the solicitation for additional details.

  4. I would like to submit to the ECA (or the MCA) opportunity, but my institution does not have a tenure process. My institution has a similar process called a “rolling five” appointment [or some other type], but true tenure is not available. Am I still eligible to apply to either opportunity?

    Yes. Equivalent career stages are eligible. Please contact a PGRP Program Directors if you need further clarification.

OTHER

  1. How can I communicate my comments about the changes in this solicitation?

    Please email your comments to the Plant Genome Research Program at dbipgr [at] nsf [dot] gov. PGRP wants to hear about and will share with IOS and BIO your experiences, opinions, suggestions for improvements, and other comments about the changes in this solicitation.

  2. What if my question is not addressed by these FAQs?

    Please ask us! Contact information for PGRP Program Directors and management in IOS can be found in the solicitation and at the Division website (https://www.nsf.gov/ios).