i6 Q&A Session July 12, 2012 Transcript
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Operator: Welcome and thank you all for standing by. At this point, all participants are on a listen-only mode. During the question and answer session, please press star one on your touchtone phone to ask a question. Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I'd now like to turn the call over to Mr. Nish Acharya. Thank you, you may begin.
Nish: Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the i6 challenge question and answer session. We've put together some senior folks from the Economic Development Administration to take your questions and provide answers as possible. I should note that we had some technical glitches on this end so please bear with us if you can't hear or if something doesn't come through. And then secondly, some of these questions will have to be answered directly at the regional level so if you're not entirely comfortable with the answer received here, certainly double-check with your region and they'll be able to give you more additional information. So with that I'd like to suggest to the operator if you could let people ask questions and we can start to answer them.
Operator: Thank you. At this time if you would like to ask a question please press star and then one on your touchtone phone. Please make sure your phone is unmuted and record your name clearly when prompted so I can introduce you for your question. Again to ask a question, press star one and record your name when prompted. One moment please. It looks like we do have some questions in the queue right now; it will take me just one moment please stand by. Our first question comes from Joe Wallach, your line is open, please state your organization.
Joe: CVEP, that's Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and my question is there anywhere online that we can have a look at the winning and the non-winning proposals from the years 2010 and 2011?
Nish: Unfortunately we don't have access to that due to a combination of technical challenges as well as we do not share the details of applications from the past with the general public to prevent proprietarily from being released . Certainly if you're an organization that applied in the past we can look for your application and talk to you individually about comments and thoughts from the previous application but we're not sharing the applications in bulk. One of the things I would suggest is that our previous i6 winners have been very supportive of sharing information and willing to work with applicants. Some information is available on the EDA website, if you go to eda.gov/challenges/i6 there is a map with the previous winners and you can contact them, the ones that you think may be most relevant to your application and if you need contact information, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can connect you with the appropriate i6 winner in your region.
Joe: Ok, thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Alex Ktang. Go ahead your line is open.
Alex: Hi, this is Alex Ktang from the Clean Energy Trust. One of the questions that we had was with respect to region for eligibility determination. How grey can we get with the data? For example, you think from high to low: state down to county, down to city, down to zip code or continuous zip code just because we need to answer the response of the different criteria of the data. Thank you.
Nish: Thanks for that question so I'm gonna turn it over to Hillary Sherman who's with the EDA policy and national programs office and is a real expert on this, so Hillary?
Hillary: Thanks Nish. Thanks for your question. We ask that the data comes from a federal source if it is available. Our regulations give preference to the American Community Survey if that data is available, or data from other Federal sources like BEA or BLS. As you know, if you go to the different data sources you can actually pull down the data at a variety of geographic levels, so you can get it for a county, you can get it for multiple counties, you can get it for a zip, you can get it for a census track. It really becomes incumbent upon you to identify not only which areas near the region might be eligible, but also if you're going to claim an area as eligible, to document how the proposal for the project is going to be able to benefit that distressed community. So if you can make that case for a census track, so be it. If you can make that case for a multi-county region, so be it.
Nish: Hillary, just to clarify BEA and BLS are…?
Hillary: Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ACS data is available from www.census.gov, if you go to census you can click on the American Community Survey link. Additionally, BEA data can be found at www.bea.gov and BLS data can be found at www.bls.gov.
Alex: Thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Julie Fehrenbach, your line is open. (pause) Your line is open please check your mute button. (pause) We'll go on to the next question. David Cohen, your line is open.
David: Yes, thank you. I have a question concerning Form CD-511. It requires an award number be completed. What would we fill in that box for an award number?
Hillary: Just select not applicable, or fill out N/A in that box. If the preface is funded, the Project Officer will actually fill that out the number for the award.
David: Ok, thank you very much.
Operator: Our next question comes from Melida Ehlen, your line is open.
Melida: Yes, thank you. My question concerns program eligibility and partners, which is to commercialize the funding awarded by this grant may be directly or indirectly allocated to commercial entities. So please if you can fill me in on that link there, and how this contradiction might work within the university structure. But without a university structure, for private entities you are seeking the services of the potential DOC partners. Would they receive mentoring or simply just funding?
