xTechHBCU

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Total Money Offered: Total Prize Pool: $525K/ Cooperative Agreement (or similar) Research Award: Up to $150K/each
Challenge Topic: Multiple Army Modernization Topic Areas
Submission Dates: August 10, 2021 — October 1, 2021
Winner Announced: January 21, 2022
Who Can Submit: Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Serving Institutions (MSI)

Description

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) is announcing its newest xTech competition, in partnership with the Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Army Research Office (ARO), the xTech Historically Black Colleges & Universities and Minority Serving Institutions (also referred to as xTechHBCU). xTechHBCU aims to engage with eligible institutions as defined below, and highlight opportunities to collaborate with the Army to tackle critical Army challenges, earn prize money, network with Army program managers and provide potential funding opportunities to tackle Army challenges.

The ASA(ALT) recognizes that diverse perspectives provide a critical source of innovative talent and novel concepts for the advancement of Army Modernization Priorities and national security. In a concerted effort to attract truly novel perspectives, this initiative will target covered institutions that have historically received less funding than their counterparts, such as non-Tier 1 (R1) colleges and universities, with the intent to fund institutions that have not otherwise received a significant amount of funding from the DoD Research Development Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs.   

xTechHBCU will provide a structured and focused entry path for eligible participants to submit novel concepts and technology solutions directly to the U.S. Army and provide opportunities for these participants to become integrated into the Army’s science and technology (S&T) ecosystem by providing research opportunities with Army labs.  Participants will receive detailed feedback from Army and Department of Defense (DoD) stakeholders; and will have access to training, mentorship, networking opportunities and other support infrastructure as they progress through the contest to determine how best to align their research proposals with real Army problems and Users. 

xTechHBCU will combine a prize competition with structured opportunities for follow-on research funding awards of up to $150,000. Competitions for cash prize awards will be executed under authorities 10 U.S.C. § 2374a and 10 U.S.C. § 2362. Follow-on opportunities will be left to the discretion of the participating agencies as they have the authority to award a variety of instruments. It is anticipated that up to a maximum of three (3) follow-on awards for up to $150,000 each may be awarded in the form of contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, technology investment agreements (TIAs), or other transactions for prototypes (OTAs). Participating agencies reserve the right to select the type of instrument most appropriate for the effort proposed.   

Schedules and Prizes

PART 1: RESEARCH CONCEPT

August 10 - October 1, 2021

Up to fifty four (54) winners

$5,000/each

All eligible participants will be invited to submit a 1-page written research concept with an optional 3-minute video to further describe or demonstrate the concept.  All applicants will receive feedback on their research concepts from Army experts.  The top rated research concepts will receive a prize of $5,000, up to a maximum of 54 awards, and will be invited to submit a draft proposal further detailing their proposed concept.

PART 2: DRAFT PROPOSAL

October 4 - 29, 2021

Up to twelve (12) winners

$15,000/each

All selected participants from Part 1, up to a maximum of 54, will be invited to submit a 3-page white paper with an optional 5-minute video to further describe or demonstrate the concept.  All Part 2 applicants will receive feedback on their research concepts from Army experts and the top twelve (12) rated draft proposals will each receive an additional prize of $15,000.  Only the top twelve (12) selected applicants will be invited to submit a final proposal in Part 3.

PART 3: FINAL PROPOSALS

January 21, 2022

Up to three (3) winners

Prize Pool: $25,000/each Cooperative Agreement(or similar) Award: Up to $150,000/each

The twelve (12) selected Part 2 winners will be invited to participate in Part 3 where they will submit their final proposals in the form of a 15-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Question and Answer (Q&A) session with a panel of Army experts. All Part 3 applicants will receive feedback on their research concepts from Army experts and the top three (3) rated final proposals will each receive an additional prize of $25,000.  Additionally, up to three (3) of the top rated participants may be selected and invited to submit their final proposals and may be awarded a cooperative agreement (or similar) for up to 1-year and up to $150,000. 

Rules

The entities allowed to participate in this competition must be from covered institutions that have historically received less funding than their counterparts, such as non-Tier 1 (R1) colleges and universities, with the intent to fund institutions that have not otherwise received a significant amount of funding from the DoD RDT&E programs.   

