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REQUEST FOR RESEARCH PROPOSALS MICROSOFT RESEARCH – FAPESP


MICROSOFT RESEARCH – FAPESP INSTITUTE FOR IT RESEARCH

Public selection of proposals for research in Information Technology and Communications;

July 2010


1 Background

The goal of this research funding is to explore the application of Computer Science to the fundamental research challenges existing in areas such as Education, Healthcare/Wellbeing, Energy Production and the various disciplines covered by the Environmental Sciences. There has been growing recognition that the power, tools and techniques found in computing and information technology can be applied to give research breakthroughs and insight into what are key issues for individuals, society and the sustainability of the planet.

‘Research’ for the purpose of this Request for Proposal is original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding. The research work should have the potential for publication, exhibition, or other avenues of dissemination that make peer scrutiny, evaluation, or review possible.

This RFP does not seek to restrict the potential application of computer science; however areas of particular interest and potential are likely to appear in:

a) Introduction of computational tools/techniques in the modeling/prediction ofenvironmental change (e.g. climatic, hydrological, oceanographic, ecological);

b) Exploration of algorithms/computational models in healthcare and wellbeing(preventative and curative), genetic analysis, modeling of isolated biological systems or whole-system analysis (including modeling of whole organisms);

c) Aspects of energy creation/harvesting/production, transmission and usage;

d) Application of computational science to large-scale data challenges in scientific research including potential use of many/multi-core technologies and/or cloud-based computing services.

These issues are related to two of the five Grand Challenges of the Brazilian Computer Society, namely (1) Management of information over massive volumes of distributed multimedia data, and (2) Computational modeling of complex systems: artificial, natural, socio-cultural, and human-nature interactions


2 Request for Academic Research Proposals

There are multiple scientific and technological challenges in making progress with respect to advancing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) research in the state of São Paulo for applications in health, education, biodiversity, energy, economy, etc. With this request for proposals, Microsoft Research and FAPESP will support academic research and have a keen interest in interdisciplinary approaches to these research issues. The objective of the academic research projects must be to advance the state-of-the-art of technologies relevant to ICT challenges, and not develop routine applications using well-known technologies.

Expected outcomes of research projects would include, but not be limited to, academic peer-reviewed paper publications, web sites with resources for the academic community, proof-of-concept projects that utilize advances in ICT technologies, tools and services for researchers and scientists, and presentation of findings at academic conferences.

Projects will be reviewed specifically for the merit of the following research goals:

  1. Bold scientific objectives and sound methodology and goals.
  2. Creative new infrastructures, form factors, and applications of mobile devices (which include mobile phones or embedded computing devices). Improve connectivity, particularly in environments without existing network infrastructures or with intermittent availability to networking and power. Challenges in wireless networks would be a relevant theme in this category.
  3. Design appropriate user interfaces addressing challenges in literacy and for novice users of technology.
  4. Focus on relevant technology advancements, taking into account the technology issues described in the points above, which will provide benefits in such areas as health, education, energy and environment.

It must be emphasized that creativity and novel approaches are strongly encouraged.

The Foundation for the Support of Research in the State of São Paulo and Microsoft Research make public this Request for Research Proposals and invite researchers associated to Institutions of Higher Education or Research, public or private, in the State of São Paulo, to present research proposals within the scope of the Agreement between FAPESP and Microsoft, according to the following specifications.


3 Objectives

The objective of this FAPESP/Microsoft Research Request for Proposals is to identify, select and support world-class research in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that is geared towards addressing social and economic development needs in the state of Sao Paulo.

For the purpose of this Request for Proposal, academic research has two essential ingredients: creation of new scientific knowledge and communication of results in the world-wide academic community. Both of these ingredients are essential. Projects should have a very high impact through:

  1. Interesting, creative, novel work in Information and Communications Technology advancement.
  2. Publication and dissemination of knowledge and experiences to the world-wide academic community.


