This document has been archived and replaced by NSF 16-600.

Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I (STTR)
June Submission 2016

Program Solicitation
NSF 16-555

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 15-604

NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Engineering
     Industrial Innovation and Partnerships

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

June 20, 2016

Proposals submitted outside the window of May 20-June 20, 2016 will be returned without review. Proposer's time is defined as the time zone associated with the company's address (as registered in FastLane) at time of submission.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES

NSF's STTR program provides non-dilutive funds for early-stage research and development (R&D) at small businesses. This R&D should be based on innovative, transformational technology with potential for substantial commercial and/or societal benefits. The program invites proposals from small businesses across a broad range of science and engineering disciplines in collaboration with researchers at universities, Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, and other non-profit institutions. If you are successful, you will receive a grant of up to $225,000 for a 6-12 month development/ feasibility project. You can then compete for a second grant of up to $750,000 over a 2 year period, with the aim of advancing the technology toward commercial deployment.

The award duration is 6-12 months. STTR Phase I awards previously had a duration of 12 months. Proposers will indicate their requested duration on the Cover Sheet of the proposal.

NSF encourages proposals from a diversity of entrepreneurs – new and seasoned. What is most important is that you have a transformative idea or innovation and that your team's primary goal is the commercialization of the technology. Having no commercialization track record will not count against you – for many companies, an NSF STTR award is their first attempt at commercializing an innovation.

The NSF STTR Program is particularly interested in proposals that focus on clean energy technology including energy sources that are renewable or otherwise alternatives to traditional fossil fuels such as geothermal, solar wind, biomass, nuclear, methane and emerging sources such as water power. The program is also interested in technologies that help improve energy efficiency or reduction in energy consumption such as building efficiency, more effective distribution of electricity, and vehicle technologies that improve engine efficiency or fuel economy.

Small businesses that will be working with a research institution may also consider the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR is similar to STTR. In fact, the programs are discussed in tandem at several points throughout this solicitation and on the SBIR/STTR website. However SBIR has a separate, concurrent Phase I solicitation with a similar due date. Several important differences between SBIR and STTR are outlined on the SBIR/STTR website.

Video resources on the SBIR/STTR website provide a general program description, solicitation-specific information, and helpful proposal preparation advice. A follow-up series of Q&A webinars hosted by SBIR/STTR Program Directors will be held in the months leading up to the deadline date. Links to register for the Q&A sessions will be posted on the SBIR/STTR website.

Required Registrations. Start Now - These registrations take time, and if left to the last minute could jeopardize your proposal submission! Register the same information in the same way in each of these systems to avoid troubles later. See the Additional Eligibility section for more details.

Please note that STTR Phase I awardees may now submit a proposal for a Phase II award under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program (see NSF 14-103 for more information).

The SBIR/STTR Program will be participating in a pilot program during FY2016 that will employ a streamlined budget process for proposals. Please refer to Section V.A. of this solicitation for further information.

Our Returned Without Review List shows the DO's and DON'Ts to ensure that your proposal is not rejected before review. Comply with this list to ensure that your proposal will be reviewed by technical and commercial experts in the field.

Please note that effective with this solicitation, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must sign the Cover Sheet at the time of proposal submission.  Proposals cannot be accepted without the signature of the AOR.

Any proposal submitted in response to this solicitation should be submitted in accordance with the revised NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 16-1), which is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016.

Please note however, that this solicitation contains information that deviates from the standard NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 16-1), including Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) proposal preparation guidelines.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Information

Program Title:

Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I (STTR)
June Submission 2016

Synopsis of Program:

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program is intended to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting Federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.

The SBIR/STTR program solicits proposals from the small business sector consistent with NSF's mission. The program is governed by Public Law 112-81 (SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011). SBIR/STTR policy is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the SBA Policy Directive. A main purpose of the legislation is to stimulate technological innovation and increase private sector commercialization. The NSF SBIR/STTR program is therefore in a unique position to meet both the goals of NSF and the purpose of the SBIR/STTR legislation by transforming scientific discovery into both social and economic benefit, and by emphasizing private sector commercialization.

The STTR Program requires researchers at universities, Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), and other non-profit research institutions to play a significant intellectual role in the conduct of each STTR project. These researchers, by joining forces with a small company, can spin-off their commercially promising ideas while they remain primarily employed at the research institution.

This STTR Phase I solicitation aims at encouraging the commercialization of previously NSF-funded fundamental research (NSF funding lineage). It is highly desirable that the core innovation described in the submitted proposals can in some manner be linked to fundamental research funded by the NSF. This lineage must be documented in the Project Description section of the proposal. Please note: It is NOT required that investigators of the original NSF-funded fundamental research be directly affiliated with the proposed STTR project or personnel.

NSF has formulated broad solicitation topics that conform to the high-technology investment sector's interests. The topics are detailed on the SBIR/STTR website.

Note: The submission of the same project idea to both this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation is strongly discouraged.

More information about the NSF SBIR/STTR Program can be found on the Program Homepage.

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):

  • 47.041 --- Engineering

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Fixed Award Amount

Estimated Number of Awards: 50 (pending availability of funds)

Anticipated Funding Amount: $11,250,000 (for STTR Phase I pending the availability of funds)

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Only firms qualifying as a small business concern are eligible to participate in the SBIR/STTR program (see Eligibility Guide for more information). Please note that the size limit of 500 employees includes affiliates. The firm must be in compliance with the SBIR/STTR Policy Directive(s) and 13 CFR 121.

