a2 Pilot Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

What organizations are eligible to submit for pilot awards?

Eligible institutions must have a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and include colleges, universities, medical or nursing schools, health care systems or settings, or other fiscally responsible organizations including for-profit corporations and startups within the United States, as well as nonprofits and eligible government entities. Non-domestic (non-U.S.) entities (foreign institutions) are not eligible to apply. Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. organizations are not eligible to apply. Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

May I apply if I am not a US citizen?

You may apply provided your visa immigration status is acceptable and you are employed by a U.S. institution.

Does the principal investigator need a PhD?

No. The PI can be any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed project. Applicants from under-represented populations in the AI and technology field as well as individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply for funding.

How many a2 Pilot Awards are available?

We anticipate that 15-30 grants will be awarded in the first year of this 5-year program.

How much funding is available?

Each pilot project can request, with justification, up to $200,000 in direct costs to be expended within a 12-month period. Your institution can request indirect costs at its Federally negotiated facilities and administrative rate. If an applicant organization does not have a Federally negotiated rate, the maximum indirect rate that can be requested is 10% of direct costs.

Does the grant award of up to $200,000 include indirect costs?

No, $200,000 is the ceiling for direct costs. Indirect costs are budgeted separately and should be included in the application budget.

What type of expenses are allowable?

Consistent with NIH guidelines, 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 (< $5k 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. Pilot grant funds may not be budgeted for (1) travel to scientific meetings, or (2) meals (except during focus groups and other data collection/informational sessions and in accordance with NIH policy). You can view more information here.

When will funding commence for selected projects?

We expect the formal confirmation of awards by May 30, 2022 assuming there are no delays in receiving approvals from the National Institute on Aging, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the Data Safety and Monitoring Board, as applicable. The anticipated earliest start date for projects is May 31, 2022.

What is the timeline for a funded project?

The project period for a pilot award is typically 6 months to 1 year. A no-cost extension of 1 additional year can be requested. There will be at least one application cycle in each of the 5 years of the AITC program.

If the project PI is not ready to start within 4 months of an offer of funding, the Collaboratory reserves the right to withdraw its offer. The expectation is that all subaward funds will be expended by the end of the subaward’s project period. At the end of the project period, any unexpended funds may be repurposed to support other pilot subawards.

What are the sources of funding?

Funding is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Each AITC will be responsible for executing subawards to fund pilot projects in accordance with NIH guidelines.

Is the funding structured as a loan or investment?

Funds will be awarded as a grant and is non-dilutive to the company.

Can I apply for pilot awards more than once?

Yes. Applicants may apply for each competition and may submit multiple unique applications in a single competition.

Is there an opportunity for follow-up funding or long-term partnership if a pilot project is funded?

Yes. The purpose of the AITC is to connect applicants to resources, fund pilots, and help projects come to fruition in real world settings. As such, there are opportunities for follow-up funding and/or long-term partnerships beyond the pilot project via future pilot award competitions, Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer grants, or through other venture funding.

Once awarded, are applicants expected to collaborate with the AITC?

PIs of pilot awards are expected to engage in ongoing mentoring and oversight by each of the 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 pilot award competitions.

What is the application process?

The anticipated application cycle will be as follows:  

1. Applications will be accepted until February 18, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST
2. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and selected finalists may be invited to a video interview with AITC evaluators.
3. NIA formal award notification is expected by May 31, 2022

Who will review the applications?

Applications will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of experts from each respective Collaboratory.

Does the applicant need to decide which of the three AITCs to apply to before submitting an application?

Yes. Applicants must indicate their preferred AITC as part of their application submission and are strongly encouraged to research the AITCs and their resources to help determine the best fit. If the selected AITC does not wish to advance the application for further consideration, it can forward it to the other AITCs for consideration.

Are applicants expected to contact the preferred AITC group prior to the application submission?

Although not required, applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to the AITC of choice to discuss their project and applicability of the AITC resources of interest to help assess feasibility and application readiness.

Are applications that fund sub-studies of existing projects acceptable if otherwise aligned with the AITC?

Yes, studies within a project that are not otherwise funded by other programs are acceptable as long as they align with the core mission of the AITC.

