Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program
C. The 2014 Funding Opportunity
D. Selection Criteria and Selection Process
E. Award Requirements and Post Award Sustainability
Q1. What is AMTech and how did the Federal government develop the design for the AMTech Program?
The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program is a program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to incentivize the formation of and provide resources to industry-led consortia that will support basic and applied research on long-term, pre-competitive and enabling technology development for the U.S. manufacturing industry. The objective of AMTech is to establish and strengthen technology consortia, driven by industry, to identify and prioritize research projects addressing long-term U.S. industrial research needs. AMTech was conceived, designed, and reviewed extensively prior to receiving appropriations.
In 2011, NIST published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register inviting opinions from the public on how a program to do this should be structured. The RFI drew 38 responses, which were carefully reviewed and helped to guide the design of AMTech. Also in 2011, the NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT) in consultation with the NIST Director, provided design principles for AMTech, and issued a report that endorsed "the AMTech Program as a model public-private partnership for supporting technological innovation and facilitating its deployment to support advanced manufacturing."
Following these foundational activities, in July 2012, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report on the importance of capturing domestic competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing. PCAST recommended new public-private partnerships to foster innovation ecosystems in advanced manufacturing technologies.
More information about the AMTech Program and its design may be found on the web at http://www.nist.gov/amo/.
Q2. What is meant by "industry-driven consortia" and what does it mean in terms of award participants?
An industry-driven consortium is a collaborative partnership that includes broad participation by companies of all sizes, universities and government agencies. Regardless of the type of organization that leads the application for an AMTech consortium grant, all participating organizations must be committed to engaging in common research-related activities or to pooling resources for achieving common research goals that are determined and led by industry.
Teaming and partnerships are strongly encouraged. Thus, NIST is seeking proposals that include participation by the full value chain, including small-and mid-sized firms. Collaborators will form a consensus on industry-led goals, resource needs, and planning objectives that are representative of all stages of the value chain.
Q3. Are there specific focus areas of interest for consortia?
The consortia to be funded by AMTech are technology consortia focused on developing advanced technologies to address major technical problems that inhibit the growth of advanced manufacturing in an industrial sector. Thus, the AMTech Program seeks proposals with areas of focus that will strengthen the capacity of U.S. industry and the nation to compete in global markets. Responsibility lies with the applicant to demonstrate the industrial importance and relevance of the focus area of interest selected within their application. Additionally, the applicant will need to clearly demonstrate how the envisioned effort complements and does not duplicate other technology consortia and/or roadmapping projects already underway, including those previously funded by the NIST AMTech Program (see http://www.nist.gov/amo/fundedawards.cfm), or other projects funded by the Department of Commerce or other Federal agencies.
Q4. Is AMTech looking to fund new consortia or existing consortia?
Both existing consortia and newly proposed consortia are eligible applicants for the 2014 AMTech competition. Through AMTech, NIST is seeking to strengthen the U.S. technology infrastructure that underpins American excellence in advanced manufacturing. By working together to accomplish shared technical goals, multi-partner consortia can aim for more and achieve more than a single organization can acting on its own.
Q5. What is meant by "Planning Awards" and "Project Awards"?
AMTech planning awards are intended to incentivize the establishment of new and the strengthening of existing industry-led consortia that are focused on developing advanced technologies and solutions. For the purposes of this funding opportunity, Planning awards are a means to attract broad and committed stakeholder involvement (industry, government and academia), identify critical gaps in advanced manufacturing technology infrastructure, create industry-driven technology roadmaps that guide research to address industry problems, and produce well-founded industry-driven plans for the entire R&D lifecycle. Once fully implemented and subject to the availability of funding, it is envisioned that AMTech will provide additional funding to consortia in the form of Project Awards to perform research that addresses these critical needs and advances the research agenda derived from AMTech Planning Awards.
Q6. Are there other federally funded programs that achieve the goals of AMTech?
No other federally funded program has the goals of AMTech to create an infrastructure for the more efficient transfer of industry-driven technology among U.S. manufacturers. Whereas other federal R&D funding programs support individual research projects and their associated activities, AMTech incentivizes U.S. industry to establish and strengthen new and existing consortia. These consortia will create shared visions of the research needed to address long-term technological challenges and needs. U.S. industries and companies that have experience in technology consortia development and/or roadmapping activities have demonstrated a strengthened capacity and capability to lead, innovate and compete within the global marketplace.
