Welcome to the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) resource page.

 

A courtesy copy of the FY18 TCF Solicitation can be found here.

 

The pre-recorded FY18 TCF Solicitation Webinar can be found below:

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Slides from the FY18 TCF Solicitation Webinar can be found here.

 

FY18 TCF Questions and Answers (Q&A)

Questions are sorted by subject, and have a number assigned to them for cross-reference, if necessary. Questions may have been edited for clarity or brevity. OTT is not addressing duplicate questions

Q # Date Asked Subject Question Answer
26 01/29/18 Application Process I am not able to find the budget template that is referenced in the FY18 TCF solicitation. Can you please send me a copy of it?

 

The budget template will be available online when the full proposal period opens following eligibility notification, which DOE anticipates making by 5:00 p.m. (MT) on February 23, 2018.
25 01/23/18 Application Process/ Tracking ID We notice that the tracking ID is generated at the time of submitting the concept paper. Yet the tracking number is supposed to be in the body of the pdf of the concept paper. The logistics of this seems problematic. Can you clarify?

 

Please see the applicant webinar, which is available here: https://proposals.inl.gov/Home/TCF_Resources.aspx. Per slide 41, users need to click "save" in order to generate a Tracking ID number and upload documents.
24 01/23/18 Cost Share The DOE answer to question 10 in the Q&A implies money can go to a (corporate) partner through a subcontract, says specifically that CRADA funds cannot flow to a partner, and then also says specifically that TCF projects involving partners are expected to use a CRADA. They further say the partner's SOW for funding cannot be part of a CRADA works scope.

 

In an effort to clear the confusion about if and how funds may flow to a partner the following is offered for clarification: For TCF projects, the default partnership agreement that we expect you to use with a partner is a CRADA. Other types of agreements may be used with the prior approval of OTT. It is possible to have more than one agreement with a single partner. Each agreement must cover different work scopes or different aspects of the work contemplated. For work scope that is covered by a CRADA, by law none of those TCF funds can flow to the partner. If a contract is used as a partnership vehicle, TCF funds applied to the contract could flow to the partner.
23 01/22/18 Multiple Partners/ Multiple CRADAs I have a question regarding the CRADA for Topic 2 application. We would like to have multiple cost share partners as part of our submission, and I have noticed that last year there were several awards that were in this situation. We would like to know if it would be acceptable to have several CRADA’s negotiated that reference they are for the same proposal. It would make negotiation and statement of work much easier to define because once corrections and modifications are made they wouldn’t have to be approved by all participants.

 

Yes, it would be acceptable to have multiple CRADAs with multiple partners for a single project.
22 01/19/18 Application Process/ Concept Paper Attachment Is there a way to attach an industry letter of support to the concept paper?

 

No. As stated on page 20 of the Solicitation, eligible applicants may attach an appendix to their full proposal, which may include letters of support (and team member resumes). Please see the response to Q#13 about the purpose of the Concept Paper.
21 01/19/18 Eligibility/IP In Q4 of the Q&A you have provided details on patent eligibility. Are there similar requirements for other types of Intellectual Property, such as software copyrights?

 

Yes. In cases where the applicant's IP is subject to copyright, the applicant will need to have received DOE's approval to assert copyright. Please see the response to Q#18 for information about the timing of the requirement.
20 01/17/18 Application Process/ Concept Paper Narrative/ Character Limit The solicitation states that the concept paper narrative must not exceed 5,000 characters. Are we able to include figures in addition to text in the concept paper narrative?

 

No, applicants may not include addition information beyond the 5,000 character limit. Please see the response to Q#13 about narrative’s intent.
19 01/17/18 Eligibility/IP In a since-completed DOE project, we (a national lab) collaborated with an industrial partner to guide development of a technology. The partner holds all IP on the current version of this technology. If funded, our TCF collaboration would improve and commercialize the technology, generating new jointly held IP. Is a technology eligible for Topic 2 of the 2018 TCF if its existing IP is held entirely by the industrial partner, rather than by the national lab?