Who May Serve as PI:

The primary employment of the Principal Investigator (PI) must be with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the award, unless a new PI is named. Primary employment is defined as more than 50% employed by the small business. 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. As such, the PI must have a legal right to work for the proposing company in the US, as evidenced by citizenship, permanent residency or an appropriate visa. The PI does not need to be associated with an academic institution. There are no PI degree requirements (i.e., the PI does not have to hold a Ph.D. or any other degree). A PI may be primarily employed at another organization at the time of submission, as long as he or she is primarily employed at the proposing small business at the time of award. A PI must devote a minimum of one calendar month to an STTR Phase I project.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 2

An organization may submit no more than two Phase I proposals in total during this cycle, which is defined as this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation. For example, an organization may submit one (1) SBIR Phase I and one (1) STTR Phase I proposal, two (2) SBIR Phase I proposals, or two (2) STTR Phase I proposals during this cycle. These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced. In the event that an organization exceeds this limit, the first two proposals received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. The submission of the same project idea to both this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation is strongly discouraged.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

No person may be listed as the PI for more than one proposal submitted during this cycle, which is defined as this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation. However, an individual may be listed as a co-PI on more than one proposal per cycle.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not required
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required
  • Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: This solicitation contains information that deviates from the standard NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) proposal preparation guidelines. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements:

    Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

    Indirect costs plus fringe benefits are limited to a maximum rate of 150% of direct salaries and wages. This limitation may entail mandatory committed cost sharing by the organization. In such cases, it constitutes an exception to NSF's cost sharing policy.

  • Other Budgetary Limitations:

    Not Applicable

C. Due Dates

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

    June 20, 2016

    Proposals submitted outside the window of May 20-June 20, 2016 will be returned without review. Proposer's time is defined as the time zone associated with the company's address (as registered in FastLane) at time of submission.

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:

Additional award conditions apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Reporting Requirements:

Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Summary of Program Requirements

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Description

  3. Award Information

  4. Eligibility Information

  5. Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Due Dates
    4. FastLane Requirements

  6. NSF Proposal Processing and Review Procedures
    1. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
    2. Review and Selection Process

  7. Award Administration Information
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements

  8. Agency Contacts

  9. Other Information

I. INTRODUCTION

The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent agency of the Federal Government, invites eligible small business concerns to submit Phase I proposals for its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. NSF will support high-quality projects on important scientific, engineering, or science and engineering education problems and opportunities that could lead to significant commercial and public benefit if the research is successful.

II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

By increasing the incentive and opportunity for small firms to undertake cutting-edge, high-risk, high-quality scientific, engineering, or science and engineering education research, the NSF SBIR/STTR program seeks to transform scientific discovery into both social and economic benefit by emphasizing private sector commercialization.

The fundamental mission of NSF is to promote discoveries and to advance education across the frontiers of knowledge in science and engineering. Consistent with that mission, the NSF SBIR/STTR Program encourages and supports a wide range of proposals. These proposals are reviewed under NSF's merit review criteria, which cover both the quality of research (intellectual or technical merit) and its potential impact on society (broader/commercial impacts). The following broad solicitation topics conform to the high-technology investment sector's interests. The topics, listed below, are detailed on the SBIR/STTR website:

  • Educational Technologies and Applications (EA)
  • Information Technologies (IT)
  • Semiconductors (S) and Photonic (PH) Devices and Materials
  • Internet of Things (I)
  • Electronic Hardware, Robotics and Wireless Technologies (EW)
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Nanotechnology (MN)
  • Advanced Materials and Instrumentation (MI)
  • Chemical and Environmental Technologies (CT)
  • Biological Technologies (BT)
  • Smart Health (SH) and Biomedical (BM) Technologies

The topics and subtopics guide the logistics of the review process but do not affect award decisions. In fact, NSF recognizes that innovation often can't be categorized. Therefore, proposals are accepted in any areas of technology that show promise of high commercial and societal impact, not just those listed above.

The emphasis of this STTR Phase I solicitation is the commercialization of previously NSF-funded fundamental research (NSF funding lineage). It is highly desirable that the core innovation described in the submitted proposals can in some manner be linked to fundamental research funded by the NSF. This lineage must be documented in the Project Description section of the proposal.

Proposals should describe the development of an innovation that demonstrates the following characteristics:

  • Involves a high degree of technical risk – for example:
    • Has never been attempted and/or successfully done before;
    • Is still facing technical hurdles (that the NSF-funded R&D work is intended to overcome).
  • Has the potential for significant commercial impact and/or societal benefit, as evidenced by:
    • Having the potential to disrupt the targeted market segment;
    • Having good product-market fit (as validated by customers);
    • Presenting barriers to entry for competition;
    • Offering potential for societal benefit (through commercialization under a sustainable business model).

The aim of the Phase I project should be to demonstrate technical feasibility of the proposed innovation and thereby bring the innovation closer to commercialization.

For more in-depth program information please reference the SBIR/STTR website.

III. AWARD INFORMATION

STTR Phase I proposals may be submitted for funding up to $225,000. STTR Phase I projects run for six to twelve months. Award notification is typically four to six months from the proposal submission deadline date. Awards will have an effective date of January 1, 2017 for proposals submitted to this solicitation.

IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Only firms qualifying as a small business concern are eligible to participate in the SBIR/STTR program (see Eligibility Guide for more information). Please note that the size limit of 500 employees includes affiliates. The firm must be in compliance with the SBIR/STTR Policy Directive(s) and 13 CFR 121.

