2021 Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC) Request for Proposals (RFP)
Summary. The IIC seeks proposals for precompetitive, collaborative research that aims to accelerate the development and adoption of water and energy-efficient irrigation technologies, tools, and practices. Project teams should include partners from industry and from one or more IIC member universities (Colorado State, Kansas State, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, California State University-Fresno, and Texas A&M University).
About the IIC. The IIC is an alliance between the irrigation industry and university researchers formed to collaboratively address short- and long-term needs of the agriculture and landscape irrigation industry. This partnership strategically capitalizes on existing strengths to develop powerful synergies between public and private entities working on advancing irrigation science and technology, providing opportunities for joint collaboration in demonstrations, technology transfer, tailored workshops, certifications, and student training.
Available funds. The IIC has $600,000 available to support research projects through this competitive call for proposals. The IIC has typically funded projects in the $50,000-$100,000 range but will consider proposals with smaller or larger funding requests. Funds for this research are provided to the IIC by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).
Pre-competitive research. As envisioned by FFAR and IIC, pre-competitive research allows pooling of resources and data for public benefit. The design, goals, and outcomes of pre-competitive research have potential to positively impact multiple parties and/or society at large. Data and resulting publications from this research will be open and accessible. Commercial endeavors resulting from the application of these data and research results can be proprietary.
About this call for proposals. Research projects funded through this RFP will support IIC’s goal of equipping the irrigation industry and irrigation end users with cutting-edge tools and strategies. The IIC aims to catalyze high-impact outcomes, such as, but not limited to: optimizing water and energy use and decision making in agriculture, turf, and landscape applications, and improving or sustaining profitability for irrigation system users and manufacturers.
Proposal requirements. Project proposals must address one or more of the IIC’s priority topics:
- Water and energy efficiency
- Remote sensing and big data applications for improving irrigation water management
- System integration and management
- Acceleration of technology development and/or adoption.
Projects must also:
- have scientific merit
- involve an integrated team of industry and academic (and possibly other) partners
- involve at least one IIC partner university
- demonstrate innovation in precompetitive research
- have clear potential for impact
- meet other requirements as outlined in this RFP.
IIC funding requests, inclusive of allowable indirect costs, must be accompanied by a total non-federal match of 1.25x, where x is the amount of IIC funding requested. Project teams of industry, academic, and other partners are responsible for identifying and providing supporting letters of match commitment as part of a complete proposal. Matching support can be comprised of both cash and in-kind resources. Cash match must represent at least 50% of the IIC funding requested (0.5x). See IIC’s matching requirement guidelines in Appendix B, below.
Indirect costs are capped at 10% of the total funds requested, for an effective Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate of 11.11%.
Proposal teams will be led by one designated Principal Investigator (PI) who may be affiliated with a university, with industry, or another organization. IIC is seeking and will give preference to projects that:
- Lead to creative and collaborative co-development, testing, prototyping, and/or improvement of innovative equipment, technology, and information systems
- Demonstrate potential to be transformative for the irrigation industry, irrigation end users, and/or society
- Have their overall match include more cash (vs. in-kind) support
- For larger projects in particular (>$100,000 requested from IIC): demonstrate a committed match from their partners that exceeds the 1:1.25 minimum non-federal match requirement. There is no upper limit on match.
- Involve multiple industry, academic, non-profit organizations, and/or other IIC partners
- Include an outreach, educational, or technology transfer component.
Project selection process. IIC funding will be awarded using a competitive selection process led by the IIC’s Research Steering Committee (RSC). The RSC will review how well proposals correspond to the required and suggested components as described above. The RSC will make recommendations to the IIC’s Executive Committee, which is responsible for project selection.
Project duration. The IIC will consider projects with a duration up to a maximum of 21 months.
Funding disbursement. On behalf of the IIC, Colorado State University will establish sub-awards with institutions of team members expecting to spend IIC funds to support their project work. Team members will be reimbursed for project-related expenditures invoiced on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis, depending on the rate of spending activity. In the case of multi-year projects, teams will be required to submit an annual, detailed progress report for IIC’s review and approval to allow spending to continue.
Deliverables. Projects will be required to submit brief quarterly reports describing project progress. Annual reports will be due on the last day of a project year. Project completion reports are to be submitted within 60 days of the project’s final end date. These reports will describe the main findings and project accomplishments, including training provided, publications, impacts, and outcomes, progress related to collaboration and spending, and description and justification of any anticipated change to a project’s scope of work. PIs will be required to provide a presentation, virtually or in-person, to the IIC extended community that summarizes and showcases completed project results and outcomes. As appropriate, project team members may be encouraged to support IIC’s outreach goals and mission by contributing to or editing written content, serving on panels, and/or participating in filmed interviews about their IIC-supported work.
Financial Policy. The PI is ultimately responsible for their IIC-funded project, matching commitment, and budget. If the budget is overspent or expenditures are improperly charged, the PI and his/her department, college, or organization is responsible for providing funds to cover the unauthorized spending. Failure to provide required deliverables will disqualify PIs or team members from receiving additional project funding.
Required documentation (for teams selected to submit full proposals only, see timeline below):
Working with each of their project’s institutional partners that expect to receive IIC funds, project PIs will gather and submit the following documentation to IIC:
- Final project description, approach and methods
- a budget using an Excel budget template (to be provided by IIC)
- a budget justification as a .pdf or Word document
- a scope of work as a .pdf or Word document that describes the anticipated activities of each institutional partner/team member
- CVs of all participating major team collaborators
- signed letter(s) of support from any industry partner(s)
- donor letter(s) that clearly describe(s) the amount and kind (cash or in-kind) of matching support committed to this project
- signed certification of matching funds form (to be provided by IIC
- signed public reporting acknowledgment form (to be provided by IIC)