 

No. Per page 9 of the FY18 Solicitation, eligible projects for Topics 1 and 2 must involve currently existing laboratory technology or intellectual property.
18 01/17/18 Eligibility/Patents & Disclosures From your FAQs (Q#4), I get "For a Topic 1 proposal, an IDR must have been filed and a patent application submitted for at least a provisional patent. For a Topic 2, there must be a non-provisional patent application filed." Please clarify at which stage the IP requirements have to be met; is it with submission of concept paper, or with submission of full proposal, or before any awarded funds start flowing?

 

The IP requirements may be met at either the Concept Paper or Full Proposal stage, but they must be met by the time the project is funded.
17 01/17/18 Cost Share For Topic 1 submissions, company partnership is not required. However, the guidelines state that all projects must have at least 50% non-federal cost share. Can you explain how to get cost share without company partnership?

 

In the absence of a partnership with a private entity, the sponsoring DOE Facility would be responsible for proving the 50% non-federal cost share, likely from its royalty fund.
16 01/16/18 Full Proposal/ Eligibility Decision Can you tell us the time frame of which we will receive notice of approval for concept papers (approved for full proposal)?

 

As stated on page 14 of the Solicitation, "DOE anticipates making eligibility notifications by 5:00 p.m. (MT) on February 23, 2018.".
15 01/16/18 Application Process/ Concept Paper/ Discrepancy Between Solicitation and INL Application Portal The The TCF solicitation section on concept papers (page 18) asks for a 300 word or less “Brief Overview”. Yet, the INL concept paper portal submission page only asks for a 500 character Brief Project Description, which is not referenced in the solicitation. Does the “Brief Project Description” replace the “Brief Overview” requirement?

 

OTT apologizes for its error here. The information Solicitation stands. INL has updated the portal with the term “Brief Overview.” in lieu of “Brief Project Description.” INL also changed the limit to approximately 300 words (2,000 characters). OTT contacted prospective applicants who had started a Concept Paper by 1:30 p.m. ET on January 17 to advise them directly that they may add to their Brief Overviews, if they so desire.
14 01/12/18 Application Process/ Delegates I am helping a Principal Investigator (PI) with a TCF Concept Paper and I had a question about the submission process. Is the PI required to submit his/her own concept paper, or can I submit on their behalf? Is their a proxy capability in the system?

 

Lab employees may upload applications on behalf of a PI. There is a delegate capacity.
13 01/10/18 Concept Paper Narrative/Confidential or Propriety Information The concept paper asks for a project narrative that may be used for public release by the DOE. This indicates that we should not add any technical information that may be considered proprietary? However, might the lack of technical details hurt in the evaluation process?

 

As a reminder, the purpose of the Concept Paper is to provide DOE with information to assess whether the proposed project fits within one of the designated Mission Areas. It will not be used to make determinations on the technical merit of the proposed project. Also, as indicated in the Solicitation, DOE may use information from the Concept Paper narrative for selected projects only. If you think it is important to include proprietary or confidential information in your Concept Paper narrative to justify a Mission Area you may do so. Please mark it as such: “May contain trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential and exempt from public disclosure.”
12 01/04/18 Patents The answer to Q#4 states, "For a Topic 2, there must be a non-provisional patent application filed." As part of our Patent Strategy we often file a PCT Patent Application in lieu of a US Patent Application to delay our Nationalization decision for up to 30+ months, giving us more time to find a Licensee for our "At- Risk" patent filings. When Nationalization, and thus prosecution commences in the PCT, we often nationalize only in the US unless we have a Licensee willing to pay for foreign patent prosecutions. Since a PCT Application does not get prosecuted until you enter the National Phase, for purposes of TCF, are you willing to classify a PCT Patent Application as a "non-provisional patent application"?

 

A PCT patent application which designates the US should be considered equivalent as a US non-provisional application. Both applications have requirements to fully describe the invention and are reviewed by patent authorities, USPTO or an authorized International Searching Authority (ISA).
11 01/04/18 Application Process Is there a template we should use for writing the Concept Paper narrative?

