Energy Funding Available for High-Risk, High-Payoff Concepts


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Apply Now (May 12–June 2): Energy Funding (ARPA-E) Available for High-Risk, High-Payoff Concepts

The goal of the Advanced Research Projects Agency– Energy (ARPA-E) is to create transformational new energy technologies and systems through funding and managing research and development (R&D) efforts. ARPA-E will uniquely focus on high-risk, high-payoff concepts— technologies promising true energy transformations. ARPA-E is an organization within the Department of Energy (DOE), chartered by Congress in the America COMPETES Act. ARPA-E is a bold concept that will provide access to the funding needed to bring the next generation of energy technologies to fruition. ARPA-E aims to:

  • Enhance our economic security by identifying technologies with the potential to reduce energy imports from foreign sources; reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions; and improve efficiency across the energy spectrum.
  • Ensure we remain a technological leader in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.

ARPA-E will achieve these goals by funding energy technology projects that (1) translate scientific discoveries and cutting-edge inventions into technological innovations and (2) accelerate transformational technological advances in areas that industry by itself is not likely to undertake because of high technical or financial risk. Note that the DOE invests heavily in basic research and ARPA-E is not intended to augment these efforts.

SEMI encourages its members to consider applying for this funding. Opening time for submission of concept papers begins May 12, 2009. The concept paper closing date and time is on June 2, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Concept papers must be submitted to www.FedConnect.net.Early submission is strongly encouraged.

Registration Requirements

To submit an application, you must obtain a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, register with the Central Contract Registry (CCR), and register with FedConnect. Potential applicants who are not registered with CCR and Grants.gov should do so as soon as possible. Questions relating to the registration process, system requirements, or how the application works must be directed to Grants.gov at 1-800-518-4726.

Funding Opportunity Description

This is the first Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) released from ARPA-E. There is both opportunity, under the Recovery Act, and an urgent strategic need to begin transformational energy R&D projects as soon as practicable. This first announcement is primarily aimed at prospective applicants who already have a relatively well-formed R&D plan for a transformational concept or new technology that can make a significant contribution if and when successfully deployed. Because eventual success will be judged on whether the technologies transition to industrial development and then wide-spread use, ideally an applicant will also have ready a plan to transition the results of the R&D to one or more products and into manufacturing.

This initial announcement is narrowly focused on transformational R&D, but intentionally broad on applications and technologies. This announcement is open to the full range of concepts potentially covering all aspects of ARPA-E’s Mission Areas. The intent is to harness the creativity of all sectors of the American science and technology communities and to stimulate the pursuit of new and innovative technical opportunities that can spur great leaps forward within those mission impact areas. It is anticipated that ARPA-E will run additional program-specific announcements.

Concept Paper

ARPA-E applicants are required to submit a concept paper as the first step of the application process. ARPA-E will review the concept paper and provide early feedback on whether the kernel of the R&D idea is likely to form a basis of a successful full application. The applicant can only submit a full application after receiving notification from ARPA-E on the concept paper.

The details are on the FedConnect website, www.FedConnect.net, and FedBizOpps website, www.fedbizopps.gov/. Concept papers will be reviewed as received. In some cases, an applicant may be contacted by fax and email for early submission for a full application. Concept paper notification will indicate whether a full application based on the idea presented in the concept paper is likely to be competitive. ARPA-E anticipates informing all other applicants no later than July 13, 2009.

Defining Early Stage and Late Stage Transformational R&D

ARPA-E’s purpose is to fund and manage technology R&D projects that are transformational and translational. Transformational technology R&D efforts usually fall into one of two categories: Early Stage and Late Stage.

  • Early Stage: In this category, the project is focused on drawing a discovery or invention out of the laboratory and determining, through applied research: (1) whether the technology can be made sufficiently robust for real world applications and (2) whether the technology is capable of achieving a combination of real world performance values sufficient to eventually transition the technology into industrial use. This type of early stage applied research is focused on translating the discovery into technology. Early Stage transformational R&D identifies the key technical barriers for the technology and determines possible pathways to overcome these barriers.
  • Late Stage: In the second category of transformational R&D projects, an immature technology with the potential for wide-spread use and major impact on the Administration’s Energy and Environment Agenda is developed to the point that all the key technical risks have been reduced so that industry is able to take on the final stages of development, if any, and then incorporate the new technology into products. “Late Stage” refers only to the end point of the R&D project, not to how immature the technology may be at the beginning of the effort. Intellectual property strategy is often a key factor to the final success of this type of project. The transformational technology from a successful late stage R&D project will be picked up by one or more industrial entity and developed into marketable products.

