2018 Call for Projects Questions and Answers

PowerAmerica will post all questions and answers for the 2018 Call for Projects below. If you need to submit a question about the 2018 Call for Projects to the PowerAmerica staff please complete the form found on our 2018 Call for Projects page.

Q: If a Company or University applicant utilizes a Service Center at NC State University as a resource vendor, does that preclude or limit the faculty associated with the Service Center from submitting proposals? Does it impact the applicant as well/instead?

A: No, this will not have an impact provided all other requirements are met for a given applicant.

Q: We would like to submit proposal to build applications using device structures that Power America funded to create last year. This will enable wider commercialization of the last year’s development work. What is the best way to proceed since we will need 1) Specs of the device being developed; 2) some assessment on the progress that the device will indeed be ready for further application development. Essentially, we need collaboration with the last year’s awardee. Please advise how to proceed?

A: All our projects from the previous year are summarized on our website (https://poweramericainstitute.org/member-projects/)  under About/Member Projects. Please contact the project PI directly, to explore collaboration opportunities.

Q: For industry led projects, is it necessary to have collaborative partner from university, or is having a collaborative partner from national lab good enough? 

A: Having a collaborative partner from national lab in lieu of a university partner is acceptable.

Q: Is it mandatory for companies to partner with a University? Per the CFP, “Company-led teams must include a University Partner or an associated University project that provides research supporting the manufacturing goals of the project.”

A: Yes, university partners are required, or (see question above) an industry led project can have a national lab partner in lieu of a university.

Q: Can two projects submitted by two different divisions of a company have the same POC? Can the P.I. for one of the projects act as a consultant for the other?

A: No. The same project lead (or Principal Investigator, to use university terminology) cannot submit for two different projects. The only exception to this rule is that one can submit one additional project as long as it is in Focus Area 5.  Yes, the P.I. for one project can serve as a consultant on another project (provided that project has another individual serving as lead/P.I.).

Q: Can a university submit a proposal for Power America’s call without any partner companies?

A: As stated in the Teaming section of the Call for Projects document at the bottom of page 4, teaming between university and industry is required for Focus Areas 2-4, but is only strongly encouraged (but not required) for Focus Area 5.

Q: For projects using commercially available devices, funding up to $800K for Industry: Does it mean the PowerAmerica share is $800K and industry needs match another $800k so the project scale is up to $1.6M?

A: Yes, as described in the Expected Award Amounts section of the Call for Projects document at the bottom of page 3, the amounts listed throughout theCall for Projects document only represent the PowerAmerica award portion, and do not include the required 1:1 match, so yes in this instance total amount would be $1.6M, half federal funds from PowerAmerica and half cost-share contributed by industry.

Q: There are conflicting pieces of information in the CFP Summary table that need to be clarified. On Page 3, under Expected Award Amounts, it says, “For organizations teaming/participating in multiple proposals: the maximum dollar amount those organizations will be eligible to receive will be limited to the organization specific funding limit for the given sub-topic.” But, On Page 4, under Multiple Applications and Awards, it says, “Only one (1) award will be made to any division/site of any business (whether proposals were submitted as an individual organization or as part of a team).” Which is accurate? Can we participate and be awarded in one proposal as Prime and in one or more proposals as a subcontracted partner?

A: These items are not actually in conflict. Page 3 refers to the total funding ceiling for which a given applicant is eligible. You may participate in multiple teaming arrangements for multiple applications (but only serving as the lead on one). But regardless of whether only one or all of those applications are selected, your organization will only be eligible to receive up to the total award limit for the sub-topic (for example, $800K for industry for most sub-topics). 

Page 4 refers to the subaward itself–that is, the contract. So, to continue with the example from above, if both of the applications in which you participated were selected for funding, you would only receive one subaward, and it would be for the proposal in which you were the lead organization. For any other proposals accepted for PA funding, the lead organization on the team would be responsible for issuing a subaward to you. 

