August 22, 2019

Verdant Place request for information

About

This Research Award is now closed

Facebook Connectivity’s mission is to bring more people online to a faster internet. Together with hundreds of partners around the world, we’re exploring new ways to bring fast, reliable internet to those without it.

Verdant Place is a co-creation hub for breakthrough technologies, market solutions, and ecosystem partners, related to meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs) using green information and communications technologies (ICT). To launch Verdant Place, Facebook Connectivity is soliciting White Paper Proposals in the area of the relationships between connectivity and sustainability.

“Connectivity” refers to the global digital society enabled by information and communications technologies (ICT). “Sustainability” includes both the direct impacts of ICT and connectivity infrastructure, such as carbon emissions or end-of-life product recycling, as well as indirect impacts, such as sustainability consequences of increased and enhanced connectivity to individuals and communities. Other possible direct impacts include environmental factors such as toxicity, ozone depletion, and soil and atmospheric acidification. Indirect consequences further include social and economic impacts, such as those considered in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Inputs from this solicitation are expected to aid formulation of one or more programs (i.e. collections of projects contributing to common goals) addressing (a) approaches to leverage stakeholder desire to achieve sustainability goals to create demand for increased and enhanced connectivity and (b) the consequences of increased and enhanced connectivity to achieving sustainability goals. Selected proposers (see Evaluation Criteria) will be invited to attend a workshop at Facebook’s headquarters to develop and refine program concepts that could lead to future funded proposals and future program-specific Requests for Proposals.

Topics of interest

Three focus areas are of primary interest and suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

Sustainable connectivity infrastructure

  • Sustainable/renewable energy sources including solar and beyond to provide “green” power to core, backhaul, and edge equipment
  • Reduced power consumption in core, backhaul, and edge equipment

Consequences of connectivity to global sustainability

  • Per-capita CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts from increased connectivity
  • Impact of connectivity on UN SDGs

Sustainability as a driver for connectivity

  • SDGs as motivators for increased/enhanced urban, peri-urban, and rural connectivity
  • Models development for sustainability impacts and stakeholder engagements
  • Approaches to engage community stakeholders to achieve SDGs via enhanced connectivity

White papers proposing minimal and incremental advancement over state-of-the-practice will not be selected for further consideration.

White paper submissions

White paper submissions must clearly identify a relationship between connectivity and one or more sustainability impacts and should include discussion of how to leverage their relationship to achieve both sustainability goals and enhanced connectivity to individuals. Submissions should at a minimum describe the following:

  • A clear statement of the problem or opportunity relating connectivity and sustainability being addressed
  • A clear understanding of state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice work in the area
  • An objective that either promotes a positive relationship between connectivity and sustainability, and/or mitigates a possible negative relationship
  • The impacts to sustainability and connectivity by achieving the stated objective, and metrics for those impacts
  • The proposed approach to achieve the stated objective and impacts, including go/no-go assessment points and assessment criteria
  • The relevant experience, skills, and interest in the proposed work by the submitting organization, any relevant Intellectual Property (IP) claimed by the proposer or submitting organization, or other dependencies in the proposal to other work

Where possible and relevant, the white paper should describe quantitative metrics that would track progress towards the objective and an assessment of the resulting connectivity and sustainability impacts. A white paper may optionally include a Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) cost estimate and associated ROM schedule. These proposed costs and schedule will be considered as notional only, and not binding. Where possible, a provisional risk assessment should be included, along with any identified mitigations.

Any proprietary information included in the white paper shall be clearly and locally identified, but entire proposals labeled “proprietary” will not be evaluated.

Core technical discussion in the paper is expected to be 4–8 pages, with additional back-up material optional. White papers should be submitted in PDF format.

Evaluation criteria

White papers will be evaluated by Facebook Research Scientists and, where necessary, additional domain experts (under non-disclosure agreement to protect submissions) as to their ability to achieve high impact simultaneously in both connectivity and sustainability.

White papers will be evaluated per the following table:

Evaluation criteria Scoring Weight
Research statement The co-relationship of connectivity and sustainability – the more significant the relationship, the higher the score. 25%
Impact Magnitude of and time to impact – the more people who will benefit from success in the proposed concept, the higher the score; for similar magnitudes, shorter time-to-impact will receive a higher score. 40%
Deliverables and plan Innovation – highly innovative concepts will be scored higher than incremental developments for similar magnitudes of impact; Open Science and Open Source proposals (or components thereof) are encouraged and will score higher than similar work proposed under IP restrictions. 25%
Resourcing and risk Resourcing – should be credible, with evidence (e.g. proposing team’s track record); well-defined risks and mitigations will score higher; absolute amount of risk is not a primary weighting criterion. 10%

Additional information

Selected proposals will help formulate of one or more new programs within Facebook Connectivity for future funded work and targeted Requests for Proposal (RFP) calls through the following mechanisms.

Proposers of selected white papers will receive an invitation to participate in a December 11–12, 2019 workshop at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. Invited participants will share their concepts in focused sessions with Facebook Connectivity personnel, other proposers, and potentially other external guests such as domain expert specialists. Collaborations between proposers resulting from these sessions are highly encouraged and do not need to include Facebook directly. Facebook will pay for reasonable travel and lodging expenses for invited participants.

Presenters at the workshop will also have the option to include their workshop presentation material, subject to Facebook publication review, in any public release of the workshop findings and conclusions, such as at research.fb.com and connectivity.fb.com.

Future Facebook Requests for Proposals will likely look to fund proposals in a phased manner, with phases typically in the 6 to 12-month range.  Per-phase funding could range from approximately $50,000 for a small study up to approximately $1,000,000 for a project with direct impact to a population. Please note such awards are prospective and not being offered in this RFI.

Especially meritorious white paper proposals under this RFI may be selected for an immediate Request for Full Proposal to include additional requested information and a binding Statement of Work to be performed under contract, project schedule, and not-to-exceed cost including a Basis of Estimate.

Eligibility

  • Proposed work must comply with applicable U.S. and international laws, regulations and policies
  • White paper proposals from academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and other for-profit and non-profit organizations will all be considered for both the current program evaluation and future funded activities
  • Multiple white paper proposals may be submitted from an organization
  • Multiple white paper proposals may be submitted by an individual
  • You agree that Facebook will not be required to treat any part of the proposal not clearly and locally identified “proprietary” as confidential or protected by copyright. (Please note that this overrides the confidentiality item in our terms and conditions below.)

Timing and dates

  • Applications are now open. Deadline to apply is Friday September 20, 2019 at 5:00 pm PST.
  • Notifications (including invitations to the December 11–12 workshop) are expected to be sent by email to the selected applicants by October 31, 2019.

For more information about Verdant Place, visit our blog. For questions related to this RFI, please email verdantplace@fb.com.

Please read the following terms and conditions carefully before processing.
All items apply unless otherwise stated above.

Terms and Conditions

  • By submitting a proposal, you are authorizing Facebook to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.
  • You agree that Facebook will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright, and may use, edit, modify, copy, reproduce, and distribute all or a portion of your proposal in any manner for the sole purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.
  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.

 

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