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The Army is using a “game” process to buy ventilators.  They asked for brief papers (not more than 1,500 characters) describing how new lost cost ventilators can be developed.  Participants can also include a 3 minute video describing their solutions.  Winners will receive $10,000 prizes to develop prototypes.  One company will be selected for a $1 million production award.

Pretty slick.  We need more thinking and actions like this.

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On 4/22/2020 at 11:21 AM, formerfed said:

The Army is using a “game” process to buy ventilators.  They asked for brief papers (not more than 1,500 characters) describing how new lost cost ventilators can be developed.  Participants can also include a 3 minute video describing their solutions.  Winners will receive $10,000 prizes to develop prototypes.  One company will be selected for a $1 million production award.

Pretty slick.  We need more thinking and actions like this.

That is pretty slick. Guessing the $10K is a Grant and the $1 M would be a contract.

Did they release a solicitation or?

 

Amazing the things we can do if people would just look at problems as puzzles and come up with new ways to solve them. 

Edited by Constricting Officer
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On 4/22/2020 at 9:21 AM, formerfed said:

The Army is using a “game” process to buy ventilators.  They asked for brief papers (not more than 1,500 characters) describing how new lost cost ventilators can be developed.  Participants can also include a 3 minute video describing their solutions.  Winners will receive $10,000 prizes to develop prototypes.  One company will be selected for a $1 million production award.

Pretty slick.  We need more thinking and actions like this.

Based on my reading of the contest, all the Army is paying for is paper, not product...I think that’s the wrong focus in times like these.  Moreover, the selection criteria are suspect IMO - there is nothing that captures a company’s past performance or entrepreneurial experience (which I think is crucial for determining if an entity has any clue for how to turn a concept into a capability).  Basically, whoever wows the judges with their pitch gets $105K just to deliver papers and presentations.  Using prize competitions could be a step in the right direction, but I think they’re competing the wrong things.

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4 hours ago, Matthew Fleharty said:

Based on my reading of the contest, all the Army is paying for is paper, not product...I think that’s the wrong focus in times like these.  Moreover, the selection criteria are suspect IMO - there is nothing that captures a company’s past performance or entrepreneurial experience (which I think is crucial for determining if an entity has any clue for how to turn a concept into a capability).  Basically, whoever wows the judges with their pitch gets $105K just to deliver papers and presentations.  Using prize competitions could be a step in the right direction, but I think they’re competing the wrong things.

I don't know how you counted to $105,000. I only counted to $10,000 per company, which will be used to develop prototypes. I sincerely doubt $10,000 will cover the cost of design and prototyping, but maybe somebody's got a low-cost solution, who knows?

So in my view, the approach is completely appropriate for such a low-cost award. Per FAR Part 13, they probably didn't have to even hold any kind of competition whatsoever, as the award is below the micro-purchase threshold.

And when they get to the $1 million award, I would argue the award has already been competed and has been made to the best technical solution.

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Not sure what happened between the difference between $10k to develop prototypes in the article I read and $5K in the announcement.  Regardless the Army felt traditional approaches weren’t working.  Paying $5K or $10K to develop prototypes is routine in these areas. Don’t forget the government is looking for no traditional sources to participate.  You won’t get new sources unless you are willing to compensate for their efforts.  These are mostly companies that don’t have or want to invest sources in something unless they see the value.  
 

The Army can structure a competition to achieve products instead of paper but that appears fruitless.  Now they are resorting to sources that might show innovativeness and promises.

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Did you gentlemen even read the website?: https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/xTech-COVID-19-ventilator-challenge/

Prizes will be offered under 10 USC §2374a (Prize competitions). The total prize pool is $1,000,000.00.

  • Application Part 1: White Paper - $5,000
  • Application Part 2: Technology Pitches - $100,000

Number of winners is to-be determined, with total prizes not to exceed $1,000,000.00.

-----------------

Part 1: Concept Submission Quad Chart and Video All eligible entities shall submit a concept quad chart and accompanying video up to 3 minutes in length outlining their technology, the technical viability of their approach, human and clinical risk, and speed to production. Please adhere to the following requirements:

  • All concept quad charts must be submitted using the template found on the registration page, “xTechCOVID19_QuadChart_Template.ppt”. Any proposals submitted in a format other than that provided by the template will not be reviewed.
  • Please include on your quad chart your company name, proposal title, and company logo EXACTLY how you would like them to appear on any contest marketing materials.
  • Provide an optional URL on the contest registration page to a video supporting your application. Production value does not matter at all, and the can be used to explain the concept, brief the quad chart, or to otherwise demonstrate the technology concept proposed. MAXIMUM of 3-minutes for the video’s length.