Nish: I'm gonna introduce Jamie Lipsey, who is our legal counsel here for the Economic Development Administration to answer that.
Jamie: Hi, yes, the key distinction for what can be provided to private entities rests on technical assistance, so yes mentoring, helping them out in the commercialization process. But the key is just technical assistance, no direct financial assistance, is that answering your question?
Melida: Yes, I looked again at budgets for the grant request, funding for the mentoring, etc. as you mentioned for these private entities.
Jamie: Yes, I mean that would sort of come in under the services that the proof of concept center provides and I think that would come in under, it wouldn't be contractual, but personnel or…
Hillary: If you look at the FFO on page 11 it outlines the eligibility requirements in section 3A. EDA has to make an award to one of the 5 eligible institutions outlined there. And you'll note as you mentioned for-profit entities are not on that list so we cannot make that award directly to a for-profit entity. However, many times for-profit entities indirectly benefit from awards and are seen as beneficiaries of the EDA award. In such cases, if an applicant follows all the appropriate procurement procedures, a for-profit entity may be able to serve as a contractor on an award, but the contract relationship could not support a pass through in any case. If you have an institutional grant office or institutional contract office they often will have all the information that is required relative to conducting procurements that meet Federal regulations.
Nish: And this would be a for-profit being a contract partner of the institution that is applying.
Hillary: Yes, and in this case it would be put under the contract line-item of the budget.
Melida: Ok, thank you so much.
Operator: Our next question comes from Michael Ehrlich, your line is open.
Michael: Hi this is Michael Ehrlich from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and I have a couple of small questions and maybe a slightly larger one. The first one is what is the competition identification number? And I'm trying to figure out if that is the same as the Federal Opportunity Number and my second small question, well maybe not small, is related to section A in www.grants.gov, where we talk about what kind of center it is, that might fall into more than one category. We obviously are a university so we could be categorized as a university center, but it might also be categorized under Economic Adjustment I'm trying to figure out how to make that decision. And the third one that I'm going to sneak in there, kind of a bigger question but you talk about applicant versus partner and I guess I'm trying to understand exactly what that difference is.
Hillary: So I'm going to answer those first two questions and I'll throw in Jamie for the third one. For the first question about the funding opportunity number, that's on page 17 and item 5 in the list: its i6 2012, so if you enter that into grants.gov you should be able to pull up the application package.
Michael: Ok so where it says competition identification number that's where I should put in the funding opportunity number?
Michael: Great, perfect.
Hillary: And your second question? Sorry.
Michael: My second question was related to section A, and how to categorize the….
Hillary: This has to do with which program you are selecting in the Form ED-900. All applications to the i6 2012 competition should be submitted under the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program.
Michael: Great, ok, that was the second one. And the third one was about the applicant versus partner distinction.
Jamie: This is Jamie. So your applicant versus partner, any applicant or co-applicant needs to be eligible to be a recipient of EDA funds. So when you sign on as a recipient, you have to be eligible, and you're a recipient under the award. So you're in privity with the EDA. Partners, in general, may be an eligible recipient or not. You're supporting the award in some sense but in general partners are not receiving funding under the award.
Hillary: For example, partners may provide match, but will not receive Federal funds.
Jamie: Right, so maybe you're providing match to the recipient to provide match to the eligible applicant, but you're not going to be a direct recipient of the EDA funding.
Michael: So an appropriate person might be one of our small FDIR awardee companies, might be a great partner for this, but wouldn't be the applicant or recipient of direct funds, except to an additional SBIR supplement.
Jamie: Right, and your regional office can really help you understand this within the details of your unique application. Each situation will be different so it is extremely helpful to work with your regional office staff to determine the appropriate structure for your particular situation.
Michael: Perfect, thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from Allison Baranowski, your line is open.
Alison: Hi this is Alison Barinowski from Jump Start, and our question relates to, are there any restrictions on our organization as a main applicant, but also partnering with another organization's application?
Nish: So being a part of 2 applications?
Hillary: No, there's no prohibition about that. We would just encourage applicants to remember that the EDA does strive for geographic diversity and diversity in its organizational type in making awards.