Q: We believe our team’s proposed project would fall under Topic 2.4, Gallium Nitride Power Devices. However, it would deal with vertical GaN development and we see that on Page 7 of the CFP document it says, “PowerAmerica does not have the capacity to fund: …Vertical GaN development (because it is at a low level of technical maturity)”. Does this mean you will not accept applications that deal with vertical GaN for this Call for Projects?

A: With respect to WBG power devices, we fund projects that take technologies that have been proven at high-yields, from small scale production to large volume US manufacturing. Although significant strides have been made in vertical GaN devices, they are still bellow this level of maturity. Thus, per our DOE mission, we will not fund vertical GaN device projects for this year’s CFP or for our rolling call for Open Innovation Fund projects.

Q: To apply for 2.4 Gallium Nitride Power Devices, would a teaming arrangement with University and fabless industry partner need to involve a US GaN power foundry partner in the proposal? Establishing a US GaN power foundry seems to be a separate effort covered in 2.2.

A: Yes, this is correct. A U.S. based GaN foundry must be identified for both topics 2.2. and 2.4.  

Q: For topic 5.2, Short Course Development: (1) Is it 1 day maximum, or can we expand it to 2-3 days?; (2) Can it be offered multiple (2-4) times a year?; (3) Is it possible to include funds to subsidize participant expenses, such as food? What about travel if a participant is not local?; Could it include funding to pre-record videos from experts in the area that teach fundamentals?

A: With the exception of item #3, these parameters are all perfectly acceptable provided the proposal stays within the requirements (funding max, etc.) described in Topic 5.4 in the CFP document. For item #3, we should not subsidize the expenses of participants for travel and food.

Q: The call for proposals indicates that we need to team with an academic. Do we need to team specifically with one of the Power America Faculty listed on the Power America site, or can we team with faculty that have not previously worked with Power America?

A: Not necessary to team with PowerAmerica faculty, or even with a university that is not currently a PA member (although in order to receive funding, that university would have to become a PA member).

Q: In the spec description for Topic 4.3e, what is meant by “two output channels which can drive two LED strings independently”? Is this one driver with two output connectors, or is it two separate DC-DC drivers? The latter might be cost-prohibitive in the market at this low power level.

A: We provide architecture guidance, but we are open to all technically sound and cost effective (within budget) architectures.

Q: We are in preliminary discussions evaluating WBG devices with a start-up company that has a US presence, but is not headquartered in the US. Can we as the lead industry partner propose a PowerAmerica project evaluating their devices for high density power conversion?

A: Yes, if the startup has a US presence (in accordance with our eligibility requirements listed in the Summary table), then they can partner with a company with an established US manufacturing presence.

Q: A company and a university are teaming to submit a proposal under Focus Area 2.1 (foundry). The company will be the prime. Of the $750K max award, what is the maximum amount that can flow down to the university?

A: The Call for Projects document has been updated to better explain how this would work under Topic 2.1. For foundry proposals, the funding cap for university or national lab team members will depend upon the topic under which their project contribution falls. For example, if university or national lab contribution is through device work, then funding levels for Topic 2.3 would apply ($400K). So in that case, industry could expect to receive up to $750K and the university or national lab could expect to receive $400K. 

Q: Does an industry partner need to incorporate a lab/university partner into its proposal OR can the two submit separate but related proposals for a project? Also, can two universities be tied to one industry proposal and receive the full amount each for universities?

A: Each and every proposal team must include an industry partner and a university or national lab partner. Yes, two universities can be tied to one industry proposal and receive up to the total funding cap allowable for each university partners. 

Q: Is the cost share for the education projects one to one?

A: A minimum dollar for dollar match is required for all projects in all Focus Areas including education projects. 

Q: I would like to submit a proposal in Focus Area 5. Are industrial partner engineering time and license donation counted towards matching fund?

A: Provided that the industrial partner can supply a breakdown of rates and justification for cost, labor is allowable for cost-share. For the cost of a license, this would only be allowable if the license will only be used for this particular project. Cost-share allowability is subject to the same rules and cost principles as federal funds.

