The following are frequently asked questions of the Ohio Federal Research Network.

Full Question:  Given the information found in the subject Opportunity Announcement, as well as the governing CRADA between AFRL and the Wright State Applied Research Corporation, it is clear that subcontracts issued by Parallax under this announcement will be cost reimbursable. However, does OFRN/Parallax/the Government prohibit for-profit industry companies acting as second-tier or below subcontractors (under a prime subcontractor whose arrangement would be cost reimbursable per the guidelines) from proposing profit/fee or another contractual arrangement (i.e. Time and Materials) or is this at the discretion of the prime subcontractor to be willing to pay a for-profit industry subcontractor said profit/fee?

Response: Costs will be reimbursed in accordance with the Cost Principles at 2 C.F.R. 200. Important sections to review in this determination are 2 CFR 200.318(j), § 200.323, and Appendix E.

Section 3.1.1 of the RFP states that the submission deadline for Volume 2 and 2a is no later than 2:00 pm on June 3, 2021

3.1.1 Submission Guidelines:

For Round 5, OFRN is instituting a simplified submission process.   The required Technical Volume content is similar to that required in Air Force SBIR/STTR Open Topics, Pitch Days and Direct to Phase II’s and is intended to be applicable to those opportunities as well. Initial submission requires an 8-page Technical Volume, 2-page Supplemental Technical Volume.  A Business/Cost Volume along with a 15-slide Pitch Deck will be required after a formal down select process is conducted.  More detailed information is included in the Technical Volume and higher-level information is included in the slide deck.  In the sole determination of OFRN, Proposals that exceed these page limitations may be disqualified from further review.

Applicants selected to move forward in the process based upon a review of the Technical Volume, will be required to submit a 15-slide Pitch Deck and physically present the slide deck during an in person (or virtual) presentation.  Pitch presentations will be made to the Technical Review Council which will base proposal scoring holistically on the Technical Volume, Pitch Deck and Pitch Presentation. Awards will be decided after the Pitch Presentations which will take place during the week of June 7, 2021 at a location to be announced.

NOTE: OFRN projects are intended to be TRL 3 and higher, or applied research rather than basic research. Technical feasibility is understood to have been already established. Applicants are required to provide information demonstrating that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility has been established. Proposals will not be evaluated that fail to demonstrate that technical merit and feasibility has been established or the Applicant has failed to demonstrate that work submitted in the feasibility documentation was substantially performed by the Applicant and/or the principal investigator (PI), or that the project utilizes COTS components in an innovative configuration or application.

Applicants shall submit the Business and Cost Proposal and the Technical Proposal to the OFRN general inbox: OFRN-Submission@parallaxresearch.org. with a carbon copy (CC) to Becky Mescher at becky.mescher@parallaxresearch.org.

Deadlines:

  • Volume 1 (Technical) and 1A (Supplemental) submit no later than 5:00pm Eastern Time on March 4, 2021.
  • Volume 2 (Business and Cost Proposal) and 2A (Slide Deck) submit no later than 2:00 pm on June 3, 2021.

Proposals received after the due date and time may be rejected. It is the responsibility of the Applicant to ensure submission of a complete proposal based on all requirements of this Opportunity Announcement. If possible, Applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals early.

Per IAW 3.4.2.2 Cost Narrative Of the Solicitation, it should be included/attached within the cost narrative/volume.
That is only for the Prime / Lead Organization
There is no page limit for Volume 2 – Business and Cost Proposal. This includes the SOW and the excel file. Volume 2A is limited to 15 slides.
There is no preference.
Combine both years into one sheet.
You can submit the files as separate documents.
Not at this time.

In the OFRN Round 5 solicitation – amendment 3, it states in the guidelines The host organization may be any one of the project team’s university, business, or federal partner participants. The student can be employed by any of the team members at any time throughout the duration of the project. Specific organization rules and procedures will govern the employment term up to a maximum of 18 months, which is the period of performance for the Round 5 project awards. The host organization is encouraged to work with an Ohio university through the university’s internship/co-op office. Particular attention should be given to understanding the University guidelines for student payment and course credit"

