Innovation Fund 2003

August 19, 2002

Draft Call for Proposals

This DRAFT Call for Proposals for the upcoming Innovation Fund competition is based on lessons learned to date and reflects comments received from various stakeholders. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Please address them to Robert Davidson at robert.davidson [at] innovation.ca by September 15, 2002.

Please note that this is not the final document and therefore changes could be expected. The CFI Board will approve the final Call for Proposals at its October 8, 2002 meeting.

The Fourth Innovation Fund Competition. Where do we go from here?

To be successful in the global knowledge-based economy and address today’s health, environmental and social challenges, Canada needs to focus on excellence and innovation. It needs to support the research that will lead to ground-breaking discoveries at a time when new knowledge is being created more quickly than ever. The ability of Canada’s research community to compete at the forefront requires, among other things, access to state-of-the-art infrastructure to tackle research that is increasingly multidisciplinary and sophisticated.

The $1.95B that the CFI has invested in research infrastructure over the past four years is having a significant impact on the capacity of the Canadian research community to compete internationally. State-of-the art infrastructure is helping to:

  • transform the way research is done
  • create a strong and vibrant research environment from coast to coast
  • attract and retain excellent researchers
  • enhance research productivity and the training of highly qualified people
  • build new national and international networks and partnerships.

The research enabled by this research infrastructure is generating benefits for Canada through new products and services, health, environmental and social improvements.

Now is the time to take it to the next level. With its fourth Innovation Fund competition, the CFI challenges Canadian institutions and their researchers to take it one step further by reaching for new heights of excellence, improving their competitiveness and international leadership. This will help Canada to achieve its goal of being one of the most innovative societies in the world, socially, economically and technologically, for the benefit of all Canadians.

The Innovation Fund enables institutions, alone or in groups, to strengthen their research infrastructure in all areas of research, including the social sciences and humanities.

The CFI requires institutions to have strategic research plans that set priorities based on their strategic vision for the future, especially in areas that integrate ideas and knowledge from many disciplines and sectors and where they have distinct advantages. The CFI urges institutions to develop projects that anticipate future research infrastructure needs and build Canada’s capacity for innovation.

The CFI will contribute to institutional infrastructure projects that:

  • promote innovative research that is currently beyond the means of Canadian institutions, and that is linked to new ideas and concepts, different and better ways of performing research;
  • capitalize on excellent research opportunities that draw on the local, national and international intellectual capital required to fully seize these opportunities;
  • attract and retain the best researchers and create a stimulating and innovative training environment that will prepare Canadians for research and other careers that will benefit Canada;
  • support the development of novel research instrumentation;
  • create opportunities to fuel the development of clusters including the commercialization of research results;
  • lead to new public policies and improvements in society.

Innovative research may require multidisciplinary approaches and contributions from individuals from a variety of institutions and/or sectors. The CFI therefore encourages institutions, where appropriate, to come together in regional or national consortia and to plan co-operatively to acquire or develop infrastructure. The development of partnerships and co-operative arrangements within the institution and with other public or private organizations should help establish clusters and networks of related infrastructure that will allow for better research and more effective and efficient use of available research resources.

TOPICS

How much funding is available?
Who is eligible to apply?
What projects are eligible?
Are there additional guidelines for specific types of infrastructure?
What is the application process?
How will the CFI assess proposals?
When will the funding decisions be made?

How much funding is available?

Taking into account the commitments made to date, the CFI has an investment budget of approximately $600M until the end of December 2005. For this Innovation Fund competition, the CFI intends to allocate $450M. The remaining resources will be mainly allocated to the New Opportunities Fund. The next call for proposals for the Innovation Fund will be in early 2005 at the earliest.

The CFI intends to hold firm to the budget allocated to this Innovation Fund competition. Therefore, the CFI expects that institutions will only submit projects of exceptional quality that are consistent with their strategic research plans reflecting institutional priorities.

Who is eligible to apply?

Universities, colleges, hospitals and not-for-profit research institutions that have been recognized as eligible by the CFI can apply, provided they have filed the summary of their strategic research plan with the CFI, and signed the institutional agreement.

What projects are eligible?

The CFI expects that total project costs will normally be $150,000 or more. Given that the CFI will provide funding for up to 40% of the eligible costs of a project, this represents a CFI contribution of $60,000 or more.

For information on eligible partners and eligible partner contributions and a general description of eligible costs, please refer to the revised CFI Policy and Program Guide, to be published in October.

Note the following important conditions:

  • In-kind contributions from external partners and cash contributions by the institution must have taken place after January 1, 2002.
  • In the Equipment category, only individual items or systems costing more than $8,000 are eligible.

The infrastructure will be located at an eligible institution(s), or at another location, specified in the application, outside an eligible institution, when it can be shown that this is the most effective way to proceed and as long as the eligible institution(s) still has majority interest and exercises de facto control over the use of the infrastructure.

Are there additional guidelines for specific types of infrastructure?

There will be updates to the guidelines for specific types of infrastructure. Please note the following significant changes for Databases and Construction of New Buildings and Major Renovations. Details will be provided in the updated Policy and Program Guide that will be published in October.

