UPDATE: This Opportunity closed. The awards were granted in February 2015. To view the press release, click here.
NIST invites applications from eligible applicants in connection with NIST's funding up to ten (10) separate MEP cooperative agreements in the designated States' service areas and in the funding amounts identified below. 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 primarily to small and medium-sized manufacturers within each State designated in the FFO. The selected MEP Centers 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 Manufacturing Extension Partnership
The National Institute of Standards and Technology's 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 green manufacturing. MEP also works 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. Innovation is at the core of what MEP does. Manufacturers that accelerate innovation are far more successful than those who do not. By placing innovations developed through research at federal laboratories, educational institutions and corporations directly in the hands of U.S. manufacturers, MEP serves an essential role in sustaining and growing America's manufacturing base.
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, university-based, and 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 ten (10) 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 the FFO. Initial funding for the projects listed in the FFO is contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds. Below are the ten (10) states identified for funding as part of this FFO:
|MEP Center Location and Assigned Geographical Service Area (by State)||Annual Federal Funding for Each Year of the Award|
In addition, as set forth in Section II.4. of the FFO, awards issued pursuant to this FFO may be renewed by NIST on a non-competitive basis for a subsequent period of up to five (5) years, based upon the recipient's satisfactory performance, continued relevance of the project to the mission and priorities of the MEP program, and the availability of appropriated funds.
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 Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, non-profit and State universities, non-profit 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.b. 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:
|Award Year||Maximum NIST Share||Minimum Non-Federal Share|
|5 and beyond||1/3||2/3|
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 15 CFR § 14.23 or § 24.24, 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.i. 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 15 C.F.R. § 14.2(aa) and in 15 C.F.R. § 24.25(b), as applicable) generated by an MEP Center may be used by a recipient towards the required non-federal cost share under an MEP award.
Any cost sharing must be in accordance with the "cost sharing or matching" provisions of 15 CFR part 14, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, Other Non-Profit, and Commercial Organizations or 15 CFR part 24, Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments, as applicable.
As with the Federal share, any proposed costs included as non-Federal cost sharing must be an allowable/eligible cost under this program and the following applicable Federal cost principles: 1) Institutions of Higher Education: 2 CFR part 220 (OMB Circular A-21); 2) Nonprofit Organizations: 2 CFR part 230 (OMB Circular A-122); and 3) State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments: 2 CFR part 225 (OMB Circular A-87). Any proposed non-Federal cost sharing will be made a part of the cooperative agreement award and will be subject to audit if the project receives MEP funding.
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.
On August 21st NIST MEP conducted an informational webinar that provided general information about this funding opportunity. The presentation slides and webinar recording are available online.
The following resources are currently available:
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 mepffo [at] nist.gov. 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 mepffo [at] nist.gov.