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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Lean for Main Street Training Challenge

Adapting the NSF’s I-Corps Program for More Segments of New and Aspiring Small Business Owners

Small Business Administration

Total Cash Prizes Offered: $125,000
Type of Challenge: Ideas
Submission Start: 01/11/2016 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 02/11/2016 09:00 AM ET

Description

UPDATE - 3/11/2016 - SBA is pleased to announce the five winners of the Lean for Main Street Training Challenge. Please see the press release for winner information.
Thank you to all applicants!

Note: This challenge is limited only to entities that are currently part of SBA’s Resource Partner Network, i.e. entities that receive SBA funding to operate Small Business Development Centers (both lead and service centers are eligible), Women’s Business Centers, Veteran's Business Outreach Centers, and SCORE Chapters. Please see the Rules section for more information, or contact leanchallenge@sba.gov with additional questions.

Given the success and growing popularity of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program (see http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/i-corps/about.jsp), the SBA is interested in the potential for using adapted versions of that program as a means to assist a broader array of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs operating outside the I-Corps™ program’s current focus on technology-based businesses or commercialization concepts.

For reference, the I-Corps™ program involves expert business trainers helping teams of scientists and entrepreneurs apply “lean principles”—a collection of practices and concepts for business model analysis—to those scientists’ and entrepreneurs’ nascent entrepreneurial efforts.

Given the SBA’s esteem for the success of this program, the SBA has partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to offer the Lean for Main Street Training Challenge to current SBA Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and SCORE Chapters (“Contestants”). Contestants selected as winners will participate in the development and deployment of innovative “lean startup” resources that can be delivered to small businesses in sectors or regions that have not had significant exposure or access to these resources. Winning Contestant representatives will participate in an in-person and virtual train-the-trainer  program and forum with I-Corps™ national instructors to develop an innovative framework for exposing lean methodology to businesses in traditional sectors.

Winners will then implement these newly-developed lean training resources to businesses in their respective communities on a pilot basis and provide SBA with an assessment of their effectiveness. For more information, please see the Rules section.

Winner

Community Business Partnership (SBDC) – Springfield, Va; McLennan SBDC – Waco, Texas; Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center (WBC) – San Francisco, Calif.; University of Pittsburgh (SBDC) – Pittsburgh, Pa. Mississippi State University (VBOC) – Mississippi State, Miss.

Link to SBA press release: https://www.sba.gov/content/sba-announces-winners-lean-main-street-training-challenge-0 SBA Announces Winners of Lean for Main Street Training Challenge WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced the winners of the “Lean for Main Street Training Challenge” competition. The training challenge is designed to give representatives from SBA’s resource partner network – Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), SCORE chapters, Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), and Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) – the opportunity to adapt an existing curriculum to help Main Street small businesses and entrepreneurs utilize the insights of lean business methodologies. Lean methodology has been long popular in technology start-ups, driving companies to move away from a traditional business plan to a more simplified, step-by-step approach. It involves a cycle of consumer feedback and adaption to quickly take products to market.

The SBA has a national network of resource partners who are uniquely well positioned to make the most cutting edge tools accessible to new businesses in all corners of the country. “The lean start-up approach has the potential to empower entrepreneurs well beyond Silicon Valley and traditional tech hubs,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “The lean methodology is focused on helping entrepreneurs get the right things to the right place at the right time, while minimizing waste and maintaining flexibility. Through a partnership with the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, we are training and building the capacity of five of those organizations to become experts in I-Corps instruction, and we’ll work closely with them as they adapt and deliver new variations of the program to targeted audiences in their regions.”

I-Corps, the curriculum developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides a framework of principles and practices challenging conventional notions about business model planning. The winning resource partners will attend NSF’s I-Corps program in Washington, D.C. this spring, where they will receive guidance from instructors on how to adapt the curriculum to their own communities. Throughout the learning cycle, they will work with I-Corps master trainers to observe, reflect, and adapt the current curriculum for use in their centers, and in counseling their local area businesses.

The winners are as follows:
• Community Business Partnership (SBDC) – Springfield, Va.
• McLennan SBDC – Waco, Texas
• Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center (WBC) – San Francisco, Calif.
• University of Pittsburgh (SBDC) – Pittsburgh, Pa.
• Mississippi State University (VBOC) – Mississippi State, Miss.

