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Center Innovation Fund for FY2015
May 7, 2014

The NASA Ames Research Center Office of the Chief Technologist (OCCT) releases this Request For Proposals (RFP) for the FY15 Center Innovation Fund (CIF). The purpose of the CIF is to stimulate and encourage creativity, innovation and collaboration within Ames, and between Ames and other NASA Centers in addressing the technology needs of NASA and the nation. This CIF investment helps make Ames more competitive, provides opportunities for risk reduction and/or increased cost effectiveness, and initiates potentially transformational solutions to the most challenging mission-related problems. CIF focuses on technology investments that are longer-term, higher-risk, high-impact, and not necessarily tied to any future mission opportunity. Collaborations with other NASA centers are encouraged but not required. For support in finding potential partners from other NASA centers, see the Inter-Center Collaboration section below.

Eligibility and Guidelines

Only Ames civil servants can serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) and submit proposals. However, partnerships are encouraged with on-site contractors and other external organizations that take advantage of mutual interests and capabilities as well as leveraged funding.

Award Amount

The FY15 CIF award guideline is approximately $50K in procurement (including contract labor), and between 0.1 – 1.0 FTE, per award. However, requests outside these guidelines will be considered. This year it is anticipated that Ames will receive approximately $500K and 4.5 FTE for all CIF awards, with roughly 10 awards expected

Award Duration

Successful CIF proposals are awarded for a single year only, and all work is to be completed during FY15. A work plan that requires more than one year may be accepted, but must clearly state those tasks to be completed and covered by this CIF award, and demonstrate significant progress within the award year toward those identified tasks. Work beyond this fiscal year must compete in succeeding years for follow-on funding. Winning an award does not constitute a multi-year commitment to any task.

Management Approval

Proposers must inform their Branch and/or Division managers about their CIF proposals for concurrence on the strategic value, availability of labor resources, and proposal-development support. This step is important to ensure availability of human and facility resources to deliver on the commitment in the time allotted, if selected.

Technical Equipment Requirements and Dependencies

To increase coordination and simplify decision-making about investments in technical equipment, proposals that request to procure technical equipment in excess of $2K must show why that investment is unique and necessary to the proposed effort; proposals should also identify any other known existing projects, tasks or efforts at the Center that depend on this proposed acquisition of technical equipment. If the proposal depends on the use of existing (already purchased) specialized or general-purpose technical equipment that may be in high demand, please specify this dependency, timeframe and duration the equipment is needed.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

All proposers are required to submit a written proposal to the OCCT, and present a 10-minute oral presentation to the FY15 CIF review panel. The deadline for submitting the written proposal and presenting to the review panel follow the CIF Development Schedule below.

Written Proposals

All FY15 CIF proposers are required to submit a proposal (see template) that provides the following information: 1) the objectives of the proposed work; 2) the technical implementation, or details describing how the objectives will be met; 3) a description of how the work to be performed is innovative and enhances the state-of-the-art; 4) a statement of the technical readiness level (TRL) advancement attributed to the work; 5) a list of partners (if any) from academia, industry, other government agencies and/or NASA centers; 6) a list of planned deliverables, including analysis, tests, hardware, software, etc.; and 7) the resources required to complete the work. Once a proposal is submitted, the concept and all submitted information are considered the Intellectual Property of the submitting PI.

Oral Presentations

All FY15 CIF proposers are required to present their concepts to the review panel. Oral presentations will be approximately 10 minutes in duration, and must be accompanied by a 1-page penta chart summarizing the information in the written proposal. Proposers are free to use other material at the oral presentation, but must stay within the time allocation.

Templates and Proposal Submission

Use of the templates is mandatory. Templates for the written proposal and the 1-page penta chart used for the oral presentation, along with electronic submission instructions, are below.