Who May Serve as PI:

The primary employment of the Principal Investigator (PI) must be with the small business concern at the time of award and for the duration of the award, unless a new PI is named. Primary employment is defined as more than 50% employed by the small business. 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. As such, the PI must have a legal right to work for the proposing company in the US, as evidenced by citizenship, permanent residency or an appropriate visa. The PI does not need to be associated with an academic institution. There are no PI degree requirements (i.e., the PI does not have to hold a Ph.D. or any other degree). A PI may be primarily employed at another organization at the time of submission, as long as he or she is primarily employed at the proposing small business at the time of award. A PI must devote a minimum of one calendar month to an STTR Phase I project.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 2

An organization may submit no more than two Phase I proposals in total during this cycle, which is defined as this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation. For example, an organization may submit one (1) SBIR Phase I and one (1) STTR Phase I proposal, two (2) SBIR Phase I proposals, or two (2) STTR Phase I proposals during this cycle. These eligibility constraints will be strictly enforced. In the event that an organization exceeds this limit, the first two proposals received will be accepted, and the remainder will be returned without review. No exceptions will be made. The submission of the same project idea to both this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation is strongly discouraged.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI: 1

No person may be listed as the PI for more than one proposal submitted during this cycle, which is defined as this STTR Phase I solicitation and the concurrent SBIR Phase I solicitation. However, an individual may be listed as a co-PI on more than one proposal per cycle.

Additional Eligibility Info:

Partnering. Proposing firms are also encouraged to take advantage of research expertise and facilities that may be available to them at colleges, universities, national laboratories, and from other research providers. Such collaborations may include research subcontracts or consulting agreements. The employment of faculty as senior personnel and of graduate or undergraduate students as assistants by the small business may also occur. However, for an STTR Phase I Proposal, a minimum of 40% of the research, as measured by the budget, must be performed by the small business concern and a minimum of 30% of the research, as measured by the budget, must be performed by the collaborating research institution. Please note that although partnering is encouraged, proposals submitted should NOT mark the proposal as "Collaborative" in FastLane.

Ownership and Venture Capital, Joint Ventures. Please note that NSF has elected not to use the authority given under 15 U.S.C. § 638(dd)(1) (also §5107 of the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act). Hence, small businesses that are majority-owned by one or more venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds or private equity firms are NOT eligible to submit proposals or receive awards from the NSF SBIR/STTR program. Proposals from joint ventures and partnerships are permitted, provided the proposing entity qualifies as a small business concern (see the Eligibility Guide for more information).

Broad Participation. Socially and economically disadvantaged small business concerns and women-owned small business concerns are encouraged to participate.

REQUIRED REGISTRATIONS: The information provided for the 4 registrations below should match exactly to avoid processing complications.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS). In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget policy directive 75 FR 22706, each proposer must have a DUNS number prior to submission of a proposal to NSF. Any subawardees named in the proposal must be registered in FastLane, which requires that they also obtain a DUNS number (https://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/viewiUpdateHome.htm).

  • System for Award Management (SAM) Registration. Each proposer (excluding subawardees) must be registered in the SAM database prior to submission of the proposal. The SAM is the primary registrant database for the U.S. Government. This SAM registration must be maintained with current information at all times during which the organization has an active award or a proposal under consideration by NSF. Failure to comply with the SAM registration requirement prior to proposal submission may impact the processing of the proposal. To register in the SAM, go to https://www.sam.gov/. NSF is able to determine whether or not a firm has registered in SAM upon submission; no special documentation is required. During proposal submission in FastLane, you may receive a warning that your firm is either 1) not registered in SAM; or 2) the record in FastLane does not match the data in SAM. If you have indeed registered with SAM but the data do not match those in FastLane, you can still successfully submit a proposal. However, please work to resolve this mismatch after proposal submission because the mismatch must be resolved before a proposal can be awarded.

  • Small Business Administration (SBA) Company Registration. Receipt of an SBC ID is required prior to submission of the proposal. SBA maintains and manages a Company Registry for proposing SBIR/STTR companies at http://www.sbir.gov/registration/ to track ownership and affiliation requirements. The SBIR/STTR policy directive requires each small business concern (SBC) applying for a Phase I or Phase II award to register in the Company Registry prior to submitting an application. All SBCs must report and/or update ownership information to SBA prior to each SBIR/STTR application submission or if any information changes prior to award. Please see the SBA registration documentation section of the Proposal Submission Instructions.

  • FastLane (NSF's electronic submission system): https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/n1/N1AddInst.html.

BENCHMARKS (APPLIES TO PREVIOUS SBIR/STTR AWARD WINNERS)

  • Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate Benchmark. The Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate benchmark required by the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 is implemented. For Phase I applicants that have received more than 20 Phase I federal SBIR/STTR awards over the past 5 fiscal years, the minimum Phase I to Phase II Transition Rate is 0.25 over those 5 fiscal years. Small businesses who fail to meet this transition requirement will be notified by SBA and will not be eligible for an NSF Phase I award in this submission cycle. Further information: Transition Rate Benchmark.

  • Commercialization Benchmark. The commercialization benchmark required by the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011 only applies to Phase I applicants that have received more than 15 Phase II federal SBIR/STTR awards over the past 10 fiscal years, excluding the last two years. These companies must have achieved the minimum required commercialization activity in order to be eligible to receive a Phase I award, as determined by the information entered in the company registry at SBIR.gov. Firms for which the commercialization benchmark applies should consult SBIR.gov for more information: Commercialization Benchmark.