The applicant must designate whether their application is for an early stage or late stage transformational R&D projects because these categories are evaluated on different criteria. This selection must be marked on the cover sheet form.

Common Requirements for Concept Papers (Early and Late Stages)

Concept paper should express a consolidated effort in support of one or more related technical concepts or ideas. Concept paper must be submitted through www.FedConnect.net. The total concept paper is limited to eight pages, submitted as a PDF file. The page limitation for applications includes all figures, tables, and charts. If a concept paper exceeds the 8-page limitation, only the first eight pages will be reviewed. Applications must be in English. No fax or hard copy submissions will be accepted.

No later than one week prior to the concept paper submission deadline, the applicant must submit a web-based cover sheet through http://www.arpa-e.energy.gov/foa/coverpage.html. Once the cover page is submitted, ARPA-E will email the applicant an application control number. This number must be placed at the top right corner of each page of the concept paper.

Concept Paper Structure for Early Stage Transformational Projects

The concept paper is limited to eight pages with four sections:

  • Abstract - The abstract should summarize your concept paper, giving the essence of your transformative concept, how your proposed research plan would develop this concept and what the potential impact of this applied research is likely to be.
  • Technical Section - Describe the essence of the technical breakthrough, discovery, invention, or concept on which you will base your proposed applied research. Outline the key technical areas which must be explored and how you will approach this research. Focus on what is new and innovative about your concept and proposed R&D.
  • Mission Impact Section - Address why your proposed project is transformational. Will the outcome of your applied research lead to new energy-related applications? How will it revolutionize one or more energy-related field(s)? Justify briefly how you derived the quantitative impact.
  • Cost Summary - Include a summary of direct costs. Identify the general number, types, and percentage of time anticipated to be work for people funded under the project. Identify any major equipment purchases. If multiple team members are proposed, include a top-level break-down of costs by team member.

Concept Paper Structure for Late Stage Transformational Projects

The concept paper is limited to eight pages with four sections:

  • Abstract - The abstract should summarize your concept paper, giving the essence of your transformative concept, how your proposed research plan would develop this concept and what the potential impact of this research and development effort is likely to be.
  • Technical Section - Describe your transformative technology (component, system, hardware, software, or other) and your proposed R&D to mature this technology. Briefly describe the state of the art and what is unique and innovative about your approach. Outline the key technical areas which must be developed and how you will approach development. Give the reviewers the kernel of your proposed R&D— not all the technical assertions. Distinguish your proposed work from other R&D in similar areas.
  • Mission Impact Section - Address why your proposed project is transformational. What potential impact on the ARPA-E Mission Areas and the Administration’s Energy and Environment Agenda do you see arising from development of the technology project you propose? Justify briefly how you derived the quantitative impact and describe the key technical risks that must be overcome for your technology to be accepted by industry for further development and incorporation into products. How would your R&D plan accomplish this?
  • Cost Summary - Include a one page summary of direct costs. Identify the general number, types, and percentage of time anticipated for people funded under the project. Identify any major equipment purchases. If multiple team members are proposed, include a top-level break-down of costs by team member. Note that the cost summary is not binding. It is merely included to give reviewers a sense of how the applicant proposes to spend funds to accomplish its tasks

Opening time for submission of concept papers begins May 12, 2009. The Concept Paper closing date and time is on 2 June 2009 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Concept papers must be submitted to www.FedConnect.net at any time between the opening time and the closing time for concept paper submission. Early submission is strongly encouraged. Instructions for electronic submission of the full application will be supplied in the concept paper notification. An applicant may submit a full application at any time before the closing date established in their concept paper written notification. All applications that meet the minimum requirements for submission will be evaluated using the same criteria, regardless of the feedback on the concept paper.

For more information, please visit the ARPA-E website at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/and a summary document (PDF) at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/keydocs/ARPA-E-FOA.PDF. For information on the SEMI PV Group, please visit www.pvgroup.org. To communicate with someone at SEMI about these opportunities, please contact Ken Schramko (SEMI Washington, D.C. office) at kschramko@semi.orgor 202.289.0440.

May 11, 2009