Programme FAQ

These FAQs are meant to provide general guidance to participants of the Algorand Centres of Excellence (ACE) Programme, in particular potential applicants for the ACE Programme. The ACE Programme Terms and Conditions should be reviewed alongside the FAQs, however, the Terms and Conditions shall prevail if there is any inconsistency between the ACE Programme Terms and Conditions and these FAQs.

About:

Q1: What is the ACE programme?

The ACE programme is being launched as an initiative that strives to make a long-lasting, positive impact in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. The programme is being launched with a budget of a total value of 100,000,000 ALGO token for the next ten years. Selected centres may differ by scope, duration, performers and number of institutions involved. The intended funding aims to cover the cost of the set-up and operations of a centre for three to five years.

The programme has the following key objectives:

  • Advance and disseminate multi-disciplinary research in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space
  • Design educational programmes for a new generation of blockchain natives, including blockchain courses and student projects, hackathons and accelerators, and grassroot student involvement via student-led activities (e.g., blockchain clubs, etc.)
  • Support applied research and education leading to the development of innovative real-world mechanisms, applications and use cases Foster an inclusive and diverse community of blockchain enthusiasts centred around student and campus initiatives
  • Promote social impact and sustainability projects based on blockchain with measurable metrics
  • Enhance the capabilities of the Algorand platform, grow its community and ecosystem, and bring us closer to fulfilling the vision of an equitable, inclusive, borderless economy

Q2: Which research topics is the ACE programme most interested in?

The ACE programme does not want to limit or bias the submission towards particular subjects or questions.

Q3: What is the duration of the ACE programme?

The intended funding aims to cover the cost of the set-up and operations of a centre for three to five years, starting April 1, 2022. The programme is expected to be expanded within the ten-year framework and its 100,000,000 ALGO token allocation.

Q4: What is ACE programme funding for?

The intended funding aims to cover the cost of the set-up and operations of a centre for three to five years. For more information, please see the “Award Information” section in the 2021 Request for Proposals.

Q5: What is the ACE programme doing to ensure students with diverse backgrounds can participate?

Diversity and inclusion are central themes in the ACE programme. Algorand Foundation is committed to include students and researchers with a variety of experiences and backgrounds. Our goal is to be a positive force that sparks scientific curiosity, embraces innovation, and builds courage among an inclusive community. We strongly believe that a borderless economy can only become a sustainable reality with a strong, diverse workforce behind it.

Q6: What type of reporting is required after our ACE begins?

The Principal Investigator must submit a milestone update (in form of a short video and brief written summary) every six months and an annual report every 12 months. Reports will have segments to be shared with other ACE PIs as well as segments that will be shared with the Algorand Foundation only. The latter will include budget reporting. Participation in an annual PI meeting is required. The ACE programme manager may offer additional check-in meetings with representatives of the project team to provide support, general guidance, and foster community among grant recipients around the globe.

The Principal Investigator must also submit an annual financial report to the ACE Programme Manager one month before the end of the current budget period. Some awards may require submission of more frequent project reports. No later than 30 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report.

Q7: Where can I find the Terms and Conditions for ACE programme? 

The Terms and Conditions of the ACE programme can be found here.

Q8: Some applicant organisations may be unable to agree to certain terms as a part of the ACE programme terms and conditions because their local laws and regulations prohibit them to do so. How does the ACE programme handle such cases?

If the university applicant’s proposal is shortlisted by Algorand Foundation, upon reasonable evidence provided by the university applicant that it is under strict prohibition in agreeing to particular terms in the ACE terms and conditions, the Foundation will use reasonable efforts to work with the applicant to amend the particular terms in the definitive ACE funding offer letter such that both the Foundation and the applicant shall be compliant with the laws and regulations applicable to the Foundation, the applicant and ACE programme in performing its duties, responsibilities and obligation under the ACE programme.

 

Q9: Will someone come and visit us?

Visits of active projects may be scheduled. Proposers should allocate USD$2,500 per person for up to 6 people per year for ACE-related travel to be determined by the ACE Programme Manager (e.g., for an ACE performers event).

Annual meetings between PIs and the Algorand Foundation's ACE programme management team are currently planned to be virtual (via videoconference) on dates to be determined by the ACE Programme Manager. If this approach changes, separate funding will be provided as needed.

Q10: Where can I ask more questions about the programme?

You can email the ACE programme team at [email protected]. A recording of a recent ACE webinar can be found here.

Q11: What do ACE grant recipients get? 