V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Full Proposal Instructions: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the guidelines specified in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg. Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-PUBS (7827) or by e-mail from nsfpubs@nsf.gov.

See Chapter II.C.2 of the GPG for guidance on the required sections of a full research proposal submitted to NSF. Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions.

With regard to the guidance above, this solicitation DOES contain many instructions that DEVIATE FROM THE STANDARD NSF GPG proposal preparation instructions.  Generally, this solicitation contains the information needed to submit prepare a proposal and refers to specific sections of the GPG only when necessary! The instructions in this solicitation take precedence over instructions in the GPG in the event of a conflict.

Please note that proposals must be submitted in FastLane, NSF's electronic proposal submission system. Applications are NOT accepted through Grants.gov.

Soliciting Pre-Submission Feedback. Potential proposers may (but are NOT required to) email a 1-2 page executive summary to the cognizant SBIR/STTR Program Director to help gauge whether a project meets the program's intellectual merit and broader/commercial impact criteria. The summary should discuss: the company and team; the market opportunity, value proposition, and customers; the technology/innovation; and the competition. Program Director contact information can be found on the technology area pages below. Potential proposers are discouraged from submitting an executive summary to multiple Program Directors in parallel. Please note that responsiveness of Program Directors will be limited in the 2 weeks leading up to the solicitation deadline.

Phase I Proposal and Program Objectives. An SBIR/STTR Phase I proposal must describe the research effort needed to establish the feasibility of the proposed scientific or technical innovation. The primary objective of the Phase I effort is to determine whether the innovation has sufficient technical and broader/commercial impact merit for proceeding into a Phase II project. A secondary, but still important, objective is to assess potential commercial feasibility of the proposed work. The deliverable of an SBIR/STTR Phase I grant is a report of technical accomplishments that will be included as part of the Phase II proposal.

Marking Proprietary Information. To the extent permitted by law, the Government will not release properly identified and marked technical and commercially sensitive data. If the proposal contains proprietary information, check the box at the bottom of the proposal cover page and identify proprietary technical data in the proposal by clearly marking the information and also providing a legend. Typically, proprietary information is marked in the text either with an asterisk at the beginning and end of the proprietary paragraph, underlining the proprietary sections, or choosing a different font type. An entire proposal should not be marked proprietary.

Debriefing on Unsuccessful Proposals. When a proposal is declined, verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, summaries of review panel deliberations, if any, and a description of the process by which the proposal was reviewed will be available electronically. Phase I proposals that have been declined or returned without review by NSF are NOT eligible for reconsideration under the same program solicitation; however, proposals may be resubmitted under a subsequent solicitation after substantial revisions have been made.

Proposal Format and Sample Limitations. Samples, videotapes, slides, appendices, or other ancillary items will not be accepted. Websites containing demonstrations, etc., may be cited in the proposal, but reviewers are not required to access them. Multiple column formats are not accepted. Arial, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger should be used or Times New Roman or Computer Modern fonts at a font size of 12 points or larger.

PROPOSAL CONTENT

For more detailed help in preparing and submitting a proposal via the NSF FastLane system, please see the SBIR/STTR FastLane Submission Guide on the SBIR/STTR website.

Proposal Returned without Review. The following list shows the DO's and DON'Ts of proposal submission. Failure to comply with this list means that a proposal may be returned without review.

  • DO's of NSF STTR Phase I Proposal Submission:

  • DON'Ts of NSF STTR Phase I Proposal Submission:
    • DO NOT SUBMIT LATE. Submitting a proposal late means submitting after 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date, "proposer's time", which is determined by the time zone of the company's address as registered with NSF.
    • DO NOT VIOLATE THE FOLLOWING PROPOSAL CONTENT RULES:
      • Do not submit a Project Description that is more than 15 pages long.
      • Do not submit a Budget exceeding $225,000.
      • Do not submit a "Collaborative Proposal" (a special proposal type in FastLane). Collaboration with research institutions is encouraged; however, only one proposal, submitted by the company and with subawards to the research institution(s), should result.
      • Do not submit a proposal that lacks sufficient technical/commercial potential substance to justify review; does not contain research proposed in science, engineering, or education; or contains unacceptable objectives.
    • DO NOT INCLUDE EXTRAS:
      • Do not upload additional information, beyond what is specifically required and permitted, into the proposal (marketing materials, research results/academic papers, patent applications, etc.)
      • Do not upload any documents to the "ADDITIONAL Single Copy Documents" subsection under the "Single Copy Documents' section in FastLane except "Collaborators and other Affiliations." However, please note that you may complete the "List of Suggested Reviewers" section, if you wish.
      • Do not upload documents to the Supplementary Documents except those described in "Supplementary Documents"

Each NSF STTR Phase I proposal shall have the following components.

  • Cover Sheet and Certification. Complete topic and subtopic fields must be included on the cover sheet. Designate one, and only one, topic and subtopic. All proposals must be electronically signed. If a proposer fails to disclose on the proposal cover page whether another Federal Agency has received this proposal (or an equivalent or overlapping proposal), the proposer could be liable for administrative, civil or criminal sanctions. NSF will not make awards that duplicate research funded or expected to be funded by other agencies, although in some cases NSF may fund portions of work described in an overlapping proposal provided that the budgets appropriately reduce costs and allocate costs among the various sponsors.

