81 FR 33204 - Announcement of Requirements and Registration for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) Prize Competition

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 101 (May 25, 2016)

Page Range33204-33207
FR Document2016-12265

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is announcing the I-FAST prize competition (the ``I-FAST Competition'' or the ``Competition'') to develop and implement the Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) Pilot Program. USDA NIFA will partner with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) to provide entrepreneurship training to USDA NIFA grantees under this I-FAST pilot program. The goals are to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge from NIFA supported academic research. Selected USDA NIFA I-FAST project teams will have the opportunity to concurrently participate in the educational programs with NSF I-Corps awardees. Over a period of six months the USDA NIFA supported teams in the I-FAST program will learn what it will take to achieve an economic impact with their particular innovation. The final goal of the I-FAST Competition is to facilitate technology transfer of innovations that can make an impact in the marketplace and the global economy.

Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33204-33207]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12265]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Announcement of Requirements and Registration for U.S. Department 
of Agriculture (USDA) Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and 
Technology (I-FAST) Prize Competition

    Authority:  15 U.S.C. 3719.

AGENCY: National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is 
announcing the I-FAST prize competition (the ``I-FAST Competition'' or 
the ``Competition'') to develop and implement the Innovations in Food 
and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) Pilot Program. USDA 
NIFA will partner with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation 
Corps (I-Corps) to provide entrepreneurship training to USDA NIFA 
grantees under this I-FAST pilot program. The goals are to identify 
valuable product opportunities that can emerge from NIFA supported 
academic research. Selected USDA NIFA I-FAST project teams will have 
the opportunity to concurrently participate in the educational programs 
with NSF I-Corps awardees. Over a period of six months the USDA NIFA 
supported teams in the I-FAST program will learn what it will take to 
achieve an economic impact with their particular innovation. The final 
goal of the I-FAST Competition is to facilitate technology transfer of 
innovations that can make an impact in the marketplace and the global 
economy.

DATES: Competition Submission Period--Pre-Application Phase: May 26, 
2016 to July 22, 2016.
    Evaluation and Judging--Pre-Application Phase: July 25, 2016 to 
July 29, 2016.
    Competition Submission Period--Full Application Phase: August 8, 
2016 to September 2, 2016.
    Evaluation and Judging--Full Application Phase: September 5, 2016 
to September 9, 2016.
    Verification of Winners: September 16, 2016.
    Announcement of Winner(s): September 23, 2016.
    NSF I-Corps Training for Winner(s): Various dates in October and 
November 2016. Winning team(s) will need to be available to travel to 
and attend the Washington DC NSF I-Corps training sessions in October 
and November 2016. The Pre-Application Phase Competition Submission 
Period begins May 26, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. ET and ends July 22, 2016 at 
12:00 a.m. ET. USDA NIFA's receiving computer set to Eastern Time is 
the official time keeping device for the Competition.
    The Full-Application Phase Competition Submission Period begins 
August 8, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. ET and ends September 2, 2016 at 12:00 
a.m. ET. USDA NIFA's receiving computer set to Eastern Time is the 
official time keeping device for the Competition.
    Competition dates are subject to change. Entries submitted before 
or after the Competition Submission Period will not be reviewed or 
considered for award. For more details please visit the 
www.challenge.gov Web site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Changes or updates to the Competition 
rules will be posted and can be viewed at www.nifa.usda.gov. Questions 
about the Competition can be directed to Scott Dockum at 
[email protected], or phone 202-720-6346.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Subject of Challenge Competition