As provided in 10 U.S.C. § 2362, eligibility for this competition is open only to “covered educational institutions,” which are defined as:

  1. institutions of higher education eligible for assistance under Title III or V of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1051 et seq.); or
  2. accredited post-secondary minority institutions.

Eligible applicants include community colleges or other 2-year degree granting institutions meeting the definition of a “covered educational institution.” Enrollments, accreditation, and other factors may affect an institution’s eligibility in any given year. With the exception of HBCUs and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), in order to meet the eligibility criterion above, an institution must apply to the Department of Education (DoEd) each year for Title III or Title V eligibility. A copy of the DoEd letter dated February 2020 or later certifying eligibility for Title III or Title V assistance must be included with each application submitted under this announcement.  The eligibility letter will not be included in the page limit detailed in Section IV below. If the DoEd eligibility letter is not submitted with the xTechHBCU submission, the applicant will be deemed ineligible and their submission will not be considered.

In addition to the “covered educational institution” requirement defined above, each submitting institution must (1) be a U.S.-based institution and (2) not be a U.S. Federal government entity or employ a U.S. Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.

Judging Criteria

Feedback will be provided to all participants at the end of each part of this competition.  The purpose of providing feedback is to help the participants understand potential use cases or applications for the technology within the Army, suggestions for product improvement for Army use, and recommended next steps for development.  The United States Government (USG) will not respond to questions or inquiries regarding the provided feedback.

The xTechHBCU competition will provide an optional xTechHBCU Accelerator as a part of this competition.  A two-part virtual accelerator program will be offered to all participants during Part 2 and to the twelve (12) selected finalists in Part 3.  Participants will receive increased personal mentoring, educational webinars, and networking opportunities from the xTech Accelerator program as the competition progresses, to help refine their concepts and draft proposals and learn how to leverage the DoD defense market for future partnership opportunities.

Part 1: Research Concept

All eligible faculty members are invited to submit one (1) or more proposed research or technology concept(s) applications to one (1) or more topic(s) of their choice. Concept submissions will be evaluated by a team of Army experts including scientific, technical, acquisition, and user experts.  Submissions will consist of a brief concept description that includes a 1-page concept white paper and an optional video no more than 3 minutes in length to further describe or demonstrate the concept.  Participants are not required to submit a professional video, videos can be taken on a cell phone or another device of your choice and will not be graded on production quality, but rather will provide an additional format to further explain your proposed research concept. 

All submissions shall adhere to the following requirements:

  • All concept white papers must be submitted using the template found on the Valid Eval registration page, “xTechHBCU_WhitePaper_Template.doc”.  Any proposals submitted in a format other than that provided by the template will not be reviewed, please read all instructions on the first page of the template document carefully. 
  • Optionally, participants may submit an accompanying Video to further describe the concept to the Army evaluators.  All videos shall be submitted using a vimeo link with no password protection to ensure that all evaluators will have access. Concept Videos do not require professionals to develop, the videos can be taken from a phone, camera or any equipment that is already readily available to faculty members.
  • Please list your name(s) and proposal title EXACTLY how you would like them to appear on any contest marketing materials. Use clear and concise proposal titles to give readers and potential stakeholders an understanding of how your research or technology concept would benefit the Army.

Research Concepts applications will be evaluated and ranked using the following Scoring Criteria (further details on each scoring dimension can be found on the xTechHBCU registration page):

  • Introduction – 5%
  • Alignment and Degree of Innovation – 30%
  • Technology and Concept Viability – 30%
  • Team – 25%
  • Narrative Quality – 10%
  • Potential for Army Impact – 0% (this is graded as a means to provide Army feedback only, but will not impact proposal evaluation scores at this stage)

Upon competition of Part 1, the top rated research concepts, up to a maximum of 54, will receive a prize of $5,000, and be invited to submit a more detailed draft proposal in Part 2. 

Part 2: Draft Proposal  

All selected participants from Part 1 will be invited to submit a 3-page draft proposal and an optional video no more than 5 minutes in length to further describe or demonstrate the concept. The xTechHBCU program will provide optional virtual programming to all applicants during this part of the competition to help align their research proposals with Army problems and provide insight and guidance to faculty members as they develop a draft proposal for award. Detailed instructions and evaluation criteria for draft proposals will be provided to Part 2 participants.

