Innovation Corps Sites Program (I-Corps Sites)


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

January 07, 2013

July 01, 2013

First Monday in July, Annually Thereafter

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Innovation Corps Sites Program (I-Corps Sites)

Synopsis of Program:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks to develop and nurture a national innovation ecosystem that builds upon research to guide the output of scientific discoveries closer to the development of technologies, products and processes that benefit society.

In order to contribute to a national innovation ecosystem, NSF is establishing the NSF Innovation Corps Sites Program (NSF I-Corps Sites). Sites are funded at academic institutions, having already existing innovation or entrepreneurial units, to enable them to:

The purpose of an I-Corps Site is to nurture and support multiple, local teams to transition their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Continuing Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 15 Up to 15 I-Corps Sites awards annually, pending availability of funds.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $1,500,000

Eligibility Information

Organization Limit:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

PI Limit:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 1

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

B. Budgetary Information

C. Due Dates

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions: Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Program Description

  • Eligibility Information

  • Budgetary Information
  • FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

  • Review and Selection Process

  • Award Conditions
  • Agency Contacts

  • I. INTRODUCTION

    America's prosperity has originated in part from the ability to capitalize economically on ground -breaking discoveries from science and engineering research. Simultaneously, a knowledgeable, creative workforce has maintained the country's global leadership in critical areas of technology. These important discoveries and capable workforce resulted from substantial, sustained investment in science and engineering. A strong capacity for leveraging fundamental scientific discoveries into powerful engines of innovation is essential to maintain our competitive edge in the future.

    Through this initiative, NSF seeks to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, products and processes that arise from research. NSF investments will strategically strengthen the innovation ecosystem (http://www.nsf.gov/eng/iip/innovation.pdf) by addressing the challenges inherent in the early stages of the innovation process. This solicitation will support activities that are designed to overcome many of the obstacles in the path of innovation.

    II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

    The goals of this program are to spur translation of research, to encourage collaboration between academia and industry, and to train students to understand innovation and entrepreneurship. NSF funding through I-Corps Sites enables academic institutions to support teams whose projects are likely candidates for commercialization.

    A competitive proposal for an I-Corps Site will be led by an institution having an already existing unit whose goal is to assist faculty, students and other academic personnel to engage in entrepreneurial activities and transition scientific and technological innovations. Such units are typically called: innovation centers, entrepreneurial centers, technology incubators, etc. Their mission is to provide resources to individuals and teams in the form of space, seed funding, entrepreneurial mentoring, curriculum, or other assets needed to transition technology into the marketplace.

    The purpose of an I-Corps Site is to nurture and support multiple, local teams that are transitioning their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace. While different institutions may choose different mechanisms for achieving the goals of an I-Corps Site, certain characteristics of a Site must be consistent - the make-up of the teams the Site supports, the origin and nature of the projects, and the kind of support that is provided to the teams by the Site.

    1. I-Corps Site Teams

    The I-Corps Sites Program funds an institution's entrepreneurial unit. The unit, in turn, provides resources for the creation, development, and nurturing of entrepreneurial teams. Teams formed under the auspices of an I-Corps Site should include an Entrepreneurial Lead (EL), an Academic Lead (AL), and a Mentor.

    The Entrepreneurial Lead could be a Post-Doctoral scholar, graduate student, undergraduate or other student, or professional staff, with relevant knowledge of the technology and a deep commitment to investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. In rare circumstances, with approval of a cognizant NSF I-Corps Program Officer, it also could be the AL. The Entrepreneurial Lead should also be capable and have the will to support the transition of the technology, should the project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability.

    The Mentor will typically be an experienced or emerging entrepreneur with proximity to the institution and experience in transitioning technology out of academic labs. The Mentor is a third-party resource and may be recommended by the proposing institution or may be an employee of the institution. The Mentor will be responsible for guiding the team forward and tracking progress.

    The Academic Lead will be responsible for overall project management. The AL must have an academic appointment that would normally qualify the AL to submit proposals or play the role of a PI in subsequent submissions to NSF.

    1. I-Corps Site Projects

    Site team ideas or projects can originate from student work, research (funded or unfunded), institutional, or industrial projects. The topical focus of a project must be in an area(s) of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics normally supported by the National Science Foundation.

    1. I-Corps Site Team Support

    The scope of the funding that an I-Corps Site may expend on teams can include, but it not limited to: acquisition of modest amounts of equipment or materials needed to fabricate prototypes; travel expenses to consult with potential clients or experts; training or education related to entrepreneurial immersion; or, other resources needed to directly advance the goals of transitioning a team's project into the marketplace. I-Corps Site support for an institution's entrepreneurial teams should not be used for legal or administrative costs. Exceptions to the direct support of teams can be made for the costs of planning technical meetings for the direct benefit of entrepreneurial teams, providing those meetings contribute to the commercialization of team projects.

    The expectation is that an I-Corps Site will contribute $1,000 to $3,000 total to individual teams sponsored by the I-Corps Site and that the duration of the support will typically range from 1 to 3 months. I-Corps Sites are expected to fund at least 30 teams per year.

    1. I-Corps Site Outcomes Expectations

    The purpose of an I-Corps Site is to nurture and support multiple, local teams that are transitioning their ideas, devices, processes or other intellectual activities into the marketplace. A Site's entrepreneurial curriculum model should demonstrate consistency with (but not necessarily duplicate) the NSF I-Corps curriculum that can be found at www.nsf.gov/i-corps. Some of the possible outcomes from an I-Corps Site's team mentorship and guidance are:

    • Direct commercialization of team projects
    • Applications submitted by Site Teams to NSF's I-Corp Program
    • New start-up businesses
    • Licensing agreements
    • Creation of business plans suitable for review by third-party investors

    In addition, all I-Corps Site supported teams will make "go/no-go" decisions about commercialization within six months of receiving support from their I-Corps Site. Sites are expected to track teams' progress using appropriate survey tools and retain the data resulting from those surveys.