4 Eligibility

Conditions of eligibility listed below will be strictly adhered to, so please read them carefully. Proposals not meeting all these criteria will not be considered.

a) Proposals should be submitted by researchers from higher education and research organizations, public or non-profit, in the State of São Paulo.

b) Proposals that are incomplete, inaccurate, request funds in excess of the maximum award available, or are otherwise not responsive to the terms and conditions of this RFP will, at the sole discretion of the Joint Steering Committee for the FAPESP-Microsoft cooperation, be excluded from consideration.

c) Proposals should evidence a commitment to make all results arising from a funded project (including all intellectual property in those results) broadly available by either: (i) making the results/findings freely available in the public domain; or (ii) making the results available under a non-restrictive license that allows modification and redistribution without any significant restrictions or conditions, such as the BSD license available at http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.html.


5 Research proposals characteristics

Proposals should target some or all of the following research goals:

a) Novel and Creative Solutions: The intention of the project is not to enable incremental engineering projects with a known outcome, but rather to explore and create new knowledge and technology. FAPESP and Microsoft Research encourage bold, novel, and unconventional approaches to the core science and technology challenges in this area.

b) Immediate Relevance: FAPESP and Microsoft Research are seeking academic research projects that are highly complementary to a broad community need. Goals should be specific, measurable, and results-oriented with tangible metrics.

c) Potential for Economic Impact: An ideal project will have the potential ofsustainability beyond the timeframe of the proposed funding. Projects with direct economic impact offer far greater incentive for regional stakeholders to learn and support new technologies.

d) Dissemination and Potential for Academic Publication: Research results should be widely communicated through relevant scientific communities using established academic channels, such as international conferences and refereed journals. All funded projects should result in a detailed Web presence and relevant conference publications or presentations. Other channels for community development include regional workshops, graduate seminars, and curriculum components such as courses or course materials.

e) Pilot Deployment: The goal of this request for proposal is to advance the state of the art of technologies. The development of pilot projects is highly encouraged but not a strict requirement. This RFP excludes routine application development using well-known technologies.


6 Funds

The total amount available under this request for proposals (RFP) is US$ 500,000.00 (USD). It is anticipated that around 5 proposals will be selected, with individual values in the range of $50,000.00–$150,000.00. The appropriateness of the requested funding amount in relation to the proposal goals and qualification of the proposing team is a primary review consideration. In addition, FAPESP and Microsoft Research reserve the right to propose lower funding levels for projects.


7 Presentation of proposals

Proposals should consider a duration of at most two years and should be presented containing:

a) FAPESP MS Form, available at www.fapesp.br/chamadas/ms2010/FORM-FAPESP-MICROSOFT-2010.doc;

b) FAPESP Curricular Summary for the PI. This document should be submitted in two versions, one in English and the other in Portuguese. Please make sure that the English version of your proposal is an appropriate translation of the Portuguese version. Guidelines are available at www.fapesp.br/materia/5266.

c) Research Proposal: Proposals should be submitted in two versions, one in English and the other in Portuguese. Please make sure that the English version of your proposal is an appropriate translation of the Portuguese version. The proposal should cover items from c.1) to c.7) below in no more than 20 pages, using font size 12 and double spacing. Please address the sections listed below, from c.1) to c.6) under separate numbered headings:

c.1) Problem Statement: What is the problem addressed by the proposal and why is it important? What is the potential research contribution to the field of the project if successful? Cite relevant work in the field as appropriate.

c.2) Expected outcomes: What new science will be created or produced as a result of the proposed project? How will the results of this project be disseminated to others?

c.3) Scientific and technical challenges and the ways and means to overcome them: This is a critical part of the proposal. Describe the scientific and technical challenges that the project will overcome to reach the proposed goals. Describe the methods and means that will be used for this. Cite references that can help the reviewers to ascertain that such challenges were not yet overcome (or were not overcome in an adequate way) and that they can be overcome with the methods and means proposed in the project.

c.4) Technologies used in the project: List the technologies that will be used in the project; i.e. programming languages, operating systems, networking technologies, etc. Microsoft Research has a large repository of code and software tools that can be used by the selected projects. Information on these repositories and tools is available at http://research.microsoft.com/apps/dp/dl/downloads.aspx and at http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/collaboration/tools/default.aspx. Microsoft Research will be able to provide special support to those PIs of winning proposals that use Microsoft technologies through free access to software, tools and also with technical workshops. The choice of technologies to be used must be justified in technical terms.

