Where should I submit my EOI?

PIs from RTI, Duke, NC A&T, NC Central, and UNC-Chapel Hill should submit their EOIs directly through the Forethought portal.

NC State PIs should submit their EOIs via email to the Research Development Office (RDO) no later than 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 April 2021. The RDO will be responsible for submitting all EOIs from NC State PIs to the Forethought portal.

Can researchers submit multiple Expressions of Interest (EOI)?

Yes. For the EOI stage—step one—there is not any limit on how many submissions are made. Researchers can submit multiple EOIs.

Are researchers from institutions other than those explicitly listed in the challenge eligible to participate in Forethought?

For the EOI stage—step one—a PI from RTI, Duke, NC A&T, NC Central, NC State, or UNC-Chapel Hill is eligible to submit a (or multiple) proposal(s). The EOI can, but does not have to, list other institutional partners. For the later stages, this proposal team would need to include RTI plus three of the institutions listed above. Researchers from other institutions are also welcome to join the proposal team.

What is the necessary involvement of RTI in the project? Does alignment with RTI's ongoing areas of research weigh heavily in the review process?

Though it is not a requirement for the EOI, in the subsequent stages of the process RTI staff MUST be on each team. Proposed projects should align with current broad areas of interest to RTI. Team members cannot be contrived; they must be active participants and add synergies and value to the project.

What is the desired scope and scale of the proposed project?

While RTI and the university partners listed in the Forethought challenge are grounded in the Research Triangle area, their impact extends regionally, nationally, and internationally. Forethought is designed to draw upon the inherent strengths of these institutions, encouraging them to dream big and co-create something that will have a positive, lasting societal impact. The scope and scale of the project proposal is open—it can be focused regionally, nationally, internationally, or some combination.

What is the budget scope of the project?

The EOI stage does not have any budget requirements and, as such, does not include any budget guidance. The challenge is open and will be guided by the quality of the proposed ideas and teams. RTI is committing $5M.

What is the anticipated period of performance for proposed projects?

We expect that the period of performance for proposed Forethought projects will be multiple years.

Is the challenge open to nonprofit and/or corporate partners?

The initial EOI must be submitted from a PI from RTI, Duke, NC A&T, NC Central, NC State, or UNC-Chapel Hill. Nonprofit and/or corporate partners may be listed at the EOI stage or be included as part of the proposal team, which would need to include RTI plus three of the above-referenced institutions, at a later stage.

Are letters of support for industry, nonprofit or academic/RTI units required at the EOI stage?

No. Letters of support are not required at the EOI stage. Please refer to the portal for guidance on what should be included at the EOI stage.

Why did RTI decide to create this regional challenge call?

RTI and our Board of Governors, including representatives from the universities involved in Forethought: The RTI $5M+ Research Collaboration Challenge, believe that we can create greater innovation and impact by working together.

Understandably, each institution looks to build capabilities within. We intend for this challenge to bring together researchers and capabilities across our region to build an impactful program on a scale that could not be done by any one institution alone. A successful team needs to lay out a convincing vision that demonstrates appreciation of regional priorities and what is true multi-institutional collaboration. Proposals with strong interdisciplinary features will be reviewed more favorably.

How many awards will be made?

We anticipate at least one team emerging from this challenge. Our intent is to quickly and significantly build and scale the program area selected. This will require the mobilization of not only financial resources, but also other resources—which may include infrastructure support and other services.

Who will review the proposals?

The URCC, with additional support from leaders within RTI and the universities, will review proposals. URCC members include the following:

  • Dr. Christy Shaffer (Committee Chair), General Partner, Hatteras Venture Partners
  • Dr. Peter Lange (Committee Vice Chair), Thomas A. Langford University Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Policy and Provost Emeritus, Duke University
  • Dr. Warwick Arden, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, North Carolina State University
  • Thomas F. Darden, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cherokee Investment Partners
  • Dr. Sally Kornbluth, Provost, Duke University
  • Dr. Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dr. Harold L. Martin Sr., Chancellor, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Peter M. Scott III (Board Chair), Former CFO, Progress Energy; Former President and CEO, Progress Energy Services Company

What criteria will the selection committee use to choose the winning team(s)?

We will evaluate teams according to the following criteria:

  1. Does the concept clearly articulate a major societal issue and proposed solution?
  2. Does the proposal demonstrate (1) the engagement of teams across institutions and (2) the capabilities and value that the various organizations bring to the consortium? Does the proposal explain in sufficient detail how the teams will work together synergistically to accomplish the proposed objectives?
  3. Does the proposed solution involve development of new and innovative approaches—including technological solutions, as well as humanistic issues and approaches that overcome obstacles for technological adoption?
  4. What is the potential for societal impact?

Will informational webinars be recorded?

Whenever possible, informational webinars will be recorded and posted to the Forethought portal.

Is any idea out of bounds?

No sector or field is out of bounds for this competition. All proposals, however, should advance the mission of RTI International—improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.