[Deadline Extended] Request For Proposals (RFP): Feasibility study

Request For Proposals (RFP): Feasibility study

RFP Number: ICTEC-2019-004
Issuance Date: 08.07.2019
Deadline for Offers: 29.07.2019
Deadline extended: 06.08.2019
Deadline extended: 12.08.2019

Description:              Consultancy Services, Feasibility study
For:                          Moldova ICT Excellence Center Project
Funded By:              United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Government of Sweden, Contract No. AID-117-A-15-00002
Issued By:                National Association of ICT Companies (ATIC)
Point of Contact:      achirita@ict.md, contact person Ana Chirita

Please find the full RFP here.

SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION AND INSTRUCTIONS TO OFFERORS

1.1 Acronyms and Definitions

ATIC   National Association of Private ICT Companies
ADS    USAID Automated Directives System
CFR     United States Code of Federal Regulations
Cooperating Country Moldova
FAR     United States Federal Acquisition Regulation
RFP     Request for Proposals
US       United States
USAID United States Agency for International Development
USG    United States Government
VAT     Value Added Tax

1.2 Introduction

The National Association of ICT Companies (ATIC) is soliciting proposals from eligible and responsible firms to offer consulting services as described in the Annex 1. Tekwill has been designed as a national public private partnership between the Government of Moldova, USAID, Microsoft, and IBM to answer the needs of the ICT industry to close the gap of the human capital shortage, as well as support the development of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The initial goal of the projects to contribute to the extension of the Tekwill project as a sustainable network and deploy its programs on regional/national level. The project aims at determining the operation model of the network, determining business plans for the relevant created centers or partners in the regions, deploy scalable activities to connect an estimated of 150,000 people to ICT (school and university students, community, etc.) , deploy entrepreneurship programs aiming at both scaling up existing programs, as well as create inclusive innovation platforms for the regions with their respective specifics and potential to absorb/apply ICT. We envision a minimum 10,000 beneficiaries/year for each direction (education and entrepreneurship) As a result of the project, 2 main outcomes of the project are expected: more and better qualified skills and workforce developed leading to a stronger ICT industry in Moldova, as well as creating the premises for a Startup Moldova program driving opportunities for companies seeking capitalization.

The first phase of the project represented a USAID grant for Development matched by both cash and in-kind contributions of private and government partners that brought significant new resources, ideas, software, technologies and development activities, such as trainings, practical assignments, and mentorship. Private partners included multinational companies, IBM and Microsoft, but also Information Technology and Communications Association (ATIC) members that are local Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies, while among government partners Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, e-Government Center and Technical University have provided their support. The Technical University of Moldova is hosting the first Center on its premises and has jointly invested resources for initial investment and maintenance costs during the startup phase.

On September 19, 2017 USAID/Moldova has entered into a partnership with the Government of Sweden to join forces in the establishment and creation of the ICT Excellence Center (Tekwill). It included an arrangement that governs the relationship between the Parties regarding the financing, implementation and reporting of the activity.

Tekwill has been opened on March 15, 2017. During the 3 years of the project, Tekwill has completed or supported 188 educational initiatives, and 301 entrepreneurship initiatives, transforming Tekwill into one of the most successful initiatives in tech in Moldova. It has helped over 350 teams to reach better business, create opportunities and seek investment. Altogether it trained and oriented over 35,000 people.

The next phase of the project is envisaged to fortify the existing Tekwill’s capacity, create linkages with other universities and expand the activities to a national level. New activities are planned to transform Tekwill into a strategic focal point for Moldova in relation to boosting Creativity, innovation and growth in the ICT sector. The Government of Moldova envisages the creation of a network of mini Tekwills around Chisinau and around the country, keeping all main stakeholders (academia, private sector, donors, government) in the loop aiming to reach a high impact on the economy as a whole. Few more universities are seeking to be part of this initiative, which involves private sector and development partners in modernization of the curricular content, as well as the Ministry of Education is opened to promote the optional programs developed by Tekwill to be accessible in schools under a Tekwill in every school program. Each program will be designed and developed being adapted to the context of the region, school, university involved in the process. The programs will be all inclusive aiming at involving different target groups such as children, women, students, etc.