 

No, there is no template to download and fill in. As stated on page 19 of the FY18 Solicitation, the document must contain the following information:

    i. Project Title

   ii. Tracking ID #

  iii. DOE Facilities(s) and proposed Partner(s), if applicable

  iv. A brief Project Narrative not to exceed 5,000 characters (including spaces and punctuation), which DOE may use for public release (selected projects only)

The document must be saved as a PDF and conform to this naming convention: 2018 TCF Concept Paper "Tracking ID #".pdf

10 01/04/18 Cost Share If warranted by the required lab/partner levels of effort, is it acceptable to direct a portion of DOE funds to the commercialization partner via a subcontract? For example, would the following hypothetical total project cost split be acceptable: 50% in-kind cost share by partner; 15% DOE funds to partner; 35% DOE funds to Lab?

 

Yes, the concept is acceptable. There are the following caveats however. As a reminder, you cannot flow CRADA funds to a partner, so the works scope that the partner would accomplish cannot be a part of a CRADA work scope. We acknowledge your question specifically said a subcontract. The solicitation, in Section II.B states that TCF projects involving partners are expected to use a CRADA. If there is a desire to use a different partnership mechanism, you must secure permission from OTT ahead of time.
9 01/03/18 Primary & Secondary Technology Areas/Partners

In the webinar, it says that Concept Papers will be reviewed in their Primary and Secondary Technology Areas. Let's say it is approved for submission because of the Secondary Technical Area. The webinar then explains that Merit Review is done only for the Primary Area. Shouldn't the Merit Review be for the selected area if the submission is not for the Primary Area?

 

 

 

If you have multiple partners for a proposal, and the partners are in different Technical Areas, and you are selected for say your Secondary Area. Does this mean that one of your partners can no longer participate?

 

If an applicant selects an optional Secondary Technology Area - and the Concept Paper passes the mission area relevance review only in that Secondary Area, OTT will only accept a Full Proposal in that Technology Area. For example, let's say XYZ project submits a Concept Paper with a Primary Technology Area of Energy Storage (OE-ES), and a Secondary Technology Area of Vehicle Technologies (EE-VTO). XYZ project's Concept Paper is reviewed for mission area relevance in OE-ES and EE-VTO. Let's say the determination from OE-ES is that XYZ project is not relevant to its mission area, and EE-VTO determines that the project is relevant to its mission area. OTT would then inform the applicant that it is eligible to submit a Full Application under the EE-VTO Technology Area. EE-VTO is XYZ project's new Primary Technology Area, and the Full Proposal will be independently merit reviewed by subject matter experts in Vehicle Technologies. NB: If an applicant selects only a Primary Technology Area, and fails that mission area relevance review, OTT will not accept a Full Proposal for that project. If an applicant selects Primary and Secondary Technology Areas and passes both mission area relevance reviews, the Full Proposal will be independently merit reviewed only in the Primary Area.

 

No. The Primary and Secondary Technology Areas relate to the project and its technology - not to its partners.

8 01/02/18 Eligibility We have an employee who is seeking approval for an outside activity to form a company to commercialize a lab technology he helped develop. If the lab approves the outside activity and the employee's company secures a license (with local DOE approval), would the technology be eligible for TCF funding?

 

 

Would Topic 1 be an option, or are licensed technologies limited to Topic 2?

 

Does it make a difference if the technology is licensed exclusively, non-exclusively, or exclusively in a field of use that leaves other fields of use available for licensing?

 

If the lab approves the outside activity and the employee's company secures a license (with local DOE approval), the technology would be eligible for TCF funding.

TCF Proposals must be submitted by DOE facilities. Therefore, current lab employees must submit Concept Papers and Full Proposals, and must act as PIs. If the employee seeking to engage in outside activity remains a current staff member at the lab, he may submit the Concept Paper/Full Proposal, and act as the PI. Otherwise, another current lab employee must submit Concept Paper/Full Proposal, and act as PI. As referenced in the answer to Q#7, Concept Paper/Full Proposals may be submitted by lab employees other than the PIs. 

           

Topic 1 would be an option. If the lab wanted to pursue Topic 2, it would still need to find a partner. A license is not considered to be a partnership agreement under the TCF.

