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MEIF – Program Description

Matching Fund Requirements

Applicants are not required to provide matching funds for MEIF-SCI. However applicants are encouraged to provide at least one dollar of matching funds for every one dollar of MEIF SCI. Quality and quantity of matching funds provided by the applicant and partners will be evaluated as part of the selection criteria.

Examples of matching funds include, but are not limited to, federal grants,grants from foundations, expenses paid by private sector partners and revenue from product sales.

Expenses directly attributable to the proposed project and paid from non MEIF-SCI funds may be counted as matching funds.  Matching funds must be cash or in-kind. Contributed time of employees of award recipients and collaborative partners is considered in-kind, but the proposed match must be consistent with the underlying salary and obligations. In collaborative applications the amount and quality of matching funds contributed by project partners will be seen as one indication of support for the collaboration.

Matching funds do not have to be in hand at the time of application, but likely sources must be identified in the application. Likewise, funds in hand, but unspent at the time of application submission, may be used as matching funds if subsequently used for a project-related purpose as per the approved project budget. Award recipients will have six months from time of award approval to secure and document all sources of matching funds.

Quality of Matching Funds

The applicant must demonstrate through a matching commitment how requested funds will build on the current resources/funding to advance project development in ways not possible with current funding or how they will be used as a base for attracting additional or future funding.

Quality of match will be evaluated as part of two of the criteria, Team and Institutional Commitment and Merit, and Collaboration. Applications having a higher percentage of cash match relative to the total budget will be given greater consideration in the evaluation of the budget plan. Reviewers will consider elements such as whether match is new or re-directed existing funding. Finally, matching funds contributed by collaborating partners will score higher, as the cash match typically indicates a stronger collaboration.

Submission of Multiple Applications

Institutions may submit more than one application. Those institutions applying for multiple awards must include a supporting letter from the institution addressing how the project fits with the overall institution’s strategic research, development and commercialization or revenue-generation plan. In addition, the organization must confirm that it can sustain all submitted projects at one time.

An individual can be a project leader and/or collaborator for more than one project as long as it is clear he or she can effectively manage all submitted projects at one time.

Applications From Previous Rounds

Current award recipients may apply in this round for different projects. Current recipients may apply for additional funding for substantially similar projects as those previous rounds where they can demonstrate a strong need and significant economic impact. Applications relating to the same project will be held to the highest standard, must have clear justification for additional funding and demonstrate significant economic impact.

Application, Review, Award Process and Timeline

The application and review process consists of the steps listed below:

FY2014 Award Cycle Activity
August 9, 2013 Release of MEIF-SCI guidelines
Sept. 27 , 2013 Applications due
Nov. 15, 2013 External reviews completed
Nov. 22 , 2013 Final selection
Nov. 25 , 2013 Award start dates

 

Applications

Final applications must comply with all the requirements of this RFA. Applications must be received at the University of Maine System 16 Central Street Bangor Maine 5:00 PM on September 27, 2013 or by email at ryan.low@maine.edu. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. All applications will be subjected to an administrative review where applications will be reviewed for compliance with RFA requirements and guidelines. Applications found incomplete or not in compliance with requirements will not be reviewed, and applicants will be notified of non-advancement in the funding round. Complete and compliant applications will be reviewed as detailed on the next page, and applicants will receive acknowledgement of receipt of their application via email within two business days.

All final applications must comply with UMS provisions on confidentiality in order to qualify for protection from disclosure of information to the public. The confidential information must be marked “confidential” on each page, and must fall into the categories set out in 5 MRSA Section 15302-A. Further information on how to designate confidential information is detailed in the application guidelines section.

Written Review

All applications will undergo an independent review by AAAS in a standard written format. Applications will be scored and ranked according to of the criteria described in Evaluation Criteria: Scientific or Engineering Merit and Feasibility (25 points), Team and Institutional Merit and Commitment (25 points), Relevance Maine’s Innovation Economy Needs (25 points) and Collaboration (25 points).  Expert reviewers will be recruited from outside of Maine by AAAS. Completed reviews from AAAS will be confidential information and may be disclosed only to the applicant. All applicants will receive their written review scores and comments by mail.

The Written Review phase will conclude with a report by AAAS to the UMS of its grouping of applications as Highly Recommended, Worthy of Consideration, and Not Recommended, based on the consensus review of each application. Because any competitive application must have solid technical and scientific merit, strong institutional commitment and clear economic benefit to Maine, only the highest ranked applications will be recommended to move forward to the next stage of consideration.

Reviewer Conflict of Interest

All application reviewers at every stage of the process will be required to sign a confidentiality and conflict of interest agreement.

Award Contract Execution

Following award notification, UMS staff will prepare the final terms of the award contract for each project. The contract may include changes to the application and/or budget due to evaluation findings or funding availability. Award recipients are expected to complete the project as described in the application as funded and as amended, and the contract will bind award recipient to a scope of work. MEIF SCI award will be for projects of three years or less in length.

