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Full Application Instructions

Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) - 2009

 Full Application Form
 
 Full Application Instructions

Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) - 2009

Goal

The goal of the BL-NCE program is to fund large-scale collaborative networks in performing research to support private sector innovation in order to deliver economic, health, social and environmental benefits to Canadians and to encourage an Entrepreneurial Advantage. There is no restriction on any Canadian industrial sector in applying for a Network. However, as established in the S&T Strategy and the Budget 2007, the research undertaken by the proposed Networks must be in one or more of the five priority research areas, namely:

  • Environmental science and technologies;
  • Natural resources and energy;
  • Health and related life sciences and technologies;
  • Information and communications technologies; and
  • Management, business or finance.

Expected Results

The BL-NCE Program goal is accomplished by funding Business-Led world-class national research networks that are expected to yield the following benefits:

Research-Related Benefits

  • Increased private sector R&D capacity (including among SMEs) and receptivity to the results of R&D.
  • Increased private sector investment in R&D and advanced technologies.
  • Strengthened public-private sector collaboration, including links between researchers and firms, to meet business needs by addressing the significant research challenges.
  • High quality graduate and postdoctoral training in innovative applied research, and increase the business skills and know-how of the young researchers.

Commercialization–Related Benefits

  • Creation, growth and retention of companies in Canada that are able to capture new markets with new innovations.
  • Accelerated commercialization of leading-edge technologies, goods and services in priority areas where Canada can significantly advance its competitive advantage.
  • Creation of clear paths to market or business applications for the proposed research.
  • Commercialization which positions Canadian firms in high-value segments of the production chains.
  • Strengthening of domestic collaboration to ensure that benefits spill over to a wide array of firms, sectors and regions of the country.

Eligible Recipient Organizations

Organizations eligible to receive funds are not-for-profit consortia that represent the interests of private sector enterprises with substantial R&D operations in Canada, or the potential to benefit from R&D (ideally comprising both SME and large companies, research providers and research-users). These applicants may form research partnerships with, or link with other networks of, Canadian academic, private sector or government researchers and innovators (as appropriate) to achieve their objectives.

Funding provided for the direct costs of research activities incurred by for-profit corporations participating in the network, or performing the R&D under contract to the network, will be awarded by the proponent through open requests for proposals and a competitive process.

Researchers and organizations that receive BL-NCE funds must meet the general eligibility requirements of at least one of the three federal granting agencies supporting the program.

As a condition of eligibility, organizations receiving BL-NCE funds must have an established Board of Directors responsible for the approval of its annual financial reports and audits.

Competition Budget and Size of Grants

A total of $46 million is available for the 2008-09 Competition ($11 million 2008-09, $11 million 2009-10, $12 million 2010-11, $12 million 2011-12) and is expected to fund a total of five BL-NCE networks over a four-year period at an approximate level of $2 million per year.

Multiple sources of funding for projects are expected. Total assistance being provided to a project will be carefully monitored to ensure all sources of funding do not exceed the eligible costs.

Eligible expenses

The BL-NCE program may provide funding for up to fifty percent of the total eligible direct research costs, and up to seventy-five percent of other total eligible costs (as described below). Total federal government assistance for eligible expenses of the Network shall not exceed seventy-five percent. The balance of the funding must come from non-federal sources.

The balance of the funding can be made up of direct cash contributions, or cash- equivalent in-kind contributions, made to the BL-NCE by the private sector. This funding must be clearly indicated on the application form.

A discussion of eligible in-kind contributions is available on the NSERC and Next link will take you to another Web site CIHR websites.

Government scientists and researchers can not directly receive BL-NCE funds.

All capital expenditures are ineligible.

The program will provide support for the following eligible expenditures:

1. Research Costs (up to fifty percent paid from BL-NCE funds)

As a general guideline, the regulations of the granting agencies regarding allowable direct research expenses will also apply to BL-NCE awards. The direct costs of research include:

  • Salaries of research personnel (students, PDFs and/or technical/professional assistants);
  • Equipment or facility (purchase or rental, operation and maintenance costs, and user fees);
  • Materials and supplies;
  • Travel (conferences, field work, collaboration/consultation); and
  • Dissemination costs (publication costs, other activities).

