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Program Announcement

STIG PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT

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Click here to view the Admin Rules for STIG

UTAH SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND RESEARCH (USTAR) INITIATIVE

USTAR is the State of Utah’s technology catalyst, accelerating the growth of the innovation ecosystem from invention through product development. Guided by Utah’s targeted technology sectors, USTAR supports technology entrepreneurs and innovators through training, funding, incubator and accelerator programs; brokering technology transfer by connecting capital, management and industry; addressing market gaps in Utah’s technology ecosystem and strengthening the state’s research capacity.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY INITIATION GRANT

The Science and Technology Initiation Grant (STIG)  is intended to assist university researchers in developing preliminary data or proof of principle experimentation in order to compete for large federal grants or private funding (i.e. foundation or non-profit). Of particular interest are interdisciplinary or collaborative multi-investigator grants.  Target grants must be for a minimum of $1,000,000 over the lifetime of the grant. STIG resources are not available for targeting SBIR/STTR funding.

ELIGIBILITY

  • Individual researchers or research teams employed by a Utah non-profit college or university are eligible to apply for a STIG grant
  • Applicants must precisely identify the targeted funding source and the agency’s program solicitation to USTAR.  The targeted funding source must have a posted announcement and be active at the time of intended application submission.
  • STIG funds are intended to support gathering of preliminary data to enhance an applicant’s competitiveness for the targeted funding.
  • The institutional sponsor must be a Utah entity, although the Utah-based research team may collaborate with non-Utah institutions. All funding must be used by the Utah institution.  
  • Collaborations among researchers at different universities and/or among researchers in different disciplines are encouraged.
  • Applicants must obtain a cost-sharing commitment from the Utah university sponsor in the form of direct funds or in-kind support (see the Budget section for details on cost-sharing).
  • USTAR funded Principal Investigators cannot use course buy-outs or their USTAR funding as part of the cost matching requirement.

TARGETED INDUSTRY SECTORS

  • The USTAR Governing Authority identifies the Industry Sector(s) eligible to receive a STIG annually and will post on its website.
  • Applications for research funding are limited to authorized sectors.
  • USTAR targeted technology  sectors for FY18 (July 1, 2017- June 30, 2018) are:

Aerospace – Aerospace is concerned with aeronautics and astronautics. Areas for research include, but are not limited to, innovative approaches in aerodynamics, advanced materials, engineering of aircraft and spacecraft and the autonomous control of aircraft. This includes both manned and unmanned systems.

Automation and Robotics (including IoT and Smart City technologies) – Automation technology is the use of cutting-edge machinery in industrial applications to minimize human exertion. Robotics is the branch of automation that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback and information processing.

Big Data and Cybersystems – Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate. Challenges include analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying and information privacy. Analysis of data sets can find new relationships to gather information on topics such as business trends, crime patterns, genome sequences, complex physical environments and more.

Cybersystems is an overarching term related to computerized electrical and mechanical processes, as well as information generation and large capacity, rapid access storage, as well as data encryption, data security against breaches and data retrieval technologies.  USTAR wishes to inspire creation and development of new strategies to prevent attacks on computer system networks and develop new encryption tools and computer hardware with a line of sight toward the next generation of computer hardware.  

Note: software application development and software subscription services are  not considered in scope for this funding mechanism.

Energy and Clean Technology – Energy and clean technology products and processes are those harnessing renewable and nonrenewable advanced materials to dramatically reduce the use of natural resources, cut emissions and waste, and provide options for efficient energy storage and usage.