Each winning center will also receive $25,000 in prize money to support travel expenses associated with the I-Corps program, the adaptation and development of a new curriculum, and the delivery of that curriculum in their local communities. The SBA plans to leverage these adapted curricula by making them available to all members of the SBA’s resource partner network.

The five winning contestants represent a geographically diverse group. Applicants aimed their proposed curricula at a number of different audiences, including disadvantaged Main Street districts, and women from minority and immigrant communities.


Prizes

Lean for Main Street Training Challenge Prizes
Cash Prize Amount: $125,000
Up to 5 prizes of $25,000 each will be awarded. Each winning contestant will also receive two scholarships to the I-Corps Training Program in Washington, DC, worth $1,200 each.

Rules

1. Subject of Challenge Competition: Given the success and growing popularity of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program (see http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/i-corps/about.jsp), the SBA is interested in the potential for using adapted versions of that program as a means to assist a broader array of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs operating outside the I-Corps™ program’s current focus on technology-based businesses or commercialization concepts. For reference, the I-Corps™ program involves expert business trainers helping teams of scientists and entrepreneurs apply “lean principles”—a collection of practices and concepts for business model analysis—to those scientists’ and entrepreneurs’ nascent entrepreneurial efforts.  Given the SBA’s esteem for the success of this program, the SBA has partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to offer the Lean for Main Street Training Challenge to current SBA Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and SCORE Chapters (“Contestants”). Contestants selected as winners will participate in the development and deployment of innovative “lean startup” resources that can be delivered to small businesses in sectors or regions that have not had significant exposure or access to these resources. Winning Contestant representatives will participate in an in-person and virtual train-the-trainer  program and forum with I-Corps™ national instructors to develop an innovative framework for exposing lean methodology to businesses in traditional sectors.  Winners will then implement these newly-developed lean training resources to businesses in their respective communities on a pilot basis and provide SBA with an assessment of their effectiveness.

2. Eligibility Rules for Participating in the Competition: Only current recipients in good standing of grants and cooperative agreements from SBA under the Women’s Business Center, Veterans' Business Outreach Center, Small Business Development Center (both lead and service centers are eligible), or SCORE programs (“Resource Partners”) are eligible to take part in this competition.

 To be eligible to win a prize under this Competition, a Contestant:

(a) Shall have registered to participate in the competition under the rules promulgated by SBA;

(b) Shall have complied with all the requirements under this Notice;

(c) In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; and

(d) May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment;

(e) Shall not be an SBA employee working on their applications during assigned duty hours.