    The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) mission 
is to invest in and advance agricultural research, education, and 
extension to solve societal challenges. As part of this mission NIFA is 
charged with providing grant funding for research, education, and 
extension that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-
state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture. A 
majority of NIFA grant funding is provided to academic institutions to 
focus on developing research in the areas of farm efficiency and 
profitability, ranching, renewable energy, forestry (both urban and 
agroforestry), aquaculture, rural communities and entrepreneurship, 
human nutrition, food safety, biotechnology, and conventional breeding.
    USDA NIFA will partner with the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) who 
will provide an Entrepreneurial Immersion course and training to USDA 
NIFA grantees through this I-FAST Competition. The goals of this 
Competition are to spur translation of fundamental research to the 
market place, to encourage collaboration between academia and industry, 
and to train NIFA-funded faculty, students and other researchers to 
understand innovation and entrepreneurship.
    The purpose of the I-FAST Competition is to identify NIFA-funded 
research teams who will receive additional support, in the form of 
mentoring, training and funding, to accelerate the translation of 
knowledge derived from fundamental research into emerging products and 
services that can attract subsequent third-party funding. NIFA-funded 
research teams will be required to participate in Entrepreneurial 
Immersion course provided by the NSF I-Corps program. Each team will 
that receives an I-FAST award is required to participate in the 
following NSF I-CORP activities: (1) Attendance by the entire team at 
an on-site three-day NSF I-CORP Entrepreneurial Immersion course; (2) 
Participation in five Webinars following the completion of the course; 
(3) Complete approximately 15 hours of prep per week for at least five 
weeks; (4) Attend two days of demonstrations at the end of the 
training; (5) Teams are expected to engage in at least 100 contacts 
with potential customers during the seven week period that I-Corps 
training takes place and (6) Provide a 5 page summary report back to 
USDA NIFA on the outcome of the training and milestones to be 
established for commercialization. The

[[Page 33205]]

major focus of I-FAST is for the selected teams (an I-FAST team 
includes the Principal Investigator, the Entrepreneurial Lead, and the 
Mentor) to participate in an Entrepreneurial Immersion course provided 
by the NSF I-Corps program. The NSF I-Corps is a program specifically 
designed to broaden the impact of select, basic-research projects by 
preparing scientists and engineers to focus beyond the laboratory. 
Leveraging experience and guidance from established entrepreneurs and a 
targeted curriculum within the NSF I-Corp program, USDA I-FAST teams 
will learn to identify valuable product opportunities that can emerge 
from USDA NIFA supported academic research. The I-FAST Competition will 
help create a stronger national ecosystem for innovation that couples 
scientific discovery with technology development to address 
agricultural and societal needs.

Eligibility Rules for Participating in the Competition

    The I-FAST Competition is open to teams (``Teams'' or 
``Participants'') that are made up of individuals from academic/
university institutions that have received a prior award from NIFA (in 
a scientific or engineering field relevant to the proposed innovation) 
that is currently active or that has been active within five years from 
the date of the I-FAST Team's proposal submission. The lineage of the 
prior award extends to the PI, Co-PIs, Senior Personnel, Post Docs, 
Professional Staff or others who were supported under the NIFA award. 
The prior award could range from a modest single-investigator award to 
a large, distributed center and also includes awards involving 
students.
    To be eligible to win a prize under the Competition, Teams:
    (1) Shall have registered to participate in the Competition under 
the rules;
    (2) Shall have complied with all the requirements of the 
Competition rules;
    (3) May not include a Federal entity or Federal employee acting 
within the scope of their employment; and
    (4) In the case of a private entity Team member, the member shall 
be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the 
United States. In the case of an individual Team member, shall be a 
citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
    Makeup of I-FAST Competition Teams: Each Team shall consist of 
three members:
    (1) Entrepreneurial Lead (EL).
    (2) I-FAST Team Mentor.
    (3) Principal Investigator (PI).
    I-FAST teams are made up of individuals from an academic/university 
institution except for the Mentor who may reside with an outside 
organization as described below.
    The Entrepreneurial Lead (EL) could be a postdoctoral scholar, 
graduate or other student with relevant knowledge of the technology 
located at the academic/university institution and a deep commitment to 
investigate the commercial landscape surrounding the innovation. The 
Entrepreneurial Lead should also be capable and have the will to 
support the transition of the technology, should the I-FAST Teams 
project demonstrate the potential for commercial viability. The EL will 
be responsible for: (1) Developing the team to include the mentor and 
PI, (2) leading the development of the pre-application and full 
application, (3) starting and completing the training activities in the 
Entrepreneurial Immersion course provided by the NSF I-Corps program, 
(4) communicating and coordinating with team members to achieve the 
goal of commercialization, (5) developing and monitoring team activity 
milestones from the Entrepreneurial Immersion course, (6) ensuring the 
team milestones are completed on time and (7) ensuring the team is in 
communication with the NIFA I-FAST Competition Director and the NSF I-
Corps Program Director as needed.
    The I-FAST Teams Mentor will typically be an experienced or 
emerging entrepreneur with proximity to the Academic/University 
Institution and have experience in transitioning technology out of 
Academic labs. The EL will need to identify a Mentor that has business 
expertise in the proposed technology sector and has entrepreneurial 
experience. A Mentor will be someone with the right ``rolodex'' of 
contacts in the technology area of commercialization which are critical 
for ``getting the technology out of the lab''. The EL of the team 
should contact their University Technology Transfer Office for ideas of 
potential Mentors. The I-FAST Teams Mentor will be responsible for 
guiding the team forward using existing entrepreneurial experience and 
tracking the team's commercialization progress through regular 
communication with the EL, PI and the NIFA I-FAST competition director 
and the NSF I-Corps Program Director as needed.
    The Principal Investigator (PI) will have in-depth knowledge of the 
technology developed under the earlier USDA NIFA Grant and will be 
responsible for: (1) Coordinating with the university on the transfer 
of prize funds from NIFA if the team is selected, (2) tracking of the 
prize funding for team activities, (3) reporting to NIFA on 
disbursements and obligations of the prize funding, (4) guiding the EL 
and Mentor on technical aspects of the technology, (5) communicating as 
needed with the NIFA I-FAST Competition Director and the NSF I-Corps 
Program Director, (6) ensuring the EL meets the required milestones for 
the NSF I-CORP Course and (7) participating as a team member. The 
Principle Investigator that received the earlier NIFA grant for the 
technology is allowed to participate on the team, but cannot be the 
Entrepreneurial Lead.