Nish: If I may ask a question, which I think will be useful for the group, to the caller, is this a Jump Start site in different cities? Or is this the headquarter site?
Alison: It's the headquarter site, which is our only site, we're just partnering with another institution in our region.
Nish: Ok, (pause) we can move to the next question.
Operator: We have a question from Walt Borland, your line is open.
Walt: Thank you, Walt Borland with NIREC. On page 16 of the FFO in the first bullet point you mention that you're seeking a resolution or letter from a general purpose subdivision. How is this different from either a commitment letter or a letter of support?
Jamie: Well this is an eligibility requirement which only applies to non-profit applicants. Under EDA's statute non-profits need to show they're working in cooperation with a general purpose subdivision; a city, a county, a town to write a letter to show that you have the support of that local government.
Walt: And could that be, when you say subdivision of the government of the state, could be a state department or state agency?
Jamie: No, it needs to be through the local jurisdiction; however, notice the footnote at the bottom – if you've got a project of regional scope, EDA may consider waiving the requirement if there is sufficient justification and reason to do so, so it would be advisable to reach out to your local regional contact to discuss your particular situation.
Delisle: This is Delisle Warden, also with EDA. The general purpose subdivision, in terms of local government, is defined where you're looking at a geographic entity instead of an administrative body. So if there's an incorporated town or an incorporated city you should be seeking the information from them. If the jurisdiction is not incorporated then you'd be looking to the county government for that documentation.
Walt: Very good, thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Julie Fehrenbach, your line is open. (pause) Your line is open, please check your mute button.
Nish: Perhaps we can come back.
Operator: I'm sorry we are unable to hear you. Our next question is from Joseph James, your line is open.
Joseph: Good afternoon. I want to compliment EDA for the i6 program, and I would like you to remind me of the related solicitations that you've had this year so far, and because it takes a while to put together the appropriate partnerships, are you anticipating issuing any additional solicitations this year or in the next 6 months or so?
Nish: Well, I'll take this very high level. I will say this about the time for the partnerships generally we've had a lot of applicants over the years who are leveraging existing partnerships to pull these proof of concept centers together. The application period this year was actually very similar to in the previous years of i6. So while it's always better to have more time to find more partners I think, we believe that there's a lot of really good applications coming together based on historical relationships. Secondly, with EDA the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator challenge just closed and that's always been seen as a very complementary, grant opportunity that focuses on assisting companies and regions develop their regional innovation. At this point, I will defer to Hillary and Jamie about future solicitations.
Hillary: While specific future FFOs are contingent upon Congressional Appropriations and therefore subject to change annually, the general rule is it's good to look at the body of work EDA has done this year to anticipate what we might do next year. Another thing I would draw your attention to is EDA has an existing FFO out called the EDAP FFO, which is soliciting applications for our Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. While this solicitation is different, in that it's a quarterly cycle competition that is not inherently focused on proof of concept centers, applications that come in with multi-partnerships focused on innovative techniques that can drive regional prosperity and really create jobs would be competitive under that program and so, if you're not able to meet the application deadline for the i6 challenge, you might also want to peruse that application and consider reaching out to your regional office representative and submit an application for that. The next deadline is Se
ptember…I want to say fifteenth? That deadline might be a couple days earlier or later either way but its right around the middle of September.
Nish: And the University Centers?
Hillary: That is an interesting program. It's an annual solicitation that is generally structured such that two of our regions announce ability to compete to become an EDA University Center. That FFO is available on our website and generally that FFO is very similar year to year, recognizing that the geographic area focus changes annually. Regions that would be eligible to compete for next year are outlined in this year's FFO, so if you are a university and you are interested in that program it would be advisable to take a look at that the currently posted UC FFO. I can't stress again how important the multi-partnerships are for all the EDA's programs and if you have a strong partnership that's really able to create jobs and really lead to strong regional prosperity it's going to be usually competitive under many of our competitions and you might want to look at multiple competitions if you're not going to be able to get you application in by the i6 deadline.
Operator: Our next question comes from Keith Aspinll, your line is open.
Keith: Hi, I'm from Arizona State University, I just had two technical questions on the narrative. I wanted to confirm that the table of contents does count towards the 15-page page limit and I know with other federal agencies anything with tables, charts, graphics are not restricted to the double spacing and I just wanted to make sure that that was the same for this application where if we're doing something with a chart specifically, it doesn't need to be double spaced.