 

 No. Any of these scenarios would be appropriate for Topic 1. They would also be appropriate for Topic 2 assuming the presence of a commercial partner. In any case, a CRADA is the default partnership agreement, and non-federal matching funds are required.

7 01/02/18 Application Process Is there a Word template of the Concept Paper application? Rather that have PIs fill out and submit their own Concept Papers, the lab wants a single POC to upload and submit all of the labs's TCF Concept Papers. A Word Template would make that easier.

 

No. As stated on page 1 of the FY18 Solicitation, the online application portal at INL is the only means of submission. Labs may devise their own systems to collect Concept Paper or Full Proposal data in order to facilitate upload and submission by a single lab POC. Please keep the deadline in mind, however. As stated in the applicant webinar, "...unless you are in the system at 7:59 pm MT and it crashes, there will be no extensions." In the unlikely event of a system crash at 7:59 pm MT, OTT would only consider a possible extension for the specific Concept Paper of Full Application being submitted at 7:59 pm MT.
6 12/21/17 Amount of FY18 TCF Budget by Program Office Is a TCF budget breakdown available by funding office and program?

 

No. As stated in the Solicitation, "future amounts are subject to congressional appropriations," OTT will make available a budget breakdown by Program Office as soon as practical after there is a final FY18 appropriations bill - likely 6-8 weeks later. As of December 21, 2017, there is a continuing resolution in place until January 19, 2018.
5 12/21/17 Cost Share Can historic investment from an industry participant be counted towards cost share in Topic 2 proposals?

 

No. As stated in Appendix B of the Solicitation, which discusses cost share/matching funds, "...DOE generally does not allow pre-award costs prior to the signing of the Selection Statement by the DOE Selection Official." Cost share contributions must be made during the life of the TCF project.
4 12/19/17 Eligibility/Patents and Disclosures Do we need to have a patent issued or filed to be eligible to apply for the fund? If we have an invention disclosure filed, are we eligible to submit a proposal?

 

The purpose of the TCF is to support commercialization of DOE facility energy technologies. It is highly unlikely that a private company will move to license a technology from a facility without the DOE facility having IP rights secured. Therefore, all projects need to have some form of Intellectual Property protection in place. For a Topic 1 proposal, an IDR must have been filed and a patent application submitted for at least a provisional patent. For a Topic 2, there must be a non-provisional patent application filed.
3 12/19/17 Applicant discussions with DOE Program Managers about prospective TCF proposals Would it be appropriate to talk with DOE Program Managers about TCF concepts to see if they are considered of interest to HQ? Worth putting together a proposal? Evaluating which Program Office(s) and Technology Area(s) to submit to?

 

There is no prohibition on talking with HQ Program Managers about a prospective TCF proposal. There are some caveats to be considered if you choose to do so. IF the discussion were to involve protected information, the HQ Program Manager should be clearly informed of the protected information and reminded of the rules for protecting such information. PI's are reminded that the TCF is not necessarily an extension of current program efforts, but rather is designed to pick up where programmatic efforts have left off in developing technologies for commercialization. HQ Program Managers are not a part of the decision making process and may not be aware of all of the considerations that go into assessing the merits of a TCF proposal. Please be reminded that the Concept Paper is not being reviewed to determine whether there is programmatic interest or merit in a proposal. It is being used to determine whether the proposal is appropriate to the funding source that would be used to fund the proposal if selected.
2 12/19/17 Carbon capture utilization In the Solicitation, FE’s Technology Area “carbon capture utilization” includes a description of “carbon capture” only— not “CO2 utilization”. Does this mean the research on “CO2 conversion to valuable products” is not suitable? Research on CO2 utilization, including “CO2 conversion to valuable products,” is eligible for TCF funding.
1 12/15/17 Partners Can a TCF topic II industrial partner be a Canadian company, with a U.S. affiliate? There is no prohibition against having a partnership with a foreign company in the TCF solicitation and OTT does not have a policy in this area. Any proposed TCF partnership with a foreign entity is required to comply with all of the statutes, policies and practices currently in place at DOE for doing business with a foreign entity.