You can find the form on the OFRN Current Solicitation site at https://www.ohiofrn.org/ofrn-current-solicitation
We encourage the cost share amounts be included in the LOI, but it’s not required since not specifically stated.
If you have approved provisional billing rates, you could use that in the proposal and would be considered. A fee bearing agreement could not be used.
That is correct – Agreements awarded will be Cost Reimbursable No Fee.
No, figures cannot be placed in the appendix. The appendix is reserved for resumes and SEE program information as indicated in the OFRN Round 5 Opportunity Announcement Amendment 1, section 3.2.14.
Go by what is stated is the Round 5 Opportunity Announcement Amendment 1 – Section 3.1.2.  Font size should be a minimum of 10 point. Fonts used must be one of the following Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman and used uniformly throughout.  The training mentioned no more than 6 lines to an inch and I would adhere to that.
Volume 1, Volume 1a, and Volume 1 Appendix should be submitted by February 25, 2021, 5:00 pm ET. Be sure to send your file as a pdf and adhere to the formatting guidelines.  It was not stated in the opportunity announcement as to whether the submission should be in 1 file, or separate files.  The preference is that you send 1 pdf file with the following order of contents: Volume 1, Volume 1a, and Appendix. You may send in separate files if needed.
The anticipated individual award of $750 - $2M each referenced in the Round 5 Opportunity Announcement would be the funding received from OFRN. Cost share would be in addition to the OFRN awarded amount.
Yes, a university can be a host organization for the student intern.
That is correct – the subcontractor letters of intent should be included in Volume 1 and will not count towards the 8 page limit for Volume 1.
Since the project is 18 months, we requested the breakdown by calendar year so that all proposals would be uniformed in reporting.  The project will cover a period of up to 18 months from the start date of the project.
The project start date can begin June 1, 2021 but we wouldn’t want to go beyond that date.
Yes, someone without a Ph.D. can serve as a lead PI
Yes
Yes, this can be used as cost share.

Student names are not expected in the proposal.  The information to include in the proposal should be focused on your plan for a student intern. Include the following information as referenced in Appendix 1 and the Jan. 20 Bidders Conference and Proposal Training:

  • Student’s core curriculum should be STEM focused with student recruitment limited to Ohio Universities and Community Colleges.
  • Create a purpose statement defining the nature of the internship work and how it will benefit the proposed project outcome. 
  • Describe the Innovation opportunities the Student will be exposed to and how their participation will enhance their learning and benefit their individual career path. 
  • Describe the Project Team’s mechanisms for interacting with Students and providing an inclusive environment.
Develop a timeline, budget and oversight structure for the program along with a mechanism for the Student to provide their own assessment of the experience. Project Teams are encouraged to investigate and utilize existing academic and State programs currently in operation.
The tables referenced in the solicitation for use in proposal submissions have been placed in a Word document and posted to the OFRN Current Solicitation site. These tables can be utilized as needed.
As long as one member of your proposal team attended the Jan. 20 training session, you are good. If no member of your team attended the Jan. 20 training session, then you will want to register to view the video of the training session. 
The student intern cost should be built into the proposal budget at the prime level. There is flexibility in who manages the Administration of the internship program.  This could be an area of interest in possible cost share under this program.
There is no established minimum or maximum number of hours for a student intern. If you are utilizing a formal internship program through a college/university, you will need to adhere to the minimum/maximum hours prescribed in that program.  The duration of the internship should be a minimum of 1 semester, and a maximum of the life of the project.  In addition, please keep in mind that we are expecting the interns to be assigned meaningful work which, although it does not translate into a prescribed number of hours, does mean that a suitable level of engagement with interns is expected.”
The company can hire any intern they need for the project as long as they meet the requirements outlined in Appendix 1. Students must be attending an institution of higher education in the State of Ohio and enrolled in degrees from Associate to the Doctoral level in all disciplines, with a focus on STEM learning.
PhD, Master, and Undergraduate students hired as research assistants for the project could be counted as part of the internship identified in the SEE program as long as the requirements outlined in Appendix 1 are met, and the student is attending an institution of higher education in the State of Ohio and enrolled in degrees from Associate to the Doctoral level in all disciplines, with a focus on STEM learning. In addition, please keep in mind that we are expecting the interns to be assigned meaningful work which, although it does not translate into a prescribed number of hours, does mean that a suitable level of engagement with interns is expected.
The total amount that can be requested from OFRN as an award is $2M.
That is correct: 3.2.7 Technical Objectives section goes in Volume 1 - Technical Volume; and 3.4.1.8 Proper Prepared Statement of Work section goes in Volume 2 - Business and Cost Proposal.
Amendment 1 was issued on February 5.  The SOW mentioned in volume 1 section 3.2.12 has been moved to volume 2 section 3.4.1.8. See Amendment 1 and Amendment 1 summary documents on the OFRN Round 5 current solicitation website for additional information.
email questions to OFRN-Question@parallaxresearch.org
In place of the cover page item #12 text, put a statement such as <organization name> is not debarred, suspended or proposed for debarment as the result of performance under any federal contract, grant, or cooperative agreement.
Yes, your own statement that summarizes the engagement is appropriate.
Yes, using there labs or infrastructure can be cost share.
No mandatory TRL level at the end is stated... if it grows, that's commendable and is highly desirable.
Undergrads can participate. To be eligible for the Program, a student must be attending an institution of higher education in the State of Ohio and enrolled in degrees from Associate to the Doctoral level in all disciplines, with a focus on STEM learning.
The award period is 18 months. So, there will need to be some flexibility in when a student(s) starts or ends the internship.
Yes, they are eligible as long as they are students
Cost share for the Universities is not required. If they are willing to provide a cost share, then that university Office of Research may be a good place to start the discussion.
Highlight the main AOI, but mention the others as well.
Yes
Yes, can have multiple federal partners on each AOI, and multiple AOI's in each proposal.
They can be involved, but cannot be a recipient of funds.
You need to provide a notional project budget in volume 1. There should be minimal differences in volume 2. Minor changes can occur.
Yes
No, but make sure that it is real.
Whether you are a past awardee is not going to hurt or help you.
Use your judgment regarding use of references. You can make a statement without relying on a reference; however if it is helpful then include it. References will count in your page limit.
In the January 20 bidders conference and proposal training, it was discussed that the information on the SEE program should be no more than 2 pages and contained in an appendix. OFRN has issued Amendment 001 with this information.
Yes it does need to be Ohio based Universities and Industry partners with offices in Ohio.  Work needs to be done in Ohio.
Yes, Sinclair and other associate colleges in Ohio can be a university partner in the OFRN proposal. 
No they are all important.