To launch this initiative, the programme plans to support centres for three to five years with an annual budget allocation from US$500,000 to US$1,000,000 per year, depending on the size and the scope of the proposed programme. Algorand Foundation will support ACEs with promotion of their activities and other networking opportunities.

Q12: How does the ACE programme use my information and materials?

By submitting your ACE proposal, you grant to the Foundation the right and permission to communicate about your participation in the programme Please review section 3.7 in the Terms and Conditions for additional details.

Q13: How can we contact the ACE Programme?

The ACE lead team can be contacted at [email protected].

Application Process:

Q14: How do we apply?

Letters of Intent (LOI) are required in order to be able to submit a proposal. The LOI can be submitted via the Submittable platform only. Submissions via email or other channels are not accepted.

Q15: Do we need to partner with other organisations to apply for the ACE programme?

The ACE programme is looking for comprehensive proposals covering the myriad aspects related to blockchains and their applications, including the fields of computer science, economics, finance, law, applicable social sciences, arts and more. Partnering with other organisations across fields and geographies is encouraged, but not required.

Q16: When are applications due?

Letters of Intent (LOI) were due on November 12, 05:00 p.m. EST. As the deadline has now passed, we are no longer accepting letters of intent.

Proposals are due on January 14, 2022, 05:00 p.m. EST.

Q17: What is a "Letter of Intent"?

Submission of a Letter of Intent (LOI) is required to be eligible to submit a full ACE proposal. LOIs are not subject to a review, but rather are used for internal planning purposes. LOIs may not exceed two pages and must include:

  • the names, titles, affiliations and email addresses of the core project team members
  • a short synopsis of the planned programme
  • Name and email address of the Department Chair for the relevant PI department(s)
  • an approximate budget total, and
  • an expected number of funding years required for the centre.

Q18: Is the Letter of Intent binding?

The LOI is used for planning purposes. As part of the LOI, the ACE programme asks PIs to provide as accurate an approximation of the proposed budget and collaboration partners as possible. Changes in budget and team composition from the LOI submission to proposal submission are not grounds for expulsion from the ACE programme application process. 

Q19: Are we required to submit a proposal after we submit a LOI?

Organisations are not required to submit a proposal after they submitted a letter of intent (LOI). A letter of intent is required in order to be able to submit a proposal.

Q20: What should be included in the proposal?

Please review the corresponding section in the Request for Proposals ("Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions")

Q21: Is there a page limit for citations?

If your proposal includes citations, the bibliography does not count towards the page limit.

Q22: What is a collaboration plan?

The collaboration plan is part of the proposal and should not exceed 1 page. Collaboration plans should address the following questions: 

1. How will the team members from different disciplines and possibly different organisations plan to collaborate? 

2. How will this collaboration be central to the programme? 

3. What are the mechanisms to measure the success of the collaboration efforts?

Please also address how the organisation will ensure a diverse team and an inclusive work environment.

Q23: Can I submit a proposal without a prior LOI submission?

No. In order to submit a proposal, organisations must first submit a letter of intent. Please review the instructions and template for the letter of intent here.

Q24: Can we send our proposal to the ACE programme team before we submit so the team can check it for completeness and likelihood to succeed?

The ACE programme team will invite all organisations which have submitted a LOI to participate in an applicant workshop on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Q25: Is there an online ACE community where I can communicate with other interested ACE applicants and potentially find ACE collaboration partners?

The ACE programme encourages interested applicants to reach out to potential collaboration partners directly. The programme does not host an online community at this point.

Q26: What are the submission deadlines?

The deadline for letters of intent was Friday, November 12, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. EST. As the deadline has now passed, we are no longer accepting letters of intent.

Proposals are due on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Q27: Can one organisation submit multiple LOIs and/or proposals?

Each organisation can submit one proposal. In the event that two letters of intent are received from the same organisation, Algorand Foundation will only consider the first submission and contact the relevant teams for clarification. A PI can only be on one proposal. No other person from the same organisation can be a PI on a proposal. Sub-organisations can be represented on multiple proposals however no individual performer can be on multiple proposals.

Q28: Can multiple organisations work on one proposal together?

Yes. Multiple organisations can collaborate on one multi-institution ACE proposal. Please note that only one proposal submission can be accepted.

Q29: How many institutions can participate in a multi-institution proposal?

There is no limit on the number of performers for an ACE team. Proposals must include collaboration plans. Please see the Proposal Instructions for details.

Q30: Can we have multiple Co-PI's?

Yes. One proposal can have multiple co-PI's. There is no limit on the number of performers for an ACE team. Proposals must include collaboration plans. Please see the Proposal Instructions for details.