The payment of stipends to students and postdoctoral fellows follows the regulations of the granting agency under whose mandate the network research falls.

Please refer to the Next link will take you to another Web site 2007 Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

2. Networking, administration and outreach costs in support of the operation of the Network (up to seventy-five percent paid from BL-NCE funds)

It is expected that the not-for-profit consortium will provide the necessary infrastructure required to support the operation of the proposed BL-NCE.

2.1 Administrative costs

  • Network leader salary & benefits
    The BL-NCE funds can be used to partially support the salary and benefits of a Network Leader who will undertake a leadership role to coordinate and direct the activities of the Network over the four-year funding period. A maximum of $100,000 per year of BL-NCE funds can be used to support the salary of this position. The final salary, which may be partially funded by industrial contributions, is subject to the approval of the Network Board of Directors. The salary support provided to the BL-NCE Network Leaders must enable them to dedicate corresponding time to network-related activities. The application should clearly demonstrate that the Network Leader is prepared to put considerable time and effort into leading the proposed Network. It is recommended that a minimum of seventy per cent of the Network Leader's time be devoted to the Network over the four years.
  • Salaries and benefits for network staff.
  • Contracting of professional services, only where necessary; to provide services and expertise not available within the network.

2.2 Costs related to networking

  • Communications activities.
  • Travel accommodation for network personnel, researchers, and members of network boards and committees.

2.3 Commercialization related costs

  • Intellectual property: on an annual basis up to fifty percent of the total cost of protection for intellectual property resulting from network-funded research.
  • Market studies: subject to approval by the Board of Directors, market studies to determine the market potential for a BL-NCE-generated development or to determine the appropriate market(s) for a development.
  • Prototype development: subject to approval by the Board of Directors, provided that due diligence has been used to find a partner to share in the costs of development, normally on a matching basis.

Stacking Provisions

Research funding is administered in the following environment:

  • For each approved grant, the BL-NCE Program only funds a portion of the amount requested due to financial and budgetary constraints. Because of this, the networks are encouraged to seek other sources of funds to finance their work;
  • When a grantee is successful in attracting other funding, the additional funds do not displace the grant provided by the BL-NCE Program. The network will use the additional funds to complement BL-NCE funded activities, by conducting additional work, hiring more research personnel, or by widening the scope of its activities; and
  • The network must have a control framework to ensure that expenditures charged to its accounts are for the purpose intended by the grant.

The current principles and practices related to stacking of assistance are as follows:

  • Access to program funds should be fair for all applicants, regardless of their other sources of funding;
  • Applications are evaluated according to the program's selection criteria; and
  • Applicants must provide a statement of other sources of funding with their application on an annual basis. There must be no duplication of funding for the same items. However, when Networks are supported by multiple sources, the additional benefits of BL-NCE support must be well explained and justified. The maximum level (stacking limit) of total government assistance for this program will not exceed seventy-five percent of the costs being covered. In the event total government assistance to a recipient exceeds the stacking limit, it will be necessary for the relevant federal agencies to adjust their level of assistance so that the stacking limit is not exceeded.

The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable review committees to evaluate the relationship with other sources of support (held or applied for) and to recommend the appropriate NCE funding level. If adequate information to enable a selection committee to assess the relationship to other research support is not provided, then the committee can recommend the reduction or cessation of funding.

Intellectual Property

 

Guidelines

The ownership and disposition of intellectual property, arising from network-funded research, must be governed by the arrangements described in the Network Agreement. Intellectual property resulting from network funded research must be promptly and concurrently disclosed by researchers to the not-for-profit consortium and the industry liaison office of the employing or contracting institution.

Dissemination

Normally, the results of research funded through public sources must be published or otherwise disseminated to the community in a timely manner. Since the transfer of knowledge and technology to the user sector is of paramount importance in the BL-NCE program, it may be necessary to obtain protection for intellectual property resulting from network funded research prior to disclosure in a public forum. Provision for reasonable publication delays (usually not exceeding six months), or other arrangements, may be made to avoid jeopardizing the commercial potential through premature disclosure.