The overarching goal of the TEKWILL as a network is to ensure maximum impact on Moldova’s economy though enhancing the entrepreneurial and educational capacity, as well as Research&Development potential of the higher education institutions in line with the industry needs; hence achieving quantitative and qualitative increase in qualified ICT professionals and ICT skills and nurturing successful technology startups based on modern ecosystem and world-class sales and marketing force. The project will expand the current areas of cooperation and continue to contribute to growing competitiveness of the ICT industry and of other economic sectors on a national level.
The project aims to:
1. Mitigate the human capital gap identified as the major problem for the ICT sector
2. Expand successful Tekwill projects into the regions
3. Impact the IT related educational system by contributing at nurturing STEM education
4. Develop curricular and extracurricular educational programs to be adopted nationwide in partnership with leading private ICT Companies
5. Expand existing Tekwill or Tekwill related/supported programs to be adopted in the regions
6. Assess the existing startup ecosystem and improve its investment opportunities
7. Create linkages between ICT and non ICT businesses
8. provide support to projects/startups in assessing the global market
9. create premises for favorable investment instruments such as seed funding, acceleration programs, venture funding, etc
10. encourage and support tech community events
11. get affiliated to international hubs, innovation centers, camps (such as google campus, Station F, etc).).
12. empower women/girls to participate in ICT educational programs and entrepreneurial activities
provide access to Tekwill content and programs for talented kids from underserved and remote areas, supporting career orientation, STEM educational programs, etc.

1.3 Questions and Requests for Clarifications

Questions regarding the technical or administrative requirements of this RFP may be submitted no later than July 20, 2019, 18:00 local Chisinau time by email to achirita@ict.md, cc cdamaschin@ict.md. Questions must be submitted in writing; phone calls will not be accepted. Questions and requests for clarification—and the responses thereto—that ATIC believes may be of interest to other offerors will be circulated to all RFP recipients who have indicated an interest in bidding.

Only the written answers issued by ATIC will be considered official and carry weight in the RFP process and subsequent evaluation. Any verbal information received from employees of ATIC or any other entity should not be considered as an official response to any questions regarding this RFP.

1.4 Offer Deadline

Offerors shall submit their expression of interest to participate and propose offers until August 6, 2019 via e-mail to cdamaschin@ict.md, cc achirita@ict.md.
Offerors shall submit their offers in hard-copy and/or electronically.

Hard-copy offers must be received no later than August 6, 2019, 17:00 at the following address:
In attention of Mrs. Ana Chirita,
Strategic Projects Director
Str. Studentilor 9/11

Emailed offers must be received by the same time and date at the following address:
In attention of Mrs. Ana Chirita,
Strategic Projects Director
achirita@ict.md, cc
Corina Damaschin, cdamaschin@ict.md (Project Assistant)
Offerors are responsible for ensuring that their offers are received in accordance with the instructions stated herein. Late offers may be considered at the discretion of ATIC.

ANNEX 1: DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS

Background:
Existing Tekwill represents a form of public private partnership between the government, academia and private sector with the objectives and goals to support the competitiveness of the industry, foster innovation, contribute to the entrepreneurship ecosystem acting as an additional, complementary facility currently for the Technical University, however aiming to grow to a national level and support the private business to gain a long term human capital input and output, by promoting at the Government level initiatives that can capture results throughout Tekwill as a network and Tekwill in every school. The infrastructure is part of the public contribution and partially donor investment, the content is part of the private sector support and development. The beneficiary is the ICT industry and the entire national economy, which will provide and consume more ICT based products, services and innovation. ICT will be promoted as a crosscutting tool to increase transparency, enabling other businesses and primarily serve as an enhancer for better paid jobs (digital skills, applied digital skills, etc).

The existing facility of Tekwill is almost a 5000 sq.m. It contains also a FabLab developed in partnership with the Moldova Competitiveness Project. With a 95% occupancy rate and high demand for additional spaces and content, the concept requires to be further developed and deployed on a country level in order to support a more inclusive approach on regional development and stimulate regional resources, including human resources from the regions. The future model will continue the existing memorandum of understanding, however, will include additional partnerships between the Government, regional institutions, private sector players to provide the necessary content within an adapted infrastructure, as well as additionally developed initiatives evaluated and scaled up towards a national level.

