a2 Pilot Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

Budget
Data Sharing and IP
Human Subjects Research
Eligibility
Funding and Terms
Process
Evaluation
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 third 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 $100,000 range). Individual AITCs may impose additional restrictions on costs; applicants should consult specific AITC requests for applications for additional budgetary guidance.

Larger projects supported by multiple AITCs are possible; however, multi-AITC applications will only be considered if all AITCs from which support is requested have been consulted and provided preliminary approval prior to submission.

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. Your institution can request indirect costs at its federally negotiated facilities and administrative (F&A) rate. Organizations that do not have a federally negotiated rate are entitled to a de minimis 10 percent indirect rate. SBIR/STTR rates and policies do not apply to this program.

If a funded pilot project represents two (or more) organizations working together, are multiple contracts issued or does the primary applicant subcontract to the other organization(s)?

Although this may vary by AITC and project, pilot awards granted to multi-organization projects will generally be made as subawards to the prime applicant organization, with funds to other organizations flowing through the prime subaward. In all cases, the project's contact PI must be affiliated with the U.S.-based prime applicant organization; additional individuals from subcontract organizations may serve as co-PIs.

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 (including travel to the a2 National Symposium), (4) equipment, 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.

How will funds be provided?

Funds are provided on a reimbursement basis. Project teams will invoice for expenses incurred on a schedule set by their AITC (typically quarterly). Funds will not be available as a lump sum disbursement and applicants selected for award should not incur costs for which they expect AITC reimbursement until a subaward agreement with the AITC’s institution has been executed.

When will funding commence for selected projects?

We expect the formal confirmation of awards in spring 2024, assuming no delays occur in receiving approvals from NIA, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), or 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 to 12 months. A no-cost extension of 1 additional year can be requested. 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.

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

Yes. The purpose of the AITC program is to connect applicants to resources, support pilots, and help projects come to fruition in real-world settings. Opportunities for follow-up funding and long-term partnerships beyond the pilot project may include future a2 Pilot Awards funding, 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 relevant AITC 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. Required activities include attending the third annual a2 National Symposium, to be held in Boston, MA, in spring 2025.

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 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.