Life Sciences – Life science is defined as the study of living organisms from a cellular, molecular, or macroscopic perspective. Research in this area includes, but is not limited to advanced materials applicable to devices and drug delivery, medical device development, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, agriculture, health IT and genetics

APPLICATION PROCESS

  1. The completed application components described below are downloadable forms or templates from the USTAR website.  The  White paper is not templated and must be created from a suitable word processing application.    
  2. The completed application must be sent to USTAR as a single PDF file with the filename of ResearcherName_STIG to STIGinfo@utah.gov. The application must be signed and submitted  by an authorized signatory in the University’s Office of Sponsored Projects.
  3. Incomplete applications, submission by someone other than the OSP signatory  or failure to follow the instructions will result in rejection.
  4. Required application materials include:
    1. Quad Chart – (download template) Summarize key elements of the technology and commercial positioning according to the template.
    2. White Paper (create document) must not be more than six pages, 1.5 spacing and no less than 12-point Arial font with one inch margins. Please do  not disclose proprietary information.  The white paper contains the following:
      1. Introduction: Provide a concise background and significance statement of the overall research.  Address the scientific gap, the innovation (disruptive, transformational or incremental improvement), hypothesis and overall approach.
      2. Funding Target: Describe the precise funding target, emphasizing the relevance of the USTAR funding to successfully compete for the targeted grant.   State the amount of support of the targeted grant and general intended use of USTAR funds.
      3. Technical Strategy: For each project milestone describe the technical approach, the expected outcome(s) and specific deliverable(s). Include limitations and alternative approaches.  A statement of the timeline for completion should be included. The entire project must be completed within 12 months.
      4. Commercial Vision: Describe the vision for a potential commercial product resulting from the USTAR and the targeted grant funding. Briefly describe an unmet need and your possible solution. USTAR understands this is highly speculative and not binding, yet encourages applicants to be responsive to the USTAR mission.
      5. Targeted Technology Sector Impact: Characterize the potential impact of the research to come from the STIG and targeted grant, should you successfully compete  for these funds.
      6. Cited references are public domain articles and scientific literature.  These are not counted in the page limit.
      7. Graphs and Tables are best embedded in the text and count toward the page limit. The font may be 10 pt or larger.  
    3. Scope of Work – (download template) This is a breakdown of the project by milestone.  Use the provided template to present your research plan according to milestones, their corresponding deliverable(s), budget and timeline.  Use the chart template to illustrate milestone activity relative to the total grant period. An example chart is provided.
    4. Budget and Budget Justification: (download templates)
      1. The funding range for STIG projects is typically $25,000 – $75,000
      2. Follow the budget template; there are 3 worksheets
      3. Follow the instructions on the Budget Justification template
      4. Matching funds are required for STIG. Complete the budget justification template and state the matching dollars and the source.  For in-kind support give the dollar value and the type of support offered. Cost sharing funds may be provided via:
        1. Direct dollar contribution from the institution
        2. In-kind contribution such as:
          1. Cost of subject matter experts (SME)
          2. Materials and equipment
          3. Travel and other expenses budgeted for the project
          4. Or other contributions, as approved by USTAR
          5. Funds derived from USTAR programs cannot be used for cost-matching  
      5. Use of funds for travel is discouraged. If necessary for milestone completion, document the specific activity, the rationale and the portion of the budget that will be used.
      6. Any required equipment in the budget that exceeds $5,000 will require justification.
      7. If anticipating additional funding to supplement the proposed project, describe the amount and source.
    5. Key Personnel Biosketch: (download template) Use one form for each key person not to exceed 5 pages per Biosketch.
      1. Personal statement – background and experience that will lead to milestone accomplishment

BUDGET

USTAR receives an annual appropriation based on the state’s fiscal year (FY),  July 1 – June 30. The funding range for STIG projects is typically $25,000 – $75,000.

TIMELINE

Proposals may be submitted at any time.  The review process starts at set times of the fiscal year. For FY18, the dates are August 28, 2017; November 30, 2017; February 28, 2018; and May 29, 2018.  Applications must be received by USTAR by 5:00 PM MT on these dates.

