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Questions and Answers: SMART Visualization Platform Prize Challenge

If you still have questions after reading these FAQs, please email SMARTVPchallenge@netl.doe.gov.

A challenge (also referred to as "prize challenge," "competition," "prize competition," "incentive prize" or any combination thereof) is a tool that can used to incentivize the public to invest resources to help solve problems presented by federal agencies and receive awards for the best solutions. This process may sound similar to grants or contracts, but challenges differ in small and significant ways. In challenges, an agency generally selects winner(s) after assessing work that has been completed. In more complex, multi-phase challenges, phase winners may be selected progressively as development stages are completed. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) is using the authority in Section 24 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (Pub. L. No. 96-480), as amended by section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Pub. L. No. 111-358) (the “COMPETES Act”) and section 401 of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (Pub. L. No. 114-329) (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 3719) to administer and award the prizes. Refer to the Official Rules document, section C under Authority.

Click on the “SMART Initiative” icon on the main page of the SMART VP Prize Challenge website found at https://netl.doe.gov/challenges/SMARTVisualizationPlatform. You can also visit https://edx.netl.doe.gov/smart/ for more information on the SMART Initiative.

The SMART VP Prize Challenge is a software development prize competition issued to encourage innovation anticipated to result in the creation of a comprehensive visualization solution for the subsurface environment that can be readily accessible by expert and non-expert scientists, engineers, and subsurface operators and other relevant non-technical stakeholders to resolve properties and features such as fluid flow, stress fields, natural and induced fracture networks, faults, and more.

Under this Prize Challenge, FE is seeking software innovation development from the gaming community, industry, academia, and other innovators in the advanced visualization and information technology sectors for developing new technologies and solutions. Please refer to the Official Rules document, section C.1. Eligibility.

The SMART VP Prize Challenge will offer up to $1.5 million in total cash prizes. . Up to $600k will be equally distributed amongst the 5 winners to be selected at the end of Phase 1. Up to $900k will awarded to 1 winner who will be selected at the end of Phase 2. Only winners selected during Phase 1 will be eligible to compete in Phase 2. Refer to the Official Rules document, Section A.4 for more information on prize allocation.

An individual submitter must be a United States citizen or a U.S. permanent resident and be at least 18 years of age. Other entities must be incorporated in the United States and maintain a primary place of business in the U.S. Refer to the Official Rules document, Section C.1 under the Eligibility term for more information regarding who is eligible to participate.

Yes, registration is required prior to submitting an entry. As stated in Section A.5 of the Official Rules, submitters must register by clicking on the “Registration” icon at https://netl.doe.gov/challenges/SMARTVisualizationPlatform by 8:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) on January 22, 2021 in order to submit an entry before the submission deadline. Once registration is complete, participants will receive an automatic email confirmation that includes submission instructions for the submission portal and a copy of the required “Submission Template” for entry.

Entities are not required to register in SAM to participate in the Challenge. However, if an entity is selected as a winner, the winning entity must have an active account with SAM at http://www.sam.gov/ in order to receive prize payment; therefore, we strongly encourage everyone to begin the SAM registration process as early as possible to avoid delays with payment.

No, federal employees and employees of the Department’s National Laboratories are ineligible to compete in this Challenge. Please see the Official Rules document, Section C.1 under the Eligibility term for more information regarding who is eligible to participate.

Individuals who are current or former members of the SMART Initiative are not eligible to participate. However, employees of universities that are part of the SMART initiative, but who are and have not been part of the SMART initiative as individuals, may be eligible to compete in this Challenge. Please see the Rules document, Section C.1 under the Eligibility term for more information regarding who is eligible to participate.

Submissions will be judged using the Judging Criteria stated in Section B.3 of the Official Rules document.

Under the SMART VP Prize Challenge, FE is seeking software that is intuitive for the non-expert user, capable of visualizing multiple scenarios, visualizing uncertainty, toggling on and off sets of data and overlays, and more. This software should help users visually answer key questions for field operations.

Some brief examples of these questions include:

  • Are these wells connected or is there a barrier between them?
  • What wells in this field are most at risk for failure?
  • Where is the best place to drill a new injection well to utilized unused space in the reservoir?
  • What portion of the reservoir has been drained and where is most of the current production coming from?
  • If I could take another measurement in this field, where should I place it, and how does it improve my understanding of the field?

Please see additional information and more detailed questions in Section A.2 of the Official Rules document.