3. Registration Process for Participants: Contestants will submit their application through challenge.gov. Winners will be required to have an account in System for Award Management (SAM) https://www.sam.gov to receive the award. Participants should create an account on the challenge.gov site and go to https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/lean-for-main-street-training-challenge/ and click on the sidebar link which says "Submit Solution." Contestants should include a title to their submission. The application for this challenge consists of two pdf documents which should be uploaded as attachments to the submission. To upload these documents, click on the "Upload File(s)" button located directly under the "Description" heading on the submission page. The first document is a document of proof of status as an SBDC, WBC, VBOC, or SCORE chapter. The specific document which should be uploaded is described at the end of this section. The second document is the main application document. It should consist of a single three-page pdf document. The content of each page is described below: Page 1: Resource Partner Capacity (1 page maximum)
  1. Organizational Background: Briefly describe your organization, the type of Resource Partner grant it operates, and how the organization has evolved in its tailoring of services to small businesses given changes in economic trends, community demographics, and the availability of new entrepreneurial development resources. If your organization has offered Lean resources or programming in the past, please describe it (such experience is NOT necessary). Please be sure to provide the following information in your description:
    1. Name of Organization
    2. Resource Partner Affiliation (Small Business Development Center (Lead or Service Center), Women's Business Center, or SCORE Chapter)
    3. Official Contact Person, Including Phone and Email Address
  1. Background of Representatives for I-Corps training: Give a brief biography for each of the two representatives you plan to send to the I-Corps training. Be sure to note if they have any experience with or exposure to Lean concepts and methods (such experience is NOT necessary), and, more generally, provide a description of their demonstrated ability to adapt and deliver new resources to small businesses.
Page 2: Rationale for I-Corps Training (1 page maximum)
  1. Interest in I-Corps and Lean Methodology: Describe why your organization is interested in learning more about how to incorporate Lean methodology in your offerings to clients. How will your organization leverage the I-Corps training to enhance service delivery to small businesses in your region?
  1. Target Audience for Adapted I-Corps Curriculum: Briefly describe the potential beneficiaries of the adapted I-Corps curriculum in your area. Attributes of potential beneficiaries to take into consideration could be, but are not limited to, are business phase (pre-venture, startup, existing businesses), sector, and socio-economic status.
Page 3: Description of Intended Activities (1 page maximum)
  1. Implementation and Assessment Plan: Briefly describe how you will deliver a pilot program with the adapted curriculum you develop through the I-Corps Spring Cohort, and describe the top five (5) metrics relevant to outputs and outcomes you would use to measure the effectiveness of the program.
All submissions should adhere to the following formatting guidelines:
  • The application document should be submitted as a single PDF with the following filename format: [organization name]_Application.pdf
  • Each part of the application should be no more than one page in length, for a total of three pages
  • Paper Size: 8.5 x 11 with three-quarter (.75) inch margins on all sides
  • Font: Calibri, Size 11
Each contestant should also include proof of status as a member of SBA's Resource Partner Network.
  • For SBDC Lead Centers, please include a current copy of Form 1222 of  your SBA Notice of Award
  • For SBDC Service Centers, please include a letter of verification from your Lead Center stating you are a current SBDC Service Center and are in good standing with the Lead Center
  • For WBCs and VBOCs, please include a copy of Form 1222 of  your SBA Notice of Award
  • For SCORE Chapters, please include a letter of verification from the SCORE Association indicating your chapter number, that you are in good standing and are authorized to apply for this challenge by the SCORE Association (prize money for any SCORE chapter winners will be awarded through the SCORE Association).
4. Amount of Prize: Through the Lean for Main Street Training Challenge, the SBA will award up to five cash prizes of $25,000 each.  Additionally, scholarships with a value of up to $1,200 each will be issued by the SBA for two representatives of each winning organization to attend a 7 week  I-Corps™  in person and virtual train the trainer program.  The in person component of the training will take place in Washington, DC March 29 through April 1, 2016 and again May 11 through 14; virtual sessions will take place on April 7, 14, 21, 28, and May 5.  On May 14, winners will participate in a forum with I-Corps instructors to discuss and refine their customized lean programs which will then be piloted by the winners.

5. Payment of Prize:  The scholarships portion of the prize will be disbursed in the form of two vouchers for the two representatives from each winning organization to attend the I-Corps™ training event in early 2016.  The cash prize portion of the award will be disbursed in a series of three payments. The first payment, equal to 60 percent of a winner’s total prize amount, will be disbursed upon award once all initial requirements have been met. The second payment, equal to 20 percent of a winner's total prize amount, will be disbursed after a winner has presented a modified I-Corps™ program to the SBA and Agency staff has deemed that solution satisfactory. This solution must be presented within six (6) months of the date of the award unless otherwise specified by the SBA. The remaining 20 percent of the total prize amount will be disbursed after a winner submits a written assessment that includes, but is not limited to, the outcomes and outputs of the pilot implementation as measured by the metrics outlined in its proposal, a summary of any lessons learned and best practices, and suggestions for any improvements to the design or implementation of similar competitions in the future. The written assessment must be submitted to SBA no later than 12 months after a winner receives its first prize payment.

6. Selection of Winners:  Winners will be selected based upon how well they address the following criteria on their application forms:

  • Audience: SBA’s Resource Partners interact with a diverse group of small business owners and entrepreneurs. While lean materials aimed towards tech startups are commonly available, entrepreneurs in different industries, with different backgrounds, or from different geographies may find these materials less applicable to their immediate circumstances. In order to be successful, a Contestant should clearly identify the specific audience for which their solution would be developed. Contestants are free to define their audience according to their own parameters (e.g. Sector, Business Phase (pre-venture, startup, existing businesses) Geography, Historically Disadvantaged or Underserved Status , etc.)
  • Adaptation: To kick off the adaptation of the I-Corps program, each winner will send two representatives to NSF’s I-Corps gathering in Washington, DC, where they will work in dedicated groups with I-Corps instructors as part of a specialized Train the Trainer program. Applications should outline exactly how representatives intend to benefit from this experience, including any specific knowledge gaps that representatives are looking to fill through their participation. They should also give a clear idea of the demonstrated ability of each representative to adapt and deliver new resources to small businesses. Please note that while SBA is interested in your knowledge and experience with lean methods, preexisting expertise in lean methodology is NOT a requirement for this Competition.
  • Implementation: An entrepreneurial development program is only as good as the people it can reach. While the ability to adapt and customize entrepreneurial development resources is clearly important, equally important will be the Contestants’ solution to delivering their curriculum to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in their target audience. An application should delineate, as clearly as possible, how the Resource Partner intends to leverage their existing relationships, the curriculum that they will develop, and the funds awarded to bring lean methods into their communities on a pilot basis. Applications should also give a clear idea of how they intend to assess the effectiveness of their program, including specific metrics that the Resource Partner will track.