c.5) Schedule: When is the project to be completed? What milestones will be used to measure progress of the project and when will they be completed? If the project described is part of a larger ongoing research program, estimate the time for completion of this project only.

c.6) Dissemination and Evaluation: How will the results of this project be evaluated (if appropriate), and how will they be disseminated to others? Under what general license terms will be the results made available?

c.7) Other Support: List other contributions by the University to this project (cash, goods, or services), if any, but not including such things as use of university facilities otherwise provided on an ongoing basis. Note that authors of winning proposals will be required to present an original letter on university letterhead signed by the institution director certifying the commitment of any additional support.

In addition, each proposal must add as annexes the item below, if applicable (this item is not included in the 20 pages limit mentioned above):

c.8) Work plan for the requested fellowships: The proposed budget may include costs for Scientific Initiation, Master or Post-Doctoral fellowships, which must have a duration equal or less than the duration of the proposed project. For each requested fellowship a work plan with less than two pages (12 point font size, double spacing) must be submitted together with the research proposal. This work plan must include: Title for the Fellowship Project, Summary, and Description of the plan. It is not necessary to nominate the holder of the fellowship. If the proposal is approved the Principal Investigator will have the responsibility to organize a public selection process to select the appointees for the fellowships through an internal merit review process.

d) Requested budget description

(Spreadsheets available at www.FAPESP.br/chamadas/ms2010/planilhas):

d.1) Consolidated Budget Request, classified by types of expense;

d.2) Consolidated Budget Request, for fellowships;

d.3) Budget Request by types of expense:

- Capital and equipment expenses in Brazil;
- Capital and equipment expenses from abroad;
- Consumables acquired in Brazil;
- Consumables acquired abroad;
- Services acquired in Brazil;
- Services acquired abroad;
- Transportation expenses
- Per diem expenses

The proposals must be sent printed in one copy and with a CD containing, in a single PDF file, the English versions of all documents described in items 7.b), 7.c) and 7.d.1).

The envelope should be addressed to:

Chamada de Propostas de Pesquisa FAPESP-Microsoft Research

FAPESP
Rua Pio XI, 1500, Alto da Lapa
05468-901, SP, São Paulo

No proposals will be accepted by any other means.

All submitted proposals under this RFP will not be returned to the researchers submitting such proposals. For record-keeping and administrative purposes a copy will be archived by FAPESP.


8 Analysis and selection of the submitted proposals

All submissions must adhere to the terms stated in this Request for Proposals.

An international and multidisciplinary team of scientists will review the proposals; therefore, it is very important to write the proposals in clear and well-structured English. Proposals that are difficult to understand in English might be poorly understood and receive poor ratings.

The selection process will use a merit review and comparative analysis. These will use reviewer’s reports and the FAPESP’s Area and Adjunct Committees, following the criteria used for the selection of Regular Research Grants selected by FAPESP, plus the Joint Steering Committee for the FAPESP-Microsoft cooperation.

Researchers participating in any submitted proposal will not take part in the analysis and selection process.

All proposals will be analyzed and selected using the following criteria:

a) Adherence to the terms of this RFP

b) Novelty and Ambition of the proposed academic research project, as it relates to the goals of this RFP.

c) Qualification of the research project, in the specification of clear goals, of the challenges to be overcome and the scientific, technical and material means and ways for this, in relation to the state-of-the-art in the field.

d) Engineering diligence, including interface definitions, testing methodology, and plans for experimental deployment.

e) Qualifications of principal investigator and his team, including previous history of work in areas relevant to this RFP, successful completion of previous funded projects, teaching awards, and publications, all of those items being demonstrated in the Curricular Summaries of the principal investigators.

f) Ability to complete the project, including the adequacy of resources available, institutional support, reasonableness of timelines, and number and qualifications of identified contributors; value, which encompasses the efficient use of requested resources and funding.

g) Potential for wide dissemination and use of intellectual property created, including specific plans for publications, conference presentations, web sites, as well as plans to distribute content in multiple formats or languages.

h) Formation of new researchers and professionals, as a result of the execution of the project.


