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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

2012 i6 Challenge FAQs

Q1: What is the i6 Challenge?

A1: The i6 Challenge is a leading national initiative designed to support the creation of centers for innovation and entrepreneurship that increase the commercialization of innovative ideas and research into viable companies capable of creating jobs, leveraging private sector investment and fostering regional prosperity.

Applicants are encouraged to create and expand Proof of Concept Centers to accelerate entrepreneurial thinking among innovators and researchers, assist entrepreneurs and startup companies; develop a network of experts to support entrepreneurs and new ventures; and spark future job creation and economic growth across the United States. Through the i6 Challenge EDA will provide funding to Proof of Concept centers that bring a culture of innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship to distressed regions.

Q2: What are the required focus areas for Proof of Concept Centers selected under this solicitation?

A2: To be eligible under the i6 Challenge, a proposed project must support a Proof of Concept Center and be focused on one or more of the following areas (1) innovation, (2) entrepreneurship, (3) regional economic development, or (4) commercialization of research.

Q3: What is the amount of funding that will be awarded?

A3: EDA anticipates providing $6,000,000 for the i6 Challenge, subject to the availability of funds. EDA anticipates that it will make at least six awards of up to $1,000,000, one in each of its six regions. EDA anticipates that the project period of each award will not exceed two years.

Q4: What types of entities are eligible to receive funding under the i6 Challenge?

A4: The following types of entities are eligible to receive funding assistance from EDA under this solicitation:

  • District Organization (as defined in 13 C.F.R. § 304.2);
  • Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes;
  • State, city, or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions;
  • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education; or
  • Public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.

Q5: What distress criteria must be met in order to be eligible to receive EDA funding?

A5: To be considered for funding, a proposed project must benefit a region that meets at least one of EDA's distress criteria, as outlined below:

  • An unemployment rate that is, for the most recent 24-month period for which data are available, at least one percentage point greater than the national average unemployment rate;
  • Per capita income that is, for the most recent period for which data are available, 80 percent or less of the national average per capita income; or
  • Is subject to a "Special Need," as determined by EDA pursuant to 13 C.F.R. § 301.3(a)(1)(iii).

Q6: Are matching funds required to be considered under this solicitation?

A6: Yes. In order to apply for the 2012 i6 Challenge, you must demonstrate a matching share that is available and committed to the project. Generally, the matching share must be at least 50 percent of the total project cost. The matching share requirement may be met through cash contributions, in-kind contributions (e.g., office space, equipment, and services), or a combination of both. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the applicable Regional Office point of contact to discuss matching share requirements.

Q7: Is there a benefit to providing a greater amount of Matching Share than required?

A7: Yes. EDA will give preference to applications with higher matching shares.

Q8: I am a non-profit entity. What forms are necessary in order to submit a complete application?

A8: A non-profit entity must submit all forms outlined in Section IV.A of the FFO, as well as entity-specific forms, which include:

  • A certificate of good standing from the state of its incorporation.
  • A copy of the organization's Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws.
  • Resolution (or letter) from a general purpose subdivision of the government of a state, acknowledging that the organization is acting in cooperation with officials of that unit of government.

In addition, non-profit applicants (along with other types of applicants at EDA's discretion) are required to complete Form CD-346 (Applicant for Funding Assistance) for each key individual of the nonprofit, which includes the executive director, project manager, chief financial manager, and any other person or entity who has authority to speak for and/or commit the organization in the management of an award and/or expend funds.

Q9: When is the deadline for submitting applications?

A9: Applications must be received electronically at Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on July 20, 2012. The Grants.gov time-stamp will be considered the date and time of submission. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered for funding.

Q10: How can I obtain an application?

A10: Applicants may access the application package through www.grants.gov under the Funding Opportunity Number I62012.

Q11: Is there anything that I need to do prior to submitting an application through Grants.gov?

A11: Yes. In order to submit an application through www.grants.gov, applicants must undertake a number of steps, including correctly registering for a www.grants.gov user ID and password and obtaining a valid Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) Number. This process can take between three to five business days or as long as four weeks if all steps are not completed correctly. Therefore, EDA strongly recommends that applicants start early in order to avoid delays. Information about the www.grants.gov registration process for organizations can be found at http://www.grants.gov/applicants/organization_registration.jsp. Please read section IV.C. of the FFO carefully for all required steps to submit an application through Grants.gov.

Q12: How are applications reviewed?

A12: Applications will be reviewed based on the process outlined in section V.B of the FFO, using the evaluation criteria outlined in section V.B. of the FFO .

Q13: Is there a specific focus for the 2012 i6 Challenge like the green focus in 2011?

A13: No. This year, applicants may focus their proposed Proof of Concept Center on any area that will support their region's economic development objectives.

Q14: I am a past i6 Challenge winner. Can I apply for another i6 Challenge grant?

A14: Yes. However, past winners should indicate why the additional i6 funding is needed and how it will be used to implement something different from what was proposed and funded in previous i6 Challenge investments. EDA will not fund duplicative projects, including previous i6 Challenge grants.

Q15: How are applicants notified if they are selected for the i6 Challenge?

A15: After the Grants Officer selects the winning applicants, the grant awards will be issued. The grant award (using Form CD-450) will be submitted by two-day delivery service to the appropriate business office of the winning applicant and must be signed and returned without modification to EDA by an authorized representative of the winning applicant within 30 days after receipt. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified that their application was not selected for funding.