Hillary: We're just double-checking the FFO real quick.
Hillary: Page 14 of the FFO states that the project narrative must be no more than 15 double-spaced pages, it has to be 11-point font, and the scope of work questionnaire must include the sub-bullets identified there so the sub-bullets would count towards that.
Keith: Yeah, I was reading that I just wanted to double-check that and also I just wanted to see the standard on particularly charts since that will be done in Word or whatever and I know other federal agencies don't require anything in charts to be double-spaced, even if the rest of the narrative is double-spaced and I wanted to, if we don't need to double-space charts then I will have more space to see if that is…
Hillary: One thing is that in the sub-bullets under the narrative, it's not asking specifically for charts, its asking for plans and milestones, all of which is stuff that can be narrative. A specific chart could be provided as an addenda to the application and that could be separate, and that would not count towards the 15 pages.
Nish: We do not encourage large addenda, however.
Hillary: As a general rule of thumb, if you can't fit your concept into the page limit concisely it generally is an indication that the concept or idea could be better fleshed out.
Keith: Ok. Thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Richard Miller, your line is open.
Richard: Thank you and good afternoon, thank you for the opportunity to ask questions. I'm with the AGD in Baltimore and I just have some very brief questions on the Form ED-900 in sectionA11 with the compliance of the executive order for the single point of contact. We did contact our individual and they said to submit our application and they would actually get the application by the 7 days afterwards. Is this permissible in terms of the qualification for the application to be reviewed?
Hillary: Absolutely. We would just need you to get an email or something documenting that and just submit it as part of the application.
Richard: Ok, so I can just put that in section B if the answer is no in there at that point?
Hillary: Yes and we would need to see it in writing.
Richard: Ok, and I just have two other questions. We are looking at doing an economic adjustment grant for the September deadline; can we use the same letters of both match and support for both grants?
Hillary: No, not if you were to be selected, because if you were to do that then that would imply that there was an duplication of the i6 project and other project that you are working to submit an application for and EDA does not want to fund multiple projects that essentially have overflows or overlapping scopes of work or scopes of budget. So each separate project that we would review would need to have a separate scope of work, a separate budget, and a separate match associated. However, if you were to submit a project for the i6 and you were not selected, then you could definitely use components of the application to apply again through other EDA programs, recognizing that adjustments would be necessary as appropriate, but you could likely submit a scope of work, a budget, and a match requirement that would be similar or very close to what you submitted for the September deadline.
Richard: Ok, and then just one more quick last question which would maybe be helpful to others. As we're combining the PDF files for the bios for the project narrative and the budget narrative, etc. Should those be, for the project narrative we have no more than 15 pages but the others, just be put in 1 PDF file or in separate PDF files as an attachment?
Hillary: Are you talking about the project narrative, the biography, and the matching share, all of that, as one document as opposed to separate?
Richard: Yes, I believe they are separate. The project narrative is the 15 pages and then the bios should be placed into the appendix?
Hillary: The directions on top of page 14 specify that all of those sub-bullets should be submitted as one PDF.
Richard: Right so we get the 15-page narrative, and then in addition to that add the bios and the letters of support all in one submit them all in one PDF correct?
Hillary: Yes sir.
Richard: Excellent, thank you very much for your answers. I appreciate that.
Operator: Our next question comes from Lisa Camp, your line is open.
Lisa: Hi, thank you for taking time with us. Three questions. The first: do we need to double space the executive summary?
Hillary: On page 14, because the executive summary is part of the project narrative, and because the directions specify that the project narrative must be 15 pages, 11 point font, that is double spaced. It must be double spaced.
Lisa: Ok, great. Second question: Does a university have to do the same forms as a non-profit? Is that considered the same thing?
Hillary: No. The non-profit would just be a true non-profit and the non-profit would have to submit the separate forms outlined for non-profit. The universities must complete the forms required for universities.
List: Perfect. And then my last question is a little bit more complicated. There is a significant level of match associated with the project that we are trying to do and that match would be spent within the two-year grant period. So the question is: Do we only list the portion of that match that would be spent during that two-year grant period or can we list it all, and just not put it in the forms? I'm trying to figure out how best to represent that.
