identify the proposals of highest merit and explain why those proposals were considered the strongest. It was also asked to comment on the proposals deemed to be of lesser merit.
The committee’s expertise included nanotechnology and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), sensors, controls, R&D commercialization, computing, data networks, data management, power and fuel cells, propulsion, manufacturing, photochemistry, electro-optics, bio-processing, polymers and other materials, and gas turbines. Attachment 1 contains short biographical sketches of the committee members.
Before final appointment to the committee, prospective members were screened for potential fiduciary and/or financial interests they or their immediate family members might have had in any of the organizations and institutions submitting proposals. In addition, the Executive Office of the Division of Engineering and Physical Sciences within the National Academies held a bias-and-conflict discussion when the committee first met in December 2004 for the FY2005 proposal review to verify (1) that no conflicts of interest existed and (2) that the committee membership was properly constituted with regard to technical expertise and any strongly held beliefs relevant to the proposals being reviewed. None of the 14 committee members had a conflict of interest, and the committee was deemed to be properly balanced.
This is the first of two reports to be authored by this committee regarding the review of the FY2005 Wright Centers of Innovation Award program proposals. The specific intent of this first report is to identify the proposals of greatest merit as well as comment on all proposals.
A second report will be issued on or about February 28, 2005. The second report will be completed after the committee meets with proposal management teams that will be invited by the staff of the Ohio Department of Development to a management review meeting. The intent of the second report is to go into further detail on the merits of the top proposals once the committee has had an opportunity to address its concerns at the management review.
The nine Wright Center proposals were judged against four basic criteria described in the RFP, which is discussed in the next section. Each proposal was reviewed by at least 12 of the 14 committee members prior to the meeting on December 15-16, 2004. Six of the nine proposals requested capital funds and operational funds. Three established Wright Centers requested only operational funds. The State of Ohio asked that the committee develop one list in order of merit for all nine proposals independent of the type and amount of funds requested.
At the start of that meeting, and in open session, the committee heard from two members of the Ohio Department of Development: Norm Chagnon, Staff director of the Third Frontier Program and Marc Cloutier, Special Assistant for Biotechnology, Technology Division. They discussed the overall objectives of the Wright Centers of Innovation program and then answered questions from the committee members concerning many aspects of the program. The committee then went into closed session to discuss and to agree on a common understanding of the requirements presented in the RFP so that all proposals might be judged on an equal basis. Specifically, the committee agreed that in order to meet the criteria, a proposal must first and foremost be of high technical quality. The proposal must also show strong interest from a variety of organizations with committed cost share and/or in-kind funding. The committee placed a strong emphasis on the commercialization potential of the technologies being proposed for development. The committee also discussed and agreed on the process to be employed in the evaluation of the nine proposals.