Sharing of Benefits and Costs

Agreements made regarding the ownership of the intellectual property, resulting from network-funded research, must take into account the BL-NCE objective of creating partnerships. This implies a sharing of eventual benefits between the partners commensurate with their respective contributions, as well as the sharing of costs to protect the intellectual property.

Commercialization

The industrial partners' contributions to the network must be recognized by allowing them access to the commercial exploitation of the intellectual property under terms commensurate with the nature and level of their contributions.

Competition Process

Based on a review of the Letters of Intent (LOI), selected applicants have been invited to submit full applications by the deadline of August 19, 2008. Decisions reached by the NCE Steering Committee are final. There is no appeal process.

Timetable: 2008 Competition for BL-NCEs
Dates Milestone
November 6, 2007 Competition Announced
January 30, 2008 Letter of Intent deadline
March 2008 Private Sector Advisory Board (PSAB) review of LOIs and Steering Committee Decision
May 2008 Invitations for Full Applications
August 19, 2008 Full Application deadline
September 2008 Expert Panel Review
November 2008 Recommendation by PSAB/Decision by the NCE Steering on selected Networks
Early 2009 Funding Released and New BL-NCEs announced

Program Criteria

To ensure that the program objectives are met, proposals are assessed against the three selection criteria outlined below.

1. Benefits to Canada

  • The extent to which the network will contribute to increasing private sector R&D capacity (including among SMEs) and receptivity to the results of R&D.
  • The potential to strengthen public-private sector collaboration, including links between young researchers and firms, to address significant research challenges that meet business needs.
  • Likelihood that the network will provide high-quality graduate and postdoctoral training in innovative research and provide business skills.
  • Evidence that the network will lead to commercialization benefits that position Canadian firms in the high-value segments of production chains.
  • The opportunity offered by the network to create, grow and retain companies in Canada that are able to capture new markets with new innovations.
  • The opportunity to accelerate the commercialization of leading edge technologies, goods and services in priority areas where Canada can significantly advance its competitive advantage in the global market.
  • The applicants' ability to strengthen domestic and international collaborations and ensure that benefits spill over to a wide array of firms, sectors and regions of the country.

2. Track Record and Potential of the Applicants

  • The achievements of the applicants and their ability to lead and direct the network's research program.
  • Ability to identify and select the best possible expert researchers in academia, government and/or the private sector to carry out and achieve the research objectives.
  • The ability of the private sector partners to assist in the training, and potential hiring, of innovative and internationally competitive researchers in areas and technologies critical to Canadian productivity, economic growth, public policy and quality of life.
  • The ability of the applicants to attract investment.

3. Strength of the Business Plan

  • Excellence, focus and coherence of the research program.
  • The ability of the applicants to outline a clear path to market, or provide business applications for, the proposed research.
  • The extent to which the BL-NCE can leverage funding from partners and other government and non-government sources.
  • The likelihood that the BL-NCE will stimulate support to continue beyond the four-year funding cycle.
  • The effectiveness of the plan to manage, protect and exploit intellectual property resulting from network-funded research.
  • The quality and appropriateness of the proposed organizational structure with suitable representation on the Board of Directors and management team.
  • Evidence that the applicants have in place an accountability framework likely to result in effective leadership and sound financial decision-making.

Review and Decision Process

 

Stage 1: Letters of Intent

Applicants submitted Letters of Intent, which were assessed by the PSAB and the NCE Steering Committee, who then decided on a recommended short-list of applicants who will advance to Stage 2.

The names and affiliations of the members of the Private Sector Advisory Board have been announced.

Stage 2: Full Proposals

Networks advanced to Stage 2 will develop full project applications.

