Center of Science, Policy and Society Programs: Research Competitiveness Program
Competitive Proposal Review Services
RCP manages competitive proposal review services through either a single-stage or multiple-stage approach individually-designed to fulfill different end needs. RCP staff work with clients to identify the most appropriate mechanism for the project at hand.
In all cases, the use of high quality peer reviewers is of utmost importance. AAAS recruits reviewers to provide evaluation of proposals through a web-based review process. The number of reviewers recruited depends upon the number of proposals received and review mechanism chosen. AAAS provides a standard honorarium for proposal reviewers as thanks for participation in the process.
The RCP staff has extensive experience in recruiting and managing review panels. Collectively, the program has managed more than two hundred prior review projects, and employs hundreds of expert reviewers in a typical year. Our proposal review services are managed by senior staff members, all of whom are PhD-level scientists with the ability to read proposals and recruit appropriate technical reviewers.
AAAS maintains an active database of experts for competitive proposal reviews. Our diverse network of experts includes researchers in all areas of science and engineering; persons experienced in product development and technology transfer; and entrepreneurs and business managers in all fields. When the expertise required for a project is not adequately represented in the database, AAAS staff members recruit new appropriate reviewers. Reviewers may or may not be members of AAAS. Reviewers may include PhD-level University/College researchers, researchers at non-profit institutes or hospitals, experienced technology developers, technology transfer specialists, entrepreneurs, investors, and others with experience submitting and reviewing requests for competitive funding.
Identification and recruitment of reviewers is accomplished after receipt of proposals. AAAS staff identifies potential reviewers, contacts them, establishes their interest and availability, confirms their credentials and level of expertise, and screens for potential conflicts of interest. AAAS staff also discusses the nature of the competition and reviews criteria with reviewers, so that reviewers thoroughly understand the task at hand. Finally, AAAS staff provides guidance and oversight on all aspects of the review process to ensure that deliverables are clear and on time.
King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has embarked on a process to transform its economy from a natural resource, asset-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. This transformation has focused attention on research universities because investments in science and technology are required to achieve this goal. Saudi universities are engaged in a process to achieve international levels of excellence in science and engineering that will provide the foundation for the new economy, and establish them as peers of the outstanding technological universities around the world.
A key component of this transformation is faculty-driven research activities. Since 2008, RCP has managed the peer review of research proposals submitted to KACST. The purpose of the AAAS reviews is to inform and advise KACST and applicants on the internationally-competitive scientific merit of the proposals. To date, over 1000 proposals have been reviewed in fifteen technical areas of strategic importance to Saudi Arabia, including advanced materials, biotechnology, energy, environment, math and physics, information technology, nanotechnology, oil and gas, space and aeronautics, and water.
Maine Technology Institute (MTI)
RCP has worked with numerous funding agencies in the state of Maine to plan and manage competitive funding opportunities spanning the research, development, and commercialization continuum. Most recently, we worked with the Maine Technology Institute to design and manage a peer review process for proposals submitted to the Maine Technology Asset Fund in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The Maine legislature and voters authorized and approved the Maine Technology Asset Fund (MTAF) to be funded through a state-wide bond initiative. This competitive award program was designed to support capital infrastructure necessary for research, development, and commercialization projects, with a goal of significant economic impact in Maine. We worked with the Maine Technology Institute to design a review process that was successfully implemented, resulting in nearly $50 million dollars awarded to science and technology groups throughout the state. The Maine Technology Asset Fund recently received one of four Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development Awards from the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI), a national nonprofit organization based in Ohio that leads efforts to improve state and regional economies through science, technology, and innovation. In addition to MTAF, we are currently managing the review of proposals submitted to the MTI Development Award mechanism, which supports research and development of products or services leading to commercialization.
Washington Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF)
In 2005, state tobacco settlement money was used to establish a mechanism to support innovative research in Washington State to promote life sciences competitiveness, enhance economic vitality, and improve health and health care in Washington. LSDF was established to invest $350M over 10 years through multiple competitive proposal competitions. Since its inception, RCP has managed the peer review of proposals submitted to LSDF for competitions focused on single investigator or small team projects; establishment of center-level, collaborative programs; and commercialization activities. RCP has accomplished these tasks by utilizing a wide range of external reviewers with expertise matching the submitted proposals and unique aspects of each competition. In addition, the review process is tailored to each competition, applying a mix of individual peer review, small panel peer review, and interview panels. To date, RCP has assisted LSDF in the award of over $55 million in grant funding.
South Carolina Centers of Economic Excellence
In 2002, the South Carolina General Assembly passed the Research Centers of Economic Excellence Act in order to promote growth of the knowledge-based economy in South Carolina. A competitive grants program was established to award funds to South Carolina research institutions to endow professorships in areas that will enhance economic opportunities for the state’s citizens. Since 2008, RCP has assisted in the review of proposals submitted to this yearly competition by assessing scientific and technical merit, approach, process, and execution.
University of South Florida Neuroscience Collaborative Grant Program
The USF Neuroscience Collaborative Grant program was launched in 2009 to accelerate Neuroscience research at USF through the creation, development, and support of translational research clusters. An institutional seed fund, the grant program was supported with Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds.
RCP managed the peer review of eighty-four grant applications received by USF NSC across six grant categories. Reviewers were recruited to provide a quantitative and qualitative assessment of each application. These reviews, along with a ranking of all submitted applications, were used to inform the applicants and funding decisions. In all, thirteen grants totaling $1M in funding were awarded.