Call for Proposals: Cybersecurity Innovation Bridge Fund
Virginia’s Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) aims to create a commonwealth-wide ecosystem of innovation excellence at the intersection of cybersecurity, autonomous systems, and data. CCI’s mission includes research, innovation, and workforce development.
CCI seeks proposals for Virginia university-affiliated cyber technologies to help bridge the gap between pre-seed and seed funding. The objective is to enhance pre-product, cybersecurity innovation companies/university projects by developing a cyber technology prototype to attract seed/series-A funding.
Cybersecurity innovations are defined as technologies and processes that protect systems, networks, programs, data, and operations from digital attacks. Aspects of protection can include risk analysis, vulnerability assessment, system protection/mitigation, information security, threat detection/characterization, real-time defense, restoration activities, and end-user education/training. CCI is especially interested in applications across the overlapping areas of cyber-physical systems, autonomous systems, robotic process automation, critical infrastructure, and endpoint security.
- Institution of higher education (IHE) research team – Funds would go to a CCI-affiliated IHE to further develop a technology (by university or college employees and/or students) that: (i) researchers intend to commercialize; and (ii) is covered by a written invention disclosure received by the university’s/college’s technology transfer office.
- Institution of higher education (IHE) and company research team - Funds would go to the lead institution of higher education to further develop a technology in partnership with a company, wherein the company (corporation or LLC) must: (i) be headquartered in Virginia with intent to grow the company in Virginia; (ii) have a license/option for the technology with an CCI-affiliated IHE at the time of award; and (iii) be at a pre-product stage.
We anticipate funding proposals with a budget that does not exceed $50,000 USD. The amount of support granted to each project will be weighted by the maturity level of the technology. Budgets should be proportional to anticipated scale of impact.
Budget items can include, for example:
- Prototype development and testing
- Generation of data for proof-of-concept
- Software coding and user interface work
- Independent verification and validation (IV&V)
- Pay for students or postdoctoral fellows, with total labor costs (including benefits) limited to <75% of budget
Period of performance must be between June 15, 2021 – May 30, 2022. Reporting is required on December 1, 2021 and June 1, 2022.
According to the terms under which CCI is funded, the following costs are not allowable:
- Costs of developing and delivering undergraduate capstone programs, except as part of the larger effort to align cyber and CPSS-focused undergraduate program content with industry needs.
- Portion of salaries and benefits of faculty for time spent teaching undergraduates, including teaching cyber-related courses.
- Scholarships for costs of attendance at institutions of higher education.
The competition’s selection committee, which may include members of CCI’s Innovation Committee, will provide funding recommendations to CCI’s Leadership Council. The final decision on the awards will be made by the CCI Leadership Council. Additionally, a mentor panel, composed of Innovation Committee members, will guide awardees throughout the award year.
Because this is a CCI Node-funded program, the awardee must provide a 1:1 identified commitment to this grant. While indirect costs (IDC) are NOT eligible costs in the proposals submitted in response to this RFP, unrecovered IDC can be used to partially fulfill this requirement. No funds from other CCI-funded projects can be used as identified commitment.
Proposals and budgets should go through the appropriate approval process at the PI’s institution. For instance, many universities require researchers to include a proposal and budget which have been approved in the standard OSP pre-award procedure.
Some possible examples of identified commitment are:
- Salary for student or faculty member on the team, or company personnel, proportional to percent effort
- Patent or copyright expenses
- Waived license fee or indirect costs
- External funds expended on the project within the period of performance of the award
Successful applicants are expected to participate fully in the activities of CCI, including providing materials needed for reports, participation in CCI meetings, and responding to data collection requests by CCI. All publications and presentations resulting from the grant should acknowledge support from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). Grant award letters will supply an example of this acknowledgement.
Proposals must use 1-inch margins, 11-point font or larger (Arial or Helvetica) and single line spacing. The following outline is to be followed:
1. Title page (one page, example included below)
- Title of the proposed project, abstract, name, affiliation, and contact information for Principal Investigator (PI) and co-Principal Investigators (co-PIs), if any.
2. Proposed Project (up to 4 pages)
- Description of the project: objectives, methodology, milestones, and timeline.
- Past performance: description of methodology, scale, success, and lessons-learned from prior iterations of project
- Discussion of the alignment of the project with CCI objectives.
- Measures of success: key performance indicators, how success will be measured and tracked.
3. Commercialization potential including competitive landscape (2 pages)
- Description of unmet need and why the proposed technology is a better solution than other approaches
- Size of market and ability to capture market share in the short and long term
- Potential obstacles to success
- Commercial development strategy
4. Budget (up to 2 pages)
- Budget items and justification.
- The budget must contain both the requested amount and the identified commitment. The latter should be in the form of a table according to the following format: Download worksheet PDF.
- Up to 2 pages each for PI and co-PIs, using NSF format.
Request for Proposals Released
April 21, 2021
Last Day for Q&A
May 14, 2021; 5 p.m. ET
May 21, 2021 5 p.m. ET
June 11, 2021
Award Accepted & Signed
June 16, 2021 5 p.m. ET
Certify Documentation - Discloser with TTO, Licensing Agreement, and/or VA-based Registration
June 16, 2021 5 p.m. ET
|Pitch Day with Virginia-based investors||10 a.m.-5 p.m. ET July 14, 2022 (date may change)|
The proposal must be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than the close of business day (5:00 p.m. ET) on Friday, May 21, 2021. Be sure to include the subject line Cybersecurity Innovation Bridge Fund Proposal in the email.
All proposals must be submitted as a single PDF document.
Proposals will be evaluated as follows:
Commercialization Potential (25%)
- Clearly defined problem/unmet need
- How will proposed technology address this problem/need
- Technical feasibility
- Data or prototype available
- Strength, experience, and engagement of team
Market Potential (25%)
- Market size or opportunity
- Strength of competition and competitive products
- Ability of proposed solution to capture market share
- Ability to secure long-term competitive advantage including IP protection
Development Plan and Budget (25%)
- Clear and appropriate budget that aligns with technology development plan
- Plan can be achieved in allotted time frame with requested funding
- Milestones have defined end points and deliverables
- Scientific/development methods are valid
Value of the Funding (25%)
- Commercialization funds will move technology to clearly defined next stage or inflection point
- Value of potential technology development greatly exceeds the risk-adjusted cost of funding
- Achievement of milestones will de-risk technology and/or validate market opportunity
- Funds will have proportional impact on moving technology forward with CCI goals