ORAU selected for NIH Path to Excellence Initiative
Program helps HBCUs become NIH contractors
Oak Ridge, Tenn. — ORAU recently was selected to participate in the National Institutes of Health 2021 Path to Excellence and Innovation Initiative 2.0 cohort. The new NIH PEI 2.0 cohort is designed to assist in strengthening contracting opportunities for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, while improving collaborations with small businesses.
ORAU places a high priority on fostering relationships between Minority Serving Institutions and federal government agencies across the country.
“We want the best and brightest at every educational institution to be part of advancing the nation’s science, education, workforce development and health priorities,” said Desmond Stubbs, Ph.D., director of diversity initiatives at ORAU.
In addition to ORAU, the 2.0 cohort includes 21 HBCUs and 46 small business contractors. Cohort members will participate in an intensive 18-month acquisition training program that provides a comprehensive overview of NIH funding mechanisms and federal contracting policies.
The PEI Initiative was created to address the challenges faced by HBCUs pursuing federal contracting opportunities with the NIH. Today, only three HBCUs currently manage active NIH contracts, Stubbs said.
“PEI is a uniquely designed step-by-step roadmap to create significantly more opportunities for HBCUs providing training and technical assistance to schools applying for NIH contracts and grants. All of this is done through collaboration with small business contractors,” he said.
PEI 2.0 will feature a database that will allow HBCUs and their respective business partners to access NIH contract and grant opportunities consolidated within a straightforward dashboard. The tool provides a communication platform where the HBCU or business partner can submit inquiries or requests for assistance to the Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management (OALM) staff and view OALM announcements.
NIH is also developing an organic PEI Technical Assistance Center. This will be a comprehensive ecosystem providing professional guidance with all aspects of the acquisition life cycle that will assist HBCUs in competing for and managing acquisition opportunities with the NIH. The ultimate goal of the next phase of the PEI Initiative will be to assist the Small Business Program Office in empowering HBCUs to secure 2% of NIH contracts.
The PEI program requires a 10-hour per month commitments from each business and partnering HBCUS to remain in good standing with the NIH Office of Small Business. Monthly and quarterly reports on contracting activities are also requirements to remain in the cohort.
“We believe this is an excellent opportunity to partner with the HBCU community to achieve the knowledge and resources necessary to successfully compete for, secure, and manage contracts from the NIH,” Stubbs said.
ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).