Have questions about GAIN NE Vouchers?

We’ve provided answers to some of our frequently asked questions below. For more information on the GAIN NE Voucher application process, contact Chris Lohse, Innovation & Technology Manager, at [email protected] or 925-698-9988.

The Program

What is the GAIN Nuclear Energy (NE) Voucher Program?

The GAIN Nuclear Energy (NE) Voucher Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE), assists industry applicants seeking access to the nuclear energy-related knowledge and capabilities available across the DOE complex of national laboratories.

What labs and partner facilities are available? How can I learn what capabilities exist?

Our goal is to improve access to the capabilities that exist across the complex of DOE National Laboratories. A description of capabilities available within the DOE complex may be found by visiting respective laboratory websites. Information on accessible facilities and experimental capabilities can also be obtained by utilizing the Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Database or Demonstration Resource Network.

Is voucher work performed to NQA-1 standards?

Generally speaking, voucher work will be conducted at a research and development quality level. However, the DOE national laboratories can accommodate full NQA-1 standard work and may be requested to do so with the understanding that extra cost is associated with higher quality levels.


Who is eligible to apply and what is required?

An eligible requester is a business that is…

  • Majority (51%) owned by a U.S. citizen, a lawfully admitted permanent resident alien or a U.S. based corporation;
  • Organized according to the laws of any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or any U.S. territory or possession; and
  • Operates primarily within the U.S.

Products embodying intellectual property developed under the assistance must be substantially manufactured in the United States. Requestors must certify that they will accept one of the GAIN NE Voucher Program Agreements and they will provide the required 20% (or more) cost-share upon selection for a voucher. Universities and national laboratories are not eligible to apply.

Are Nuclear Science User Facility partner university facilities available for use of a voucher?

In general, the vouchers are intended to be used at facilities available at DOE national laboratories. However, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) reserves the right to refer voucher work to any Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) partner as needed. These needs will be reviewed and decided upon by GAIN and DOE-NE staff.

Can vouchers be used to support fundamental R&D or irradiation experiments?

Proposed work should be of an applied nature for an identified technology or system (i.e., beyond the stage of establishing the fundamental scientific principles). Proving out a fundamental scientific hypothesis or development of a new constitutive model for a physical phenomenon is not aligned with the voucher program. There are other DOE programs, such as the Consolidated Innovative Nuclear Research (CINR) FOA or ARPA-E opportunities, that focus on fundamental science or research and development. Data generation intended to be utilized in a previously proven constitutive model in support of technology development or validation of system behavior (i.e., practical use) is more appropriately aligned.

Applications requesting neutron irradiation (test reactor) capability will receive consideration if the nature of the proposed work utilizes a previously designed irradiation capsule or no capsule (i.e., pool access for gamma exposure, etc.) and adheres to the principles described in the above paragraph. In general, the DOE Nuclear Science User Facilities are the preferred pathway for irradiation experiments.


How much funding is available?

The amount to be made available each cycle is contingent upon Congressional appropriation. We anticipate a funding level of approximately $4 million to $5 million for each fiscal year.

What is a voucher, and how much will each voucher be worth?

Vouchers are not financial awards made directly to businesses. Rather, the voucher is like a coupon that recipients redeem for work at selected facilities. Vouchers provide funding to a DOE national laboratory to conduct research or technical support activities to help businesses overcome challenges in critical technology and commercialization. The final value of each voucher will be negotiated but will range from $50,000-$500,000. Requests for vouchers larger than $500,000 receive consideration when they relate to high-need topics and incorporate exceptional technology or innovation. Vouchers cannot be used to obtain a service or use equipment that is available in the private sector.

DOE-NE anticipates awarding up to 20 vouchers per cycle. A selected business will be required to provide a minimum of 20 percent cost-share, which can be in the form of cash or in-kind work, etc.

DOE-NE expects voucher recipients to use it within 12 months from the date the agreement is executed. It is not taxable income for your business.

Can you explain the concept of cost-share and in-kind services?

Cost-share of no less than 20% is required. Requesters may provide cost-share in the form of cash or in-kind contributions for things such as personnel costs; indirect costs; facilities and administrative costs; rental value of buildings or equipment; and the value of a service, other resource or third-party in-kind contribution; etc. The 20% cost share is calculated based on the total cost of the project, including the cost share (i.e., the sum of the government cost and the voucher recipient cost equals the total cost of the project).