As stated in Section B.2 of the Official Rules document, all submissions must include a public abstract. DOE may choose to make the abstracts of winning submissions publicly available without further permission from the winners. The abstract must contain a summary of the proposed idea and be suitable for public dissemination. The abstract must not include any proprietary or sensitive business information.

As stated in Section A.3 of the Official Rules document, the Phase 2 prize winner of the SMART VP Challenge may be afforded a future opportunity to work with the Department on a contract/cooperative agreement at some time following the conclusion of the challenge (e.g., if the Department decides to continue work under future phases of the SMART Initiative program). If DOE decides to pursue an agreement, all applicable Federal laws and regulations will be followed.

As stated in Section A.5 of the Official Rules document, Phase 1 winners are anticipated to be announced by April 16, 2021; and the Phase 2 winner is anticipated to be announced on April 15, 2022. All dates are subject to change, including deadlines and announcements.

Yes. As stated in Section B.1 of the Official Rules, participants may enter more than one submission; however, each submission must be unique and not be duplicative or redundant of another submission entered by the participant.

Participants must abide by the Official Rules document and eligibility requirements. There is no Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) applicability. The Challenge was issued in accordance with the prize authority and guidance contained in Section 24 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (Pub. L. No. 96-480), as amended by section 105 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Pub. L. No. 111-358) (the “COMPETES Act”) and section 401 of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (Pub. L. No. 114-329) (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 3719).

If an entity (other-than Individual) submits an entry to the prize competition, and is selected as a winner, DOE would identify the entity as the prize recipient (not the individual participants) and will verify that the entity is qualified to receive the prize in accordance with Section C.3. Winning entities, who are not individuals, must have an active account in SAM at https://www.sam.gov/ and provide an active DUNS number in order to receive prize payment.

In the scenario of an Individual submission, the Individual must be identified as the official submitter, and if selected as a winner, will receive the prize payment once DOE verifies the identity of the individual and that he/she is qualified to receive the prize in accordance with section C.3 Verification for Payments.

Refer to Section C.1 Eligibility of the Official Rules document.

Refer to the response provided under Question -19 above to answer your question regarding an Individual vs. other-than Individual (entity) submission.

Submissions will be judged based on everything that is submitted in accordance with the Official Rules document, section B.2 Submission Specifics and in accordance with section B.3. Judging Criteria.

The 10-page narrative includes a requirement for the inclusion of a discussion of the qualifications and roles to be performed for all key personnel, which will count toward the stated page limit. In addition, brief bios for each of the key personnel, if applicable, may be included in an appendix to the technical narrative, which will not count against the page limit.

Sensitive PII refers to information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as social security numbers. The judges will be aware of the identity of submitters, and previous peer-reviewed and ongoing work can be referenced, within the guidelines of the Rules.

No, in accordance with Section C.1. Eligibility, Non-DOE Federal entities and Federal employees are not eligible to participate.

It depends on how long it has been since the individual was employed by an FFRDC. In accordance with Section C.1. Eligibility, DOE employees and DOE support service contractors, individuals who have been employed by DOE, or who have worked for DOE as a support service contractor within six months prior to the submission entry deadline, are not eligible to participate. Also, any participant who is a current or former individual member of the SMART Initiative is not eligible to participate.

As stated in Rules section C.1.c., A private entity must be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States.

For the purposes of prize registration, an address outside of the U.S. cannot be used. Since you are a U.S. citizen, you are eligible in accordance with Section C.1. of the Prize Rules, and you may include the German address in the prize submission package. Consistent with Section C.1. of the Prize Rules, eligibility is subject to verification before monetary prizes are awarded.

The SMART team is currently working on a preliminary version of the API, including functions related to our expertise areas of geology and machine learning. This is not something that the Phase I applicants are expected to use directly during Phase I. However, during Phase 2, Challengers may be able to assist with some of the implementation details and deployment.

For the purposes of selecting winners, DOE is recognizing individual or entity submissions. In the scenario of an individual submission, the individual is the official submitter, and if selected as a winner, will receive the prize payment as an individual once DOE verifies the identity of the individual and that he/she is qualified to receive the prize in accordance with section C.3 Verification for Payments. See Rules, section B.2.c. for requirements related to key personnel proposed on the submission.

A well-designed 2D graphics capability with 3D plans is sufficient, as long as the applicant is able to describe/demonstrate the final 3D state to the reviewers via the submitted package.

There is no requirement for a desktop versus web-based application. Multiplatform is not required, but is desired.

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