Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO)
UPDATE: This opportunity has closed. The awards were granted in September 2015. To view the press release, click here.
NIST invites applications from eligible organizations in connection with NIST's funding up to twelve (12) separate MEP cooperative agreements for the operation of an MEP Center in the designated States' service areas and in the funding amounts identified in Section II.2. of this FFO. NIST anticipates awarding one (1) cooperative agreement for each of the identified States. The objective of the MEP Center Program is to provide manufacturing extension services to primarily small and medium-sized manufacturers within the whole State designated in the applications. The selected organization will become part of the MEP national system of extension service providers, currently comprised of more than 400 Centers and field offices located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
About the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership
The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) works with small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers to help them create and retain jobs, increase profits, and save time and money. The nationwide network provides a variety of services, from innovation strategies to process improvements to sustainable manufacturing, supply chain and technology acceleration services. MEP centers also work with partners at the State and Federal levels on programs that put manufacturers in position to develop new customers, expand into new markets and create new products.
As a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce, MEP offers a range of effective resources to help manufacturers identify opportunities that will accelerate and strengthen their growth and competitiveness in the global marketplace.
The National Network
MEP is a nationwide network of more than 1,200 technical experts - located in every State - serving as trusted business advisors focused on transforming U.S. manufacturers to compete globally, supporting supply chain integration, and providing access to technology for improved productivity. MEP is built around manufacturing extension centers locally positioned throughout the 50 States and Puerto Rico. MEP Centers are a diverse network of State, non-profit university-based, and other non-profit organizations, offering products and services that address the critical needs of their local manufacturers.
Each MEP Center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to their most critical needs, ranging from process improvement and workforce development to business practices and technology transfer. Additionally, MEP Centers connect manufacturers with government and trade associations, universities and research laboratories, and a host of other public and private resources to help them realize individual business goals.
Through local and national resources, MEP Centers have helped thousands of manufacturers reinvent themselves, increase profits, create jobs and establish a foundation for long-term business growth and productivity.
The MEP Program is not a Federal research and development program. It is not the intent of this program that awardees will perform systematic research.
NIST anticipates funding twelve (12) MEP Center awards with an initial five-year period of performance in accordance with the multi-year funding policy described in Section II.3. of this FFO. Initial funding for the projects listed in this FFO is contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds.
The table below lists the twelve (12) States identified for funding as part of this FFO and the estimated amount of funding available for each:
MEP Center Location and Assigned Geographical Service Area (by State)
Anticipated Annual Federal Funding for Each Year of the Award
Total Federal Funding for 5 Year Award Period
Who Is Eligible
The eligibility requirements given in this section of the FFO will be used in lieu of those given in the MEP regulations found at 15 CFR part 290, specifically 15 CFR § 290.5(a)(1). Each applicant for and recipient of an MEP award must be a U.S.-based nonprofit institution or organization. For the purpose of this FFO, nonprofit institutions include public and private nonprofit organizations, nonprofit or State colleges and universities, public or nonprofit community and technical colleges, and State, local or Tribal governments. Existing MEP awardees and new applicants that meet the eligibility criteria set forth in Section III.1. of this FFO may apply. An eligible organization may work individually or may include proposed subawards to eligible organizations or proposed contracts with any other organization as part of the applicant's proposal, effectively forming a team. However, as discussed in Section III.3.a. of this FFO, NIST generally will not fund applications that propose an organizational or operational structure that, in whole or in part, delegates or transfers to another person, institution, or organization the applicant's responsibility for core MEP Center management and oversight functions.
Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement
Non-Federal cost sharing of at least 50 percent of the total project costs is required for each of the first through the third year of the award, with an increasing minimum non-federal cost share contribution beginning in year 4 of the award as follows:
Maximum NIST Share
Minimum Non-Federal Share
5 and beyond
Non-Federal cost sharing is that portion of the project costs not borne by the Federal Government. The applicant's share of the MEP Center expenses may include cash, services, and third party in-kind contributions, as described at 2 C.F.R. § 200.306, as applicable, and in the MEP program regulations at 15 CFR § 290.4(c). No more than 50% of the applicant's total non-Federal cost share for any year of the award may be from third party in-kind contributions of part-time personnel, equipment, software, rental value of centrally located space, and related contributions, per 15 CFR § 290.4(c)(5). The source and detailed rationale of the cost share, including cash, full- and part-time personnel, and in-kind donations, must be documented in the budget tables and budget narratives submitted with the application and will be considered as part of the review under the evaluation criterion found in Section V.1.c.ii. of this FFO.