Are applications allowed to have multiple PIs?

Yes. The application portal requires identification of the submitting PI. Co-PIs can be indicated in the team description near the end of the application. Identification of co-PIs is important for discerning situations where actions might be required to address an apparent or actual conflict of interest during review.

Can an applicant apply to more than one AITC?

Yes. An applicant can submit multiple unique applications. Because the application platform accepts only one application per email account, a PI designated on multiple applications must use a different email address for each application.

Can you define the age range for "older Americans" as described in the call for pilot applications?

Older Americans typically refers to individuals age 65 and over. Depending on the issue under study, use of an age range that begins younger (e.g., age 50 or 55) or is limited to the oldest old (e.g., age 80 and above), might be appropriate.

To what extent are applicants required to include a commercialization plan?

An applicant is not required to include a business plan for how the product will be commercialized. However, an indication of future commercialization and/or a clear impact on improving care or health for older adults, such as development of open resources that supports future AI research, is critical.

Is a slide presentation required for application submission?

The slide presentation, which can include charts and figures, is required and must be submitted at the time of the application. The project video description is optional.

Is there an example of an application or the format for it?

Applicant institutions are encouraged to register at aitc.a2pilotawards.ai to view the application form in advance of the application deadline.

Are all pilot applications subject to a common review and award process?

Generally yes. Each AITC is responsible for reviewing and prioritizing the applications that it receives. All AITCs have agreed to use the same application process and apply the same evaluation criteria. An AITC, at its discretion, may request supplemental materials or an additional Q&A session with the applicant institution as part of its overall evaluation.  

AITCs will assign their reviewers to score each application and provide written comments. Any potential conflict of interests that might arise during the review process are managed consistent with the NIH rules for peer review of all types of grants programs.

If selected for conditional award, the a2 Collective will work with applicants to complete the required NIH forms. Applicants will indicate overall budgetary needs, as well as need for Institutional Review Board (IRB) or foreign component review. Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out directly to the AITCs to discuss pay-for-use resources that may need to be factored into the application's budget. Upon concurrence by the NIA, the AITC will execute subaward agreements to pilot awardee institutions. Funding is expected to be dispensed using a milestone billing approach.

Does the proposed technology or solution need to include AI or can it be technology-based with the potential for AI involvement?

The solution can be technology-based with the potential for leveraging AI in later project phases.

Does the technology solution need to be fully ready for pilot funding at the time of evaluation, be at a minimum viable product stage, or include a prototype?

Minimum viable products or technology solutions with a prototypes are within scope. Applicants have access to the core facilities to conduct usability testing or lab-based assessments of solution transfer in home or care settings.

Who owns the intellectual property (IP) developed using AITC funds?

Generally, universities claim ownership of IP generated by any of its employees using substantial university resources. However, if an awarding institution is not a university, then typically, your and/or your institution/company would retain IP rights of anything developed under an AITC award.  

The AITC university may claim partial IP rights of material generated through substantial collaboration with other university labs and personnel, including PIs, employees, and students. Prior to entering into a collaboration, the awardee should contact the university’s technology transfer office to discuss the potential division of IP rights.

How is involvement of human subjects handled?

To protect the rights and welfare of human subjects, all research projects involving human subjects activities might require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, data and safety monitoring plan (if applicable), and Federal-wide Assurance and certification of human subjects research training prior to release of project funds. Although IRB approval is not required at time of submission, the application should briefly describe any human subjects issues. For more information about IRB approval, please click here.

What are the terms and conditions of the grant?

Chapter 15 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement includes the requirements for the recipient under consortium agreements in which the recipient collaborates with one or more other organizations in carrying out the grant-supported research. The AITCs will be the direct and primary recipient of NIH/NIA grant funds, is accountable to NIA for the appropriate expenditure of grant funds and applicable reporting requirements, among other responsibilities, as specified in the NIH Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS). In general, the requirements that apply to the recipient, including the intellectual property requirements in Part II Subpart A and the program income requirements of the award, also apply to consortium participant(s). Exceptions are noted in Chapter 15. The AITCs will include the applicable requirements of the NIHGPS in its agreements with collaborating organizations (see Written Agreement in Chapter 15), which are incorporated herein by reference.