High Impact Opportunity Projects

The Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC) is taking a new approach to support the growth of emerging, potentially high-value industry sectors. Rather than funding organizations to help grow sectors, Oregon InC is soliciting another round of proposals to fund discrete projects—called high impact opportunity projects (HIOPs)—that will support the growth of industry sectors by removing barriers to research and development, supporting product development and testing, or expediting technology commercialization or other aspects of industry innovation. To accomplish this, Business Oregon is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for HIOPs.

For this second round of proposals, Oregon InC has approximately $2.5 million remaining for HIOP grants, to be disbursed through Business Oregon. Projects are anticipated to last from 6 to 18 months. All projects are expected to support the growth of an industry, not an individual business. Proposals that demonstrate benefits for just a single business will not be considered. Consortia of industry partners or similar groups are encouraged to apply. Project funds are flexible in how they can be used to best support a particular sector's needs. Thus, there is no exact list of examples of eligible uses of the funds, but possible projects could include:

  • shared specialty testing or production facilities or equipment
  • research and development
  • technology commercialization activities

All projects must have clear objectives and include performance measures that clearly demonstrate the value of the project to the state. Projects are strongly encouraged to have connections to or involvement with Oregon-based research entities. This program is not intended to fund the following: projects solely or significantly focused on workforce development, the administrative functions of incubators or accelerators, or projects that will solely or mostly benefit one company or its proprietary technology.

Types of Projects

Funding is offered for two types of projects:

  • Feasibility Studies—These are projects that still require design and/or further research before they are ready for implementation. The studies are expected to explore a project idea that would fit with the implementation phase of the HIOP program. It is anticipated that these projects will have budgets of less than $150,000 and be shorter in duration. Projects are encouraged to identify sources of follow-on funding that will support implementation of the projects. Oregon InC hopes to provide additional HIOP funding in the future for which these projects could apply, but applicants should consider other sources of implementation funding as well.
  • Implementation Projects—These are projects that are ready to be implemented. Some level of design and scoping has already occurred, and the need for the project can be clearly demonstrated. Measurable benefits to an industry sector from the project can be demonstrated. It is anticipated that these projects will have budgets of less than $500,000 although higher budgets will be considered if a very strong case can be made. These projects are expected to be longer in duration although not longer than 18 months.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicant's project must apply to a traded-sector industry. Traded sector is defined in Oregon statute as industries in which member firms sell their goods or services into markets for which national or international competition exists.
  • Applicant must be an Oregon-based organization. Oregon-based is defined as having more than 50% of the organization's employees located in Oregon.
  • Applicant has clearly demonstrated how the HIOP grant will benefit the relevant industry sector, not an individual business.

Selection Process & Criteria

Applications will be evaluated by a committee approved by Oregon InC. The committee will provide the results of its evaluation to Oregon InC who will make a funding recommendation to Business Oregon, which will make the final funding decisions. Meeting the above eligibility requirements does not guarantee a grant award. A set of criteria will be used in the review process to compare proposals and identify the most deserving projects. The criteria are as follows:

  • Uniquely attributable or strong links to Oregon—This could be geographic advantages or unique attributes to Oregon or it could be in one of Oregon's existing, strong industry sectors.
  • Level of impact derived from Oregon InC's investment—The use of a relatively small amount of Oregon InC dollars will have significant results for the industry sector.
  • Leverage—This could be funding provided by industry, project collaborators, federal funds or other sources. It could also be non-financial leverage, such as of university research, other economic development activities and/or legislative initiatives or other sources.
  • Ability to scale into significant jobs and/or revenue—Job/revenue impacts of projects will be evaluated for their potential in the medium- to long-term.
  • Broad impacts—Projects will be evaluated for the geographic scope of their impacts as well as the impacts at a variety of income and education levels.
  • Sector—Projects that would impact one of the preferred industry sectors are highly encouraged and may be given priority in the evaluation process.

How to Apply

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a letter of intent prior to preparing a full proposal. The purpose of the letter is to ensure that applicants are considering projects that fit the HIOP program. Proposers who submit letters will receive feedback indicating if the project fits the program parameters and, hence, will be a competitive proposal. The letter of intent shall be no more than two pages and should summarize the project and the benefits to the state with respect to the criteria above.

Submission Requirements

In order to allow sufficient evaluation of a full grant application, the following documents must be submitted:

  • Signed HIOP Application form indicating which type of project (feasibility study or implementation project) the proposal covers as well as other project/proposer information.
  • Project summary that provides a brief (1 page or less) overview of the project and its impacts.
  • Project description (no more than 10 letter-size pages with at least 11-point font and 1" margins) that describes the project activities, who will conduct the project activities, the benefits of the project, how the project meets the criteria listed above, and any other information necessary for a reviewer to understand the project and its potential impacts. Project description should include a discussion of the estimated return on the state's investment, i.e., describe how this funding will help the industry sector. (Feasibility study proposals are expected to be briefer than implementation project proposals, but both are limited to no more than 10 pages.)
  • Line-item budget with brief justification for each item. Indirect costs are capped at 10%.
  • Bios of key personnel on the project with summaries of relevant experience
  • Proposed list of performance measures (metrics) and targets for these measures for the project that show the return on the state's investment in the project. The measures will ultimately be negotiated as part of developing a grant agreement, but proposers are asked to submit initial ideas of what these might be. Selected projects will also likely be held to performance measures relating to the criteria listed above as well as other possible performance measures.
  • List of committed collaborators on the project with a letter from each collaborator signed by someone in a position of authority to commit that collaborator to participate in the project. Letters must state that the collaborator would participate in the project if it is funded and briefly describe what the collaborator's participation would look like (e.g., cash contributions, staff time, equipment, space, etc.). If a collaborator is making a significant contribution to or plays a key role in the project, include that information in the project description as well as in a letter from the collaborator. Generic letters of support will not be considered.

Submission Deadline and Process

If a proposer is submitting a letter of intent, the letter is due by 5:00 pm on May 31, 2018. (This letter is optional.) Proposers will receive feedback on their letters of intent by 5:00 pm on June 8.

Potential proposers also have several other ways to engage with Business Oregon to help prepare better proposals, including:

  • Business Oregon will host an informational "town hall" conference call that is open to everyone. That call will be on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from 1:30 to 3:30. The call-in information is as follows: Number: 877-402-9757; Access Code: 3263277#.
  • Mark Brady, the HIOP program manager, will be available from 12-4pm on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, and 9am-3pm on Wednesday, May 30, 2018, for proposers to set up 20-minute one-on-one calls to ask questions about the RFP or a proposal idea. Mark will also be available to schedule 20-minute calls from 9am-3pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, and 9am-3pm on Thursday, June 14, 2018. To book an appointment with Mark, please send an email with the preferred date and time for a call. We will do our best to accommodate proposer's preferred times but may have to adjust times due to conflicts.
  • Proposers can send written questions to Business Oregon. An FAQ document will be developed and updated regularly with answers to written questions while the RFP is open. The FAQ document will be available from this page.

Full grant applications must be received by Business Oregon by 5:00 pm on July 6, 2018.

Where to Submit

Signed proposals along with the required attachments may be submitted to Business Oregon either by email OR US Postal Service to:
Mark Brady, Innovation Strategist
Business Oregon
121 S.W. Salmon Street, Suite 205
Portland, Oregon 97204