Procurement of One (1) I-DOT 2.0 Dispensing System or Equivilent for Preparation of Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) Library Preps of T-Cell Receptors (TCRs)




This Small Business Sources Sought Notice (SBSS) is for information and planning purposes only and shall not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The purpose of this Sources Sought Notice is to identify qualified small business concerns including 8(a), HUBZone or Service-Disabled Veteran-owned business concerns that are interested in and capable of performing the work described herein. The NCI does not intend to award a contract based on responses received nor otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted. Your responses to the information requested will assist the Government in determining the appropriate acquisition method, including whether a set-aside is possible. An organization that is not considered a small business under the applicable American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code should not submit a response to this notice. This requirement is assigned NAICS code 334516 with a size standard of 1,000 employees is being considered.

NCI may issue a request for quotation (RFQ) as a result of this Sources Sought Notice. THERE IS NO SOLICITATION AVAILABLE AT THIS TIME. However, should such a requirement materialize, no basis for claims against NCI shall arise as a result of a response to this Sources Sought Notice or the NCI’s use of such information as either part of our evaluation process or in developing specifications for any subsequent requirement.


This requirement is for the procurement of the brand name or equivalent instrument described in section 4.0. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provision FAR 52.211-6, Brand Name or Equal (AUG 1999) is applicable to this requirement.


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Nactional Cancer Institute (NCI), Center for Cancer Research (CCR), Surgery Branch (SB) is a combined laboratory and clinical research unit devoted to the development of innovative cancer immunotherapies and their translation to the treatment of patients with cancer. Treatment of patients enrolled in clinical trials run by SB, and research into how to improve these treatment protocols, often requires the identification of TCR sequences. SB cannot determine these sequences from conventional whole-exome and RNA sequencing methods and therefore SB generates TCR specific sequencing libraries. Due to the nature of the T-cell receptor, SB needs to perform TCR sequencing on a single-cell basis in order to determine correct pairing of alpha and beta TCR chains. Single-cell sequencing approaches use smaller volumes which makes them more sensitive to errors in pipetting, they require processing more samples at a time, they are more prone to issues of cross-contamination, and in the case of TCR seuqenicng, uses RNA as the starting material which makes the setting-up process more susceptible to experimental nuances. The procurement of a non-contact low-volume liquid dispensing system will enable SB to process plates more quickly, without contact and more accurately than SB is currently able to do and therefore improve the qualities of the libraries that we are generating.


This is a Firm-Fixed-Price Purchase Order.


The following product features/characteristics are required:

  • The I-DOT 2.0 is the base unit and shall include the following minimum specifications:
      • Dispensing head with 8 pressurized channels for dispensing up to 96 liquids. These channels shall be individually controlled positive pressure channels that are required for generating liquid droplets for dispense. Together with the I-DOT pure plates or equivalent, this technology shall allow for the generation of droplets at up to 100 per second per channel, therefore allowing the dispense and distribution of 10 nanoliters across a 96 well plate in 10 seconds. The use of pressurized channels for liquid dispense means that the system is non-contact and therefore will eliminate carryover and cross-contamination.
      • I-DOT assay studio control software or equivalent. This is requird for control and programming of the instrument. It will also alert users to any problems with dispense or if users run out of reagents during dispense by interacting/interfacing with the bubble detection and drop detection technology.
      • Adapter plates for destination plates. These are required metal spacer plates that sit in the target tray, underneath the target plate. They shall be able to move the target plate closer to the source tray to minimize droplet flight path in cases where a particularly shallow target plate is used.
      • Source tray accommodating 1 Society for Biomolecular Screening (SBS) well plate (no deep well). This is to house the I-DOT or equivalent source tray.  
      • Starter pack (3 I-DOT pure plates or equivilent). These pure plates shall come with the unit as standard. The bottom of each well has a precise 90-micron hole from where the droplet gets dispensed. These plates coupled with the presurised channel technology produce maximum reproducibility of droplets (varying from 8-50 nanoliters).
  • The required instrument shall include a large reservoir option. This is required in order to use passive cooling blocks in the instrument which will create a chilled environment for temperature sensitive reagents.
  • The required instrument shall include 100 large reservoir consumables that shall be a larger capacity version of the starter pack of I-DOT or equivalent pure plates. They are required so that we can use the passive cooling blocks and to contain the larger volume of master mix required when processing multiple plates at once.
  • The required instrument shall include passive cooling blocks. These will be used to create a chilled environment (4°C) for temperature sensitive reagents and reaction setup. This will be criticial for effective synthesis of cDNA from RNA.
  • The required instrument shall include an oil-Free air compressor. This will provide the 3 to 10 bar inlet pressure required for instrument functionality. The laboratory does not have a compressed air line in the room where the instrument will be located and so a separate air compressor is required. 


Delivery shall be within eight (8) weeks of the Purchase Order award. The Contractor shall coordinate delivery and tracking information with the NCI Technical Point of Contact (TPOC), TBD at award, with tracking information to anticipate delivery to the best extent possible. All shipping/handling (including FOB) and delivery/installation fees shall be included in the quote. Upon delivery, the Contractor shall notify the TPOC to schedule the unboxing and installation. The unboxing and installation date and time shall occur within 20 business days after delivery. Installation shall be performed by, or under the direct supervision of, an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) certified operator.

The Contractor shall deliver and install the equipment at the following address:

The instrument shall be delivered and installed the following location:

10 Center Drive
Bldg.10 Rm.3-3857 W
MD 20814


At the time of installation, the Contractor shall provide on-site training for at least two (2) users of the equipment. 


The Contractor shall warrant that any instruments, equipment, components, or other supplies (“Supplies”) procured by this purchase are free of defects in design, material, or manufacture for a period of at least 12-months from the date of installation.

The Contractor shall warrant that all consumables or expendable parts are free of defects in design, material, or manufacture for a period of at least 90 calendar days from date of acceptance by the Government.

Supplies which are repaired or replaced shall be warranted for the remainder of the initial warranty period or for 90-days – whichever is greater.


Capability statements shall be submitted via email to Contract Specialist, Adam Hernandez, at adam.hernandez@nih.gov no later than 1:00 P.M. ET on Friday, April 02, 2021 (04/02/2021). All information furnished must be in writing and must contain enough detail to allow the NCI to determine if it can meet the unique specifications described herein. Please reference number 75N91021Q00055 on all correspondence.

This notice does not obligate the Government to award a contract or otherwise pay for the information provided in response. The Government reserves the right to use information provided by respondents for any purpose deemed necessary and legally appropriate. Any organization responding to this notice should ensure that its response is complete and sufficiently detailed to allow the Government to determine the organization’s capability. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. After a review of the responses received, a RFQ may be published. However, responses to this notice will not be considered adequate responses to a solicitation(s).