Hillary: This is actually a really, really important question and it gets to the heart of what is a match. For EDA's purposes, EDA gives a grant and that grant generally has to be at least a 50/50 match, up to as much as 80% as outlined in the FFO. That match might be separate from the overall project amount; for example, if EDA gives grant to a university for $500,000, the state may put in $500,000 as the match, which might be separate from the $2 million that's going to go into buying some special equipment for a proof of concept center that's going to do something complementary to the overall project. In this example, the overall project in that case would be the $3 million of which the EDA's approved project costs would be $1 million, which would include $500,000 in Federal funds from EDA, and $500,000 that would be technical, approved match from the state. Does that help clarify?
Lisa: Yes, so do we only put the technical approved match on the forms (SF-424A)?
Hillary: Yes, and in the project narrative you could communicate overall what's going to happen. We definitely want to know the players and the big picture, but in the budget itself and in the budget forms we want to know exactly what EDAs gonna pay for and exactly what the match is and where it is coming from. All match has to be for allowable costs so, for example, you cannot use match for construction if construction costs are not part of your scope of work. The matching funds provided must align with the project time period that's outlined in your proposal so if you're asking for a 1 year grant for technical assistance generally the matching share would be for 1 year for some type of activity that would support that technical assistance, for example, through the printing of services whether that will facilitate some broad meetings or through some information sharing, but whatever that would be but it would have to be somewhat analogous to that scope of work.
Lisa: Great, perfect. Thank you very much.
Operator: We have another question from Alex Kting, your line is open.
Alex: So our two questions are: can we count National Science Foundation funded IUCRC Research Foundation as income support? And are they eligible to receive EDA funds?
Hillary: So this is a question of it really depends on how that money is structured, where it comes from and who it's coming to. Because we don't have all the details, we don't want to give you bad information so we would recommend that you contact your regional office. As a general rule, EDA cannot give money to other federal entities and our funds can't be matched with other federal funds. There are exceptions, for example CDBG funds can be used as match but it's really important that the specifics are carefully reviewed and discussed with your regional office to make sure that all the information is available before we give you an answer.
Alex: And then, one more question from my colleague: Is there clarification for support of private entities so could we possibly hope for an incorporated, for-profit company to apply for support whether they wouldn't be directly receiving EDA funds but they would be recipients of technical assistance, whether it's time on a prototyping machine or whatever it is. They would indirectly receive support, but it's not financial assistance.
Hillary: So essentially what you're talking about is that a private firm would be a beneficiary of the federal funds or matching assistance they would get to benefit whether it is as you say time on the equipment, or indirectly benefit from the technical assistance provided to the proof of concept center to support job creation activities in that region. Is that correct?
Alex: Yes it is correct and I'm referring to the statistic in the Merit review criteria that we really believe that this is possible and that is under Merit Review criteria under number 2, bullet point number 3.
Hillary: As we just clarified, that is correct. It's really important here that this kind of gets back to the whole conversation we had earlier about eligibility and the fact that for-profit entities cannot be eligible entities and cannot receive federal funds from this award. However, we would anticipate and almost expect that a for-profit entity in some capacity is gonna be related in some way as a beneficiary of a proof of concept center somewhere in your region.
Jamie: Right, they would be getting technical assistance flowing down through the eligible recipient from the proof of concept center.
Alex: Ok. Thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Joe Wallach, your line is open.
Joe: Yes, our question has to do with some of the in-kind match that we're hoping to get and I think we can. It's a very nice complex of buildings, it's perfect location-wise, size-wise for a proof of concept center, but if you're requiring a resolution of the city council and the local airport, which are the two places that would need a resolution, the chances of us having all of that in place by the 20th of July are less than 2%. However, I'm sure I can get a letter from them saying that if we're selected that this is gonna happen. How would you see that on the application that it's not a full-blown commitment, but it's a strong indication that there will be one?
Hillary: So as a general rule, match needs to be available and committed at the time of the application. There are cases as you're saying where you could get a letter indicating when it's coming. We would like you to work with your regional office because there's a lot of exhaustive factors that we would need to be able to talk out to discuss how that would really interplay with your specific proposal. In the interest of not giving you bad information we want to reference you to the appropriate regional office outlined in the appendix.
