Special Call for COVID-19 Ignition Grants by The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum

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Across the world, countries are being challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic in ways they have never been before. Science, Engineering, and Technology will play a critical role in finding solutions to this global challenge through the development of new vaccines, devices, diagnostic tools, and information systems, as well as strategies to help communities and nations manage and deploy resources to combat this pandemic. Global challenges call for global collaborations and partnerships, bringing together the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to work together to find solutions not only to address the current pandemic, but also for the challenges that lie ahead. Collaborations and networks not only help to leverage and share expertise across S&T communities, thereby creating synergy, but often lead to the generation of innovative and transformative solutions. Collaboration, both national and international, facilitates the development of a diverse, globally-engaged science, engineering, and technology-enabled workforce.

The United States–India Science & Technology Endowment Fund (USISTEF) seeks to support and foster joint applied R&D to generate public good through the commercialization of technology developed through sustained partnerships between U.S. and Indian researchers and entrepreneurs. The current global crisis underscores the importance and relevance of USISTEF activities.

In keeping with its’ mission and vision, the United States–India Science & Technology Endowment Fund announces a Call for Proposals under the category of Ignition Grants. USISTEF encourages out-of-thebox, innovative ideas from the community to address the COVID-19 challenge. Ignition Grant proposals should address proof-of-concept based on sound science and engineering research, potential for commercial viability and practicality of the idea / innovation / technology.

OBJECTIVES
USISTEF would select and support promising joint U.S.-India S&T based entrepreneurial initiatives that address the “development and implementation of new technologies, tools, and systems to address COVID-19 related challenges including monitoring, diagnosis, health and safety, public outreach, information and communication”. These initiatives can originate from government, academic, nongovernmental or commercial entities, and any combination thereof provided they focus on applied R&D, and have commercial potential. USISTEF would also consider proposals related to technologies/products that can be re-purposed to address COVID-19 in the current scenario. USISTEF encourages projects that demonstrate a high degree of innovation leveraging advances in science and technology.

PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION: CALL FOR PROPOSALS
The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), as the Secretariat for USISTEF, will announce a Call for Proposals that would be disseminated through the IUSSTF website, social media handles, and other networks. IUSSTF would solicit proposals under two categories:
• Ignition Stage I: To help early-stage creative ideas develop a proof-of-concept and/or build a prototype [Grant support up to INR 50,00,000/- or approx.. $66,000/-]
• Ignition Stage II: To support a team with a workable, validated prototype and/or with the ability to repurpose existing innovative solutions to meet the COVID-19 challenge [Grant support up to INR 1,00,00,000/- or approx.. $1,33,000/- ]

Applications will be accepted online from 15 April 2020 onwards with a submission deadline of 15 May 2020. While we wait for the call to open, you may like to take a look at the application format at Annexure I. Multiple submissions for the same idea/innovation are not allowed.

ELIGIBILITY
• Proposals must have at least one Indian and one U. S. partner for the complete duration of the proposed project. Primary partners from both sides must have significant and synergistic roles in the development and commercialization of technologies for the specific application described in the proposal.
• The relationship between the U.S. and Indian partners must be clearly defined, including ownership of intellectual property rights for the technology proposed to be developed and commercialized.
• At least one of the partners must be an entrepreneurial entity (preferably a small or mediumscale enterprise) and the team may include any combination of the following: (i) Incorporated companies including start-ups; or (ii) Non-incorporated entities; or (iii) Academic, governmental and non-governmental research institutions or their consortia (iv) Individuals

Funding and Award Recommendation
• It may be noted that Endowment Fund is an Indian Rupee Fund and all the awards are denominated in Indian rupees (INR) only. Awards are made in tranches according to project milestones and instalment amounts are fixed in Rupees. For U.S. Awardees, the award is transferred after converting it to USD at the prevailing exchange rate as on the date of disbursement with no adjustment made for foreign exchange rate fluctuations.
• Awards will be released in a phased manner based on successful completion of milestones. All milestones for the awards will be specified at the time of the award.
• The Board reserves the right to limit its award to selected project activities and milestones and in doing so approve partial funding.
• The teams should indicate willingness to accept the Terms and Conditions of the Award (T&C) in case the proposal is approved.

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