Cost-share contribution must be reasonable, allowable and allocable under the applicable Federal cost principles. In addition, cost share must be verifiable during the process to finalize scope, cost and schedule following selection. Requesters may use funding or property received from state or local governments to meet the cost-share requirement, so long as the funding was not provided to the state or local government by the Federal Government. The following sources may NOT be used by the requester to meet its cost-share obligations, including, but not limited to, revenues or royalties from the prospective operation of an activity beyond the project period; proceeds from the prospective sale of an asset of an activity; Federal funding or property (e.g., Federal grants, equipment owned by the Federal Government); or expenditures that were reimbursed under a separate Federal Technology Office. For example, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding cannot be used to provide in-kind or direct cost-share. Small businesses with SBIR/STTR funding can make a request for assistance under the GAIN NE Voucher Program, but the scope of work must be distinct from existing SBIR/STTR projects.     

For more information on allowable cost-share, please refer to the following link: www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/2/200.306.

If I already have Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding for a similar project, can that money be used as cost-share?

No. SBIR funding, even if from another agency, cannot be used as cost-share. Federal funding cannot be considered cost-share.

Applying for the GAIN NE Voucher

How do I submit a Request for Assistance (RFA)?

If you are interested in submitting an application, please access information about the request for assistance and the GAIN NE Voucher Program on the GAIN website.

Should I include proprietary information in my Request for Assistance (RFA)?

No. Please do not provide any proprietary information in your RFA, supporting documentation or resumes.

Can I submit more than one application?

Each eligible entity may submit only one application since it is DOE-NE’s intent to hold the call open for the entire year with approximate quarterly review and award periods.

If I received a voucher under the previous call, am I eligible to submit an RFA in this call?

Yes, recipients of vouchers from a previous call are eligible to receive a voucher under the current GAIN NE Voucher program. However, each applicant is allowed no more than $975,000 (not including cost-share) in active voucher funding awards resulting from this RFA. Applications for additional voucher funding will be considered if an active voucher(s) for the applicant is anticipated to be completed within three months of submission of the new application, as long as the total voucher funding will remain below $975,000 with the new award.

  • Example 1 – Entity has no current active vouchers. Entity can apply for one voucher per cycle and awards may be made until the funding (not including cost share) reaches the $975,000 active voucher limit. The limit on each voucher of approximately $500,000 (Section C) is still applicable.
  • Example 2 – Entity has three active vouchers each worth $300,000 for a total of $900,000. Option 1 – Entity would be eligible to apply for a $75,000 voucher. Option 2 – If one of the $300,000 vouchers is anticipated to be complete within three months of submission of the new application, then entity could apply for a voucher up to $375,000 (not including cost share).

What are the selection criteria and how are they weighted?

The three criteria and their weightings are:

Technical Merit (50 Points)

  • Extent to which the requester has clearly identified the problem or challenges the company is facing in developing innovative nuclear energy systems and how the assistance from the host institution can assist in overcoming these challenges. (15 points)
  • Extent to which the applicant’s approach is realistic and feasible with respect to technical considerations and is appropriately aligned with the host institution’s capabilities. (15 points)
  • Extent to which the innovation/concept/technology will contribute in a significant manner in one or more of the following areas toward the deployment of advanced nuclear energy systems or components. Examples of improvements could include, but are not limited to, economic competitiveness (capital cost, operations cost, enhanced performance); capability to penetrate non-electricity market; enhanced safety; reduced environmental impact; improved management of used nuclear fuel; reduced proliferation risk; increased regulatory acceptance. (20 points)

Business and Market Impact (40 Points)       

  • Quality of the requester’s plan to utilize the results to advance their nuclear energy innovation/concept/technology. Applicants must clearly state how the results of a successful voucher will enable them to overcome the stated technical hurdle and how it will contribute to their overall ability to be successful. This should include a description of the specific impact and outcome that is anticipated as a result of the voucher. (20 points)
  • Extent to which the innovation/concept/technology will contribute to the overall nuclear energy marketplace or state of technology development. (10 points)
  • Extent to which the requester has a feasible plan for deploying the innovation/concept/technology to the market. (10 points)

Qualifications and Experience (10 Points)  

  • Extent to which the requester is capable of leading a successful project and subsequent implementation or deployment with respect to qualifications and resources. (10 points)

Note: Small businesses (those who have less than 500 employees) will receive extra consideration in the form of five bonus points added to their review score. For additional information on the Merit Review Criteria, see Section E of the GAIN NE Voucher Program Request for Assistance (RFA).