Operator: We have a question William Indest, you line is open.
William: Hi, this is Will Indest from Tech Columbus. I have actually 4 questions. The first one is that we are in the process of obtaining our CEDS, working with our district office, a couple of months away we were advised by our district office to explain that in the proposal and I'm wondering where? Is that part of the narrative?
Hillary: I'm sorry I didn't catch that whole question.
William: Sorry, were working with the district office to complete our CEDS, we were a couple of months away as a region and we were told by our district office to just explain that as part of the proposal. My question is where do we do that? In the narrative?
Hillary: So it's an addenda item, on page 15 it says that projects must be consistent with the region's CEDS. This can be done in the ED-900 section on this topic or in the narrative through statement indicating that the update is in progress and that the project is consistent with the CEDS.
Nish: Right, and I think that we, depending on the region they've been willing to accept similar documents as the CEDS submitted.
William: Ok so can we attach that document as not part of the narrative?
Hillary: We would recommend what you do as it states on page 15 to talk with your regional officer on that. In some cases if you're really close to publication it might be good to send a link if it's available, in other cases they might ask you to just upload it if you don't have a copy of it in the region. What they're really gonna be looking for is that there's some kind of statement that says this is consistent with the direction the region is heading and it's really building on assets the region already has and that you're not trying to support a biochemistry proof of concept center in a region where there's no biochemistry inherent regional assets. We definitely want to make investments that are gonna be able to be successful and implementatable for the long term.
William: Ok, thank you. Second question is related, were making a case for special need for the distressed area, would that be done in the narrative?
Hillary: Yes, and the Form ED-900 as well.
William: In Ohio, there is no single point of contact listed, how should be proceed with that form?
Jamie: I think you could just put "not applicable” if your state doesn't have a single point of contact process.
William: Ok, two more quickies. These recordings or this recording in the earlier session, are they available afterwards?
Nish: Which earlier session? The original informational seminars?
William: Yeah the June 18th…
Nish: Yeah they should be on the EDA website shortly.
William: Ok, great. Thank you. Last question back to the private entity issue. So we're a venture development organization and we're going to be helping private entities to achieve success, commercialization success, and we sometimes hire private entities to do that so we could see hiring in a for-profit entity to prototype beta units for a for-profit start-up. Does that violate what you said earlier with regards to for-profit entities?
Hillary: Basically, any type of activity where a for-profit entity is going to be contracting on an award, number one thing you need to make sure is that you're following all the appropriate procurements, regulations, and rules to ensure that there are no uncompetitive situations or pass through. Work with your regional office representative if you have specific questions. If you are with a university or you are with a large institution, reach out to your grant specialist or your contact specialist. Many of them are the experts and have done this many times before. It could save you a lot of time because they will often have all that information readily available.
William: Ok, thank you. That's it.
Operator: We have a question from Eduardo Gonzalez, your line is open.
Eduardo: I have two questions. One of them is there a limit on the margins? 1 inch?
Hillary: So page 14 does not say the margin, but however, recognize that EDA is planning on printing these out, anything outside of a normal margin would take up time to format so we are not gonna have the time to do that. So anything outside of a normal margin should be seen as not really acceptable with the EDA.
Eduardo: What's recommended? 1 inch?
Hillary: 1 inch would be preferable. No less than usually .7 is what you have to have to get it to print normal. If it's not printing normal you're causing a lot of headache and heartache on our behalf so 1 inch would be preferred.
Eduardo: Ok and the second question is for purposes of regional collaboration is there any way we could get the list of people on the call today?
Nish: Unfortunately we can't really share that information but you can email us at email@example.com and we can try to connect you with inquiries that we may have received, although I can't guarantee that but we certainly can try.
Hillary: Another thing you can do is if you talk to your regional office representative. They often have been contacted by multiple applicants about similar ideas and they can put you in touch with, depending on what your proposal is or your idea is, with folks who might be appropriate partners or co-applicants or such who might help your application
Eduardo: Ok, thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Robert Aldrich, your line is open.
