RFP and Application

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Implementing Agreement to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the State of South Carolina on Bilateral Cooperation in Industrial and Technological Research and Development

Request for Proposals

Introduction

This Request for Proposals (RFP) is the first call for proposals initiated within the framework of the Collaborative Industry Research and Development Program (Program) envisioned in the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the State of South Carolina on Bilateral Cooperation in Industrial and Technological Research and Development, which was signed on 15 April 2016 (the Agreement). This RFP will be executed by the Designated Cooperating Authorities: Enterprise Estonia (EAS) and the Global Alliance for South Carolina (GASC), respectively.

This RFP provides opportunities for conducting joint Defined Field Research and Development (R&D) projects between companies from Estonia and South Carolina. The projects awarded through the Program will be funded through funding mechanisms accessible already to  the Parties through their Designated Cooperating Authorities respectively, in accordance with subsection 2 of Article I of the Agreement, and may be leveraged by other investments consistent with the policies, laws and procedures of each  state.

The Designated Cooperating Authorities expect companies to seek collaboration partners independently, but will assist companies in identifying relevant  partners.

Defined Field Research and Development

The main objective for this RFP is to stimulate “Defined Field R&D cooperation” and “exploitation of the results from Defined Field R&D projects,” as defined in the Agreement, leading to commercialization in the global market.

Within this scope, eligible Defined Field R&D projects for project proposals will  include:

  1. The horizontal application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), defined by the use of ICT in:
    1. Industry (automation and robotics),
    2. Cybersecurity,
    3. Software
  1. Health technologies and services, including:
    1. Biotechnology,
    2. E-health (use of ICT for the development of medical services and products).
  1. Increased effectiveness of resources, including:
    1. Materials science and industry,
    2. Innovative construction (e.g., “smart house”),
    3. Health promoting food,
    4. Chemical industry (e.g., more effective use of oil shale).

Mode of Collaboration

This RFP offers a parallel funding track for collaborations: companies from Estonia and South Carolina will be co-funded for their activities in the joint Defined Field R&D project by EAS and GASC, respectively. However, partners either from Estonia or South Carolina may choose to self- fund their part in the project without applying for a grant. In those cases, the partner wishing to self-fund its participation must notify the Designated Cooperating Authorities in  advance.

The grant-based co-funding for companies from Estonia will be subject to the rules, procedures and mechanisms established within the framework of the regulations in effect for Enterprise Development Program and Product Development Grant (in Estonian: Ettevõtte arenguprogramm ja Tootearenduse toetus), both implemented by EAS. More detailed information on the programs and their respective terms and conditions for co-funding can be found from the website of EAS (www.eas.ee). However, companies from Estonia may also seek co-funding from national or international sources aimed at supporting collaborative R&D projects other than those two programs, keeping in mind that in those cases the rules, procedures and mechanisms of those programs will be applied. Companies may also choose to self-fund their part in the project without applying for a grant.

The joint Defined Field R&D projects are expected to be balanced in terms of budget, contribution and expected gain for both Estonian and South Carolina partners. Generally, projects where both parties have at least 30% of the budget and technical contribution will be considered as balanced for the purposes of this RFP, recognizing that the amount of funding available to the Estonian company may be limited based upon the size of the Estonian company according to EU state aid rules.

Eligible Participants

The joint Defined Field R&D projects must involve at least one company from Estonia and one from South Carolina (prime recipients). The prime recipients may recruit additional team members from the private sector, academia, or both, consistent with the regulations in effect for the respective Designated Cooperating  Authorities.

For Estonian companies:

  1. Eligibility criteria for Estonian companies seeking co-funding are subject to the rules, procedures and mechanisms established within the framework of the regulations in effect for Enterprise Development Program and Product Development Grant (in Estonian: Ettevõtte arenguprogramm ja Tootearenduse toetus) implemented by
  2. Companies from Estonia may also seek co-funding from national or international sources aimed at supporting collaborative R&D projects other than those two programs, keeping in mind that in those cases the rules, procedures and mechanisms of those programs will be
  3. Companies may also choose to self-fund their part in the project without applying for a grant. When companies choose to co-fund or self-fund their projects under those terms and conditions, it is generally expected that they:
    1. Be an advanced-technology or knowledge-based business in one of the technological fields listed
    2. Have a protected intellectual property position or a distinct competitive advantage.
    3. Have a high-impact business model that shows potential for the company to grow into sizable businesses in the state, creating high-wage jobs and revenues.