  • Project Summary [One (1) page MAXIMUM]. The Project Summary should be written in the third person, informative to other persons working in the same or related fields, and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically or technically literate lay reader. It should not be an abstract of the proposal. Do not include proprietary information in the summary. Proposals that do not contain a complete Project Summary will not be accepted by FastLane or will be returned without review. The Project Summary is completed in FastLane by entering information into 3 text boxes; the aggregate of the 3 text boxes cannot exceed 4,600 characters (including spaces). Please note that the character count function of some word processors excludes hidden characters that WILL be counted by FastLane. Therefore, proposers may consider aiming for fewer characters (e.g., 4000) instead in order to avoid having to slim down the Project Summary later.

    • Box 1: Overview, Key Words, and Subtopic Name: Describe the potential outcome(s) of the proposed activity in terms of a product, process, or service. Provide a list of key words or phrases that identify the areas of technical expertise to be invoked in reviewing the proposal; and the areas of application that are the initial target of the technology.Provide the subtopic name.

    • Box 2: Intellectual Merit: This section MUST begin with "This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project". Address the intellectual merits of the proposed activity. Do not include proprietary information in the summary. Briefly describe the technical hurdle(s) that will addressed by the proposed R&D (which should be crucial to successful commercialization of the innovation), the goals of the proposed R&D, and a high-level summary of the plan to reach those goals.

    • Box 3: Broader/Commercial Impact: In the short term, the proposed R&D activity is expected to bring the innovation closer to commercialization under a sustainable business model. In this box, describe the potential impacts on society that would be created by the commercialization of the innovation. Examples include generating larger economic impacts, meeting societal needs, and enabling further scientific / technological understanding.
  • Project Description. [Fifteen (15) pages MAXIMUM]. The project description is the core of the proposal document, where you convince the SBIR/STTR Program Director and the expert reviewers that your proposed R&D project meets the intellectual merit and broader/commercial impact criteria of the program. Present evidence that the proposed technology is innovative, that development of it entails high technical risk, and that you have a credible plan to establish technical feasibility during Phase I. Convince the reviewers that the company and the project team have the necessary expertise, resources, and support to carry out the project, and that they are committed to building a viable business around the product/service being developed. Finally, present a compelling case that the project objectives will significantly advance the readiness of the technology and strengthen and validate its commercial position. Although guidance is given regarding page lengths for each subsection, please remember that this section must be no more than 15 pages total!

    • Elevator Pitch (no more than one page)
      • The Customer. Describe the expected customer for the innovation. What customer needs or market pain points are you addressing?
      • The Value Proposition. What are the benefits to the customer of your proposed innovation? What is the key differentiator of your company or technology?
      • The Innovation: Succinctly describe your innovation. This section can contain proprietary information that could not be discussed in the Project Summary. What aspects are original, unusual, novel, disruptive, or transformative compared to the current state of the art?

    • The Commercial Opportunity (recommended length: 2 to 4 pages)
      • Is there a broader societal need you are trying to address with this commercial opportunity? Please describe.
      • Describe the market and addressable market for the innovation. Discuss the business economics and market drivers in the target industry.
      • How has the market opportunity been validated?
      • Describe your customers and your basic business model.
      • Describe the competition. How do you expect the competitive landscape may change by the time your product/service enters the market?
      • What are the key risks in bringing your innovation to market?
      • Describe your commercialization approach. Discuss the potential economic benefits associated with your innovation, and provide estimates of the revenue potential, detailing your underlying assumptions.
      • Describe the resources you expect will be needed to implement your commercialization approach. Describe your plan and expected timeline to secure these resources.

    • The Innovation (recommended length: 1-3 pages)
      • Briefly describe the innovation. At what stage of technical development is the innovation? (A more detailed description can be provided in the Technical Discussion and R&D Plan, as described below).
      • Describe the key technical challenges and risks in bringing the innovation to market. Which of these will be your focus in the proposed Phase I project?
      • Describe the status of the intellectual property associated with this project and how you plan to protect it.
      • NSF Lineage: The emphasis of this STTR Phase I solicitation is NSF funding lineage. It is highly desirable that the core innovation described in the submitted proposals can in some manner be linked to fundamental research funded by the NSF. Please note: It is NOT required that investigators of the original NSF-funded fundamental research be directly affiliated with the proposed STTR project or personnel. Does your project have roots in non-SBIR/STTR NSF funding, either to the company or other organizations/institutions? If possible, please list the NSF award number(s) and division(s).

    • The Company/Team (recommended length: 1-3 pages)
      • Describe the company founders or key participants in this proposed project. What level of effort will these persons devote to the proposed Phase I activities? How does the background and experience of the team enhance the credibility of the effort; have they previously taken similar products/services to market?
      • Describe your vision for the company and the company's expected impact over the next five years.
      • If the company has existing operations, describe how the proposed effort would fit into these activities.
      • Describe the revenue history, if any, for the past three years. Include government funding and private investment in this discussion.
      • Will you have consultants or subawardees working on this project? If so, what is their expertise, affiliation, and contribution to the project? A Co-PI from the research institution must be identified in the preliminary Budget Justification.

    • Technical Discussion and R&D Plan (minimum length: 5 pages, recommended length: 5 to 7 pages)
      • Describe the innovation in sufficient technical depth for a knowledgeable reviewer to understand why it is innovative and how it can provide benefits in the target applications. Supplement this description with any necessary background information.
      • Describe the key objectives to be accomplished during the Phase I research, including the questions that must be answered to determine the technical AND commercial feasibility of the proposed concept.
      • Describe the critical technical milestones that must be met to get the product or service to market.
      • Present an R&D plan, with timeline. What are the objectives, and what experiments, computations, etc. are planned to reach those objectives?

