Friday, February 9th, 2024, 5pm PT Contact RII.
LOI: April 9, 2024
External Deadline: June 11, 2024
Award Type: Standard Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 10
Anticipated Award Amount: $10,000,000
Who May Serve as PI: The PI must be a faculty member at the Lead Organization or permanent staff person from a non-profit, non-academic organization with authority to act on behalf of the organization. Co-PIs listed on the Cover Sheet may be from organizations other than the Lead Organization.
Link to Award: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2023/nsf23604/nsf23604.htm
Process for Limited Submissions
PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Research Initiatives and Infrastructure (RII) Application Portal: https://rii.usc.edu/oor-portal/. Use the template provided here: RII Limited Submission Applicant Template
Materials to submit include:
- (1) Two-Page Proposal Summary (1” margins; single-spaced; standard font type, e.g. Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt). Page limit includes references and illustrations. Pages that exceed the 2-page limit will be excluded from review. You must use the template linked above.
- (2) CV – (5 pages maximum)
Note: The portal requires information about the PIs in addition to department and contact information, including the 10-digit USC ID#, Gender, and Ethnicity. Please have this material prepared before beginning this application.
Note: The full NQVL program will be implemented in multiple iterations, each with its own solicitation. The present solicitation applies only to the Pilot phase of the Quantum Science and Technology Demonstration (QSTD) component. The full scope across all three phases of this component is outlined here to help prospective proposers decide on the scale and scope of their proposals to this solicitation within the context of anticipated future goals for the entire program.
The Quantum Science and Technology Demonstration (QSTD) projects form the scientific and technological core efforts the NQVL is designed to enable. Each QSTD project will have identified a technology goal that has the potential for demonstrating quantum advantage that could lead to translation in the near term. Each project will also have identified a potential pathway for achieving this goal, including the basic science from which the pathway derives, the participants and skill-sets critical for the success of the project, and the user community that will derive the benefit. The phase-wise development that is planned for each project recognizes that this is a fluid process. Plans proposed at the beginning will have to be modified as detailed design and then implementation proceeds. Challenges are to be expected and must be addressed in the time allowed. Additional members with special expertise may need to be included to address these gaps. Feedback from potential users may suggest modifications necessary to deliver a useful end product. And systems engineering steps along the way may dictate changes and/or suggest improvements that speed up the process. The NQVL infrastructure provides the framework through which these changes can be implemented smoothly and quickly. In addition, the NQVL infrastructure will foster essential collaboration, coordination, and cooperation between the various QSTD projects, which might have a different technology focus. This will help identify gaps that apply to more than just a single project, thus magnifying the impact of developments along the way. Activities in areas of common interest or capabilities that benefit more than one QSTD project may be supported separately to maximize synergies and optimize resource allocations. It is also possible that these supporting developments could in turn lead to their own applications independently of the quantum advantage goal. Support for the acquisition or development and implementation of research infrastructure may also be included. The QSTD projects will also develop effective strategies for education and workforce development.
The QSTD projects fall into the category of long-duration NSF investments that require substantial funding over multiple award cycles. They are expected to be developed in three phases: Pilot, Design, and Implementation. Each phase will be the subject of a separate solicitation and will evolve into the next as the projects are refined and increasingly focused on prototype development and future translation.
1. The Pilot phase is focused on the development of the conceptual design of the QSTD project. Specifically, the team will:
- Refine the science questions;
- Define requirements and prioritize research objectives;
- Identify enabling technologies and risks;
- Identify critical partnerships and dependencies;
- Develop top-down cost and contingency estimates;
- Formulate initial risk assessment;
- Draft initial Project Execution Plan; and
- Draft initial Workforce Development Plan.
In the Pilot phase, each QSTD team will convene a QISE community town hall meeting seeking community input, foster an open scientific dialogue, collect baseline data to aid in the development of a diverse workforce development plan, and ensure the broad participation of the entire QISE community. The outcome of this activity, in addition to addressing the specific requirements, will be a QISE Strategic Plan for addressing the topic of the QSTD Pilot. The QISE Strategic Plans are living documents that will be updated as needed. It is expected that the plans to accomplish the proposed scope of work, the methods involved, and the Pilot team may evolve over the course of the various phases. The Pilot phase will be 12 months duration at a funding level of up to $1,000,000 per project.