For South Carolina companies:

South Carolina companies must meet the following eligibility criteria to apply for funding from this program:

  1. Be a South Carolina-based entity, located in SC, established and registered with the SC Secretary of State with at least 51% of payroll to employees within the
  2. Be an advanced-technology or knowledge-based business in one of the technological fields listed
  3. Have a protected intellectual property position or a distinct competitive advantage. The product should not be easy to replicate and should include intellectual property such as trade secrets, patents and/or
  4. Have a high-impact business model that shows potential for the company to grow into sizable businesses in the state, creating high-wage jobs and
  5. Have money invested by the principals and/or founders, and/or have raised initial capital from others (sources include friends, family, banks,).

For both partner companies:

For a joint Defined Field R&D project to be eligible for co-funding, the application must be submitted by an Estonian company and an unrelated South Carolina-based company. For the purposes of this RFP, companies are considered unrelated if they have separate legal identities and do not have a parent/wholly-owned or controlled subsidiary relationship. It is permissible that the Estonian and South Carolina companies may have a prior working relationship, but they may not apply for funding on any specific project where they have executed a collaborative R&D agreement for the same or similar work prior to the date this RFP was  issued.

Funding Availability and Restrictions

1.      In Estonia:

The co-funding for companies from Estonia will be subject to the availability of funds and the rules, procedures and mechanisms established within the framework of the regulations in effect for Enterprise Development Program and Product Development Grant (in Estonian: Ettevõtte arenguprogramm ja Tootearenduse toetus) implemented by EAS. Further details are available at EAS web site  www.eas.ee.

2.     In South Carolina:

GASC intends to make awards within the criteria identified below.  Disbursements will  be advanced to the recipient quarterly, consistent with the planned expenses for that quarter, up to the total value of the GASC share of the total project cost. Allowable expenses may include direct labor, subcontractors, consultants, equipment purchases directly tied to project goals, consumable materials and supplies, project-related travel, and indirect costs associated with these categories if not being proposed as part of the company’s cost share contribution to the project. No pre-award cost recovery will be permitted.

Recipients of GASC funding will be required to submit quarterly technical and financial reports during the project execution phase, along with a final report at the completion of the project. Additionally, recipient companies will be required to submit annual reports for the five year period following project completion that describe the commercialization activities resulting from the project and the associated jobs created, and revenue achieved within the state of South  Carolina.

Project Duration:  at least 12, but not more than 36 months from the date of  award.

Maximum award from GASC:  not to exceed $500,000 over the project  duration.

Minimum award from GASC:  normally not less than $125,000 over the project duration unless the South Carolina company is self-funding its participation in the project.

Cost share: the South Carolina recipient company will contribute an equal or greater amount of funding toward the approved project than the amount of funding that will be provided by GASC. Criteria for qualifying cost share will be provided to applicants upon request. Cost share above the minimum required will be seen as a positive evaluation criteria.

Number of Awards Anticipated

EAS and GASC envision making multiple co-funding awards under the Program, depending on the merit of the project proposals, the budgets associated with those proposals, and the overall availability of funds. EAS and GASC reserve the right to make no awards if the quality of proposals does not support funding any of the projects under review during the application and proposal cycle or where there are no available funds.

Request for Proposals – Process

The submission and approval process will be executed in two phases, as  follows:

Phase 1:  Joint Submission of a “Bilateral Cooperation  Form”

Companies desiring to receive co-funding through this RFP are required to submit a “Bilateral Cooperation Form” specific to the project being proposed. Appendix A contains a copy of this form. This form will include a brief description of the proposed joint Defined Field R&D project, the expected outcomes from the project, and the respective roles of each party in executing the project. The form must be signed by an individual from each company authorized to bind that company legally.

Note: a company may submit more than one application to this RFP should a company in either country have multiple project opportunities with multiple partner companies in the other country.

Note: prior consultation with the respective designated Cooperating Authorities (EAS in Estonia and GASC in South Carolina) is strongly  advised.

EAS and GASC will screen the Bilateral Cooperation Forms and decide whether applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal under the Phase 2  process.

Note:  an invitation to submit a full proposal in Phase 2 does not imply approval  of the full proposal.