All proposals must be submitted electronically by the stated due date using the 'Submit' button below. To access the submission page you must use a computer connected to the Ames network (or Ames VPN). An automated notification will confirm successful submission of your proposal and pentachart. All proposals must be uploaded to this website by 5:00 PM (Pacific) on August 20, 2014, and the pentachart and other material for the orals must be uploaded by 5:00 PM (Pacific) on September 2, 2014.


Submit PentaChart and Other Material for Orals

RFP Questions & Answers

Questions and answers (Q&A) regarding the FY15 CIF RFP will be posted and updated periodically as new questions are received. Questions can be posted on the website until August 1, 2014.

Q & A

Selection Criteria FY15 CIF

Each award will be judged on its individual merits, financial needs, and potential. CIF proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by a panel comprised of technology experts from across the center. The following set of criteria will be used for evaluation and selection:

Innovation: Does the proposal put forth an innovative concept, idea, or technology development effort to support Center goals or uniquely contribute to otherwise unmet Agency or National needs? What is the new technology idea and why will it succeed now?

Technical Merit: Does the proposal put forth a technically sound development plan?

Effective Resource Planning and Utilization: Does the proposal put forth a realistic and coherent funding plan that is linked to the development plan? Is the proposal team experienced? Is there realism in the stated cost and facilities usage?

Inter-Center Collaboration: 
CIF proposals that leverage the expertise and capabilities at other NASA centers are encouraged, but not required. All inter-center collaborations are on a “no exchange of funds” basis. The roles and responsibilities of each center should be clearly stated, and should not be duplicative, but rather complementary. To facilitate cross-Agency collaboration on CIF concepts, the NASA Concepts for Collaboration website has been developed (see link below). The website allows for the early assessment of similarities among anticipated CIF concepts prior to individual center CIF award final selection. Specifically, this tool allows a potential PI to: 1) share his/her anticipated CIF concept to inform other researchers across the Agency with similar areas of interest who may wish to establish a mutually beneficial partnership; or 2) search for other potential CIF concepts across the Agency that may benefit from his/her particular technical expertise. This site should contain no proprietary data, but only the PI’s contact info, CIF proposal title, a brief description of the CIF concept, and a list of other potential partners. Proposals that include inter-center collaborations will be reviewed and selected by the OCCT using the same criteria as all other proposals. Details of the NASA Concepts for Collaboration website are found at:

Reporting Requirements

Principal Investigators with successful CIF proposals will be required to:

  • Conduct an oral mid-term progress review (often in-lab);
  • Submit a final written (1-2 pages) report;
  • Present their final results at a Centerwide seminar; and
  • Upload their CIF data to the Agency’s Technology Portal (TechPort)

Both the mid-term review and final report must include a resource expenditure report. A template for the final report will be available to the PIs on the CIF website.

CIF Development Schedule and Deadlines

The projected schedule for the FY15 CIF is provided below.

Calendar Year 2014 Activities

Jul 3 Request For Proposals (RFP) issued
Aug 1 Last day to submit questions to the RFP Q&A
Aug 20 Proposals due
Sep 2 1-page penta chart due
Sep 3-5 Proposal oral presentations, target
Sep 17 Notification of awards, target
Oct 1 Release of available award funds
Oct 30 Upload CIF data to NASA Technology Portal


Calendar Year 2015 Activities

Apr 1 – Apr 30 In-lab/office mid-term progress reviews
Oct 16 Final progress reports due
Oct 30 Final center-wide seminar, all CIF15 awardees
Deadline to finalize CIF entry in NASA Technology Portal

Ames CIF Program Contact Information

Questions regarding the Ames CIF Program should be directed to Jill Bauman at jill.bauman@nasa.gov. Harry Partridge is the selecting official for the CIF call, and will provide informal feedback on all CIF proposals after the review.

We hope that you will consider submitting a proposal to the CIF 2015.


Past CIF Awards

To read descriptions of ARC projects funded by the CIF, please click below:

CIF FY 2011
CIF FY 2012
CIF FY 2013
CIF FY 2014


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Page Last Updated: August 28th, 2014
Page Editor: Sonja Caldwell