Part 2: Technology Pitches

Selected participants will conduct a virtual pitch to the Ventilator Challenge panel of Army, medical, and manufacturing experts. Detailed pitch instructions and evaluation criteria will be provided to selected applicants. Technology pitches selected to meet the requirements of this posted solicitation will receive a prize of $100,000 and will be invited to develop and demonstrate a concept prototype to potentially receive follow on contracts for additional production and deployment.

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10 hours ago, Matthew Fleharty said:

Did you gentlemen even read the website?: https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/xTech-COVID-19-ventilator-challenge/

Prizes will be offered under 10 USC §2374a (Prize competitions). The total prize pool is $1,000,000.00.

  • Application Part 1: White Paper - $5,000
  • Application Part 2: Technology Pitches - $100,000

Number of winners is to-be determined, with total prizes not to exceed $1,000,000.00.

-----------------

Part 1: Concept Submission Quad Chart and Video All eligible entities shall submit a concept quad chart and accompanying video up to 3 minutes in length outlining their technology, the technical viability of their approach, human and clinical risk, and speed to production. Please adhere to the following requirements:

  • All concept quad charts must be submitted using the template found on the registration page, “xTechCOVID19_QuadChart_Template.ppt”. Any proposals submitted in a format other than that provided by the template will not be reviewed.
  • Please include on your quad chart your company name, proposal title, and company logo EXACTLY how you would like them to appear on any contest marketing materials.
  • Provide an optional URL on the contest registration page to a video supporting your application. Production value does not matter at all, and the can be used to explain the concept, brief the quad chart, or to otherwise demonstrate the technology concept proposed. MAXIMUM of 3-minutes for the video’s length.

Part 2: Technology Pitches

Selected participants will conduct a virtual pitch to the Ventilator Challenge panel of Army, medical, and manufacturing experts. Detailed pitch instructions and evaluation criteria will be provided to selected applicants. Technology pitches selected to meet the requirements of this posted solicitation will receive a prize of $100,000 and will be invited to develop and demonstrate a concept prototype to potentially receive follow on contracts for additional production and deployment.

You're right. I didn't visit the website. However, let's look at the structure of the contest.

Part 1: $5,000 prize for selected participants. Not all participants will win a prize. Not all participants will advance to Part 2.

Part 2: $100,000 prize for selected participants. Not all participants will will a prize. Those that do win a prize will be invited (but not funded) to develop and demonstrate a concept prototype.

Total prize pool for Parts 1 + 2 (added together) will not exceed $1,000,000. Nobody will get more than $105,000 but many will not get that much. In fact, the maximum number of winners will be 9, 9 x $105,000 = $945,000. (I assume the remaining $55,000 goes to Part 1 winners.)

I'm okay with this. Again, most of the winners will be under the micro-purchase threshold and the 9 winners will still be under the SAP. Further, the procedures here are aligned with what the statute requires.

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2 hours ago, bob7947 said:

When I looked a little deeper the other day, I wanted to find out what happened to the winners.

xTechSearch 1

xTechSearch 2.  (Same site)

Thanks Bob. I'm judging that winning any type of DOD competition carries with it a "prize" far in excess of what DOD is paying. More importantly, DOD is creating new contractors who have exciting products to sell.

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1 hour ago, here_2_help said:

 I'm judging that winning any type of DOD competition carries with it a "prize" far in excess of what DOD is paying. More importantly, DOD is creating new contractors who have exciting products to sell.

I don't think we can judge how much being a finalist means to a company/start-up.  xTechSearch 2 provides links to each company.  I looked at one called AKHAN Semiconductor Inc.  One can read through the news releases and imagine how the founder is using being selected as one of the finalists.  Read the article on the Samsung Fold near the top of the list.  We can almost feel the peaks and valleys that the founder is going through.  Note a little help from a federal contractor and patent after patent.

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12 hours ago, here_2_help said:

You're right. I didn't visit the website. However, let's look at the structure of the contest.

Part 1: $5,000 prize for selected participants. Not all participants will win a prize. Not all participants will advance to Part 2.