Robert: Hi, this is regarding matching funds, we do a large business plan competition and we have several corporate sponsors and philanthropic organizations give money for prizes and that kind of stuff and were planning on using some of that as match. My question is some of those to which we give the top prize winners involve an element of a convertible note which is paid back with interest and that kind of stuff so there is a limited availability of risk, so my question is can we use that part as match as well where, looking at page 13 it says it must be available as needed so we do have an element of risk with that portion so my question is: the portion that they note can we use that as match?
Nish: Just one second on that answer as we confer.
Jamie: Talk to your regional office contact. EDA's matching requirements are that your match be free and available as needed and not contingent, so talk to your regional office about that. That's not our typical structure for match so check with them and maybe email i6 as well and we'll talk about it.
Hillary: As you're talking with the regional offices, remember that any match has to be related to the scope of work that you're providing in the narrative, so you would have to be able to articulate how its related to the scope of work that you're asking for from EDA. So in some of those cases that might inherently weed out some of the more creative loan options or commercial ventures because it would be hard to see how it could be part of the approved scope of work in which EDA would take something of similar match, but please discuss with your regional office representative outlined in the FFO.
Nish: Yeah so the main reason for referring someone's question to the region is to give all of you the time to explain the details of the situation. Some as Hillary said will work, some won't and they'll be able to help you over the next few days to resolve that so thank you.
Robert: Thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Allie Thompson, your line is open.
Allie: Yes is there a limit to the indirect cost rate?
Hillary: So indirect cost rate must be approved by a federal cognizant agency, if it is approved by a federal cognizant agency obviously EDA will accept it. A couple things to keep in mind if you have a higher indirect cost rate usually you have many things including salaries, rent, computers that sort of thing associated with it, so one big thing EDA will be looking for is to assure that you're not double-counting. Meaning if personnel hours are included in the indirect cost rate that they're not also being billed on line A of the 424A form and essentially. As outlined in FFO, EDA is always interested in looking for projects that represent the best value to the federal government so if you have a high indirect cost rate and you have a great idea and are asking for a lot of money then it might be a better value than one that has a lower rate. The important thing is not that the rate itself is the bad thing, what's important is that your idea and whether your proposed budget allows you to successfully acc
omplish your project.
Allie: Great, thank you.
Operator: We have a question from Chris Carsten, your line is open.
Chris: Thank you. On page 21 there is a footnote and it says "applicants may not include costs related to venture capital activities” is there a place to get clarification as to what those types of activities might be? Or can you provide that information?
Jamie: In general, this is related to the fact that all matching share costs need to be eligible costs so providing funding in the venture capital context, providing funding directly to for-profits is not an eligible EDA cost, so it would not be an eligible match. It just can't be part of the EDA budget. Such an activity could be a cost outside of the EDA budget, but it can't be included as part of a project cost.
Hillary: Essentially in that case it would be part of the total project cost, which would be different from both the EDA project cost and the matching cost. If the EDA budget cost is what we paid for, the match is what you would be supported with, that might be something that's supporting the overall project but is funded through either additional federal funds or state funds or another type of organizational funds.
Jamie: Outside of your budget on the Form SF424-A.
Nish: So just to clarify we received a question about universities that have set up their own venture capital funds and are investing in their i6 companies. I would assume the same logic would be applied there, but that's where it's a non-profit investing in the company. Is there anything different in that scenario or is that the same? Versus an outside investor who comes in where it's a perfectly clear distinction. If it's a university fund, what does that mean?
Hillary: This is where it gets kind of complicated, it depends on what the project is. If EDA's primary scope of work is to provide technical assistance, then say EDA provided $500,000 to support technical assistance and information sharing of the facilitators or the operators of the proof of concept center to implement those practices, then the matching share would come from the state or local government or other sources to support in some way that broad technical assistance. In that case, the loan activity would be a broader share and would be outside of the EDA portion or the matching share, but it would be obviously important to the overall success of a big project and really important for us to know about in the narrative. I'll leave it at that, talk to your regional office.
Jamie: Also, please be aware that EDA has specific conflict of interest requirements, so please talk to your regional contact about that.
Chris: Thank you.
Operator: And again as a reminder if you do have a question, please press star one now.