The second phase will focus on the following development objectives:
1. Institutional development and capacity building for the Tekwill (Chisinau) Center and creation of makers space/fabrication laboratory (FabLab)
2. Continuous support for the Moldova ICT start-up community, integrating relevant ICT educational content and entrepreneurship activities
3. Develop Tekwill regional Centers through deployment of relevant ICT educational content and entrepreneurship activities in the regions (Chisinau, Balti, Cahul, Comrat, and potentially Tiraspol)
4. Capacity development of the potential regional Centers’ governing bodies and management teams

Targets to be reached:

As a next phase of the project, the already existing assistance will expand towards:
a) Business development in minimum 3 different locations outside Chisinau and potentially 3 locations in Chisinau as part of private public partnership
b) Deploy education for additional 10,000 people/year
c) Deployment of digital content available to min 100,000 people
d) Assisting a min of 100 startups in raising resources and funds for their business/year
e) Expanding entrepreneurial education programs for minimum 5,000 beneficiaries/year

ASSIGNEMENT:

Responsible companies are invited to provide consulting services in assessing and determining the following key aspects:

Regional Assessment in the areas of Balti, Cahul, Comrat, and Tiraspol, but not limited to these regions only. The feasibility study should take into consideration the following aspects:
1. Number of schools in the region
2. Number of students with STEAM profile
3. Existing universities/colleges/other type of institutions providing or interested to provide IT specialties
4. Assessment of existing IT or STEAM related programs, curricula, etc
5. Success rate of the students (participation at various contests, Olympiads, etc)
6. Growth potential in the area of IT and/or related specialties
7. Companies present in the region (IT and Telecom)
8. Potential for attraction and localization of IT/Telecom and IT in non IT companies/startups
9. Existing business incubators and/or other initiatives in the areas (not specifically the city)
10. Existing or potential private/donor/public stakeholders and their programs, including, but not limited to duration, target, expected impact, budget, if information available
11. Potential sights/buildings provided by various local, preferably public authorities, their development stage and capacity that would allow Tekwill project team to understand the level of effort required in particular sights
12. Identify the regional champions
13. Other relevant information suitable for the regions assessed.

The company should also seek to review:

Existing ATIC/Tekwill programs and assess their possibility of expansion into the regions.
• Impact assessment and prioritization of specific programs
• Investment needs into specific physical vs non physical infrastructures.
• List of actions under specific regional development.
• Potential educational and entrepreneurship initiatives.
• Model of operations.
• Other

Expected process and methodology:
• Review existing available documents- MOUs, Concept Documents, Implementation plans and phase 1 reports documents
• Public call for intention (Balti, Cahul, Comrat, Tiraspol, Chisinau, universities, other potential partners) with clear expression of interest, available infrastructure, cofinancing, other
• Interview various stakeholders, including, but not limited to the ones situated in the cities above, international donors, Government representatives, private ICT companies, government agencies working in the regions
• Review provided documentation
• Prepare independent report including- key areas potential, potential for growth, selected/recommended initiatives, infrastructure development, investments, other.
• Review international experience in relation to regional development (suggested countries Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, other may be taken into consideration)

Deliverables:
• Schedule of interviews and methodology proposed
• Interview rough data including name, profile of the interviewed stakeholder, summary of the conclusion,
• Structure of the proposed report
• Full .doc, .docx report
• Public presentation
• Other that may be required.

The assignment is expected to commence no later than 10 days after signing the contract.

The proposals of each interested company/individual consultant should include:
• Timeframe and schedule of proposed implemented actions
• Key people working on the assignment
• Technical approach to complete the assignment
• Potential entry points/questionnaires to complete the assignment

Best candidates should demonstrate:
• Prior experience in IT, development, economic backgrounds
• Good understanding of the IT ecosystem and educational IT initiatives in the country
• Relevant international expertise will be considered a plus
• Fluency in Romanian, Russian and English will be considered a plus
• Prior and relevant expertise/knowledge in investments projects (if physical infrastructure will be chosen as an impact component of the future assignment)