  • References Cited. Provide a comprehensive listing of relevant references, including patent numbers and other relevant intellectual property citations. A list of References Cited must be uploaded into the system. If there are no references cited in the proposal, please indicate this by putting the statement "No References Cited" into this module.

  • Biographical Sketches. Provide a resume for the Principal Investigator (PI) and senior personnel (individuals with critical expertise who will be working on the project and are employed at the proposing company or at a subaward institution). Information regarding consultants should also be provided in this format but instead uploaded as part of the preliminary Budget Justification. Biographical sketches should not exceed two pages per person. Do not include personal information such as home address in biographical sketches. Provide information in the following sections: (I) Education: Institution, Location, Major/Concentration, Degree, and Year. (II) Relevant Experience: Include technical and/or commercial experience. List in reverse chronological order beginning with the current position. (III) Products: Includes patents, publications, etc. Up to 5 may be listed that are related to the proposed work and up to 5 that are significant but not related to the proposed work.

  • STREAMLINED BUDGET PILOT. The NSF SBIR/STTR Program is piloting a new approach to proposal budgets and budget justifications. A preliminary budget will be submitted as part of a Phase I proposal, along with a preliminary, narrative Budget Justification. If a proposal is under consideration for award, NSF will request that a full budget and budget justification be submitted via FastLane with amounts included in all appropriate budget categories, including indirect costs and any other items not discussed in the original budget justification. Please note that a request for the submission of a full budget is NOT a commitment that the proposal will be funded. It is recommended that proposers familiarize themselves with the full budget rules and instructions so that they may be able to quickly provide a full budget upon request. The preliminary proposed budget should reflect the needs of the proposed R&D project. The submission of a preliminary Budget and preliminary Budget Justification is required.

  • In the Budget module of FastLane:
    • Because the senior personnel listed on the Cover Sheet are currently prepopulated on the budget, they will need to be removed from Section A of the budget for the purposes of submitting a streamlined proposal budget. To do this, proposers will: 1) Go the Budget; 2) Click Funds; 3) Delete the Senior Personnel from Budget Section A (by clicking on "Add/Remove Senior Personnel") and then click Save; 4) Click to the Bottom of Page, click Calculate and Save and Go Back.

    • Budget up to $225,000 on Line G.6, which is "Other" under Section G – Other Direct Costs. No other budget lines should be completed.

  • In the Budget Justification module of FastLane: Provide sufficient narrative information for Program Directors and reviewers to determine what resources are essential, adequate, and appropriate to support the project being proposed. Itemized dollar amounts per budget category are not necessary. Ultimately, proposers will determine what is essential and necessary to include in the budget justification. Please note that for SBIR/STTR, there is no page limit for the Budget and Sub-budget Justification. Information that must be provided includes the following items:

    • The senior personnel and their time on the project. Senior personnel are individuals with critical expertise who will be working on the project and are employed at the proposing company or at a subaward institution.
    • Other personnel. These are general personnel (technicians, programmers, etc.).
    • Materials and supplies. Note: Equipment purchases (items costing greater than $5,000 with a service life of more than one year) are not allowed on a Phase I SBIR/STTR project.
    • Subawards to other organizations (e.g., a university) and consultant services. For STTR, a research partner is mandatory. Explicitly list who the research partner will be. Provide a brief description of the work they will perform. Please note that all work must be performed in the U.S.
      • Note: Subaward and Consultants Amounts. An STTR Phase I project requires a minimum budget allocation of 40% to the proposing small business and a minimum of 30% to a research partner via a subaward. A proposal that has been submitted as a Phase I STTR will NOT be permitted to "become" a Phase I SBIR proposal/award, which does not require a research partner.
      • Note: Letters of Collaboration. Proposers are strongly encouraged to provide Letters of Collaboration from subaward institutions and consultants as part of the preliminary Budget Justification, particularly if the partner will significantly contribute to the project in an irreplaceable manner. Letters demonstrate to the panel reviewers the validity of the partnership(s) proposed.
      • Note: Significant Changes in Subawardees and Consultants. If a subaward or consultant significantly contributes to the strength of a proposal, significant (negative) changes in the subaward between the preliminary budget and full budget will accordingly decrease the likelihood that the proposal will receive funding.
      • Note: Post-Doctoral Scholars on a Subaward. If a Postdoctoral Researcher will be supported on a subaward to a research institution, a Postdoctoral Mentoring plan must be included. See the Supplementary Documents section of this proposal for more information.
  • Current and Pending Support of Principal Investigator and Senior Personnel. Information in this module is collected so that reviewers have visibility into the potential availability of company personnel during the period of performance, if awarded.
    • Types of Support / Activities. For the PI and each of the senior personnel (individuals with critical expertise who will be working on the project and are employed at the proposing company or at a subaward institution), provide information regarding each of the following that could require effort during the proposed NSF SBIR/STTR Phase I performance period, regardless of whether the person will receive a salary from the activity:
      • All current and pending support for ongoing projects and proposals (from any source), including continuing grants funding.
      • Proposals submitted. Note that concurrent submission of a proposal to other organizations will not prejudice its review by NSF.
      • Upcoming submissions.
      • The Phase I proposal being submitted – note that this is considered "pending" and therefore MUST appear in the Current and Pending Support module.
    • Information Needed
      • Name of sponsoring organization.
      • Total award amount (if already awarded) or expected award amount (if pending) for the entire award period covered (including indirect costs).
      • Title and performance period of the proposal.
      • Annual person-months (calendar months) devoted to the project by the PI and senior personnel.