Full applications will undergo review by Expert Panels established by the NCE Secretariat, comprised of domestic and international experts, who will evaluate the project proposals, meet with applicants and produce in-depth written assessments of the applications. The Private Sector Advisory Board will read the full applications, review each Expert Panel report, assess the comments from the parties consulted and then recommend to the NCE Steering Committee a short list of Networks for approval and decision. Networks failing to be endorsed by Expert Panels as having the potential to achieve excellence in their research or commercialization plan will not be eligible for program funding.

Given the multi-disciplinary nature of the projects, funding for a given Network may come from more than one granting agency, and so the NCE Secretariat will be the primary point of interaction for all project applicants throughout the life of their projects. Funding disbursements will be managed by the NCE Secretariat and disbursed to the recipient(s) against a funding agreement under the legal authority(ies) of the relevant granting agency(ies) (NSERC, and/or SSHRC and/or CIHR).

The names and affiliations of the members of the Private Sector Advisory Board, who also reviewed the CECR applications, have been announced and are available on the NCE Website.

Guidelines for Completing a Full Application

Invited applicants are requested to submit full proposals that will expand on the vision of their sector's shared needs over the next five to ten years, the major R&D and commercialization challenges and barriers to that vision, and how the proposed network will address these research challenges and barriers to enhance their innovativeness and competitiveness as described in their original letters of intent. All partnership arrangements, contributions and allocations of benefits (such as intellectual property) among parties must be fully described for a proposal to be considered complete.

A full BL-NCE proposal consists of the following:

  1. A business/research plan addressing the BL-NCE selection criteria (including a detailed proposed budget);
  2. Biographies of the key individuals involved with the Network.
  3. Contribution Confirmation Letters and Summary of Contributions from the Industrial Partners.

The full proposal must be developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Industrial supporters must be prepared to indicate their financial support in cash or in-kind for the proposed BL-NCE. Current contribution letters (dated close to the application date) indicating the level of support must be included with the application.

Complete proposals received at the NCE Secretariat by the established due date will then undergo a consultation and assessment process. Proposals may be distributed by the NCE Secretariat to relevant Science-based Departments and Agencies (SBDA) to allow them to provide a contextual briefing for the PSAB.

Full proposals will be evaluated according to the BL-NCE program criteria discussed above.

General Presentation

Print must be in black ink, of letter quality (minimum standard), with no more than six lines per inch. The type size for fonts measured in points (pts) must be no smaller than 12 pts. If measured in characters per inch (cpi), it must be no more than 10 cpi. Condensed type is unacceptable.

Use white paper, 8½ x 11 inches (21.5 cm x 28 cm), with margins of 3/4 of an inch (1.75 cm) minimum all around. Enter the title of the BL-NCE at the top of every page and number the pages consecutively.

Graphs and illustrations may be included, but will count as part of the page limits set out below. Either single or double column presentation of text, graphs or illustrations is acceptable. Any extra material will be removed.

The Full Application must include the following:

Book 1 – Overview (bound – original plus thirty-five copies)

1.1 Covering letter (maximum two pages)

A letter, signed by the proposed Network Leader and the President, or CEO, of the consortium or one of the major contributing private sector companies, should include the details of the not-for-profit consortium, or association, that proposes to lead and manage the network. This letter should outline the nature of anticipated support from the not-for-profit consortium to the BL-NCE and the expected support from industrial sponsors.

The signatures on the letter should match the signatures on Section A of the Application Form.

1.2 Full Application Form

Complete the BL-NCE 2008-09 Full Application Form (Excel file) available on the NCE Website

Section A: Summary Information

Complete and sign Section A of the BL-NCE 2008-09 Full Application Form available on the NCE Website. The following information must be provided:

  • Network Leader: title, name, mailing address, telephone and fax numbers, and e-mail address for the proposed Network Leader. Proposals must identify a single Network Leader;
  • Identification of the Not-for-Profit Consortium: title of the incorporated body or, if not yet incorporated at the time of submission of the full application, the potential title. (Note: The not-for-profit consortium must be incorporated before funding will be released.)
  • Title: name and acronym of the proposed Network (in both official languages) as it will be used for publication and communication purposes.
  • Keywords: up to ten keywords related to the proposed Network.
  • Anticipated number of researchers: anticipated number of researchers involved in Network activities at participating institutions that would be funded by the proposed Network (including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates).
  • BL-NCE Funds Requested and Total Industry Cash and In-kind Contributions: from section B.
  • Signatures: The Network Leader and the Chair of the Board of Directors of the consortium or, if not yet incorporated, the President or CEO of one of the major contributing private sector companies.