Amount of the Prize

    The USDA NIFA I-FAST Competition Prize Purse will be a maximum of 
$200,000, which will be divided to provide $50,000 each to a maximum of 
four (4) Teams. Prize Purse funds are required to be used by winning 
Teams to fully participate in the NSF I-Corps program curriculum. USDA 
NIFA reserves the right to award less than the maximum number of 
available prizes.

Payment of the Prize

    Prizes awarded under this Competition will be paid by electronic 
funds transfer to the academic/university institution the Team(s) 
represent(s). Prize winners will be required to complete the required 
financial documents and forms to be supplied by NIFA to set up the 
electronic transfer. All Federal, state and local taxes are the sole 
responsibility of the winner(s).

Submission Process for Participants

    The Competition will have a two-phase selection process. Teams 
initially will submit a pre-application. From the pre-applications, 
USDA NIFA will select Teams that will be invited to submit full 
applications. From the full applications, USDA NIFA will select the 
winning Team(s).
    Participants will register for the Competition and will submit the 
pre-application to the Competition via www.challenge.gov. Teams can 
enter the contest by submitting the pre-application through the ``Enter 
a Submission'' function on Challenge.gov, and then send the pre-
application, with your name and contact info, to [email protected]. 
The pre-application shall contain the following information:
    Prepare a two-page Executive Summary that describes the following:
    (1) Composition of the Team and roles (EL, PI, Mentor) of the 
members proposing to undertake the commercialization feasibility 
research.

[[Page 33206]]

    (2) Relevant current/previous NIFA awards.
    (3) Brief description of the potential commercial impact.
    (4) Brief description of the current commercialization plan.
    Teams that are selected to submit a full application will provide 
the full application via challenge.gov through the ``Enter a 
Submission'' function, and then send the application with your name and 
contact info, to [email protected]. The full application shall 
include the following project description information:

1. I-Corps Team (one page limit)

    a. Briefly describe the I-Corps team and provide rationale for its 
formation, focusing on members' entrepreneurial expertise and relevance 
to the innovation effort, and members' experience in collaborating on 
previous projects.

2. Lineage of the Proposed Innovation (one page limit)

    a. Provide a table of previous awards with managing program officer 
(if applicable) identified.
    b. Briefly describe how this research has led the Team to believe 
that a commercial opportunity exists for the effort moving forward.

3. Description of the Potential Commercial Impact (two page limit)

    a. Provide a brief profile of a typical customer of the proposed 
innovation.
    b. Describe the customer need that you believe will be met by the 
proposed innovation.
    c. Describe how the customer currently meets those needs.
    d. Your approach--What is the proposed innovation? How does it 
relate to the fundamental research already conducted under previous 
award(s)?
    e. How much do you think a customer would pay for your solution?

4. Brief description of the project plan (one page limit)

    a. Current Status--In what stage is the development: proof-of-
principle, proof-of-concept, prototype (alpha, beta), etc. . . .
    b. Provide a brief description of the proof-of-concept or 
technology demonstration that will be provided at the end of the 
project.
    The total page limit for the project description full application 
is five (5) pages.
    From the Teams submitting full applications, a maximum of four 
Teams will be selected as winners to enter into the I-FAST Program.