7. Applicable Law:  This Competition is being conducted by SBA pursuant to the America Competes Act (15 U.S.C. 3719) and is subject to all applicable federal laws and regulations. By participating in this Competition, each Contestant gives its full and unconditional agreement to the Official Rules and the related administrative decisions described in this notice, which are final and binding in all matters related to the Competition. A Contestant's eligibility for a prize award is contingent upon its fulfilling all requirements identified in this notice and in the Official Rules. Publication of this notice is not an obligation of funds on the part of SBA. SBA reserves the right to modify or cancel this Competition, in whole or in part, at any time prior to the award of prizes.

8. Conflicts of Interest: No individual acting as a judge at any stage of this Competition may have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any Contestant or have a familial or financial relationship with a Contestant.

9. Intellectual Property Rights:

(a). All entries submitted in response to this Competition will remain the sole intellectual property of the individuals or organizations that developed them. By registering and entering a submission, each Contestant represents and warrants that it is the sole author and copyright owner of the submission, and that the submission is an original work of the Contestant, or if the submission is a work based on an existing application, that the Contestant has acquired sufficient rights to use and to authorize others to use the submission, and that the submission does not infringe upon any copyright or upon any other third party rights of which the Contestant is aware.

(b). The winning Contestant will, in consideration of the prize to be awarded, grant to SBA an irrevocable, royalty-free, exclusive worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, copy, display, create derivative works, and publicly post, link to, and share, the winning design or parts thereof, for the purpose of the design competition and for any official SBA purpose.

10. Publicity Rights:  By registering and entering a submission, each Contestant consents to SBA's and its agents' use, in perpetuity, of its name, likeness, photograph, voice, opinions, and/or hometown and state information for promotional or informational purposes through any form of media, worldwide, without further payment or consideration.

11. Liability and Insurance Requirements:  By registering and entering a submission, each Contestant agrees to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal Government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from their participation in this Competition, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise. By registering and entering a submission, each Contestant further represents and warrants that it possesses sufficient liability insurance or financial resources to cover claims by a third party for death, bodily injury, or property damage or loss resulting from any activity it carries out in connection with its participation in this Competition, or claims by the Federal Government for damage or loss to Government property resulting from such an activity. Competition winners should be prepared to demonstrate proof of insurance or financial responsibility in the event SBA deems it necessary.

12. Record Retention and Disclosure: All submissions and related materials provided to SBA in the course of this Competition automatically become SBA records and cannot be returned. Contestants should identify any confidential commercial information contained in their entries at the time of their submission.

Judging Criteria

Audience
Percentage: 33
SBA’s Resource Partners interact with a diverse group of small business owners and entrepreneurs. While lean materials aimed towards tech startups are commonly available, entrepreneurs in different industries, with different backgrounds, or from different geographies may find these materials less applicable to their immediate circumstances. In order to be successful, a Contestant should clearly identify the specific audience for which their solution would be developed. Contestants are free to define their audience according to their own parameters (e.g. Sector, Business Phase (pre-venture, startup, existing businesses) Geography, Historically Disadvantaged or Underserved Status , etc.)

Adaptation
Percentage: 33
To kick off the adaptation of the I-Corps program, each winner will send two representatives to NSF’s I-Corps gathering in Washington, DC, where they will work in dedicated groups with I-Corps instructors as part of a specialized Train the Trainer program. Applications should outline exactly how representatives intend to benefit from this experience, including any specific knowledge gaps that representatives are looking to fill through their participation. They should also give a clear idea of the demonstrated ability of each representative to adapt and deliver new resources to small businesses. Please note that while SBA is interested in your knowledge and experience with lean methods, preexisting expertise in lean methodology is NOT a requirement for this Competition.