Q31: How does the ACE programme define lead organisation?

The lead organisation is the institution with which the PI is affiliated. In the case that  a proposal has multiple Co-PIs, there still can only be one lead organisation. The lead organisation will be the contractual partner for Algorand Foundation. All other collaborating institutions are considered suborganisations of the lead organisation. 

Lead organisations should take on a leadership role as part of the ACE proposal and direct, organise and report on all ACE activities.

Q32: Can the PI of the ACE proposal change throughout the ACE process?

In special circumstances, if the PI leaves the organisation which the PI is affiliated with during any point of the ACE process, the PI can be replaced, but only if the Foundation approves. The organisation itself cannot change.

Q33: Our organisation works with suborganisations, do they need to sign the agreement as well?

The Foundation is contracted only with the organisation receiving the grant under the ACE programme. Pursuant to the Terms and Conditions which form part of the contract, the Foundation expects the lead organisation to take a proactive role in ensuring its suborganisation to understand and observe the relevant Terms and Conditions, particularly clauses 6.2(i), 6.2(j), 7.1(a) and 8.2 of the T&Cs.

Q34: When will successful ACE proposals be notified?

Algorand Foundation will notify applicants in March 2022.

Q35: If the application is successful, when do we receive the funding?

The first 50% of year 1 funding will be paid out after the agreement has been signed by both parties. After that, funding will be disseminated every six months upon the successful completion of the reporting requirements.

Q36: Do you require a physical space for the ACE?

A description of how physical space will be used to execute this plan is strongly encouraged. Physical space can include meeting rooms, shared work spaces, buildings, event locations, etc.

Q37: Do you require a dedicated ACE webpage?

A dedicated page on your website for the ACE is required.

All publications, events and activities funded by the Algorand Centre of Excellence programme should be referred to as being part of the organisation’s Algorand Centre of Excellence and should be displayed under the centre’s ACE website (this applies to both the lead organisation as well as all suborganisations).

Q38: What type of event planning ideas should we include in our ACE proposal?

Events should help build and develop community and can include, but are not limited to, the following: conferences, workshops, seminars, hackathons, dev tutorials, regular meet-ups, brown bag luncheons etc. Events enabling affiliates from other ACEs to participate are encouraged.

Q39: We need technical help with submitting my LOI or proposal. Where can I find more information?

If you need help with submitting your LOI or proposal, please review the information provided by the Submittable help centre or email us at [email protected]. LOI or proposal submissions via email will not be accepted.

Q40: How and where is our personal data stored throughout the application process?

Please review the Submittable privacy policy.

Q41: How do I withdraw my LOI or proposal?

Please withdraw your submission via the Submittable platform and email [email protected].

Budgetary Information:

Q42: Do we need to provide a budget?

Organisations need to provide an estimated budget total at the time of LOI submission. For the proposal, a detailed budget including equipment and computing resources, administration, team compensation (salaries, etc.), travel, and other expenses as well as budget detailing (can break by tasks, deliverable or milestones, as appropriate) must be uploaded at the time of submission as a separate file to the proposal. Clear association of the budget to the details of the programme, the timeline and milestones as well as to the specific performers and institutions must be outlined. When submitting your proposal, please provide the name and email address of the person who created the budget, along with the sponsored research office’s email address as well as a letter of transmittal from the sponsored research office confirming that the PI has the necessary approvals to submit the proposal. Budgets must be submitted in Fiat. The default payment currency is ALGO token in ALGO equivalent amount unless the organisation receiving the award is not eligible to, able to or prefers not to receive funds in ALGO tokens. Please see the Terms and Conditions for details. A budget template is provided here.

Q43: What is a letter of transmittal?

A letter of transmittal is a letter from your organisation’s sponsored research office confirming the PI has the necessary approvals to submit the proposal. A template can be found here.

Q44: What is the payment currency for the grant?

Budgets must be submitted in Fiat. The default payment currency is ALGO token in ALGO equivalent amount unless the organisation receiving the award is not eligible to, able to or prefers not to receive funds in ALGO tokens. Please see the Terms and Conditions for details. A budget template is provided in our Resource section on the ACE programme page.

Q45: Will we get the full amount we have requested?

Departures from the requested budget are possible and will be discussed with the organisation at the time of the offer.

Q46: Is the funding awarded in ALGO or Fiat?

The default payment currency is ALGO token in ALGO equivalent amount unless the organisation receiving the award is not eligible, able to or prefers not to receive funds in ALGO tokens. Please see the Terms and Conditions for details.

Q47: How much can we ask for?