  • Collaborators and other Affiliations: List partners on any collaborations / projects that have occurred in the last two years. This single-copy document will be used to help identify potential conflicts or bias in the selection of reviewers.

  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources. Specify the availability and location of significant equipment, instrumentation, computers, and physical facilities necessary to complete the portion of the research that is to be carried out by the proposing firm in Phase I. Purchase of equipment is NOT permitted in a Phase I project. If the equipment, instrumentation, computers, and facilities for this research are not the property (owned or leased) of the proposing firm, include a statement signed by the owner or lessor which affirms the availability of these facilities for use in the proposed research, reasonable lease or rental costs for their use, and any other associated costs.Upload images of the scanned statements into this section.

  • Supplementary Documents. The supplementary documents permitted in a Phase I proposal are limited to the following (if applicable):
    • S1. Data Management Plan. Proposals MUST contain a supplementary document labeled "Data Management Plan", which should include the statement, "All data generated in this STTR Phase I project is considered proprietary." (See exceptions: https://www.nsf.gov/eng/general/ENG_DMP_Policy.pdf).

    • S2. Mentoring Plan (for Postdoctoral participants). If a proposal requests funding to support post-doctoral scholars at a research institution, a Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan MUST be uploaded to the system. Describe only the mentoring activities that will be provided to all postdoctoral researchers supported by the project. A template can be obtained here: https://www.nsf.gov/eng/iip/sbir/Sample_Postdoc_Mentoring_Plan.doc.

    • S3. Cooperative Research Agreement. )See the Cooperative Research Agreement (CRA) model). The proposing small business concern must provide a signed written CRA between the small business and the research institution prior to award. For proposal submission, place a draft of the CRA or a letter that includes the STTR partner stating that a CRA will be provided upon notification of award recommendation.

    • S4. Letter(s) of Support for Technology (optional; no more than three letters). Letters of support act as an indication of market validation for the proposed innovation and add significant credibility to the proposed effort. Letters of support should demonstrate that the company has initiated dialogue with relevant stakeholders (potential customers, strategic partners or investors) for the proposed innovation and that a legitimate business opportunity may exist should the technology prove feasible. The letter(s) must contain affiliation and contact information for the signatory stakeholder. Letters and supporting documents from consultants and subcontractors (or any personnel identified in the preliminary Budget Justification) are NOT considered letters of support and instead should be included in the preliminary Budget Justification section.

    • S5. Small Business Administration (SBA) Company Registry Documentation. Registration in the SBA Company Registry is required for all applicants: http://www.sbir.gov/registration/. To retrieve your company's Registration PDF and SBC Control ID number, please log into SBIR.gov with your username and password. Once logged in, click on the My Dashboard icon (top-right of your screen). On the resulting page, you will see a box titled My Documents. In this box, you will see hyperlinked text for your Proof of Registration PDF. This document contains your SBC Control ID #. Download this PDF and upload it as a supplementary document to the proposal in FastLane. Proposers are expected to report and/or update ownership information to SBA prior to each SBIR/STTR application submission or if any information changes prior to award.

    • S6. Company Commercialization History. A Company Commercialization History is required for all proposers certifying receipt of previous Phase II awards from any Federal agency on the third page of the Cover Page in question # 11. The NSF Commercialization History Template MUST be used. All items must be addressed in the format outlined in this template. Changes to the NSF template, additional narratives and/or commercialization history documents from other agencies are not permitted.

    • S7. Human Subjects and Vertebrate Animals. If human subjects Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is indicated, it must be in-hand at the time of submission or there must be a plan for such approval. A supporting letter regarding IRB approval should be provided under supplementary documents. The approval must be readily attainable within six weeks of informal notification of recommendation for award to ensure continued processing for funding. The small business has three basic options with regard to human subjects review: 1) Establish your own IRB (see Office of Human Rights Protection (OHRP) at Health and Human Services (HHS) http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/assurances/index.html#registernew; 2) Use the review board of a (usually local) university or research institution, either via consultants to the project, a project subcontract, or directly through its own contacts; 3) Use a commercial company. Please refer to the instructions here on the necessary supplementary documents. Note that in some cases, product testing involves human subjects. Look for federal-wide assurances under the Office of Human Research Protection website (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/index.html). Animal use in funded projects requires approval of the company or collaborating institutions' Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Please refer to http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ for additional information.

    • S8. Resubmission Change Description (no more than one page). A declined proposal may be resubmitted, but only after it has undergone substantial revision. A resubmitted proposal that has not clearly taken into account the major comments or concerns resulting from the prior NSF review may be returned without review. The Foundation will treat the revised proposal as a new proposal, subject to the standard review procedures. If a Phase I proposing company indicates on the cover page that the proposal is a resubmission, the company must include a document detailing the substantial revisions that have been made in this Supplementary Document.

Unacceptable Objectives. Proposed efforts directed toward systems studies; market research; commercial development of existing products or proven concepts; straightforward engineering design for packaging; laboratory evaluations not associated with the research and development process; incremental product or process improvements; evolutionary optimization of existing products; and evolutionary modifications to broaden the scope of an existing product or application are examples of project objectives that are not acceptable for SBIR/STTR. Projects determined unacceptable will be returned without review to the proposer. Phase I proposals returned without review by NSF are NOT eligible for reconsideration under the same program solicitation; however, proposals may be resubmitted under a subsequent solicitation after substantial revisions have been made.