Implementation
Percentage: 33
An entrepreneurial development program is only as good as the people it can reach. While the ability to adapt and customize entrepreneurial development resources is clearly important, equally important will be the Contestants’ solution to delivering their curriculum to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in their target audience. An application should delineate, as clearly as possible, how the Resource Partner intends to leverage their existing relationships, the curriculum that they will develop, and the funds awarded to bring lean methods into their communities on a pilot basis. Applications should also give a clear idea of how they intend to assess the effectiveness of their program, including specific metrics that the Resource Partner will track.

How To Enter

Contestants will submit their application through challenge.gov. Winners will be required to have an account in System for Award Management (SAM) https://www.sam.gov to receive the award. Participants should create an account on the challenge.gov site and go to https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/lean-for-main-street-training-challenge/ and click on the sidebar link which says "Submit Solution." Contestants should include a title to their submission. The application for this challenge consists of two pdf documents which should be uploaded as attachments to the submission. To upload these documents, click on the "Upload File(s)" button located directly under the "Description" heading on the submission page. The first document is a document of proof of status as an SBDC, WBC, VBOC, or SCORE chapter. The specific document which should be uploaded is described at the end of this section. The second document is the main application document. It should consist of a single three-page pdf document. The content of each page is described below: Page 1: Resource Partner Capacity (1 page maximum)
  1. Organizational Background: Briefly describe your organization, the type of Resource Partner grant it operates, and how the organization has evolved in its tailoring of services to small businesses given changes in economic trends, community demographics, and the availability of new entrepreneurial development resources. If your organization has offered Lean resources or programming in the past, please describe it (such experience is NOT necessary). Please be sure to provide the following information in your description:
    1. Name of Organization
    2. Resource Partner Affiliation (Small Business Development Center (Lead or Service Center), Women's Business Center, or SCORE Chapter)
    3. Official Contact Person, Including Phone and Email Address
  1. Background of Representatives for I-Corps training: Give a brief biography for each of the two representatives you plan to send to the I-Corps training. Be sure to note if they have any experience with or exposure to Lean concepts and methods (such experience is NOT necessary), and, more generally, provide a description of their demonstrated ability to adapt and deliver new resources to small businesses.
Page 2: Rationale for I-Corps Training (1 page maximum)
  1. Interest in I-Corps and Lean Methodology: Describe why your organization is interested in learning more about how to incorporate Lean methodology in your offerings to clients. How will your organization leverage the I-Corps training to enhance service delivery to small businesses in your region?
  1. Target Audience for Adapted I-Corps Curriculum: Briefly describe the potential beneficiaries of the adapted I-Corps curriculum in your area. Attributes of potential beneficiaries to take into consideration could be, but are not limited to, are business phase (pre-venture, startup, existing businesses), sector, and socio-economic status.
Page 3: Description of Intended Activities (1 page maximum)
  1. Implementation and Assessment Plan: Briefly describe how you will deliver a pilot program with the adapted curriculum you develop through the I-Corps Spring Cohort, and describe the top five (5) metrics relevant to outputs and outcomes you would use to measure the effectiveness of the program.
All submissions should adhere to the following formatting guidelines:
  • The application document should be submitted as a single PDF with the following filename format: [organization name]_Application.pdf
  • Each part of the application should be no more than one page in length, for a total of three pages
  • Paper Size: 8.5 x 11 with three-quarter (.75) inch margins on all sides
  • Font: Calibri, Size 11
Each contestant should also include proof of status as a member of SBA's Resource Partner Network.
  • For SBDC Lead Centers, please include a current copy of Form 1222 of  your SBA Notice of Award
  • For SBDC Service Centers, please include a letter of verification from your Lead Center stating you are a current SBDC Service Center and are in good standing with the Lead Center
  • For WBCs and VBOCs, please include a copy of Form 1222 of  your SBA Notice of Award
  • For SCORE Chapters, please include a letter of verification from the SCORE Association indicating your chapter number, that you are in good standing and are authorized to apply for this challenge by the SCORE Association (prize money for any SCORE chapter winners will be awarded through the SCORE Association).
Please submit this information as an pdf attachment, with the filename format [organization name]_Proof of Status.pdf To verify that your submissions have been uploaded correctly, you may go to "My Profile" by clicking on your username in the header bar and scrolling down. You should see all of your submissions here - you may continue to review and edit these until 9:00am ET on February 11, 2016. Your pdf documents should appear as blue links in the body of your submission.