To launch this initiative, the programme plans to support centres for three to five years with an annual budget allocation from US$500,000 to US$1,000,000 per year, depending on the size and the scope of the proposed programme. Departures from this range are possible in special circumstances (e.g. multi-institutional collaborations or added value based on geographic and social diversity).

Q48: Is overhead included in the budget?

Please note that Algorand Foundation’s indirect cost policy favours low indirect cost and will not allow more than 20 percent of direct cost expenditures. The following expense categories need to be exempt from indirect charges: Participant support for workshop or conference attendees, tuition as well as any cost for activities related to research experience for undergraduates.

Q49: Can we include course buyout funds in the budget?

Course buyouts funds can be part of the ACE budget for the lead PI (the PI at the lead organisation). A Course Buyout is when grant funds “buy” a faculty member’s released time by paying for a percentage of their salary so that the equivalent amount of effort (%) can be spent working on the ACE.

Q50: My University defines and calculates direct and indirect cost differently than outlined in the Request for Proposals. What should I do?

Please add an appendix to your budget outlining the way indirect and direct cost is defined at your institution. Please note that Algorand Foundation’s indirect cost policy favours low indirect cost and will not allow more than 20 percent of direct cost expenditures. The following expense categories need to be exempt from indirect charges: Participant support for workshop or conference attendees, tuition as well as any cost for activities related to research experience for undergraduates. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions for details.

Eligibility:

Q51: Who is eligible to apply to the ACE programme?

Institutions of Higher Education and non-profit research organisations can apply to the ACE programme. Education and community elements are central to the ACE programme. Therefore, proposals with lead PIs from Higher Education institutions are preferred. Proposals from non-profit organisations must include Higher Education partner institutions to cover the education and community aspects of the proposal.

Q52: Can for-profit research organisations apply?

For-profit organisations cannot apply. They can, however, be collaborators (suborganisations) as part of an ACE proposal. All suborganisations and collaborators have to comply to the ACE programme Terms and Conditions. All output of the ACE must be open-source.

Q53: Can for-profit researchers be members of a ACE project team if the PI is at a Higher Education or non-profit research organisation?

For-profit researchers cannot be PIs, but can be members of the ACE project team. All outputs of the ACE programme must be open-source.

Q54: What happens if we receive the funding from another source, for the same purpose?

Algorand Foundation must give prior consent to allow cost sharing with another grant.

Q55: What happens if the PI changes institutions throughout the course of the ACE funding period?

The contract is with the institution, not the PI. The institution is expected to notify the Foundation as soon as the institution receives resignation notice of the PI or terminates the PI. The Foundation may terminate or delay the grant if the incoming PI replacing the original PI at the institution does not meet the the ACE programme Terms and Conditions including requirements of PI, the purposes of the project or the grant and milestone deliverables.

Q56: Can the ACE grant be paid as a philanthropic gift?

The ACE funding is considered a grant, and not a gift. Payments are tied to meeting defined milestones.

Review:

Q57: What are the ACE selection criteria?

Successful applications will focus on

Research: The reviewer committee will assess the proposal’s focus in view of the ACE programme’s mission to advance interdisciplinary science and technology in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. Collaborative, multidisciplinary proposals will be preferred.

Education: Successful ACE proposals will include inclusive education and diverse community engagement with a strong focus on course offerings and student-centric activities.

Technology and Application Development: The reviewer committee will evaluate the inclusion of elements leading to novel application development on the blockchain as part of the submitted proposal.

Ecosystem, community building and outreach: Successful ACE proposals present a well-organised plan for community engagement and ecosystem activities. A description of how physical space will be used to execute this plan is strongly encouraged.

Social Impact: Successful proposals will address societal challenges in line with Algorand Foundation’s vision for a thriving, global borderless economy. Diversity and inclusion: ACE project teams must represent a diverse community with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Collaborative proposals from more than one organisation or department across diverse geographies and economies will be considered favourably.

Algorand elements: Desirable ACE proposals will include the Algorand ecosystem and specific technology as part of their curriculum creation, research, and application development. Algorand modules as part of course offerings or the application of the Algorand platform for training or research purposes are strongly encouraged.

Q58: Who is reviewing the ACE proposals?

The designated review committee, consisting of external reviewers and internal Algorand Foundation representatives, will evaluate the proposals based on the review principles and criteria as listed above. Reviewers are selected based on their expertise in the field, along with their educational activities. To the extent possible, diverse representation within the review committee will be established.

Q59: If our application is unsuccessful will we be told why?

Due to the expected large number of applications, we will be unable to provide detailed feedback on your application.