Q1. Who is eligible to apply for AMTech funding?
Eligible applicants are any U.S. organization, excluding commercial organizations and federal entities, located within the United States, such as non-profit organizations, accredited institutions of higher education, and state, tribal, and local governments. Commercial organizations and federal entities can participate as consortium members. See FFO Section III, 1 for more details.
Q2. Can members of the consortia be from across the nation or should there be a regional focus?
Consortia members can be local, regional, or national. There are no restrictions on location of members. Membership and location of participants should best support the proposed activities and outcomes.
Q3. What is the ideal mix of partners within an AMTech-funded consortium?
The consortium should represent a broad cross section of the entities needed to support the work of the consortium. Examples include large, small, and start-up companies across the supply chain as well as universities, community colleges, government agencies, and industrial organizations. Specifics will vary based on the focus area under consideration, but inclusion of key players in an industry or technology sector will strengthen a consortium and its chances of successful results.
Q4. May a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), federal agency, or a national laboratory participate in an AMTech funded consortia?
Federal entities may participate in teams or consortia as vendors, contractors, informal collaborators, or in other roles allowed by law, consistent with each entity's authorities, policies, and procedures. See FFO Section III.1.
Q5. What if multiple teams propose consortia in the same focus area? Is there the potential to combine teams?
Each proposal will be evaluated and ranked based on the criteria provided in the FFO (See Section V.1.). The Selecting Official has the opportunity to select proposals based on a portfolio approach, such as industry, technology, or the stage of development of a consortium (See Section V.2). AMTech has established a LinkedIn© group to allow for potential synergies among subscribers and to facilitate collaborations among the teams funded and other stakeholders. Once submitted, proposals cannot be combined.
Q6. What is the relationship between AMTech funded consortia and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program?
MEP centers can assist potential proposers in developing consortia or identifying resources, and can participate in a proposal if needed for the scope of work to be performed.
Q7. Are DOE national laboratories (federally funded research and development centers, FFRDCs) or energy lab contractors eligible to receive funds under this FFO?
The eligibility of a FFRDC or contractor can vary from situation to situation depending on different factors such as whether they would be acting on their own behalf or on behalf of the Department of Energy or another Federal agency. We recommend that these organizations consult with their legal offices to determine whether or not they are eligible for funds or the conditions that would allow them to be eligible to receive funds as defined under the eligibility requirements of the FFO.
Q1. How much money is available and what are the important dates I should keep in mind?
Approximately $5.6 million is available for awards in this competition. Important due dates include September 5, 2014 for submission of required Pre-Applications and October 31, 2014 for submission of full applications (proposals).
Q2. What is the expected funding level and when might awards be announced and projects begin?
Individual awards are anticipated to be between $250,000 and $500,000. Awards are anticipated to be announced in Spring 2015 and projects would begin shortly thereafter.
Q3. How do I submit an AMTech pre-application and an AMTech application (proposal)?
Required Pre-Applications and Full Applications (proposals) are submitted electronically via Grants.gov. See Section IV.7 of the FFO for more details and instructions for registering with Grants.gov.
Q4. Will there be a down select process at the time pre-applications are submitted?
There will be a down selection. Only those applicants whose Pre-Applications has been selected will be invited to submit a Full Application. See FFO IV.2 for more details on the Required Pre-Application.
Q5. Will awards be grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements and what are the implications?
Depending on the nature of the proposed consortium activities, either a grant or cooperative agreement funding instrument will be used. See Section II.1 of the FFO. A NIST cooperative agreement will be used in instances where there is collaboration and/or substantial involvement by NIST in the proposed activities. For more information see Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreement Act of 1978 ("the Act"), which can be found at:
Q6. When should I begin preparing an AMTech Pre-Application?
Preparation of a pre-application including the development of team composition and team roles can be a lengthy process, so the sooner the better!
Q7. Where can I seek help with preparing my application (proposal) and who do I contact if I have questions?
It is the responsibility of the proposer to seek the assistance and resources they need for completing a proposal. Proposers may wish to contact their local MEP center for assistance or referral to potentially useful resources (www.nist.gov/mep). Section VII of the FFO identifies appropriate agency contacts who can provide additional information if needed.
Q1. What criteria will be used to evaluate AMTech proposals?