For more detailed help in preparing and submitting a proposal via the NSF FastLane system, please see the SBIR/STTR FastLane Submission Guide on the SBIR/STTR website.

Proposers are reminded to identify the NSF publication number (located on the first page of this document) in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing:

Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

Indirect costs plus fringe benefits are limited to a maximum rate of 150% of direct salaries and wages. This limitation may entail mandatory committed cost sharing by the organization. In such cases, it constitutes an exception to NSF's cost sharing policy.

C. Due Dates

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

    June 20, 2016

    Proposals submitted outside the window of May 20-June 20, 2016 will be returned without review. Proposer's time is defined as the time zone associated with the company's address (as registered in FastLane) at time of submission.

D. FastLane Requirements

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this program solicitation through use of the NSF FastLane system. Detailed instructions regarding the technical aspects of proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm. For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail fastlane@nsf.gov. The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. 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 either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with 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. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in the GPG as Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/.

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Investing in Science, Engineering, and Education for the Nation's Future: NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation's most creative scientists and engineers. NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning.

NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which 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.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i. contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal.) Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i., prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

THE STTR PROGRAM HAS ADDITIONAL CRITERIA THAT REFLECT THE LEGISLATIVE EMPHASIS OF THE PROGRAM AND COMPLEMENT THE STANDARD NSF REVIEW CRITERIA LISTED ABOVE.

  • "What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?"
    • Is the proposed plan a sound approach for establishing technical and commercial feasibility?
    • To what extent does the proposal suggest and develop unique or ingenious concepts or applications?
    • How well qualified is the technical team (Principal Investigator, key staff, consultants, and subawardees) to conduct the proposed activity?
    • Is there sufficient access to resources (materials and supplies, analytical services, equipment, facilities, etc.)?
    • Does the proposal reflect state-of-the-art in the major research activities proposed? (Are advancements in state-of-the-art likely?)
  • "What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?"
    • What may be the commercial and societal benefits of the proposed activity?
    • Does the outcome of the proposed activity lead to a marketable product or process that warrants significant NSF support?
    • Given the stage of the proposed effort, is the team well-balanced between technical and business skills?
    • Has the proposing firm successfully commercialized SBIR/STTR-supported technology where prior awards have been made? (Or, has the firm been successful at commercializing technology that has not received SBIR/STTR support?)
    • Has the proposer evaluated the competitive advantage of this technology vs. alternate technologies that can meet the same market needs?
    • Does the proposal lead to enabling technologies (instrumentation, software, etc.) for further innovation?
    • How well is the proposed activity positioned to attract further funding from non-SBIR/STTR sources once the project ends?

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will generally be completed and submitted by each reviewer and/or panel. 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 strives to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new awardees may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

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. After an administrative review has occurred, Grants and Agreements Officers perform 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.

Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, 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.

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 notice, 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 notice; (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 notice. 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 https://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 https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.

Special Award Conditions:

SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards are subject to availability of funds. NSF has no obligation to make any specific number of Phase I or Phase II awards based on a solicitation and may elect to make several or no awards under any specific technical topic or subtopic. STTR Phase I awards are 6-12 month, fixed-price grants and shall not exceed $225,000. The SBIR/STTR Phase II fixed-priced grants typically will not exceed $750,000 per award and normally will be made for a 24-month period of performance. Phase I award recipients have the right to apply for a Phase II grant, provided that they meet the eligibility requirements. Unlike Phase I proposals, Phase II SBIR/STTR proposals may not be resubmitted. (For information on Phase II, reference Phase II proposal preparation found on the SBIR/STTR web site: Phase II Award Information).

SBIR/STTR Funding Agreement Certification:

SBIR/STTR prospective grantees will be notified by NSF to provide a signed SBIR/STTR Funding Agreement Certification. The federal government relies on the information provided by grantees to determine whether the business is eligible for a Small Technology Transfer (STTR) Program award. Certification will be used to ensure continued compliance during the life of the funding agreement (https://www.nsf.gov/eng/iip/sbir/Forms/SBIR_STTR_Funding_Agreement.pdf).

Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FWA) Notification: If at any time you become aware of fraud or any kind of wrongdoing under any award, please contact the NSF Office of Inspector General: Internet: https://www.nsf.gov/oig/report-fraud/form.jsp; E-mail: oig@nsf.gov Phone: 703-292-7100 (during business hours) or 703-244-4443 (to speak to the duty officer); Anonymous Hotline: 800-428-2189; Fax: 703-292-9158; Mail: 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1135, Arlington, VA 22230 ATTN: OIG HOTLINE.

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 no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). No later than 120 days following 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 all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. 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 Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also 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 https://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:

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, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system 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 Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website.

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this 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 https://www.nsf.gov

  • Location:

4201 Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230

  • For General Information
    (NSF Information Center):

(703) 292-5111

  • TDD (for the hearing-impaired):

(703) 292-5090

  • To Order Publications or Forms:
 

Send an e-mail to:

nsfpubs@nsf.gov

or telephone:

(703) 292-7827

  • To Locate NSF Employees:

(703) 292-5111

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
Office of the General Counsel
National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230

 

Policies and Important Links

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National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: (703) 292-5111, FIRS: (800) 877-8339 | TDD: (800) 281-8749

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