All award agreements will require:

  • Reporting requirements. Reporting requirements will be finalized in the award agreement, but will include at a minimum:
    • Quarterly or milestone Reports including progress and economic impact measures, and milestones met
    • Matching fund reports to accompany reports of expenditures
    • Annual Reports, including financial information
    • Proprietary Information: If a report contains proprietary information, the information must be identified by asterisks and bold brackets on the page on which it appears.
  • Intellectual Property information. Applicant institutions must comply with the University of Maine System Policy Governing Patents and Copyrights. For awards involving partners with the primary applicants, all technology developed prior to the award will continue to be owned by the party that developed the technology. Improvements or new inventions developed during the course of the award will continue to be owned by the discoverer/developer of the technology. In situations where another party owns the technology, the participating company may enter into a licensing agreement to use the technology. In some cases, a pre-existing ownership agreement may be in place between the parties. The existence of such an agreement must be stated in the applicant’s application. In a collaboration of researchers or institutions, where intellectual property might be an issue, parties are encouraged to enter into an intellectual property agreement and indicate this in the application.
    • Intellectual Property Plan: Where applicable, awardees are required to submit an intellectual property plan as part of the award contract process.

In addition, contracts will require, where appropriate, provisions such as, language governing human subjects and animal use, required disclosures, and changes in project personnel, team, scope, and budget.

Award Payments

Payments will be made upon receipt of quarterly and milestone reports and back up financial information demonstrating the use of funds as detailed in the approved application and budget. Payment will be made within 30 (thirty) days of receipt of quarterly narrative and financial reports that meet UMS’s approval. Funds should be expended by June 30, although campuses may request unspent money be carried over into the next fiscal year.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

1. Scientific or Engineering Merit and Feasibility (25 points):

a. Whether the science or engineering project:

i. Represents excellence to the degree of being nationally competitive and will advance scientific or engineering knowledge;
ii. Will continue to attract outside (non-state) R&D funding;
iii. Will lead to other R&D important to Maine;
iv. Has the potential to lead to new services or commercialization within five-years and addresses an identified market need.

b. The feasibility of the strategies and approaches to meet project goals;

c. The impact of requested assets and their use in the project to stimulate scientific/technical innovation and quality, thereby creating economic opportunity in Maine.

2. Team and Institutional Merit and Commitment (25 points);

a. Qualifications of project leaders (e.g., principal investigator, project director, co-investigators), administration and staff to deliver and manage high quality projects and, based on the qualifications of the team and institution/entity(s), the likelihood that the project will meet its objectives;

b. Capabilities of the project leader(s) and team in the fiscal administration of the proposed land, facility, or equipment acquisition and improvements;

c. Quality of the applicant organization’s innovation program and record and potential of productivity, including the degree to which the project is aligned with the applicant’s organizational strategic plan;

d. Scientific and technical potential of the applicant organization’s planned research, development and commercialization initiatives;

e. Level and feasibility of the applicant organization’s planning and commitment to use the capital improvement(s) or major equipment;

f. Adequacy of existing equipment and facilities to support the project, and financial capacity to support the project for a period of 5 (five) years;

g. Whether the amount of funds requested is commensurate with the proposed capital improvements or assets;

h. Quality of matching funds as evidence of the applicant organization’s commitment.

3. Relevance to Maine’s Innovation Economy and Potential Impact Needs (25 points):
a. Degree to which the proposed project identifies and serves research, development and commercialization needs and opportunities identified as a priority for the State of Maine;

b. Degree to which the project aligns with State science and technology plans;

c. Degree to which the project is a benefit to traditional industries and/or emerging technologies or applications of particular importance to Maine;

d. Degree to which the project has a positive impact on the growth, protection or sustainability of existing or emerging high-potential clusters or industries;

e. Degree to which the project builds on or complements previous investments in research, development, and/or commercial activity;

f. Potential impact of the proposed project to increase Maine’s research and development and commercialization capacity;

h. Whether the requested equipment/facilities (if applicable) are already available within the State of Maine, and if so, why the asset is justified to build research, development and commercialization capacity;

i. Degree to which the project capitalizes on national research priorities.
The following are examples by which projects could have an impact on Maine’s Economy:
• Expands research and development and/or commercialization activity;
• Creates, attracts or retains additional workforce to further research, development or commercialization goals of the project;
• Creates or enhances linkages with research/commercialization partners and/or leads to commercialization of the research outcomes.
• New jobs in Maine;
• Preservation of existing jobs in Maine;
• New businesses started in Maine, especially those based on the innovations from the R&D;
• Expanding Maine businesses as a result of new products and/or services
• Introduces new products and/or services
• Develops new invention disclosures, intellectual property protection (patents, copyrights, trademarks, plant rights, etc.), licenses;
• Generates new dollars coming into the Maine economy including:

o Sales or licensing revenue,
o Grants and contracts from federal sources or other non-state government sources (such as sponsored research, grants from foundations, etc.),
o License fees,
o Debt or equity investments from private capital sources,
o Joint ventures with businesses from outside Maine,
o Businesses moving to Maine,
o Workforce training and development, especially in fields where skills are needed to support the targeted clusters.

4. Collaboration (25 points):
a. Whether the request will enhance collaboration among research institutions and commercial entities appropriate for the project proposed and promotes linkages between research, development and commercialization;

b. Potential to increase the use of resources available at the entity by individuals from other institutions or commercial entities;

c. Potential for the project to serve as a shared R&D and magnet for enhancing collaborative projects among research organizations and the private sector, especially meeting identified cluster needs;

d. Degree to which the project builds on or complements already-existing collaborative initiatives;

e. Provision of matching funds as evidence of collaborating institutions’commitment to the project.