What information will I be asked to provide in the Request for Assistance (RFA), and how long does the RFA submission process take?

The GAIN NE Voucher application instructions are available on the GAIN Website. You will be required to create an account using the link to the application page. You can access this page up to the time quarterly voucher applications are due to add information and make changes as long as you click the SAVE button. A technical narrative document is required, which will be uploaded to the application site. A short resume document is optional. The application process should take less than 30 minutes to complete, assuming all your information is readily available.

How long after I submit my request will I know whether or not I will receive a voucher?

Depending on annual appropriations, starting from each quarterly due date, the schedule for the program is: 

  • 0 weeks – 5:00 p.m. EST, application submissions are collected for review
  • 6 weeks – Expected notification of quarterly awardees                                       
  • 12 weeks – Planned finalization of statement of work, budget and cost share with DOE facility                            
  • 18 weeks – Expected finalization of agreements
  • 19 weeks – Voucher work expected to begin

Quarterly voucher application due dates will be January 31, April 30, July 31 and October 31 on an annual basis. If a due date happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the due date is the following Monday.

This schedule anticipates evaluating all applications and making preliminary selections within roughly eight weeks. Selected recipients would be notified at this time to begin working directly with the GAIN point of contact in order to finalize the work scope, cost (including cost-share) and schedule.

If the scope, cost and schedule parameters become inconsistent with the voucher program parameters, or are not mutually agreeable, GAIN will cancel the preliminary selection for that recipient and make an alternative selection.

Can I team up with a national laboratory to develop an application?

Yes. Such a teaming arrangement will be helpful in determining the feasibility and cost of the proposed work scope, but it is not required. The application form provides an opportunity to identify the specific capability that you are interested in (e.g., facility, capability, and point of contact), if known, but this is not mandatory. It should be noted that the application belongs to the business applicant alone and will be judged based on the merit evaluation criteria, which are focused on the business and the merits of its application.

A business that desires assistance with locating applicable capabilities in the national laboratory complex may contact the GAIN office or the points of contact listed in the Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Database to explore the available capabilities and how they may address your needs.

Can multiple business teams submit a single Request for Assistance?

A single entity (i.e., eligible business) will be the recipient of the voucher, will enter into the appropriate agreement (i.e., GAIN Small Business Voucher CRADA or DOE -Standard CRADA) and will be obligated to provide the required cost share. This does not preclude an eligible business from entering into external agreements with other businesses, as appropriate, to share the cost and benefits of a proposal. If, for example, the market impacts or benefits extend beyond the business that is applying, that could be discussed in the application as a favorable element.


What agreements will be used for the GAIN NE Voucher Program?

DOE has developed two standard agreements to be used under the voucher program, including a standard Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) and a GAIN Small Business Voucher CRADA. All voucher recipients will sign one of these two standard agreements, depending on their classification.

GAIN Small Business Voucher CRADA: Small Business/Non-Profit voucher requesters with NO foreign ownership/control/influence. The GAIN Small Business Voucher CRADA will be the agreement mechanism for requesters that qualify as small or non-profit entities as defined in section B and are not determined to be owned, controlled or influenced by a foreign government, agency, firm or corporation.

DOE-Standard CRADA: Large Business and all eligible voucher requesters with foreign ownership/control/influence. The DOE-Standard CRADA will be the agreement mechanism for requesters that do not meet the requirements for small/non-profit businesses and/or are determined by DOE to be owned, controlled or influenced by a foreign government, agency, firm or corporation.

The transfer of technology and data resulting from the work done under a GAIN NE Voucher award by any recipient to a foreign entity will be subject to U.S. Government export control laws and regulations.

Can the CRADA terms and conditions be negotiated?

DOE-NE is committed to reducing the processing time and expediting the conduct of work to support the business community under the voucher pilot. Therefore, standard terms and conditions in the CRADAs will not be negotiated unless DOE determines that it is necessary in exceptional cases.

Can you clarify whether intellectual property (IP) remains with the applicant?

Generally, inventions created under the program will be owned by the party making the invention. The applicant also has a nonexclusive license in the Lab’s inventions under a CRADA and an option to negotiate an exclusive license. Data produced under a CRADA may be protected for a period of five years and may be copyrighted at the applicant’s option. The government will have a nonexclusive license for any inventions or copyright. Please refer to the specific agreements for further details.

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