Judging

    The information on the Competition will be provided via 
www.challenges.gov.
    USDA NIFA will screen all entries for eligibility and completeness. 
Entries from Teams that do not meet the eligibility requirements and/or 
that fail to include required submission elements will not be evaluated 
or considered for award. Eligible and complete entries will be judged 
by a fair and impartial panel of individuals from USDA NIFA and NSF 
(the ``Judging Panel'').
    Pre-Application Evaluation: The Judging Panel will evaluate the 
pre-application to determine the following:
    (1) Did the technology proposed receive past NIFA funding?
    (2) Does the team have the required team members and are the roles 
of each team member clearly described?
    (3) Does the commercialization plan provide a good understanding of 
the team's knowledge of the current state of the art and how the 
technology could enter into a potential market?
    (4) Were the page limits met?
    Full-Application Evaluation: The Judging Panel will evaluate the 
Full-application to determine the following and approximately equal 
consideration will be given to each criterion except for item (3), 
which will receive twice the value of any of the other items:
    1. I-Corps Team: Does the application clearly describe: The I-Corps 
team, the rationale for the team's formation, members' entrepreneurial 
expertise and relevance to the innovation effort, and members' 
experience in collaborating on previous projects?
    2. Lineage of the Proposed Innovation: Does the application provide 
a table of previous awards with a managing program officer (if 
applicable) identified? Does the application clearly describe how this 
research has led the Team to believe that a commercial opportunity 
exists for the effort moving forward?
    3. Description of the Potential Commercial Impact: Does the 
application clearly describe the profile of a typical customer of the 
proposed innovation? Does the application describe the customer needs 
to be met by the proposed innovation? Does the application describe how 
the customer currently meets those needs? Does the application clearly 
describe the proposed innovation and how it relates to the fundamental 
research already conducted under previous award(s)? Does the 
application describe how much a customer would pay for the solution?
    4. Project plan: Does the project plan clearly describe the current 
status including the stage of development? Does the application provide 
a description of the proof-of-concept or technology demonstration that 
will be provided at the end of the project?
    5. Page Limits: Did the application meet the required page limits?

Additional Rules and Conditions

A. General Conditions

    By entering the Competition, each Team guarantees that its entry 
complies with all applicable Federal and state laws and regulations.
    Each Team warrants that its entry is free of viruses, spyware, 
malware, and any other malicious, harmful, or destructive device. Teams 
submitting entries containing any such device will be held liable and 
may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
    Entries containing any matter which, in the sole discretion of USDA 
NIFA, is indecent, defamatory, in obvious bad taste, which demonstrates 
a lack of respect for public morals or conduct, which promotes 
discrimination in any form, which shows unlawful acts being performed, 
which is slanderous or libelous, or which adversely affects the 
reputations of USDA NIFA or NSF will not be accepted. If USDA NIFA, in 
its sole discretion, finds any entry to be unacceptable then such entry 
shall be deemed disqualified and will not be evaluated or considered 
for award.
    The winning Team(s) must comply with all applicable laws and 
regulations regarding Prize Purse receipt and disbursement.
    USDA NIFA's failure to enforce any term of any applicable rule or 
condition shall not constitute a waiver of that term.

B. Entry Conditions, Release & Liability

    By entering the Competition, each Team agrees to:
    (1) Comply with and be bound by all applicable rules and 
conditions, and the decisions of USDA NIFA, which are binding and final 
in all matters relating to this Competition.
    (2) Release and hold harmless USDA NIFA and NSF and all their 
respective past and present officers, directors, employees, agents, and 
representatives (collectively the ``Released Parties'') from and 
against any and all claims, expenses, and liability arising out of or 
relating to the Team's entry or participating in the Competition and/or 
the Team's acceptance, use, or misuse of the Prize Purse or 
recognition. Provided, however, that Participants are not required to 
waive claims arising out of

[[Page 33207]]

the unauthorized use or disclosure by USDA NIFA or NSF of the 
intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential business 
information of the Participant.
    The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) Any incorrect or 
inaccurate information, whether caused by Teams, printing errors, or by 
any of the equipment or programming associated with or used in the 
Competition; (2) technical failures of any kind, including, but not 
limited to, malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone 
lines or network hardware or software; (3) unauthorized human 
intervention in any part of the entry process for the Competition; (4) 
technical or human error that may occur in the administration of the 
Competition or the processing of entries; or (5) any injury or damage 
to persons or property that may be caused, directly or indirectly, in 
whole or in part, from Team's participation in the Competition or 
receipt or use or misuse of the Prize Purse. If for any reason a Team's 
entry is confirmed to have been deleted erroneously, lost, or otherwise 
destroyed or corrupted, Team's sole remedy is to submit another entry 
in the Competition.