Although evaluation criteria and associated weights may vary across xTechHBCU phases, the evaluation criteria across all phases is derived from the originating ARO Open Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and, in general and not limited to, will touch on the following factors:

  • Scientific or technical merit – the overall scientific and technical merit, creativity, and innovation of the concept submission.
  • Potential for Army Impact – the potential impact on the US military (e.g., specific application areas and/or specific platforms or users of relevance).
  • Team qualifications – qualifications, capabilities, and experience of the proposed PI, team leader, or other key personnel who are critical to achievement of the proposed objectives; and the applicants record of past performance.
  • Proposal Quality – quality of the narrative, arguments, and data attribution to support arguments with relevant, properly attributed data.

Upon conclusion of the judging for Part 2, the Army will select up to twelve (12) winners to receive a prize of $15,000 and an invitation to the Finals.

Part 3: Final Proposal

Selected participants from Part 2 will be invited to conduct an in-person or virtual 15-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A session with a panel of Army experts.  Selected participants from Part 2 will also have an opportunity to participate in more intensive optional virtual and/or in-person programming to engage directly with Program Managers (PMs) and SMEs associated with topics outlined in this announcement, work directly with key Army stakeholders, further align their research proposals with Army problems, and gain additional insight and guidance on how to develop a final proposal for award consideration. As with Part 2 above, detailed instructions, evaluation criteria for final proposals will be provided to Part 3 participants and will follow from the ARO BAA.  The primary evaluation criteria for the final proposal will include: 

  • Scientific or technical merit – the overall scientific and technical merit, creativity, and innovation of the concept submission.
  • Potential for Army Impact – the potential impact on the US military (e.g., specific application areas and/or specific platforms or users of relevance).
  • Team qualifications – qualifications, capabilities, and experience of the proposed PI, team leader, or other key personnel who are critical to achievement of the proposed objectives; and the applicants record of past performance.
  • Presentation Quality – quality of the oral delivery, arguments, and data attribution to support arguments with relevant, properly attributed data, visual design and command of the question and answer session.

Upon conclusion of Part 3, the top three (3) rated final proposals will each receive an additional prize of $25,000. Additionally, up to three (3) of the top rated participants may be selected and invited to submit their final proposals and may be awarded a cooperative agreement (or similar) for up to 1-year and up to $150,000.     

How to Enter

The xTechHBCU competition is voluntary and open to all U.S.-based institutions that meet the eligibility requirements.  Multiple submissions, i.e., more than one (1), addressing different problem statements/topics will be accepted from eligible entities. The registration information and upload submission must be received by 5:00 PM ET on October 1, 2021.  Submissions received after the deadline will not be considered. 

To receive prize money, entities are required to register in System for Award Management (SAM) and have or obtain an active CAGE code, DUNS number, and not be on the exclusions lists (debarred or suspended). Instructions on how to obtain a CAGE code can be found on the xTechHBCU registration page.

Disclaimers

The Army is a strong proponent of deliberate intellectual property (IP) rights and management by the private sector and the DoD.

For the xTechHBCU:

  • The Federal Government may not gain an interest in IP developed by a participant without the written consent of the participant;
  • Nothing in this competition shall diminish the Government’s rights in patents, technical data, technical information, computer software, computer databases, and computer software documentation that the Government had prior to this effort, or is entitled to, under any other Government Agreement or contract, or is otherwise entitled to under law; and
  • The Federal Government may negotiate a license for the use of IP developed by a registered participant in the prize competition.

For the follow-on research funding opportunities, cooperative agreements or similar, all data assertions submitted within the proposal are subject to Government negotiation of those data rights.  Detailed instructions will be provided to the selected finalists when invited to submit the final proposal dependent on the funding instrument selected by the participating agency that is deemed most appropriate for the effort proposed.

Contact

The xTech Team

Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Research and Technology

Email:  usarmy.pentagon.hqda-asa-alt.mbx.xtechsearch@mail.mil

Website: https://www.xtechsearch.army.mil