Part 2: $100,000 prize for selected participants. Not all participants will will a prize. Those that do win a prize will be invited (but not funded) to develop and demonstrate a concept prototype.

Total prize pool for Parts 1 + 2 (added together) will not exceed $1,000,000. Nobody will get more than $105,000 but many will not get that much. In fact, the maximum number of winners will be 9, 9 x $105,000 = $945,000. (I assume the remaining $55,000 goes to Part 1 winners.)

I'm okay with this. Again, most of the winners will be under the micro-purchase threshold and the 9 winners will still be under the SAP. Further, the procedures here are aligned with what the statute requires.

It’s not the amount of money, it’s what companies are getting money for - companies can earn $105K without turning a single wrench or delivering a single piece of product...as John Doerr says “ideas are easy. Execution is everything.”

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The two aren’t related.  The prize or games encourage new thinking and development.  Most participants spend more than the price money.  $10,000 buys maybe 1.5 week of research time for a single employee.  The concept doesn’t differ that much from grants where the government spends big money.  The difference is games get very quick ideas.  
 

The other was NY officials were scammed.  

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@formerfedDo we want ideas in a time like this or actual solutions? The article’s situation and where the Army could end up aren’t too different if you think critically about it - both selection mechanisms were based on proposals/sales pitches and no credibility related to previous experience or demonstration of an actual product.  I suppose others share the inability to see the similarity between the two which is way the prize was structured the way it was to ask for quad charts (for $5K) and pitches (for $100K) rather than actual products.

Recommend you check out the book “How to Make a Spaceship” which discusses the XPrize and a drastically different way for using prizes to actually deliver tangible innovations rather than just “very quick ideas.”  If you enjoy history, consider looking into the Orteig Prize which Charles Lindbergh won not by talking about how he would fly across the ocean, but actually doing it.

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Kind of insulting reply to me in “I suppose others share the inability to see the similarity...”

One is a contract to produce devices.  The other is provide concept papers on something that hasn’t been done before.  The reason prizes    are used is sparking thinking.  Apparently not enough sources were doing enough on their own.  If the Army wanted tangible products, they would pay much more and maybe not see any results.  This exercise took a few weeks and so far didn’t cost much at all and got concept papers from a lot of non traditional sources.  
 

The safe alternative is buy ventilators from tried and proven sources and wait in line with all the other countries in the world for delivery.

 

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My apologies that you felt insulted by my remarks, that was not my intention. I suppose we’re not going to reach a common understanding on this issue - I think the notion of “sparking thinking” is better done by asking for actual results/prototypes rather than ideas in the form of quad charts and pitches. Some doctor was able to do just that with parts from a hardware store ( https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/04/07/coronavirus-ventilators-mississippi-medical-center-charles-robertson/2966719001/ ) probably for less that $105K too...

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I think I understood your position.  I can’t disagreed with it either.  Lots of various efforts to buy ventilators are going on from multiple agencies.  These including development of lower cost, better performing, and more versatile ones.  It also involves seeking new sources to enter a limited supplier marketplace. 

Perhaps nothing will come out of this.  But considering the stakes, I do believe it and all the other attempts are worth it.

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On 5/12/2020 at 3:24 PM, formerfed said:

I think I understood your position.  I can’t disagreed with it either.  Lots of various efforts to buy ventilators are going on from multiple agencies.  These including development of lower cost, better performing, and more versatile ones.  It also involves seeking new sources to enter a limited supplier marketplace. 

Perhaps nothing will come out of this.  But considering the stakes, I do believe it and all the other attempts are worth it.

Agreed.

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On 6/13/2020 at 8:14 AM, bob7947 said:

This appears very similar to the original post's subject matter.

DOD Ventilator Challenge: Innovative Response to the Nation’s Need for Rapid Prototyping.

Different team, different competition with a different rule set - looks like the one you posted @bob7947 focused more on getting prototypes than paper...a lesson for the Army, @formerfed, and @joel hoffman : all “innovative” acquisition strategies/procedures are not equal

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Yep, different set of rules and more importantly, different objectives.  The Army prize competition is encouraging development by promoting new technologies and innovations with monetary rewards.  SOCOM explained their competition isn’t looking for companies to do research and development of new things.  Rather it’s taking pieces of existing, commercial items and coming up with small, better, and cheaper devices by encouraging teaming and partnering among suppliers.  Crowdsourcing is a key tool.  They felt if there was a way to promote sources to get together and talk, that’s a win.

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