Finding Engineering-Linked Indicators (FELIX)

Proposers' Day Conference

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) will host a Proposers’ Day Conference for the FELIX program on July 27, 2017 in anticipation of the release of a new solicitation. The Conference will be held from 9 AM to 3 PM EDT in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The purpose of the conference will be to provide information on the FELIX program and the research areas the program aims to address, to address questions from potential proposers and to provide a forum for potential proposers to present their capabilities for teaming opportunities.

This announcement serves as a pre-solicitation notice and is issued solely for information and planning purposes. The Proposers’ Day Conference does not constitute a formal solicitation for proposals or proposal abstracts. Conference attendance is voluntary and is not required to propose to future solicitations (if any) associated with this program. IARPA will not provide reimbursement for any costs incurred to participate in this Proposers' Day Conference.

Program Description and Goals

New biotechnologies have enabled the development of a diversity of biological systems, with potential benefits ranging from new vaccines and therapeutics to novel materials and improved crops. Of particular note are genome editing tools that are commonly used worldwide to make biological engineering more accessible, more convenient, and less expensive. At the same time, these tools have the potential to be misused, accidentally or deliberately, to adversely affect health, the economy, and national security. The FELIX program aims to develop new capabilities that can detect engineered changes within biological systems to expedite appropriate mitigation responses to unlawful or accidental release of organisms.

The FELIX program aims to develop a suite of tools for the agnostic detection of engineered biological organisms, ranging from viruses, bacteria, insects, animals and plants that are either purposefully or accidentally developed and/or released with the potential to cause harm. Ideally, the tools will expand the quality and amount of information available to distinguish engineered organisms from natural organisms, i.e., natural variation from intentional engineering. These may include technologies such as novel methods and high throughput techniques in genomics, systems biology, bioinformatics and evolutionary biology. The tools should be able to improve the confidence in determining whether a system has been engineered. Examples include identifying signatures that were previously not accessible, using data from multiple interrogation points, increasing sensitivity, improving the quality of the data, and leveraging technologies that can increase throughput and reduce the complexity of sample analysis.

FELIX is anticipated to be a two-phase program, each of which will be comprised of two separate focus areas:

Focus Area 1: The goal of this Focus Area is to develop platform tools and technologies that can be generalized across species to detect signatures that a biological system has been engineered. Approaches will be functional across a variety of samples, including model systems and non-domesticated species and will enable detection of engineering-linked indicators and/or improved data quality for various types of engineered changes. Considerations for detecting engineered changes include the type of change, location of the change(s) and frequency of engineered cells in a complex mixture. Enhanced capabilities to be developed in this Focus Area encompass both detection of previously undetectable signatures and significant improvements in the speed, throughput and sensitivity of signature detection.

Focus Area 2: The goal of this Focus Area is to develop new capabilities for modeling and analysis to enable detection of engineering-linked indicators. Tools developed in this Focus Area will enable facile analysis of large, complex data sets collected across multiple interrogation points and sample types and will demonstrate detection of signatures of engineering from synthetic data and/or model systems. These tools will also demonstrate improvements in analysis time and/or reduced computational resources, increased sensitivity and the ability to detect more sophisticated engineered changes.

Phase 2 will maintain the same Focus Area structure and will emphasize optimization of platform and analysis tools and technologies, ultimately resulting in development of transition-ready technical capabilities. This includes both detection of increasingly sophisticated changes and an improved ability to detect a small number of engineered changes within a complex background. The end result of the program will be a suite of tools that enable improved detection of a variety of engineered changes across a range of engineered organisms and sample types.

Collaborative efforts and teaming among potential performers are highly encouraged. It is anticipated that teams will be multidisciplinary and might include expertise in synthetic biology, systems biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, virology, microbiology, immunology, structural biology, proteomics, transcriptomics, immunology, genomics, bioinformatics, evolutionary biology, computer science and statistical analysis.

IARPA anticipates that academic institutions and companies from around the world will participate in this program. Researchers will be encouraged to publish their findings in academic journals following government review.

Registration Information

Attendees must register no later than 5 PM EDT on July 20, 2017, at Directions to the conference facility and other materials will be available on that website. No walk-in registrations will be allowed.

Due to space limitations, attendance will be limited to the first 150 registrants and to no more than 3 representatives per organization. All attendees will be required to present a government-issued photo identification to enter the conference. The form and submission instructions can be found on the registration website.

Additional Information

The morning session will include an overview of the program goals, technical challenges and expected participation requirements. A description of how the solutions will be evaluated will be provided.

The afternoon will include a poster session to provide an opportunity for attendees to present their organizations' capabilities and to explore teaming arrangements. Attendees who wish to present organization capabilities for teaming opportunities may submit a request through the registration web site. Details on the poster format, and the procedure for submitting a request to present, will be provided after approval to register for the conference has been granted. Space available for posters will be limited; therefore, posters will be limited to the first 25 registered respondents who request a poster presentation. These presentations are not intended to solicit feedback from the Government, and Government personnel will not be present during the poster session.

This Proposers' Day is intended for participants who are eligible to compete on the anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). Other Government Agencies, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs), or any other similar organizations that have a special relationship with the Government, that gives them access to privileged or proprietary information, or access to Government equipment or real property, will not be eligible to submit proposals to the anticipated BAA nor participate as team members under proposals submitted by eligible entities. While such entities are not prohibited from attending the Proposers' Day, due to space limitations, preference will be given first to those organizations that are eligible to compete. IARPA will not provide reimbursement for costs incurred to participate in this conference. By registering on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website, conference participants may choose to add their contact information to the Interested Vendors List on FBO for the purpose of teaming, or exchange information during the conference. A separate list of attendees will not be provided.

Questions concerning the conference and registration can be sent to Questions regarding the program can be sent to

Contracting Office Address

Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
Washington, DC 20511
United States

Primary Point of Contact

Amanda Dion-Schultz
Program Manager

Solicitation Status: N/A

Proposers' Day Announcement on FedBizOpps
Proposers' Day Date: July 27, 2017