a2 Pilot Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

What organizations are eligible to apply for a2 Pilot Awards?

Eligible institutions must have a Unique Entity ID (UEI) number and include 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. 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 National Institutes of Health Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS), are allowed.

May I apply if I am not a U.S. citizen?

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

Does the principal investigator (PI) need a PhD?

No. A PI can be any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed project. Applicants from populations that are underrepresented in the artificial intelligence (AI) and technology fields as well as individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply for funding.

Are individuals or projects that have received prior National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding eligible?

Individuals who have previously received NIH funding are eligible and welcome to apply. However, NIH policy prohibits overlapping support for the same research. Thus, applicants who have received previous NIH funding, such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards, are only eligible to apply to the a2 Pilot Awards with a project or technology that has not received support from other NIH sources.

Are projects with existing collaborations with universities, research centers, or funding sources eligible to apply?

Existing collaborations and funding are not disqualifiers, as long as (1) the project has not received previous NIH funding, (2) the portion of the research to be supported by a pilot award is not already funded by another federal office, and (3) all potential conflicts of interest relevant to any AITC institution that may arise from existing partnerships are reported in the application.

Does the project team and work site(s) have to be located in a particular state?

The project team and work sites may be located anywhere in the United States. Any foreign (non-U.S.) components require clearance by the U.S. State Department.

What are the sources of funding?

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

How many a2 Pilot Awards are available?

We anticipate that 15-30 grants will be awarded in the second 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 (typical requests are in the $50,000 to $200,000 range). 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 (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.

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 in spring 2023, assuming there are no delays in receiving approvals from NIA, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, as applicable.

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 begin the project within 4 months of an offer of funding, the AITC 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.

Is the funding structured as a loan or investment?

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

Can I apply to the a2 Pilot Awards competition more than once?

Yes. Applicants may apply to each a2 Pilot Awards competition and may submit applications for multiple unique pilot projects 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, support pilots, and help projects come to fruition in real-world settings. As such, there are opportunities for follow-up funding and long-term partnerships beyond the pilot project via future a2 Pilot Awards competitions, SBIR/STTR grants, or other venture funding.

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

Applicants are encouraged but not required to use AITC resources to augment their pilot projects, which may require an on-site collaborator and budget allocation to pay-for-use AITC resources. 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. However, projects that do not include an on-site collaborator or direct use of AITC resources are still eligible to receive a pilot award.

PIs of funded pilot projects are expected to engage with their AITC in ongoing mentoring and oversight activities 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.

What is the application process?

The anticipated application cycle will be as follows:  

1. Preliminary (Round 1) Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. ET on Aug. 15, 2022.
2. AITCs will review applications on a rolling basis. Those who are invited to submit a Full (Round 2) Application will receive notification by Sept. 16, 2022. Applicants who are not invited to complete a Full Application will also receive direct notification.
3. Invited Full (Round 2) Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. ET on Oct. 31, 2022.
4. AITCs will review Full Applications on a rolling basis and make conditional awardee decisions in early December 2022.
5. NIA formal award notification is expected in spring 2023.

Who will review the applications?

Applications will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of experts from each respective AITC. Once AITCs have selected conditional awardees, NIA Program Officials will conduct final review and approval of awards.

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, the other AITCs will have an opportunity to review the application for potential funding consideration.

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

Although not required, applicants are encouraged to reach out to their AITC of choice to discuss their project and AITC resources of interest in order to assess feasibility and application readiness. AITCs can also provide support related to questions about previous a2 Pilot Awards applications, budgetary information for the use of AITC resources, and potential collaborations. Reaching out to the AITC as early as possible in the application process is strongly recommended. Prospective applicants can reach JH AITC at , MassAITC via their online scheduling tool, and PennAITech at pennaitech@nursing.upenn.edu.

Are applications allowed to have multiple PIs?

Yes. The application portal requires identification of the submitting PI. Co-PIs can be indicated in additional key personnel profiles within the application.

Can an applicant apply to more than one AITC?

Yes. An applicant can propose multiple unique pilot projects by submitting separate applications, which may be submitted to different AITCs. Simultaneous submission of the same pilot project to multiple AITCs is not permitted. 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.

What is the target age range represented in the a2 Pilot Awards’ call for AI and technology solutions that improve care and health outcomes for older adults?

Older adults typically include individuals aged 65 years and over. However, 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), may 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 potential or a clear impact on improving care or health outcomes for older adults, such as development of open resources that support future AI research, is critical.

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

Prospective applicants can view PDFs of the Preliminary (Round 1) Application and Invited Full (Round 2) Application in our Resources section.To begin a Preliminary Application submission, please click the Apply button here. The Preliminary Application will be open from July 1, 2022, to Aug. 15, 2022. The Invited Full (Round 2) Application will be open to invited applicants from Sept. 16, 2022, to Oct. 31, 2022.

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 broad evaluation criteria. An AITC, at its discretion, may request supplemental materials or an interview as part of its overall evaluation.  

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

The a2 Collective will work with applicants who are selected for conditional award to complete the required NIH forms. Applicants will indicate overall budgetary needs, as well as need for IRB or foreign component review. Upon concurrence by 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 prototypes are within scope. Awardees have access to the AITC 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?

The AITC university may claim partial IP rights of material generated through substantial collaboration with 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 much detail on proprietary methods should be included in applications?

Although the AITCs expect a substantial description of the project’s approach, relevance, and aims, applicants should not include any IP in their applications that would normally be protected by a non-disclosure agreement.

How is involvement of human subjects handled?

To protect the rights and welfare of human subjects, all projects involving human subjects research will require additional documentation and safety measures, which may include a safety officer, IRB approval, data and safety monitoring plan, 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 must include human subjects research and exemptions information. NIH offers a decision tool that provides additional guidance on how to answer application questions on human subjects research.

What are the terms and conditions of the grant?

Chapter 15 of the NIHGPS 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 and will be accountable to NIA for the appropriate expenditure of grant funds and applicable reporting requirements, among other responsibilities, as specified in the NIHGPS. In general, the requirements that apply to the recipient, including the IP 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 their agreements with collaborating organizations (see Written Agreement in Chapter 15), which are incorporated herein by reference.

Whom should prospective applicants contact about a question not answered here?

For questions about the application or any resources provided on this website, please contact support@a2collective.ai. For questions about individual AITC resources, a specific project’s fit with AITC emphases, or a prior a2 Pilot Awards application, please contact the AITC of interest directly. Prospective applicants can reach JH AITC at jhu-aitc@jh.edu, MassAITC via their online scheduling tool, and PennAITech at pennaitech@nursing.upenn.edu.

Updated 8/1/2022