EVALUATION

An independent panel of technical experts and state government staff will review USTAR STIG  proposals. Individuals will be prescreened for conflict of interest, and will sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Scoring Rubric for USTAR Science and Technology Initiation Grants (STIG)

Technical Merits (score 1-5)  (from the White Paper) weighted 35%

Technical merits (score 5)

  • Findings of proposed research will significantly impact competitiveness of proposal for target funding opportunity
  • Technical approach has high likelihood of success, is well defined and considers alternative approaches if the original is not successful
  • Timeframe does not exceed 12 months

Technical merits (score 3)

  • Findings of proposed research have some potential to impact competitiveness of proposal for follow on funding
  • Technical approach has potential for success and is well defined
  • Timeframe does not exceed 12 months

Technical merits (score 1)

  • Findings of proposed research have no potential to impact competitiveness of proposal for follow on funding
  • Technical approach has low chance of success
  • Development timeframe is not reasonable, exceeds 12 months

Potential  Economic Impact on Industry Sector (score 1-5)  (from the White Paper) weighted 20%

Economic Impact of the combined  USTAR and funding target (score 5)

  • Funding would have significant impact on research jobs
  • Funding has strong potential to generate new IP
  • Commercialization timeline addressed
  • Researcher can provide data driven definition of potential market

Economic Impact of the combined USTAR and funding target (score 3)

  • Funding would have some impact on research jobs
  • Funding has some potential to generate new IP
  • Commercialization timeline not addressed
  • Researcher can provide data driven definition of potential market

Economic Impact of the combined USTAR and funding target (score 1)

  • Funding will have no or little impact on research jobs
  • Funding has no potential to generate new IP
  • Funding will have little to no economic impact
  • Commercialization timeline not addressed

Technical Capability of Team (score 1-5)  (from the White Paper) weighted 35%

Technical capabilities/experience of the team that will enable market success (score 5)

  • The team has the technical background and experience to meet the milestones identified in the proposal
  • Team has experience working together with a history of success
  • Team has diversity of technical expertise to overcome challenges

Technical capabilities/experience of the team that will enable market success (score 3)

  • Team has sufficient technical credentials to meet the milestones identified in the proposal, but does not have prior experience with taking technology to market
  • Team has minimal experience working together

Technical capabilities/experience of the team that will enable market success (score 1)

  • The team does not have the adequate technical capabilities and experience for market success
  • Team does not have experience working together as a team

Budget realism/ Matching funds/ Target funding size (score 1-5)  (from the Budget and Budget Justification) weighted 10%

Realism of the proposed budget line items and matching funds (score 5)

  • Proposed budget is both adequate and sufficient to complete the proposed work
  • Matching funds/in kind contributions is a 50% match
  • Funding target is greater than $10,000,000

Realism of the proposed budget line items and matching funds (score 3)

  • Proposed budget may be insufficient or more than necessary to complete the work
  • Matching funds/in kind contributions amount to less than 50% match
  • Funding target between $2,000,000 – $10,000,000

Realism of the proposed budget line items and matching funds (score 1)

  • Not realistic in proposal of cost
  • Matching funds/in kind contributions are an insufficient match
  • Funding target less than $2,000,000

AWARD

USTAR will have the discretion to limit the amount of funding that may be awarded for each STIG based on available funds, scope of project and quality of proposal. USTAR reserves the right to award funding for any proposal in full or in part, to request additional information or to reject any or all applications based on the eligibility and evaluation criteria set forth in this announcement and according to the judgement and discretion of the USTAR Governing Authority. Upon award of a STIG, and prior to any disbursement of funds, university(ies) must enter into a contract with USTAR governing the use of grant funding. Unless addressed in the terms and conditions of the contract between university(ies) and USTAR, the following provisions shall apply:

  • Grant funding may not be used to provide a primary benefit to any state other than Utah.
  • For all other eligibility requirements, awardees must maintain eligibility status for the STIG program until the project is complete, all milestones have been met, final disbursement of funding has been made, and first year reporting has been completed.
  • Grant reporting is required periodically during the funding period as dictated by the terms of university contract.  Annual reporting will be required to meet USTAR’s statutory requirements for five years post-award.

Violations may result in forfeiture of grant funding and require repayment of all or a portion of the funding received as part of the program.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Questions regarding the Science and Technology Initiation Grant must be submitted in writing via email. Inquiries made via phone or other method will not be accepted. Please direct all questions to STIGinfo@utah.gov.

All frequently asked questions and answers will be posted under STIG Questions

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