9 Schedule

Event

Date

Launching of the RFP at FAPESP Web site

July 6, 2010

Last date for receiving proposals

October 18, 2010

Publication of results of the analysis and selection process

February 28, 2011


10 Project duration

The selected projects will have duration of up to 24 months.


11 Announcement of results

The results of the selection process will be announced in FAPESP’s Web Site at www.fapesp.br and by communication to the proponents.


12 Cancellation of the award

The award might be canceled by FAPESP, in the event of justifiable cause, on the basis of evaluation by the Scientific Director of FAPESP. Cancellation does not preclude other measures that might be deemed necessary.


13 Awarding, Follow-up and Evaluation

For the selected proposals there will be a FAPESP Award Term, which will be signed by the Principal Investigator and by the authority in charge of the hosting institution

Results must be demonstrated in Scientific Reports, as well as Expense Demonstration, according to the specified in the FAPESP Award Term.

Once your specific research project has been accepted by the FAPESP/Microsoft joint steering committee, you will be presented with a “Grant Award Agreement”. For your convenience, below is a brief synopsis of the key provisions of the agreement to aid you and your legal counsel in reviewing the document.


14 Operational Matters

If your proposal is selected, there will be a Term of Agreement to be signed by you, by FAPESP and by your Institution, regarding the rights and obligations of each part. This is similar to the standard FAPESP Term of Agreement, with some modifications to allow for the compromises of the FAPESP – Microsoft cooperation. The full Term of Agreement can be found at www.fapesp.br/en/materia/5392. The main points of the Term are:

a) The concession of support for a project by FAPESP does not create any type of labor relationship between the researchers involved in the project and FAPESP.

b) The timing and amounts of funds disbursement will be mutually agreed upon between you and FAPESP.

c) Funds will be held in a joint account and may only be used for the research project.

d) Any equipment or materials you wish to acquire to assist you in your research will be subject to standard Brazilian laws and concession of use requirements.

e) You are required to provide FAPESP with half-yearly progress reports. These reports will be shared with the joint FAPESP/Microsoft steering committee FAPESP/Microsoft.

f) The PI will notify and obtain approval from FAPESP prior to publication of any details about the research project, in the cases for which the publication might jeopardize the protection of the intellectual property.

f.1) In these cases, FAPESP and your institution will work together to obtain timely protection for any Intellectual Property generated by the project and to allow for the publication of scientific results.

g) The PI will acknowledge FAPESP and Microsoft’s support in any approved publication or press release regarding your research project.

h) The Term will have to be signed by the PI and by a legal representative from your institution.

14.1 Intellectual Property Rights

a) According to Brazilian law your institution is the owner of any intellectual property you create as a result of the research project.

b) The PI and his institution are responsible for safeguarding that intellectual property.

c) If you and Microsoft engage in any joint research activities, both will jointly own any inventions. Terms of that Joint Intellectual Property will be mutually agreed upon between your University and Microsoft through a separate agreement.

d) In consideration of the funding being provided, the institution that employs the PI will grant to both FAPESP and Microsoft a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to any intellectual property arising from the funded research project.

e) If the research project results in patentable inventions, you must notify FAPESP so that Microsoft can decide if it wants to engage with you for an exclusive license. Terms of that exclusive license (fees, etc.) will be mutually agreed upon. The PI and his institution will retain the right to use the technology for research and teaching purposes.

f) If your institution receives royalties for technology created as a result of the research project, FAPESP will receive a percentage of those royalties. This will be documented by a separate agreement.

14.2 Intellectual Property Limitations

a) If you wish to use any pre-existing materials in the research project, you must obtain adequate rights from the owner so that you can grant the licenses to FAPESP and Microsoft as stated above.

b) You may not subject the research project to the terms of an “Excluded License”. This does not mean that you cannot use “open source” technology in your research project but that you may not use it in a fashion that might subject the project to the terms of an Excluded License (which might eliminate the ability to patent the technology or negotiate an exclusive license).


15 Information and clarification

Please send any questions to chamada_fapesp_microsoft@fapesp.br. Please put “RFP FAPESP-Microsoft” in the subject line of your e-mail message to ensure a prompt and proper response.