C. Termination and Disqualification

    USDA NIFA reserves the authority to cancel, suspend, and/or modify 
the Competition, or any part of it, if any fraud, technical failures, 
or any other factor beyond USDA NIFA's reasonable control impairs the 
integrity or proper functioning of the Competition, as determined by 
USDA NIFA in its sole discretion.
    USDA NIFA reserves the right to disqualify any Team it believes to 
be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Competition 
or to be acting in violation of any applicable rule or condition.
    Any attempt by any person to undermine the legitimate operation of 
the Competition may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, 
should such an attempt be made, USDA NIFA reserves the authority to 
seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by 
law.

D. Verification of Potential Winner(s)

    All potential Competition winners are subject to verification by 
USDA NIFA whose decisions are final and binding in all matters related 
to the Competition.
    Potential winner(s) must continue to comply with all terms and 
conditions of the Competition rules, and winning is contingent upon 
fulfilling all requirements. The potential winner(s) will be notified 
by email and/or telephone. If a potential winner cannot be contacted, 
or if the notification is returned as undeliverable, the potential 
winner forfeits. In the event that a potential winner, or an announced 
winner, is found to be ineligible or is disqualified for any reason, 
USDA NIFA may make award, instead, to the next runner up, as previously 
determined by the Judging Panel.
    Prior to awarding the Prize Purse, USDA NIFA will verify that the 
potential winner(s) is/are not suspended, debarred, or otherwise 
excluded from doing business with the U.S. Federal Government. 
Suspended, debarred, or otherwise excluded parties will not be eligible 
to win the Competition.

E. Intellectual Property

    By entering the Competition, each Team warrants that it is the 
author and/or authorized owner of its entry, and that the entry is 
wholly original with the Team (or is an improved version of an existing 
project plan the Team is legally authorized to enter into the 
Competition), and that the submitted entry does not infringe on any 
copyright, patent, or any other rights of any third party. Each Team 
agrees to hold the Released Parties harmless for any infringement of 
copyright, trademark, patent, and/or other real or intellectual 
property right that may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or 
in part, from Team's participation in the Competition.
    All legal rights in any materials produced or submitted in entering 
the Competition are retained by the Team and/or the legal holder of 
those rights. Entry into the Competition constitutes express 
authorization for USDA NIFA, NSF, and the Judging Panel to review and 
analyze any and all aspects of submitted entries, including any trade 
secret or proprietary information contained in or evident from review 
of the submitted entries.

F. Privacy & Disclosure Under FOIA

    Personal and contact information is not collected for commercial or 
marketing purposes. Information submitted throughout the Competition 
will be used only to communicate with Teams regarding entries and/or 
the Competition.
    Teams' entries to the Competition may be subject to disclosure 
under the Freedom of Information Act (``FOIA''). If a Team believes 
that all or part of its Competition entry is protected from release 
under FOIA (e.g., if the information falls under FOIA exemption #4 for 
``trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a 
person [that is] privileged or confidential'') the Team will be 
responsible for clearly marking the page(s)/section(s) of information 
it believes are protected.

    Done at Washington, DC, this 18th day of May, 2016.
Kim L. Hicks,
Branch Chief, Grants and Agreements Management Branch, USDA, ARS, FMAD.
[FR Doc. 2016-12265 Filed 5-24-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3410-22-P


81_FR_33305
Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionNotices
ActionNotice.
DatesCompetition Submission Period--Pre-Application Phase: May 26, 2016 to July 22, 2016.
ContactChanges or updates to the Competition rules will be posted and can be viewed at www.nifa.usda.gov. Questions about the Competition can be directed to Scott Dockum at [email protected], or phone 202-720-6346.
FR Citation81 FR 33204 

2019 Federal Register | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy
USC | CFR | eCFR