    III. AWARD INFORMATION

    Anticipated Type of Award: Continuing Grant

    Estimated Number of Awards: 15 Up to 15 I-Corps Sites awards annually, pending availability of funds.

    Anticipated Funding Amount: $1,500,000

    IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

    Organization Limit:

    Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
    • Universities and Colleges - Universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Such organizations also are referred to as academic institutions.
    • A competitive proposal for an I-Corps Site will be led by an institution having an already existing unit whose goal is to assist faculty, students and other academic personnel to engage in entrepreneurial activities and transition scientific and technological innovations. Such units are typically called: innovation centers, entrepreneurial centers, technology incubators, etc. Their mission is to provide resources to individuals and teams in the form of space, seed funding, entrepreneurial mentoring, curriculum, or other assets needed to transition technology into the marketplace.
    • During the startup phase of NSF's I-Corps Sites Program, collaborative proposals from multiple institutions are discouraged. Exceptions can be made, with the approval of the NSF I-Corps Management Team, for institutions that have collaborative entrepreneurial centers already in place.

    PI Limit:

    None Specified

    Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

    None Specified

    Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 1

    V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

    A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

    Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.

    In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

    Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.4 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

    Guide to Preparation of an NSF I-Corps Sites Proposal

    Proposals submitted to the I-Corps Sites Program deviate from the traditional format of a research proposal as described in NSF's GPG.

    An I-Corps Sites proposal consists of the following parts:

    Cover Sheet:

    The cover sheet is automatically generated by FastLane or Grants.gov based on information entered into the "Cover Sheet."

    Project Summary:

    The one-page summary MUST have the following components:

    1. A summary limited to 300 words addressing the Intellectual Merits of the proposed activity. No proprietary information should be included in the summary.
    2. A summary limited to 300 words addressing the Broader Impacts of the proposed activity. Describe the potential societal and commercial impact of the proposed Site.

    Table of Contents:

    The table of contents is automatically generated by FastLane or Grants.gov.

    Project Description:

    An I-Corps Sites proposal should include information organized in the most effective way to present a compelling story about why the proposed Site should be funded and why it will be effective in preparing teams to commercialize their projects. The Project Description is limited to 15 pages and should address the bulleted topics listed below. For each topic listed, where appropriate, describe how the feature or activity will change if an I-Corps Sites award is made to your institution.

    References Cited

    Provide a comprehensive listing of relevant reference sources, including patent citations.

    Biographical sketches

    A biographical sketch for each team member (two pages maximum per team member) must be provided, highlighting technical expertise and track records in successful technology and business development and be prepared in accordance with the requirements specified in the GPG. Exhaustive academic resumes are not appropriate.

    Proposal Budget

    Funding for the I-Corps Sites Program is limited to a maximum of $100,000 per year for a maximum of 3 years.

    The bulk of the funding should be expended on entrepreneurial teams and the activities needed to pursue commercialization of their products, processes or ideas.

    The budget should include funds for PI travel to one I-Corps Sites meeting per year.

    The I-Corps Sites Program will not fund legal or administrative expenses for commercialization.

    Current and Pending Support

    The proposal should provide information regarding all research to which the Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-PIs have committed time or have planned to commit time. If none, state NONE. Current and Pending Support must be uploaded for each of the team members. Note that this proposal is considered "pending" and therefore MUST appear on each Current and Pending Support submission.

    Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources

    Discuss requirements for and the availability of equipment, instrumentation, and facilities required for the proposed project.

    B. Budgetary Information

    Cost Sharing: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited

    C. Due Dates

    D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements

    VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

    Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposal preparation requirements. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal.

    A. NSF Merit Review Criteria

    All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

    The two NSB-approved merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which the reviewer is qualified to make judgments.

    What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
    How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

    What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
    How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

    Examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available electronically on the NSF website at: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/broaderimpacts.pdf.

    Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project, as described in a one-page supplementary document, will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts criterion.

    Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

    Reviewers will be charged to consider the following additional criteria when reviewing I-Corps Sites proposals:

    NSF staff also will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

    Integration of Research and Education
    One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives.

    Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities
    Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

    B. Review and Selection Process

    Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Panel Review.

    Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

    After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

    A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

    In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

    VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

    A. Notification of the Award

    Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

    B. Award Conditions

    An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1); * or Research Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

    *These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at http://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

    More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

    C. Reporting Requirements

    For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require more frequent project reports). Within 90 days after expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

    Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

    PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on activities and findings, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and contributions. PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system. Submission of the report via FastLane constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

    More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

    VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS

    Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

    General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

    For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

    For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

    IX. OTHER INFORMATION

    The NSF Website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this Website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, National Science Foundation Update is a free e-mail subscription service designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Regional Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail when new publications are issued that match their identified interests. Users can subscribe to this service by clicking the "Get NSF Updates by Email" link on the NSF web site.

    Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this new mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at http://www.grants.gov.

    ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

    NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

    Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

    The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

    The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

    The National Science Foundation promotes and advances scientific progress in the United States by competitively awarding grants and cooperative agreements for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

    To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at http://www.nsf.gov

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    PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS

    The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

    Suzanne H. Plimpton
    Reports Clearance Officer
    Division of Administrative Services
    National Science Foundation
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