RFP Questions and Answers

SM Innovation Center RFP QUESTIONS and ANSWERS:

Any questions regarding this opportunity can be submitted to smicprojects.info@cesmii.org (an attempt will be made to answer all questions).

1 What is the vision for a SMIC after the 16 month period of performance? We are looking for SMICs and service offering models that generates revenue at both the SMIC level and the CESMII level to allow both of us to be sustainable and an ongoing offering to our membership as CCESMII enters to become a nonprofit once DOE funding has ended. We’re looking for SMIC partners that can help us achieve sustainability both at the institute level and the SMIC level.
2 Is financial sustainability a critical element of the SMIC proposal? Yes, in the template, we are looking for a business case. Looking for partners who can promote Smart Manufacturing, work with your ecosystem and continue on, self-sustainability, after the 16 month period of performance.
3 Is paper/pulp also a vertical target in RFP3-SMIC? Yes, we’re looking to expand upon NCSU. If you have paper/pulp that brings in a different dimension that NC State, we would be happy to look at it.  There are no market verticals that are ruled out.  If there is a significant ecosystem that will benefit from CESMII Smart Manufacturing technology, we are interested.
4 Would work done by a local MEP be considered cost share?  Would funding that we receive from a local MEP that are administered by a state agency be considered as cost share? No, since MEPs are funded by NIST you wouldn’t be allowed to use federal dollars as cost share.
5 How mature is the SMIP? Will it support IoT apps for a working manufacturing plant? Or is it an R&D tool? Good answers for both, absolutely being used by real manufacturers in real mfg environments. Over time, as these deployments scale up, we will see the SMIP play significant role in how the entire manufacturing ecosystem can deliver Smart manufacturing. Our high level goal – to reduce the cost of deploying SM by 50%.   The CESMII SM Innovation Platform represents the only hope of achieving the objective.  Interoperability, portability, reusability of configuration and code really can only be done through this type of infrastructure.
6 Can a SMIC applicant submit multiple proposals along with multiple academic institutions? Yes, as long as they’re covering different dimensions.
7 How does monetization happen for a participant and CESMII after the 16-month period? With the capabilities that we represent and bring through Education and Workforce Development (EWD), the IP being created, the projects executed, the innovation platform, etc., we believe there are significant ways for SMICs to become self-sustaining. As industry and your consortia come up with great ideas to innovate, you will have a vehicle for developing IP and bringing it to the marketplace, to be monitized. Revenue share opportunities in training and outreach are opportunities that generate new membership for CESMII and revenue for SMICs. 
8 Will strategy or feasibility studies be considered? Feasibility studies can be used as part of your offerings that you provide for your stakeholders.
9 Does all of IP developed under SMIC funding remain with organization.  Are there any shared IP rights? The Intellectual Property rights reside with the inventor of the IP and they cross-license with other parties.
10 What is the expected audience for the Smart Manufacturing training? SMIP users? Would we be the teachers or just the hosts? We do plan to share our expertise, capabilities and curricula with people in your organizations, for you to deploy, so that you are prepared and have CESMII-sanctioned materials to deliver to different audiences.  The intent is to make SMICs the local center of excellence for Smart Manufacturing education, technology education as well as hands on access to a working platform and learning system.
11 What’s the difference between a SMIC and a SMIC satellite? On the west coast, where CESMII is managed as part of UCLA, we’d like to have more of a spoke and hub model. Attributes that the SMICs don’t have to be, but tend to be on lower end of funding. Ideally we’re looking for full SMIC proposals, as satellites are more of an occasional thing.
12 Is this a Grant or Contract? And is it FAR-based? We do have options, especially for academics, where you can have in-kind be a part of your membership contribution.
13 Can our membership dues be an in-kind contribution? Projects can be highlighted by CESMII through webinars, panels and the web site – provided the project team approves of the content of the case study.
14 Suppose a team of multiple institutions apply for a SMIC, if awarded does every institution on the team have to become a CESMII member? Yes, the team lead and all team members will all need to be members of CESMII to participate.
15 Would a proposed SMIC that had a vertiical focus as well as a horizontal focus be unfavorably reviewed because of the dual focus? (e.g., Consumer Packaged Goods and Small to Mid-Sized Manufacturers)? We welcome that, it would be favorable. The more verticals or horizontal , THE more excited we are to look at the proposal.
16 Can we offer the SM Innovation Platform (SMIP) classwork as part of our current offering of webinar/classes that we charge for? This class will need to be free for active SMIP project teams/ members? Yes that could be part of your offerings. We would train you on how to train others on the platform.
17 What happens after 16mos? Does the organization retain SMIC designation? 16 months is when our DOE funding ends, but we are looking to be a sustainable institute. We look to have a nonprofit, ongoing relationship with the SMICs after the 16 months period has ended.
18 Can a partnership be a university and a company? Absolutely, we welcome that. We understand academia has some things and companies have others, so we welcome it.
19 I didn’t see guidelines on F & A or indirect cost rates. Can you offer any guidance? We will post a link shortly
20 Regarding the toolsets that are built into the platform, are there options to bring additional tools if they align to the technology stack supporting the existing site? In general, how flexible is the Platform? We anticipate to identify additional hardware and software partners to invest in your mfg environment on top of the platform.
21 The Template “Go/No-Go” references a business plan that will show how the SMIC will be financialy sustainable – can you elaborate on that, please, including anticipated revenue streams, as well as what should be included in the proposal? (e.g., is that business plan part of the proposal or developed later for a renewal request)? Looking for SMIC partners already up and running, already engaging in a meaningful way with industry. You can augment that through CESMII services and membership to generate revenue streams.  We are looking for people to help promote those revenue streams as a partner of CESMII.
22 The RFP says that we can submit proposals before we are a member in good standing. Can I submit a proposal before applying for membership? Will I have time to convert into a member if I win the call? Yes, you can wait until after the proposal announcement phase to become a member.
23 Can we preview the course content detail? A link to past SMIC training classes on the website.
24 For the events that are requirements for our selected programs, I understand CESMII will cover the costs of their experts coming to the event.  For the costs that will be incurred on our end what do those costs typically look like? Are these 1 day event, food included, use of printed material or only digital, etc.For a typical event assume that you need to cover event facility rental costs, audio visual, catering, parking, and attendee registration.  Generally speaking an event is 8am – 1pm with lunch being served,  and attendees are 50
25 What are the costs for train the trainer? Do we come there or does someone come here? If we go there, are all travel expenses on us? (travel, lodging, food, etc.) There is no one standard answer as it depends on the nature of the course material that we are training for.  In some scenarios we can do the training virtually, we send someone to your location (at no cost to you), or your team needs to come to CESMII HQ for training.  For proposal budgeting purposes assume one trip for your trainer team to travel to CESMII HQ in Los Angeles.   You will need to cover all travel expenses (travel, lodging, food, etc.)
26 Can you provide more information on the commitment letters that will be required at the contracting stage? Who must provide the letters and what do they contain? The lead SMIC Partner organization must provide a cost-share commitment letter of the general form shown in the Cost Share template (.docx). This letter supports the cost-share amount provided in the SMIC Partner’s proposal budget. If there are any SMIC Team members and if they are committing cost share then they also must provide a similar letter for their portion of the budget.
27 For industry to partner with a SMIC, must they also join and become members of CESMII? If you chose to have an industry partner on your SMIC proposal then they must become a member of CESMII along with your organization.
28 Do any SMICs also have their own membership structure, in addition to the CESMII membership structure? In the context of a SMIC helping prospect new CESMII members, the only membership structure that the SMIC utilizes is the CESMII membership structure. Some SMIC’s may have pre-existing membership consortia that have their own membership model. If this pre-existing consortia is being utilized/leveraged as part of the SMIC Partner’s proposal, then the proposal should provide the details on how this can be achieved.

