Is the bidding team fixed at the Letter of Intent (LOI) stage, or is it possible to change partners/members after the LOI has been submitted?
It is permissible to change identified collaborators after the LOI stage. Note that the collaborator capabilities and commitments are an important element of LOI and proposal evaluation.
Can Lead/Collaborator institutions change roles within their team?
Yes, bearing in mind the rules in the RFP regarding eligible Lead Applicant.
Can a business incubator be a Lead Applicant? A non-profit public or private research institution or public body?
Yes to all. However, the capital funding can only go to a University.
What is the funding mechanism?
Cleveland State University (CSU) will issue a subcontract to the Lead. If the Lead cannot receive the Capital funding (because it is not a university), CSU will issue a separate subcontract to the university partner.
How will projects be administered?
WCSSE is administered by Cleveland State University. WCSSE and CSU staff will handle aspects of contracting, reporting and program management.
Will the Letters of Intent (LOIs) be published?
Yes, on the WCSSE website.
Since LOIs will be published, how specific do they have to be regarding the relevant technology?
The LOIs should not include proprietary information. Simply state there is propriety information involved that has not been disclosed in the LOI and communicate that proprietary information separately to the WCSSE Executive Director.
Can money spent or other project-related investments made by a company in California be counted as cost-share?
No. The cost-share must be an Ohio investment
Can investments made before or after the project period be counted as cost share?
No. Only investments made during the project period (the time between the start and stop dates of the grant funding subcontract) count towards cost share
Can cost-share come from a non-profit?
Yes, cost-share can come from the Lead or any one of the Collaborators.
Will WCSSE try to combine LOIs/project teams that submit separately in an attempt to combine good elements of competing proposals and remove weaker parts?
WCSSE will review and may make recommendations that competing proposal teams consider joining forces.
Are detailed budgets or other metrics required in the LOI?
Does cost-share need to be identified in the LOI?
No, although it is helpful to indicate understanding of the commitment and any preliminary information regarding sources/types.
Who should sign the LOI on behalf of the Lead organization?
LOIs are not binding upon the submitter, so WCSSE does not have a requirement regarding who should sign the LOIs.
Does cost-share have to be clearly available at proposal time? For example, an organization may be expecting an award that hasn't been received yet.
The Lead Applicant is, at the time of proposal submission, is committing itself to the specified cost share amount and ratio (grant vs. cost share funds). If the originally anticipated cost share source is not available upon award, the Lead Applicant must either provide an alternative source or relinquish the award. Cost share has to be available from day one of the project period.
Will WCSSE put a copy of its agreement with the Ohio Department of Development on its website?
How important is it to involve companies/organizations from Northeast Ohio?
WCSSE will accept organizations (Leads and Collaborators) from anywhere in Ohio, however, NEO involvement is seen as a positive factor. Proposal quality, including strength of the team and commercialization plan, is the primary consideration.
Can equipment be purchased by a university and placed at a private collaborator's facility for their exclusive use during the project and then opened up to others after the project's conclusion?
No. A Joint Use Agreement (JUA) is required to be in place at the time of proposal submission. This agreement, between the university, for-profit organizations, and other collaborators, is discussed on Page 6 of the RFP. This program's funding can purchase equipment which will be used exclusively by a for-profit entity.
If the proposal is of high quality, will a cost share ratio for capital funds of less than 2:1 (match dollars to grant capital dollars) be accepted?
Will the involvement of a for-profit company that hasn't worked in this area of technology be a detriment to a proposal?
Not necessarily. The question during evaluation will be whether the skills of the individuals at the company, partnerships, etc. provide evidence that the for-profit company can be successful in a new-to-them market. It would be positive to note that a collaborator is already in a related marketplace.
Does the cost-share have to be spent consistently during the project period?
No, but the expenditure of cost-share should happen at roughly the same rate as use of grant dollars, or more. The project reporting process will include reporting progress in cost share expenditures.
Can a company's increased revenue in a market (due to higher sales) be mentioned as leverage in the proposal?
Yes, as leverage - but not cost-share.
How broadly does WCSSE define "sensor?"
WCSSE defines "sensor" in the usual manner, as a device that provides an electrical response to a physical or chemical parameter of interest, and by so doing provides an input to instrumentation or a control system that measures or controls that parameter. WCSSE's range of technologies include "sensor systems", a broad category including interfaces between sensors and instrumentation and control systems, and the many aspects of managing sensor data, including communication, validation and verification of sensor data, and interpretation/mining of that data.
Is it better to demonstrate that the project will demonstrate numerous lower-rate jobs or fewer higher-wage jobs?
The program would prefer to generate professional, higher-level jobs. The metric is dollars in salary and not number of jobs.
Will "green" technology be favored in proposal review?
"Green" is not designated as a particular positive in this solicitation. What matters is how convincing the proposal is regarding whether or not the product will result in substantial economic impact. "Green" technology may fall under the WCSSE goal of supporting "Advanced Energy."
Must the products to be commercialized with WCSSE support be sensors or sensor systems?
Quoting the RFP, "the products to be commercialized may be sensors or sensor systems,, but they may also be products incorporating sensors or sensor systems in which the enhanced sensor/sensor system technology provides a significant improvement in the functionality of the larger system in which it is incorporated".
Are there ways to claim job creation or other economic benefits from the proposed commercialization other than directly from the design, manufacture, sales, etc. of the sensor, sensor system, or larger product incorporating this technology? For example, can "faster time to market" be a rationale for economic benefit?
The challenge for the proposer will be to show how any such indirect benefits are quantifiably and verifiably caused by the proposed commercialization. Projections based on models and assumptions are viewed with suspicion; projections based on verifiable history and relevant experience are viewed as credible.
What time period may be used for calculating economic benefits?
As outlined in the RFP, projections are requested for 3 years and 5 years out from the project start date
How broadly may economic impacts be defined?
Only direct impacts are to be cited, not secondary or tertiary impacts derived from economic models.
Can capital funding be cost-shared with in-kind or operating expenses?
Capital funding can be cost-shared with in-kind or operating expenses, although cash is certainly preferred.
Does the cost share need to come from for-profit companies?
The Lead Applicant is ultimately responsible for the cost share commitment, but the cost share can come from any or all of the team members.
Are editable forms available for preparation of the proposal?
Contact Paula Mason 216.687.9228 email@example.com for Word-format forms.
Is equipment installation considered a capital expense?
Is an equipment maintenance plan considered a capital expense?
Yes, if it is included with the equipment purchase order, and not to exceed the funded project time period
If a proposal includes multiple products to be commercialized and/or multiple collaborators, are the page limits for technical/equipment plan and biographical sketches per product/collaborator, or for the entire proposal?
The page limits are for the proposal as a whole, including however many products and collaborators are included.
Can the use of existing facilities and/or equipment be considered to be match funding?
No. Expenditures that may be counted as match must occur during the project period and must be made specifically in support of the WCSSE project.
If equipment or facilities funded by WCSSE is used to accomplish a WCSSE-funded objective and also serves some other purpose (e.g. equipment creates customer samples, or facilities support other research, development, teaching, etc. purposes), can the entire operating cost be considered as match funding?
No, the operating cost must be apportioned between the WCSSE objectives and other objectives. Proposers are to suggest an apportioning plan, and this apportioning may be negotiated if an award is contemplated.