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Innovation: Ideation to Commercialization FY23

Objective  

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) is establishing Virginia as a global center of excellence at the intersection of security, autonomous systems, and data. With a mission of research, innovation, and workforce development, CCI serves as a catalyst for the Commonwealth's long-term leadership in this sector through the leadership of a central hub and four regional nodes. The Southwest Virginia Node is led by Virginia Tech (VT). 

These projects should focus on translating the work from the lab to a commercially viable product. The product development process includes idea generation, screening, concept development, product development, and commercialization. The objective of this Call for Proposals (CFP) is to further innovation and product development by funding a project to the subsequent stage(s) in the process. For example, the team may propose funds for 1) market research (concept development) if that is the next stage of the product development, or 2) prototype creation (product development), or 3) other mechanisms to advance commercialization. This call  supports business projects related to CCI focus areas, including those that will result in either an operational prototype or further the start-up/product in its development such that the PI applies for the SBIR/STTR program.

Eligibility  

The PI must be from a public institution of higher education in CCI Southwest Virginia and be deemed eligible by their home institution to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) on an external grant. Researchers who do not fall into this category, including postdoctoral associates, may apply as a co-PI with an eligible PI. Students interested in this call should work as part of a project team led by an eligible PI. 

Women, gender and underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply as PIs (if appropriate) or as co-PIs or team members. We welcome researchers, professors/instructors, industry professionals, students, and government professionals from all racial, ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, and cultural backgrounds; disabled and nondisabled; veterans; career changers-anyone with an interest in cyber related research, innovation, and experiential learning opportunities. There are a number of underrepresented groups and perspectives in cybersecurity, and we are creating a space where everyone can share, learn, and connect around research, innovation, and experiential learning in cybersecurity.

Focus areas should be within the intersection of data, autonomy, and security. CCI Southwest Virginia has a particular emphasis on cybersecurity related to fast, secure, and customizable communications systems and technologies, including 5G, AI, ML, defense-in-depth cybersecurity solutions, emerging technologies (such as NextG and quantum algorithms) and cryptographic protocols, applications to transportation, energy, space, autonomous systems, manufacturing, and agriculture, as well as issues surrounding human factors, privacy, ethics, and global security in society. 

Budgets must be approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) at the PI’s institution prior to the proposal deadline. 

Awards  

Anticipated award amount: up to $50,000 

Award Details: Use of funds may include (but is not limited to) support for prototype development; proof of-concept testing; payment of researchers, students, and postdoctoral fellows; independent verification and validation to be performed by a contract research organization; or costs associated with applying for a patent or a business license in Virginia. Awardees will also be required to specify deliverables. Periodic reporting will be required. By the end of the program, specified deliverables should be complete. Indirect costs (IDC) are NOT eligible costs in the proposals submitted in response to this CFP. 

Period of Performance

April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024

Proposal Format 

Proposals must use 1-inch margins, 12-point font, and adhere to the following outline:

        1. Title page (1 page)

  • Title of proposed product, names of faculty/student team, contact information including units for Principal Investigator (PI) and co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs).

        2. Project description (3-5 pages)

  • Description of product 
  • Past performance: description of past successes and lessons learned related to product 
  • Discussion of alignment with and relevance to the CCI mission    
  • Explicit milestones and specific deliverables, such as prototype, business plan, IP disclosure(s), patent(s), business license in Virginia, and external proposals should be clearly articulated to indicate how this CCI support will seed future efforts 

            References (not included in the page count)

        3. Budget

  • OSP-approved budget spreadsheet
  • Budget items, amount, and justification
  • Travel is a required budget item, supporting PI attendance at CCI events.
  • No indirect cost is allowed
  • Collaborators from outside Virginia are allowed to take part in CCI research. However, out-of-state investigators and those at private institutions cannot receive any CCI funding as part of this progr

        4. Biosketches (up to 3 pages for each investigator)

        5. Current & pending support for each investigator, including for each project/proposal

  • Title
  • Status of Support: Current, Pending, Submission Planned, or Transfer of Support
  • Source of Support
  • Primary Place of Performance
  • Project/Proposal Start and End Dates (MM/YYYY) if available
  • Total Award Amount (including Indirect Costs)
  • Person-Month(s) (or Partial Person-Months) Per Year Committed to the Project
  • Statement of Potential Overlap
  • Overall Objective

No particular format is required. An investigator may use a current NSF Current & Pending Support document which contains this information. 

Proposal Submission  

VT researchers must select CCI SWVA as sponsor in Summit. Proposals must be submitted to Gretchen Matthews gmatthews@vt.edu with subject “IIC proposal submission” by the PI institution’s OSP no later than 5:00 pm Eastern on Friday, January 27, 2023. All proposals must be submitted as a single PDF document labeled lastname_firstname_IIC_23. Submissions will be acknowledged by email to the PI.   

Evaluation Criteria 

Proposals will be evaluated by a panel of reviewers according to the following criteria: 

Commercialization Potential (20%)  

  • Clearly defined problem/unmet need 
  • How proposed technology will address this problem/need 
  • Technical feasibility 
  • Data or prototype available 
  • Strength, experience, and engagement of team 

Market Potential (20%)  

  • Market size or opportunity 
  • Strength of competition and competitive products 
  • Ability of proposed solution to capture market share 
  • Ability to secure long-term competitive advantage including IP protection 

Development Plan and Budget (20%)  

  • Clear and appropriate budget that aligns with technology development plan 
  • Plan can be achieved in allotted time frame with requested funding 
  • Milestones have specified dates and concrete deliverables 
  • Scientific/development methods are valid 

Value of the Funding (20%)  

  • Commercialization funds will move technology to clearly defined next stage or inflection point 
  • Value of potential technology development exceeds the risk-adjusted cost of funding 
  • Achievement of milestones will de-risk technology and/or validate market opportunity 
  • Funds will have proportional impact on moving technology forward with CCI goals 

Alignment and Qualifications (20%)  

  • Relevance to CCI focus areas 
  • Suitability of team background to proposed work

Award Conditions

Successful applicants are expected to participate fully in the activities of CCI, including providing materials needed for reports, participating in CCI meetings and seminars, serving as a reviewer on other CCI Call for Proposals (CFP), and responding to CCI data collection requests. All publications and presentations resulting from the grant should acknowledge support from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). 

At least one representative from each team funded under this call for proposals will be required to participate in an initial exploratory meeting with a representative from LINK+LICENSE+LAUNCH, a mentor from the Innovation Commercialization Assistance (ICAP) program, or personnel at a similar unit within the PI’s institution within the first quarter of project performance. The goal of this initial meeting is to assess viability and/or interest in the potential commercialization of research deliverables.