To start, is it sufficient that our proposal include software and technologies we have developed/are developing that we think would be useful to offer through CESMII marketplace?

Or, in addition, in the proposal is it required for us at this stage to name vendors whose software and technologies we would also make available to the marketplace beyond just our own?

At a minimum, this should be included.


This is preferred, but not required, as long as you and your vendor partners are comfortable doing this, and you both are not violating any confidentiality agreements.


We are putting together a proposal for the upcoming SMIC program and I have a question about the proposal format.
1) The cover page lists the service offerings as:
a) Showcase Smart Manufacturing Methods through the SM Innovation Platform
b) Host CESMII Outreach Events
c) SM Innovation Platform Testbeds to Showcase Manufacturing Process Improv.
d) EWD Training Partner
e) EWD Content Partner
f) SM Consulting / Benchmarking / Assessment Services

On Page 4 of the RFP the service offerings are listed as:
a) Showcase Smart Manufacturing Methods through the SM Innovation Platform:
b) Host CESMII Outreach events:
c) SM Innovation Platform Testbeds to Showcase Manufacturing Process Improvements:
d) EWD Training Partner:
e) Smart Manufacturing knowledge sharing / Benchmarking /Assessment Services (shown twice):
It looks like EWD Content Partner is missing from the list on Page 4 of the template. So my questions on this are:
Is “EWD Content Partner one of the possible service offerings for a SMIC” a possible service offering?
Also I note that Consulting is replaced with Knowledge Sharing in listed items f and e respectively. Is SM Consulting and Knowledge Sharing considered to be the same thing and if so which of these terms do you prefer.

Apologize for the typographical error in the document. On page 4, EWD Content partner is still a possible service offering for a SMIC. We prefer the term “knowledge sharing” as that aligns to the RFP document. We will update this template document on the website.


On page 4 of the template the RFP has a large amount of text to describe potential services and requests that the applicant check the boxes that apply. My question is:

Do you want the descriptive text that is currently in the template to also appear in the proposal? If so does this text count toward the 15 page limit? 

The descriptive text does not need to appear in the proposal, only the service name (i.e. the bold text on page 4). The proposal has a 15-page limit.





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