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ANNOUNCEMENT OF FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITY
Business-to-Business Network Pilots
NIST invites eligible applicants to submit proposals to establish pilot projects that will develop, deploy and maintain a Business-to-Business Network (B2B Network) to support active business opportunity, supplier, technology and/or market matching within regions of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership System. Regions may be those of individual Centers, multi-Center, state-wide or multi-state. Proposed projects should consist of teams with expertise in business opportunity identification, technology identification and translation, and market and technology scouting, as detailed further below.
Over the life of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a frequent need has been demonstrated for a business and technology matching system that supports the work of MEP Centers with their clients in finding timely business opportunities, meeting outstanding technology needs and making known supplier capabilities and capacities to new potential customers. Previous attempts to develop and deploy a robust network to achieve these types of matching have not fully met expectations for breadth/depth of use and impacts. Several opportunities for improvement were identified that should increase the use and impacts including (1) an active, human network to enter and extract timely, relevant information on the various opportunities, actively manage content related to opportunities and the hands-on client knowledge needed to make effective, efficient matches; (2) a flexible IT platform/solution that is responsive to the needs of the MEP system; (3) a sustainable business model for B2B Network transactions conducted on the network; (4) more robust content management related to the business, technology and market opportunities; and (5) a more robust education/awareness effort to demonstrate the benefits of the B2B Network to the manufacturers themselves.
The envisioned pilot B2B Network pilots are, first and foremost, human networks that are supported by underlying, appropriate technology that is easy to access and use and that contains the necessary data (i.e. technical and business) of sufficient quality, validity and timeliness that allows matches to be made in an effective, efficient manner. The B2B Network pilots must include an approach that provides for easy assignment of outcomes which can be linked to Centers in terms of direct impacts (projects, connections, commercialization, sales, etc.), postings of opportunities and information that are current or active and in which a matchmaker would have relative confidence in the figures provided in terms of value of the opportunities and outcome-based metrics upon which to evaluate network performance and efficacy. Specifically, each proposal must address the following objectives:
Who is Eligible: Eligible applicants are existing Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers. Applicants are strongly encouraged to form teaming arrangements involving multiple MEP Centers and service providers such that multiple Centers share appropriate infrastructure (hardware, software and/or services as examples) to address scouting needs on a regional level. An eligible organization may work individually or include proposed subawardees and/or contractors or other collaborators in a project proposal, effectively forming a team or consortium.
To view full Federal Funding Opportunity, click here.
B2B Network Pilot Project Time-line:
Below is an outline of the key steps along with the target timing of each. These actions will take place over the next several months. Updates and changes will be posted to this site as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Get the latest Questions and Answers by downloading the FAQ document.
Please submit questions regarding this funding Opportunity to Diane Henderson @ firstname.lastname@example.org.