NSF strongly suggests that the Pilot teams secure the services of a professional Project Manager.
2. The Design phase is focused on the preliminary design development of the QSTD project.
A successful Design proposal will incorporate the QSTD preliminary project design, demonstrate technical readiness, and include planning for the total anticipated QSTD project lifetime. Design proposals must also include an appropriately scaled Project Execution Plan (PEP) describing how the project will be managed, the scope of work in a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) format along with a WBS dictionary, the budget estimate and basis of estimate for each WBS element, and the risk or uncertainty in the budget estimate accompanied by the methodology for risk and budget contingency estimation. A resource-loaded schedule may also be required to support the proposed QSTD system integration funding profile. Projection of implementation costs should be revisited in an updated plan for the implementation component of the QSTD project. The Design phase may take up to two years at a cost of $2,000,000 per year.
Specifically, the team will:
- Develop enabling technology;
- Update risk analysis, develop risk mitigation strategies;
- Develop bottom-up cost and contingency estimates;
- Develop preliminary operations cost;
- Develop Project Management Control System;
- Develop preliminary Project Execution Plan;
- Develop preliminary Workforce Development Plan; and
- Identify key staff.
NSF requires that each Design team includes a professional Project Manager as part of the project leadership.
3. The Implementation phase includes the final design of the first-generation QSTD system, followed by the system integration and subsequent operations of this initial prototype, while at the same time pursuing the development of the enabling technology for the next-generation QSTD system.
The Implementation phase includes two components: first-generation design completion, assembly, and operations (Gen-1) and next-generation technology development (Gen-n). The Gen-1 component will proceed in two stages, locking in the final design (Final Design stage), followed by developing the first prototype and assembling and enabling the first users, or operations (Operations stage). It is expected that the subsequent Gen-n phase will proceed simultaneously with the Operations stage as the developers build off the experience gained with actual use, as envisioned in the co-design approach.
For the Final Design stage, the QSTD proposal demonstrates that the enabling research and technology development for the first-generation QSTD system integration project is completed, and that bid packages for major contracts or acquisitions have been completed. The QSTD system integration budget estimate for the first-generation QSTD is refined so that it is based substantially on externally provided information rather than internal engineering estimates (vendor quotes, budgetary estimates, etc.) Key staff members needed to manage project activities are recruited and ready to commence system integration. Commitments from external partners in the activity are confirmed. The largest and most complex projects are encouraged to use appropriately scaled Earned Value Management reporting during system integration and should prepare an Earned Value Management System during this phase in readiness for system integration.
During the Final Design stage, with a duration of two (2) years, the team will:
- Harden key technologies;
- Refine bottom-up cost and contingency estimates;
- Finalize risk assessment and mitigation plan;
- Finalize Project Management plan;
- Develop Project Execution Plan (PEP);
- Finalize Workforce Development Plan (WDP); and
- Complete recruitment of key staff.
During the Final Design stage, the team may have Monthly Oversight meetings with NSF Program staff. The team may be required to submit Intermediate Reports monthly via Research.gov.
NSF will conduct a site visit panel review of each Implementation project eighteen (18) months into the award period. The purpose of the review would be to assess the progress made by the team, provide feedback, and evaluate the readiness of the team to advance to the Operations stage of the QSTD Implementation phase.
During the Operations stage, the team activities will focus on:
- System integration, testing, commissioning of the QSTD;
- Operations and user support once a QSTD system is accepted by NSF; and
- Development of the technology needed for and design for the next-generation QSTD.
During all activities in the Implementation phase, the team may have Monthly Oversight meetings with NSF Program staff. The team will be required to submit Intermediate Reports quarterly via Research.gov.
NSF may conduct annual site visit panel reviews of each QSTD:Implementation project in the Operations stage. The purpose of the review would be to assess the progress made by the team and provide feedback.
QSTD awards for projects in the Implementation phase will be in the form of cooperative agreements that contain terms and conditions specific to the nature and risks associated with the project.
Each phase of the QSTD projects will follow on the previous phase and constitutes the next step in the refinement of the project. At each phase proposals will be invited only from those teams, or combinations thereof, who have participated in the previous phase. The Implementation phase can be expected to last for five years, with a possibility of one renewal, at a cost between $7,000,000 and $10,000,000 per year.
Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for more updates and other announcements.