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Call for Proposals: CCI Cybersecurity Research Collaboration



The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) is establishing Virginia as a global center of excellence at the intersection of security, autonomous systems, and intelligence. With a mission of research, innovation, and workforce development, CCI serves as a catalyst for the commonwealth's economic development and long-term leadership in this sector.

This CCI Cybersecurity Research Collaboration funding program aims to create cross-pollination opportunities for the cybersecurity researchers to collaborate across the commonwealth and to develop a commonwealth-wide ecosystem of innovation excellence in cybersecurity.


Who May Serve as PI:
Researchers and faculty members at public institutions of higher education in the Central Virginia, Southwest Virginia, or Northern Virginia Nodes of CCI who are deemed eligible by their home institution to serve as a principal investigator (PI) on an external grant are eligible to apply.

Applications from under-represented groups are particularly welcome, as are applications from researchers who have not previously engaged with CCI.

Note: Researchers in the Coastal Virginia Node of CCI may serve as a co-principal investigator (co-PI) but not as a PI in this call. Coastal Virginia ran a similar program for its researchers.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Institution:
There are no restrictions or limits.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: One
An eligible principal investigator may submit only one proposal to the program. Investigators can serve as co-PI on up to two proposals.

Other Requirements:
Each project must involve participating public institutions of higher education from at least two CCI nodes.


Total Amount of Funding for this Program:


Maximum Award Amount:
$125,000 per proposal

Note: At least one-quarter of the proposed budget should support research efforts outside the PI’s Node. 

Award Conditions:
A successful applicant is 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 the CCI. All publications and presentations resulting from the grant should acknowledge support from Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI).





Request for Proposals Released

July 30, 2021

Last Day for Q&A

August 13, 2021

Proposals Due

August 31, 2021, 5:00 PM Eastern Time

Award Notification


October 15, 2021

Project Dates


Any period between December 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022

Proposal Format

Each CCI node has its research focus areas. They include:

  • Central Virginia: Cyber physical systems, autonomous systems, IoT as they apply to Smart Cities and Communities as well as Medical Device Security.
  • Northern Virginia: Cybersecurity in national defense, transportation, electric/power distribution, and manufacturing sectors. Also, the impact of human behavior on cyber security and resilience of cyber systems to human behavior.
  • Southwest Virginia: Cybersecurity related to fast, secure, and customizable communications systems and technologies, including 5G, AI, ML, defense-in-depth cybersecurity solutions, emerging technologies (such as NextG and quantum algorithms) and cryptographic protocols, applications to transportation, energy, space, autonomous systems, manufacturing, and agriculture, and as well issues surrounding human factors, privacy, ethics, and global security in society.

A proposed project must be closely related to the focus areas of the PI’s node. Please contact your CCI node director if you have any questions about the focus areas. Proposals must use 1-inch margins, 12-point font and single line spacing. The required proposal format is outlined below.

  • Title page (1 page) 
    • Title of the proposed project, name, affiliation, and contact information for the principal investigator (PI) and co-principal investigators (co-PIs)
  • Proposed Research (up to 4 pages)
    • Rationale: Discussion of the technical background and engineering/scientific justification. This should include project objectives and intellectual merit of the proposed work.
    • Research Plan: What exactly will be done? How will the objectives be met? What are the motivations, methods, likely outcomes, milestones, and future directions? If existing CCI assets and equipment will be leveraged to support the research, please describe the equipment/assets and how they will be used.
  • Plan for Impact on the commonwealth (up to 1 page)
    • Address potential for commercialization and economic development/impact, and/or workforce development in the commonwealth.
  • Plan for Collaboration (up to 1 page)
    • A collaboration plan is required to discuss coordination mechanisms that regularly bring together the project participants to ensure the success of collaborative research efforts.
    • Describe specific plans for achieving long-term sustainability of the proposed research collaboration, including but not limited to securing external funding beyond the project period.
    • Letters of collaboration from industrial partners, if relevant, can be attached as appendix (not included in the page count).
    • References (not included in the page count)
    • Budget
      • A detailed budget and one-page justification must be included. Please confirm the ability to utilize all potentially awarded funds before December 31, 2022.
    • Bio sketch (up to 2 pages for each investigator, using NSF format)

Proposal Submission

The proposal must be submitted by the project PI to the PI’s node director no later than the close of business day (5:00 p.m.) on August 31, 2021. All proposals must be submitted as a single PDF document with subject CCI Cybersecurity Research Collaboration.

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. Please consult the PI’s node director to confirm the process.

Contact information of CCI node directors:


Evaluation Criteria

A committee will review the proposals and make funding recommendations. Priority will be given to the proposals with

  • Strong intellectual merit related to CCI’s focus area (the intersection of cybersecurity, autonomy, and intelligence)
  • Strong broader impacts related to CCI’s mission
  • Responsiveness to Node focus areas and relevance to industry needs
  • Multi-institutional, cross-node collaborations
  • Potential to generate additional funding and revenue

Specific questions concerning this RFP and the requirements set forth herein should be directed in writing to the node director of the PI’s institution.