The a2 Collective is excited to announce its second annual a2 Pilot Awards competition to fund promising technology demonstration projects with a clear path to commercialization, translational milestones, or technology transfer at the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and healthy aging. The a2 Collective represents the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Artificial Intelligence and Technology Collaboratories (AITC) for Aging Research program, which is dedicated to helping Americans live longer, better lives through the application of AI and emerging technologies. In the second annual a2 Pilot Awards, the a2 Collective expects to fund projects that seek to improve the care and health outcomes of older Americans, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) and their caregivers.
Colleges, universities, medical or nursing schools, health care systems or settings, and other fiscally responsible organizations, including for-profit corporations and startups, nonprofits, and eligible government entities within the United States, are eligible to apply. Eligible institutions must have a Unique Entity ID (UEI). Non-domestic (non-U.S.) entities and non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. organizations are not eligible to apply. Foreign components, as defined in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.
The a2Collective comprises three Collaboratories centered at Johns Hopkins University (JH AITC), the University of Massachusetts (MassAITC), and the University of Pennsylvania (PennAITech), as well as the a2 Collective Coordinating Center managed by Rose Li & Associates, Inc. Each pilot project will be funded as a subaward to one of the three AITCs, which are all multidisciplinary research centers that provide research translation support; state-of-the-art facilities; and access to software and hardware platforms, datasets and other resources, and population study sites. Applicants must specify their primary AITC choice and are encouraged to visit AITC websites to learn more about each Collaboratory’s emphases, objectives, and resources.
If the selected AITC does not wish to advance an application for further consideration, the other AITCs will have an opportunity to review the application for potential funding consideration.
Applicants may propose multiple unique pilot projects to more than one AITC by submitting a separate application for each project. Each application must be linked to a unique email address. Simultaneous submission of the same pilot project to multiple AITCs is not permitted.
Projects will be supported for up to 1 year, beginning in spring 2023. Applicants may request up to $200,000 in direct costs (typical requests are in the $50,000 to $200,000 range) with justification, as well as facilities and administrative (F&A) costs. F&A rates that have been established with NIH and cover the applicable activities and the project’s approved period of performance are allowed; applicants without established F&A rates are entitled to a de minimis 10 percent indirect rate. Pilot grant funds may be used for (1) project support of personnel, (2) use of services, including, where applicable, salary support for investigators, biostatisticians, staff, or other experts, (3) project-necessary travel, (4) equipment (less than $5,000 without prior approval), research supplies and reagents, and lab costs, (5) study participant compensation, (6) other study-related expenses with justification, and (7) publication costs.
Funded projects’ principal investigators (PIs) are expected to engage in ongoing mentoring and oversight within individual AITCs and are encouraged to play an active role in the AITC community, such as by attending meetings, presenting on their projects, and amplifying future a2 Pilot Awards competitions.
All AITCs will use the same application process and general evaluation criteria. Pilot projects will be evaluated based on factors including the project’s scientific merit; relevance to healthy aging, AD/ADRD, and AITC areas of programmatic interest; potential commercial or translational impact; and team and project plan strength. Additional consideration may be given to projects that leverage an AITC’s resources or facilities or generate datasets, software, or hardware that might benefit the AITC research community at large. Other areas of consideration might include go-to-market strategy, regulatory and reimbursement pathways, plans for managing human subjects and data privacy risks, and mitigation of health disparities across the United States, including improving access to and delivery of care in rural areas.
Applicants should visit each AITC website for additional details on evaluation criteria and example pilot project topics.
Updates to the Application Process. The a2 Collective encourages applications from those who applied to the inaugural a2 Pilot Awards. Prior applicants should note that the second annual a2 Pilot Awards competition includes a Preliminary (Round 1) Application and an Invited Full (Round 2) Application. Additional details on the Preliminary Application and Invited Full Application are included below.
Preliminary (Round 1) Application. To be considered for an Invited Full (Round 2) Application, please submit a Preliminary Application here. Preliminary applicants will submit a two-page project statement detailing the following:
· Overview of the pilot project’s scientific approach
· Overview of the project’s AI/technology approach
· Description of how the project is relevant to healthy aging and/or AD/ADRD
· Expected project aims and outcomes
· Explanation of how the project can be commercialized or an outline of future planning
Applicants will also be asked to provide an estimated budget of direct costs, award numbers for any prior federal funding that has supported the project, primary AITC choice, a list of key personnel, an NIH biosketch for the PI or co-investigators, information about potential conflicts of interest (COIs) relevant to any of the AITCs, human subjects and research exemptions information, and optional demographic information.
Invited Full (Round 2) Application. Those invited to submit a Full Application will provide the following:
· Project summary and relevance to healthy aging and/or AD/ADRD research and innovation
· Project relevance to the selected AITC and description of any AITC resources the project will leverage
· Potential COIs relevant to any of the AITCs
· Specific project aims, including objectives and benchmarks to measure success (1 page maximum)
· Research strategy stating the project’s significance, innovation, and approach (3 pages maximum)
· Detailed budget (template and instructions will be provided)
· Budget justification
· Key personnel and other significant contributors
· Biosketches for key personnel (template and sample will be provided)
· Project performance site(s)
· Human subjects and research exemptions information
Applicants may also submit optional letters of support and citations.
Preliminary (Round1) Applications will be due at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. Preliminary Application decisions are expected to be made by Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Invited Full (Round 2) Applications will be due at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. Conditional award decisions are expected to be made in early December.
Anticipated formal awards are expected in spring 2023.
Please note that funding is contingent upon NIA approval, IRB approval, and, for projects with a foreign component, foreign clearance by the U.S. State Department. The anticipated formal award date is subject to change based on factors above.