Proposal templates posted to https://www.ohiofrn.org/ofrn-current-solicitation include: Appendix 6: Business and Cost Proposal Template and Appendix 7: Quad Chart Template. 

At this point, there is no template for Technical Volume 1.  Follow the general instructions in section 3.1 and be sure to include all of the elements contained in section 3.2 as outlined. A Word document containing the tables for volume 1 is available in the Resources section on the Current Solicitation Website.

Yes, you can count that as cost share.  If for some reason the cost share cannot count, you can still partner with them for this proposal.

Yes, the company can be international as long as they have a presence in Ohio and the work would be done in Ohio.
Needs to be Ohio company or office, where work would be performed, if national company.
Section 3.1.1 states that OFRN projects are intended to be TRL 3 and higher, or applied research rather than basic research. This applies to all AOIs.
Yes
Section 2.6.2 of the pre-release document states that there are no limits on the number of proposal submissions that an Applicant can submit.
On Nov. 20th, an email announcement was sent that the key dates had changed. A follow up announcement went out Nov. 23rd highlighting some of the changes in key dates and where to find information on changes, etc. The new schedule is posted to the OFRN website https://ohiofrn.org. The new date for the training is Jan. 20, 2021. The event will be virtual. All information pertaining to OFRN Round 5 Opportunity Announcement will be posted to https://www.ohiofrn.org/current-solicitation. All communications to the OFRN community will be posted to the site.  
Yes, the session was recorded and is posted to the current solicitation website https://www.ohiofrn.org/current-solicitation
The PM can attend the Jan. 20 training session to represent the team.
The training session is scheduled for January 20, 2021. A registration link will be available through the OFRN website https://ohiofrn.org in the current solicitation’s tab shortly. The direct link to the current solicitation site is https://www.ohiofrn.org/current-solicitation An email notification will be distributed to the OFRN community when the information regarding the December regional sessions and the January 20th training is available. All events will be virtual.
Section 2.6 of the pre-release document lists eligibility requirements. One of the requirements is that there be at least two Ohio colleges or universities. There is no flexibility in this requirement.
As long as the company has a presence in Ohio and the work would be done through that office, then this would meet the industry requirement.
Yes, the link for partnering / matchmaking can be found off the OFRN current solicitation webpage in the Links section at https://www.ohiofrn.org/current-solicitation
Yes, the briefing is posted to the current solicitation site at https://www.ohiofrn.org/current-solicitation