Summary of Phase 1 Requirements

 Estonian Company  South Carolina Company
 Bilateral Cooperation Form (Appendix A)  Bilateral Cooperation Form (Appendix A)

Phase 2:  Submission of Full Proposal

This phase is open only to those companies who have received an invitation to submit a full proposal based upon review of the Phase 1  application.

Phase 2 will require each company to submit a funding application according to the guidelines and regulations of each Designated Cooperating  Authority.

Participating companies must develop their own cooperation agreement(s) for IP sharing and terms of commercialization.

A template outlining the contents expected in the company-to-company cooperation agreement is provided at Appendix B.

Each Cooperating Authority will award funding to successful applicants based upon its own laws and procedures.

Summary of Phase 2 Requirements

 Estonian Company*  South Carolina Company
EAS website www.eas.ee (to be provided with the invitation to propose) Technical and Cost Proposal Forms(to be provided with invitation to propose)
 Additional Proposal Forms, as applicable (to be provided with invitation to propose)  Additional Proposal Forms, as applicable (to be provided with invitation to propose)

*The co-funding for companies from Estonia will be subject to the rules, procedures and mechanisms established within the framework of the regulations in effect for Enterprise Development Program and Product Development Grant (in Estonian: Ettevõtte arenguprogramm ja Tootearenduse toetus) implemented by EAS.

Evaluation Criteria

1.     In Estonia:

The co-funding for companies from Estonia will be subject to the rules, procedures and mechanisms, including evaluation methodology and criteria, established within the framework   of the regulations in effect for Enterprise Development Program and Product Development Grant (in Estonian: Ettevõtte arenguprogramm ja Tootearenduse toetus) implemented by EAS.

2.      In South Carolina:

Proposals submitted in response to this RFP will be evaluated using the following merit  criteria:

  1. Technical merit
    1. Significance of the problem being solved / opportunity identified,
    2. Degree of innovation in the proposed solution,
    3. Technical
  1. Commercial merit
    1. Size of the potential market,
    2. Extent to which the need / demand for the product or process can be
  1. Ability to carry out the proposed research successfully
    1. Soundness of approach and accompanying work plan,
    2. Adequacy of management plan,
    3. Qualifications of key members of the project team,
    4. Strength of the partnership between the South Carolina and Estonian companies.
  1. Ability of the companies to commercialize the resulting technology successfully
    1. Current position in the target market,
    2. Adequacy of commercialization plan,
    3. Ability to secure necessary
  1. Potential economic benefit
  2. Leverage on public investment
    1. Appropriateness of the budget relative to the proposed work

Timeline for Submission and Review

The timeline and associated deadlines for this RFP  are:

1. RFP Launch and first date for submitting Phase 1 applications:  29 November  2018

2. Phase 1 application deadline: 8 February 2019
[Allows 8 weeks for the parties to identify one another, and develop and submit the joint application]

3. Invitation to submit Phase 2 proposal issued:  22 February 2019
[Allows 2 weeks for the sponsors to review the applications and issue a formal invitation to propose]

4. Phase 2 proposal submission deadline:  3 May 2019
[Allows 10 weeks for applicants to develop, coordinate and submit their  proposals]

5. Proposal evaluation complete:  14 June 2019
[Allows 8 weeks for the EAS and GASC evaluators to complete their reviews and to make final award decisions]

6. Notification of award:  21 June 2019

7. Fully executed company-to-company cooperative agreement due: 5 July  2019
[Pre-requisite for award; target 2 weeks after notification of selection for  award]

8. Fully executed EAS/GASC funding award agreements in place:  19 July  2019
[2 weeks after receipt of fully executed cooperative  agreements]

This revision adds two weeks to the application submission deadline, preserves the invitation to propose and proposal preparation timelines, and then compresses the proposal review timeline from 8 weeks to 6 weeks to preserve the original target award date in mid-July. 

Final remarks

This Implementing Agreement does not create rights and obligations under international law. In case of conflict, national and international law will take precedence over the terms of this Agreement, also in regard of, but not limited to Program requirements and evaluation criteria’s.

Contacts:

South Carolina Estonia
Mr. Russ Keller

Senior Vice President
Advanced Technology International

Tel: +1 843-760-4358
russ.keller@ati.org

Mr. Viljar Lubi

Deputy Secretary General for Economic Development

Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications


Click here to download the full Request for Proposals (RFP) and application:  SC-Estonia Industry R&D Program RFP