Databases

Primary data collection will no longer be an eligible cost.

Construction of New Buildings and Major Renovations

The CFI will accept proposals seeking a contribution towards the construction of a new building or development of new space (e.g. new floors) in an existing building only when it is required to house the research infrastructure being commissioned (whether the infrastructure is to be funded by the CFI or by another source).

The CFI requires that infrastructure projects that include construction of new buildings or major renovations be well beyond the conceptual stage at the time of submission.

Institutions will be given 18 months to start the construction component of the project. If the institution is not able to reach the building phase of the project within 18 months of the award announcement, the contribution will be withdrawn. No extensions will be granted.

The CFI will fund the construction cost of space of the size and type necessary to house and use the infrastructure being commissioned. Proposals should specify the size and type (e.g. wet lab, dry lab, etc.) of space along with the costs. Expert committees will be asked to determine whether the space (type and size) is needed for the infrastructure being commissioned.

The CFI will seek expert advice on the maximum $ per square foot for each type of space and will publish these in the Policy and Program Guide. The rates will be applied to establish a maximum CFI contribution for construction costs in each project approved for funding. The movement of funds between building costs and other budget items will not be allowed after budget finalization.

What is the application process?

Applying institutions must:

  • By November 1, 2002 submit a request for eligibility status if eligibility has not yet been established and the organisation wishes to participate in the 2003 competition.
  • By December 18, 2002 submit electronically a Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply for each project. Provide a covering letter listing all the NOIs the institution is submitting along with one complete paper copy of each NOI. A NOTICE OF INTENT TO APPLY MUST BE SUBMITTED IN ORDER TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION.

The CFI will publish the list of NOIs received and will encourage institutions to consider the possibility of contacting institutions that have similar projects where collaboration or savings would make sense. The CFI may also invite institutions to communicate in order to ensure discussions of potential collaboration, or invite them to combine proposals to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the infrastructure.

The CFI will use the information in the NOI to plan the assessment process.

  • By May 2, 2003 provide the CFI with the current Strategic Research Plan Summary. This should be in the common format agreed on for the CFI and the Canada Research Chairs.
  • By May 2, 2003 submit the complete application(s) electronically and provide a covering letter listing all the proposals the institution is submitting along with one complete paper copy of each application.

There will be updates to the application forms. These will be available by the end of October, 2002. Please note that the CFI CV module will continue to be used. While the CFI is participating in the discussions of the “Common CV”, the CFI will not use the Common CV for this competition.

How will the CFI assess proposals?

The CFI will verify proposals for eligibility and completeness and may request additional material to ensure that all essential information is available for the assessment.

Under special circumstances, the CFI is willing to design an assessment process jointly with the federal granting agencies for applications seeking significant amounts of research funding directly related to the infrastructure. Institutions are asked to advise the CFI of their interest in pursuing such an option at the time of submission of the NOIs at the latest.

The CFI will evaluate proposals on the basis of the three criteria that reflect its mandate:

  • Quality of research and need for the infrastructure
  • Contribution to strengthening the capacity for innovation
  • Potential benefits of the research to Canada.

To be funded, a project must satisfy all three criteria to a degree appropriate to the size and complexity of the project.

The assessment of each proposal will be tailored to the nature and complexity of the proposal. Various mechanisms will be used, including written external reviews as well as expert committees for groups of similar or related proposals. All proposals and assessments will be forwarded to a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee (MAC) which will be responsible for reviewing proposals and making recommendations on funding.

Each MAC will review applications from institutions in one of the following three categories:

  • Category A: Degree-granting institutions receiving more than 1% of federal granting agency funding; hospitals; not-for profit organizations
  • Category B: Degree-granting institutions receiving less than 1% of federal granting agency funding
  • Category C: Colleges (do not confer degrees)

The category of an application will be determined according to the Lead Institution. By participating as a co-applicant, an institution may be involved in more than one category. No separate funds will be set aside for a particular category of institutions.

The CFI will use the same considerations to choose members for all MACs. Members of the MACs assessing category B and C projects will be specifically chosen for their understanding of the environment and of the niches of innovative excellence in these institutions. This will allow for consideration of the differences in research environment found in smaller universities and colleges, and therefore in the nature of the projects presented to the CFI.

These differences (e.g., number of researchers, level of participation of HQP, nature of the projects, linkages with other sectors, linkages with local industry) fall mainly under the assessment of the contribution for strengthening the capacity for innovation. The quality of the research, the need for the infrastructure as well as the benefits to Canada will be assessed according to the same standards across the three categories.

The CFI will establish a committee that will review the MACs’ recommendations and ensure consistency among the committees. Should the budget be insufficient to fund all proposals recommended by the MACs, this committee will recommend among projects of comparable merit those that most effectively support the mandate of the CFI and research in Canada, taking into account the following strategic considerations:

  • distribution among fields of research;
  • distribution among institutions;
  • institutional priorities, or provincial priorities, where available.

When will the funding decisions be made?

The CFI Board of Directors will make the final decision on funding for each project at its February 2004 meeting.

Summary comments will be provided to the institutions for all projects.