The formal release of OFRN Round 5 Opportunity Announcement is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2021. All information will be posted to the current solicitation website https://www.ohiofrn.org/current-solicitation

The advanced controls area will have impact at the system and at the power electronic regulator level. An advanced power electronic unit with digital control that demonstrates the capability needed to function within the advanced power system control could be a part of this area, but may be more difficult to win against full system proposals.
TRL 3 or TRL 4 should be the objective depending on hardware maturity.
The defined approach for this task needs to develop a strategic understanding of where the advanced controls area will progress, with both near and far term products that can be realized. Both lunar surface power and turbo-electric/hybrid electric propulsion should be the focus, but spin-off for terrestrial microgrids may provide near term job increases for Ohio and collaboration potential for advanced work.
The control methods developed should be applicable for AC and DC systems, but the choice for how the work is done can be made based on preference.
Minimum expectation would be for a model based simulation that has heritage in validated models, with extension to this effort. Use of H/W emulators and/or simulators that provide hardware confidence is better, but not required.
Yes. It is not a direct fit for the AOI, but NAMRU-D has interest and active research in this problem space. Strong interest. Possibly the general AOI#12?
Applied research. TRL 3 and above.

Speaking from a NAMRU-Dpoint of view, areas of improvement for currently available devices would include:

  1. Size/portability
  2. Multiplicity; having devices that monitor multiple exposures
  3. Real-time data delivery

#1 and #2 both support compliance in that you can’t “weigh down” a Warfighter with bulky or a lot of devices. They have enough to do and enough to carry; if the device(s) isn’t/aren’t feasible, then it’s useless. #3 – bringing a device back and sending it off only to receive the data a week later does not allow risk assessments to be made during a mission. Having these data is helpful in any capacity, but in real-time (with data logging/storing capability) is of most use.

The answer is “no” from a NAMRU-D perspective. 
Yes
The focus of the topic is on near peer competition so this could be anything from a single aircraft to a large number of aircraft. Sensors are likely to be federated - different systems on different platforms. But approaching the problem from the point of view of a single platform is a good starting point.
We spoke to our AFRL contact lead and he thought your technology was indeed very relevant to the AOI’s you’ve referenced and could be proposed.
Only if it's part of a multi-function system. That is, if the sensor or sense making is the primary output.

Yes, very interested in hybrid systems for long duration flights.

You are permitted to use a subcontractor located outside of Ohio as long as you meet the OFRN eligibility requirements that proposals must include a minimum of two Ohio public or private universities or colleges and one Ohio industry partner each with significant contribution to the proposed effort.  Also, keep in mind that the  OFRN Round 5 Opportunity Announcement is focused on expanding Ohio’s research and development capabilities across the state’s academic institutions and business in support of Ohio-based federal partner needs, which ultimately promotes Ohio’s economic growth.  Section 4.2 of the solicitation outlines evaluation criteria additional factors. One of these factors is the project’s plan to capitalize on Ohio assets – personnel, small businesses, test capabilities, and university assets.

Student names are not expected in the proposal.  Intern names can be confirmed after awards are made in early May.  The information to include in the proposal should be focused on your plan for a student intern. Include the following information as referenced in Appendix 1 and the Jan. 20 Bidders Conference and Proposal Training:

  • Student’s core curriculum should be STEM focused with student recruitment limited to Ohio Universities and Community Colleges.
  • Create a purpose statement defining the nature of the internship work and how it will benefit the proposed project outcome. 
  • Describe the Innovation opportunities the Student will be exposed to and how their participation will enhance their learning and benefit their individual career path. 
  • Describe the Project Team’s mechanisms for interacting with Students and providing an inclusive environment.

Develop a timeline, budget and oversight structure for the program along with a mechanism for the Student to provide their own assessment of the experience. Project Teams are encouraged to investigate and utilize existing academic and State programs currently in operation.