Nish: We probably have time for a few more questions if we have them.
Operator: We do have one more coming in, stand by. We have a question from Amy Hunter, your line is open.
Erica: Hi, this is actually Erica Burnside, applying in cooperation with Amy Hunter and we were just wondering, we were looking on page 23 of the program announcement and it says that, subject to the availability funding. Winning applicants receive their grant award packages in September, do we receive funding in September, or that just the award letter and paperwork that we sign and if so, when and how are funds dispersed throughout the project?
Hillary: That's a great question so the award letter and the award package would be distributed in September which means technically the funds are obligated. However, in order to be fully obligated, the award has to be countersigned within 30 days of receipt and generally there is a grant kickoff in which case there is communication by both EDA and the grantee, reconciliation about the project scope of work and agreement about major project deliverables and milestones. Disbursements of funds generally do not happen until the project has started, so we would not envision any funds being drawn down until that grant kickoff meeting.
Amy: Thank you
Operator: We have a question from Mary Jeffries, your line is open.
Mary: Thank you. To clarify the question before the last question, we are planning to use EDA funds in the following way as one of the things we're gonna do which is if we have a promising technology for proof of concept funding or promising company for seed funding, we were going to EDA funds dispersed from the applicant to match funds dispersed from the university. Is that ok to do?
Hillary: What is your scope of work though? What you're talking about is the payment.
Mary: What we're talking about is if we identify a great technology or great start-up can we use EDA funding to match university funding to provide seed or proof of concept funding?
Nish: By proof of concept funding do you mean an internal grant to the PI or to the researcher to study it some more, research it on that side of things or do you mean actual equity investment.
Mary: Actual proof of concept study and then seed money would be actual investment.
Nish: So you're talking about both?
Mary: I'm talking about both, yes.
Nish: So the study funds are allowed, the equity funds are not allowed.
Hillary: And that's good to be critical to really flesh out the scope of work which is separate from how the funds get distributed so if you could first think about what am I going to do with my technical assistance, am I identifying best practices or supporting the education of best practices, then what is my match gonna be? And then there is the conversation about how do funds get distributed and there's a piece of how do EDA funds to the applicant which is generally done on a reimbursement basis, it can be done in other ways, but its generally done on a reimbursement basis to the applicant, who would be responsible for paying the sub-awardees and the contractors as authorized and allowed under the agreed upon grant award. But those are kind of two separate things which is important to know.
Mary: Ok, so we would not be able to seed anybody using EDA money?
Mary: Ok, thank you.
Operator: Our final question comes from Eduardo Gonzalez, your line is open.
Eduardo: Just to clarify, so the start day on the scope award should reflect what date?
Hillary: So generally awards starts within 30 after they are accepted, so if you assume that the grants notices will be mailed at the end to middle of September, they would be countersigned by you at the middle to end of October and the kick-off meeting could be scheduled within two weeks after that, so you're really looking at the end of October to the first of November before the project would really get kicked off and launched. However that does not mean that there's no activity that could start until then. You could definitely start if there's pre-work in terms of research, a literature review, best practices application, that kind of stuff to make sure that you have things that are critical to your scope of work. There are preliminary things that can be done between when you get your award and when the kick-off meeting would happen. But it's really important to make sure that its clearly stated in your application and that you're working with your regional office to identify the things that it would make sense to have structured in that way.
Eduardo: Ok, thanks.
Nish: Great, well with that I want to thank everyone for joining the call and I want to thank Delisle, Hillary, and Jamie for spending the last hour answering these questions. As we discussed a few times, many of your questions are quite complex and require more time than this call allowed for so I would strongly suggest that you continue to be in touch with both here in Washington as well as the regional offices. If you need to reach us, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org by email, you can also look on the FFO for your regional contact and the FFO, again if you haven't seen it lists the states within each region and the contact there, they're constantly circulating a lot of the common questions in discussing them with each other and I believe you'll get the answers you need. Once again the deadline is July 20th and we have a lot of information on the website related to the concept, the FFO and other things we urge you to look at that and be in touch as much as you need to through the deadline. So thank you all very much for joining us.
Operator: That does conclude today's conference, thank you for participating you may disconnect at this time.