Section B: Budget allocation

  • Use Section B of the BL-NCE 2008 Full Application Form to indicate the anticipated expenditures of BL-NCE funds for the Network. Provide estimates for years one through four. Also indicate on the form the sources of funding available to cover the proposed expenditures and the request from the BL-NCE funding.
  • Please note that the budget must be fully justified and the sources of funding must be clear.

Section C: Matching Funds (Cash and In-kind) from Industrial Partners (One page per private sector contributor)

Using one page per private sector contributor, provide details on cash and in-kind contributions that will be dedicated as matching funds to the Network. A current letter (dated close to the date of the application submission) from each private sector contributor confirming their contributions must be included in Book 3.

Section D: Summary of the application for public release (Maximum one page)

Use Section D of the BL-NCE 2008-09 Full Application Form to give a clear overview summary of the vision of the proposed BL-NCE. Provide highlights from the three criteria for the program.

1.3 Full Justification of the Budget

Research Costs:

For each of the line items below, give a detailed breakdown of how the amounts in the budget allocation table (Section B of the BL-NCE 2008-09 Full Application Form) were arrived at.

  • Salaries of research personnel (students, postdoctoral fellows and/or technical/professional assistants);
  • Equipment or facility (purchase or rental, operation and maintenance costs, and user fees);
  • Materials and supplies;
  • Travel (conferences, field work, collaboration/consultation);
  • Dissemination costs (publication costs, other activities); and
  • Other (Field Pilot Projects, Technical Roadmapping and other related studies).

Administrative Costs: (maximum twenty percent of the overall budget)

For each of the line items given below, give a detailed breakdown of how the amounts in the budget allocation table (Section B of the BL-NCE 2008-09 Full Application Form) were arrived at.

1. Administrative Costs

  • Network Leader salary and benefits;
  • Salaries and benefits for network staff; and
  • Contracting of services.

2. Costs related to networking

  • Communications activities;
  • Travel accommodation for network personnel, researchers, and members of network boards and committees.

3. Commercialization related costs

  • Intellectual property protection (up to fifty percent of the cost);
  • Market studies;
  • Prototype development; and
  • Other (describe).

Book 2 – Main Proposal (bound – original plus thirty-five copies)

2.1 Discussion of the Vision
(Maximum three pages)

Provide a vision of the industrial sector/cluster's shared needs over the next five-to-ten years and the major R&D and commercialization challenges and barriers to that vision. Describe how the vision was arrived at including detailing any technology road-mapping exercises, or like methods, that were used to arrive at the stated vision.

2.2 Articulation of the Proposed Network's Benefits to Canada
(Maximum five pages)

Describe what the Network proposes to achieve in a four-year time span, including specific goals and objectives in order to address key elements of the vision detailed in Section 3. The expected end results of the research and commercialization activities (if appropriate) over, and following, the course of the funding period should be clearly described with respect to potential economic, social and/or environmental benefits to Canada.

2.3 The Business/Research Plan
(Maximum fifteen pages)

Network research and potential commercialization programs must be developed in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, and must integrate private sector priorities. Include the following in the Network's proposed business/research plan:

  • Provide the details of the research program, including the major research topics with objectives and milestones.
  • Outline the path to market, or provide business applications for the proposed research. Include (if appropriate) a fully developed business plan with all expected elements fully described.
  • Describe the partnerships that will exist and involve various levels of government and the private sector to complement the funding available through the granting agencies or other federal funding sources.
  • Elaborate on the plan to manage, protect and exploit intellectual property resulting from network-funded research.
  • Describe the proposed organizational structure with appropriate representation on the Board of Directors and management team.
  • Describe the accountability framework that will be used to result in effective leadership and sound financial decision-making.