The specific evaluation criteria as specified in the FFO are:
Q2. How will Pre-Application be evaluated and selected?
Pre-Applications will undergo an initial screening to determine whether or not they are eligible, complete, and responsive to the FFO. Any Pre-Application determined to be ineligible, incomplete, and/or non-responsive may be eliminated from further review. Pre-Applications will be reviewed by an Evaluation Team using the criteria found in section V.3.a of the FFO, composed of three or more independent, objective Federal employees, knowledgeable in the subject matter of this FFO and its objectives. The Evaluation Team shall select applicants with merit to submit a Full Application, using a simple pass/fail majority rule by the Evaluation Team.
Q3. How will AMTech Full-Applicationbe evaluated and who will evaluate them?
All applications will be reviewed to determine whether or not they are eligible, complete, and responsive to the FFO. Applications determined to be ineligible, incomplete, and/or non-responsive based on this FFO may be eliminated from further review. Applications that are determined to be eligible, complete, and responsive will proceed for full review by at least three independent, objective reviewers, knowledgeable in the subject matter of the FFO and its objectives and who are able to conduct a review based on the evaluation criteria. The reviewers may discuss the proposals with each other, but scores will be determined on an individual basis, not as a consensus. All applications will be provided to an Evaluation Panel with their respective reviews for further consideration. The Evaluation Panel will consist of federal employees with appropriate technical expertise. The Evaluation Panel may ask questions of applicants in writing and/or may require follow-up teleconferences. Using the additional information obtained, the Evaluation Panel will prepare and provide a final adjectival ranking of the applications to the Selecting Official. See Section V.3 of the FFO for a complete description.
Q4. Is cost sharing required or will it be considered favorably during the proposal review process?
Cost sharing is not required as part of this competition. However, the commitment and leveraging of participation by public, private, and academic institutions should be discussed as part of the team's sustainability planning and will be evaluated.
Q5. Will confidential/proprietary information in my proposal be protected?
Yes. All individuals who will have access to submitted proposals must sign nondisclosure, confidentiality agreements. The government will protect confidential/proprietary information received from all proposers to the full extent of the law.
Q1. What types of consortium activities and outcomes would an AMTech planning award support?
Technology consortia receiving AMTech planning awards will have the goal of developing an collaborative infrastructure that will support basic and applied research on long-term, pre-competitive, industrially relevant research, including development of enabling technologies that can improve the advanced manufacturing capabilities of U.S.-based firms. Initially, activities are likely to consist of technology roadmapping or similar planning endeavors, driven by industry. Depending on the focus area being proposed and the status of the existing innovation infrastructure for the focus area, the precise nature of activities supported by AMTech planning grants will vary.
Expected outcomes of AMTech planning awards will include:
Q2. Are there activities not allowed with AMTech funding?
AMTech-funded awardees will be required to conform to the Department of Commerce Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions (January 2013), which is available at http://www.osec.doc.gov/oam/grants_management/policy/documents/DOC_Standard_Terms_and_Conditions_01_10_2013.pdf. In addition, Office of Management (OMB) has published Circulars that establish principles for determining allowable costs under grants, subgrants, cost reimbursement contracts, and other agreements utilizing federal funding. AMTech awardees will be required to conform to the appropriate cost principles.
Q3. What are the reporting requirements for those who receive funding?
Reporting by AMTech-funded awardees will consist of the following: financial reports, performance (technical) reports, patent and property reports, and third-party evaluation. The third-party evaluation by the AMTech Program will be conducted while funded projects are under way. Award recipients will be expected to cooperate with NIST and its independent evaluator to assist in the program evaluation. More information on reporting requirements are found within Section VI.3 of the AMTech FFO.
Q4. What happens after AMTech Planning Award funding? Is sustainability of the consortium an evaluation consideration?
AMTech planning awards will be up to two years in duration and are intended to catalyze the formation of new and strengthen existing industry-driven, multi-partner technology consortia. A key goal of AMTech is creation of financially viable consortia and sustainable roadmapping or other planning activities that will have a significant and enduring impact on the performance of the U.S. manufacturing sector. Thus, applicants should describe the plans for the sustainability of the AMTech consortium applicant during and after the award period.
More information on sustainability planning and the evaluation of those plans may be found within Section IV.3.a.6.d and Section V.1.b of the AMTech FFO.