Q: We would like to participate in Area 5. I want to confirm 1) it is fine if there is no industrial partner 2) Is that PI’s time can be used for matching fund.

A: We can confirm both. Focus Area 5 proposals do not require an industrial partner, though we do recommend it. P.I. time/effort can be used for cost-share/matching.

Q: For topic area 4, can a team involve Industry and two university PIs, where each university PI receives the maximum allowable funding ($400k each)? For the single project team (industry plus two University PIs) should we submit one integrated concept paper, or three individual concept papers?

A: For an industry team with two university PIs, Prof. A and Prof. B, both are eligible to receive the maximum funding in that topic ($800K total). For the single project team (industry plus Prof A and Prof B), a single integrated, comprehensive concept paper is desired.

Q: For Sub-topic 4.3b Open Source Design: Do you have any power rating in mind? Do you want all the voltages to be available at the same time like a PC power supply or one output programmable to either of these voltages? Are their different power/current ratings for each output? Does 4 level mean 4 layers? We plan to use planar embedded transformer in the PCB. What exactly does open source mean?

A: Regarding the first three questions: your design choice should be justified by your market analysis. Yes, “4 level” means 4 layers. Open source means reference drawings available to others.

Q: If a commercial company submits a budget with funds allocated for equipment ($>5k), to whom does the equipment belong at the end of the funding period?

A: Please refer to 10 CFR 600.134 for the definitive policy for equipment purchased under this award. The short answer is that equipment disposition at the end of the project is determined on a case by case basis. For universities in most cases there is an option to continue using the equipment beyond the award period of performance provided the equipment is used for research.

Q: For companies partnering with NC State University, should the company and the NC State P.I. each submit separate full proposals for one project/task?

A: Yes, the company and the NC State P.I. should each submit separate proposals. Please note that if the company and P.I. are teaming for one task/project, as described in the Call for Projects document, then both proposals should use the same SOPO and share the same task number. Responsibilities for the company and the NC State P.I. can be delineated within the shared SOPO document.

Q: For the budget of the topic area 4 using commercially available device, if the University is leading a project with an industry partner (industry requesting $125K budget and $125K match). Does that mean the University can only request $175K budget and providing $175K match? or the University can also request up to $300K and providing $300K match? Should the University and the industry partner use the same eere budget justification form? Should the industry partner be treated as the contractual on the budget justification form?

A: The university can request up to $300K with $300K match. For your reference, this is explained at the top of page 19 in the Call for Projects document. Yes, the university and industry partner should use the same EERE budget form, and industry partner should be listed on the contractual tab as a subrecipient if the university is the lead. Although it is only required for subrecipients to provide a separate EERE budget if they are requesting over $250K in federal funds, it would be helpful in this case to see a separate EERE budget for the industry partner. Otherwise, a detailed budget for the industry partner in some format is needed. 

Q: If we would like to propose a 2-year project, show we fill out the budget for two years or just budget for the first year?

A: We can only accept proposals for 12-months projects, as Budget Period 5 will be our final Budget Period. Also, for all Budget Periods thus far PowerAmerica has asked applicants to only propose 1-year projects. 

Q: I am working with a PI who has been invited to submit a full proposal to this opportunity. As their research administrator, we are to submit on the PI’s behalf. Is this possible to do when we create our own account in InfoReady?

A: You will need to submit the full proposal via InfoReady using the same account the PI used to submit the concept paper. We suggest reaching out to the PI for the login information. InfoReady offers a password retrieval function if that is necessary.

Q: We are a large European company with U.S. R&D and manufacturing facility. However, we have different accounting system (IFRS vs GAAP). For that reason, do we allow to be the lead the project or we have to be subcontractor? Another related question is: is it allowed to change the project lead from a company that was in concept paper to a university in full proposal?

A: Provided your company meets the requirements for having a significant U.S. manufacturing presence, the use of the IFRS accounting system would not disqualify your company from being a team lead. We don’t see any issue with changing the team lead for the full proposal.