Book 3 – Applicants (bound – original plus thirty-five copies)

3.1 Information to help assess applicants track record and potential (Maximum five pages)

Background information about the lead applicants is required to assist in the assessment of their ability to guide and manage the network to ensure that the articulated business-research needs are being met. As well, the main research providers, who have been identified as being committed to working with the private sector partners, will be assessed to ensure that they have the track record to deliver a quality research program.

Network leader:

Describe in detail the make-up of the already established, or to be established*, not-for-profit consortium, representing a collection of private sector enterprises, that will lead this initiative. Give a brief biography of the proposed Network Leader (up to two-hundred words) and outline the location and resources of the proposed administrative centre of the BL-NCE.

* The not-for-profit consortium that represents the interests of the for-profit companies must be incorporated before the grant can be awarded.

Researchers:

Provide a list (or table) of the names and affiliations of the proposed researchers, their affiliation and their main research area.

The research providers may be experts from academia, the private sector and/or from government as deemed necessary and appropriate.

Note: Government scientists can not receive direct funding from the BL-NCE.

Management:

Provide a list (or table) of the names and affiliations of the current or proposed members of the Network's Board of Directors.

3.2 Short biographies of Lead Applicants and members of the Board of Directors.

Biographies must be provided for the lead applicants (including the proposed Network Leader) and for members of the Board of Directors, including the Proposed Chair. Each biography is not to exceed two pages.

3.3 Contribution Confirmation Letters from Industry (Maximum ten letters, two pages per letter)

Summary list of the Confirmation Letters included with the application

Provide letters confirming the contributions entered in Book 1. For each industrial organization, the letter should be recent and must make explicit reference to the proposed BL-NCE, and should:

  • come from a senior executive;
  • make commitments, especially in terms of financial and/or in-kind support;
  • indicate how the proposed BL-NCE would help the organization; and
  • indicate current and past associations with the applicant.

The signatures of authorized officers of supporting organizations certify that the organization:

  • agrees with the content of the application and will provide the committed resources; and
  • agrees to publication of the organization's name as a supporter of the BL-NCE (if funded).

Submission Procedures

The Deadline for the Full Application submission is 4:30 PM EST, Tuesday, August 19, 2008.

The following must be mailed or couriered to this address:

Networks of Centres of Excellence
16th floor, Mailroom
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 1H5

1. A CD containing:

  1. The Full Application Form in Excel format and includes a summary report of the proposal and details of the requested BL-NCE Budget.
  2. The complete application as a single PDF file containing all of the material, including the application form, budget and scanned letters of support in order.

2. One complete original copy unbound.

3. Thirty-five extra printed copies.

An email will be sent confirming the receipt of the Full Application Form to the identified Network Leader.

If you do not receive this confirmation in the week following your submission (by August 29, 2008), please contact the NCE Secretariat at:

Telephone: 613-995-6010
Fax: 613-992-7356
E-mail: info@nce-rce.gc.ca

Checklist

A full application consists of three books, prepared as follows. Each book must be fully paginated with tabs for each section.

Checklist

Book 1 (original plus thirty-five copies)

1.1 Covering letter 2 pages
1.2 Full Application Form:  
  A. Summary page 2 pages
  B. Budget allocation page 1 page
  C. Contribution page 1 page per industry sponsor
  D. Summary sheet 1 page
1.3 Full justification of the budget 5 pages
 

Book 2 (original plus thirty-five copies)

2.1 Summary of the proposal for public release 1 page
2.2 Discussion of the vision 3 pages
2.3 Benefits to Canada 5 pages
2.4 Business/Research Plan 15 pages
 

Book 3 (original plus thirty-five copies)

3.1 Track Record and Potential of Applicants 5 pages
3.2 Short biographies – Lead applicants and Chair and Members of the Board of Directors 2 pages per biography
3.3 List of Confirmation Letters 1 page
  Contribution Confirmation Letters from Industry Up to 10 letters (2 pages per letter)