Recipients must meet the minimum non-federal cost share requirements for each year of the award as identified in the chart above. For purposes of the MEP Program, "program income" (as defined in 2 C.F.R. § 200.80, as applicable) generated by an MEP Center may be used by a recipient towards the required non-federal cost share under an MEP award.
As with the Federal share, any proposed costs included as non-Federal cost sharing must be an allowable/eligible cost under this program and under the Federal cost principles set forth in 2 C.F.R. part 200, Subpart E. Non-Federal cost sharing incorporated into the budget of an approved MEP cooperative agreement is subject to audit in the same general manner as Federal award funds. See 2 C.F.R. part 200, Subpart F.
As set forth in Section IV.2.a.(7) of this FFO, a letter of commitment is required from an authorized representative of the applicant, stating the total amount of cost share to be contributed by the applicant towards the proposed MEP Center. Letters of commitment for all other third-party sources of non-Federal cost sharing identified in a proposal are not required, but are strongly encouraged.
Below is an outline of the key steps along with the target timing of each. These actions will take place over the next several months. Updates and changes will be posted to this site as needed.
- March 2015– Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO)/Federal Funding Opportunity (FRN)
- March 30th, April 13th, and April 16, 2015 - Information Webinar (See Webinar details along with past recordings below)
- June 1, 2015 – Due Date for Proposals (please refer to FFO for specific details)
- June – September 2015– Review, Selection and Execution of Awards
- January 1, 2016 - Target Start date
The following resources are currently available:
- System Strategic Plan;
- Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Operating Plan Guidelines;
- Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership General Terms and Conditions;
- Manufacturing Extension Partnership Reporting Guidelines;
- 2013 Annual Report (Note: 2014 Report will be available in May);
- Center 5 Year Financial Summary Template;
- Detailed Year 1 Budget Table and Narrative Template; and
- Job Driven Training Agenda: The agenda is designed to increase the likelihood that federal programs and policies become more job-driven and effective.
- Additional Resource for Alaska Organizations: State Technology Extension Assistance Project Report for Alaska - The Alaska Manufacturing Consortium completed a full, comprehensive, technical assistance planning study to examine options to establish an MEP center in Alaska. The report includes an analysis of the manufacturing base in Alaska, as well as a better understanding of the various industry factors that are inhibiting manufacturing growth in the state.
Continued Resources: Background on the MEP Program
- Manufacturing Technology Acceleration Center (M-TAC) Pilot Projects – Report on Initial Progress and Learning (February 2015)
- Promising Practices in Overall Performance – Featuring MEP Centers of Indiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma (January 2013)
- National Governors Association – "Making" Our Future – What States Are Doing to Encourage Growth in Manufacturing through Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Investment (January 2013)
- Re-examining the MEP Business Model: Alternatives for Increasing the Program's Impact on US Manufacturing Sector Performance (October 2010)
- Hollings MEP Advisory Board Innovation and Product Development in the 21st Century (February 2010)
- March 30th @ 2 p.m. eastern (Download Presentation & Recording)
- April 13th @ 2:30 p.m. eastern (Download Presentation & Recording)
- April 16th @ 1 p.m. eastern (Download Presentation & Recording)
The content of these webinars will be the same. These webinars will provide general information regarding MEP and offer general guidance on preparing proposals. NIST/MEP staff will be available at the webinars to answer general questions. During the webinars, proprietary technical discussions about specific project ideas will not be permitted. Also, NIST/MEP staff will not critique or provide feedback on any project ideas during the webinars or at any time before submission of a proposal to MEP. However, NIST/MEP staff will provide information about the MEP eligibility and cost-sharing requirements, evaluation criteria and selection factors, selection process, and the general characteristics of a competitive MEP proposal during this webinar. If you would like to register for one of these webinars, please provide the list of participants, organization name and date your plan to participate via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions from applicants pertaining to MEP eligibility, cost-sharing requirements, evaluation criteria and selection factors, selection process, and the general characteristics of a competitive MEP proposal will not be considered on an informal basis. Applicants must submit all such questions in writing to email@example.com. Questions submitted to NIST/MEP may be posted as part of an FAQ document, which will be periodically updated on this website.
This FAQ is designed to provide a better understanding of the Center Competition, the implementation, and other general questions. To download the FAQ document, click here.
Please submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.