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Competition Guide

2013 Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) renewal competition

 Competition Guide

How to use this guide

The Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) 2012-13 Renewal Competition Guide provides an overview of the BL-NCE program, describes the logistics of the renewal competition process, the selection criteria and the competition timeline. The BL-NCE 2012-13 Renewal Competition Guide is a stand-alone document that contains all relevant information about this competition. Throughout the competition the NCE Secretariat will release additional ‘Application Guides’ that describe how to complete the documentation for each respective stage. They should always be used in conjunction with the BL-NCE 2012-13 Renewal Competition Guide as well as the BL-NCE Program Guide.

Background

The BL-NCE 2012-13 Renewal Competition provides an opportunity for current BL-Networks to apply for additional funding to extend and expand their mandate for an additional five-year period.

The BL-NCE program is a key element of the federal government’s Science and Technology (S&T) Strategy. The program has been established to support business-led research networks that bring together government, private-sector and academic experts from around the world to address private sector research needs and to support operation and commercialization activities of networks in the five priority areas identified in the S&T Strategy and Budget 2007:

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

In 2011, the BL-NCE program underwent an evaluation which found that it demonstrated strong potential for success. The Government of Canada further invested in the program through Budget 2012 by making the program permanent with an annual allocation of approximately $12 million starting in fiscal year 2012-13. To build upon the program successes to date, the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Steering Committee is providing an opportunity for existing BL-Networks to apply for additional funding to expand their mandate for an additional five years. 

Program Goal

The goal of the BL-NCE program is to address private sector research and development (R&D) challenges in Canadian research priority areas through the creation of business-led research networks that increase private sector investment in R&D, innovation, and competitiveness.

Expected Results

The BL-NCE renewal competition will allow BL-Networks to expand on their accomplishments during the first funding cycle with a second funding cycle of five years. The BL-Networks selected will contribute to the BL-NCE program goal through delivery of the following benefits:

Research-Related Benefits:

  • Increase private sector investment in R&D and advanced technologies;
  • Provide high quality post-graduate and post-doctoral training in innovative research;
  • Strengthen public-private sector collaboration, including links between young researchers and firms, to address significant research challenges that meet business needs; and
  • Increase industry R&D capacity, including among SMEs, and receptivity to the results of R&D.

Commercialization-Related Benefits:

  • Outline a clear path to market or business application for the proposed research;
  • Seek commercialization benefits that position Canadian firms in high value segments of production chains;
  • Create, grow and retain companies in Canada that are able to capture new markets with new innovations;
  • Accelerate the commercialization of leading edge technologies, goods and services in priority areas where Canada can significantly advance its competitive advantage; and
  • Strengthen domestic collaboration and ensure that benefits spill over to a wide array of firms, sectors and regions of the country.

BL-Networks that are unsuccessful in the BL-NCE 2012-13 Renewal Competition are not eligible to compete in future BL-NCE renewal competitions. They may, however, apply in a new BL-NCE competition, provided they have substantially redefined the network.

Competition Eligibility

The renewal competition is open only to the BL-Networks selected in the 2009 BL-NCE competition who continue to meet the all requirements of the BL-NCE Funding Agreement and can demonstrate a need for additional grant funds. 

Eligible expenses

BL-Networks are expected to leverage funding from multiple sources to meet the program’s matching requirements. 

Matching contributions may be in the form of cash or in-kind and must respect the stacking provisions of the program.  The BL-NCE program covers up to 50 percent of eligible direct costs of research activities and up to 75 percent of the eligible networking, commercialization and administration costs in support of the operation of the BL-Network.  The maximum level (stacking limit) of total government assistance (federal, provincial, and municipal) for this program will not exceed 75% of the eligible expenses.  In the event total government assistance (federal, provincial and municipal) to a recipient exceeds the stacking limit, it will be necessary for relevant federal agencies to adjust the level of assistance so that the stacking limit is not exceeded.

Research Costs:

Research costs include salaries and benefits of research staff, materials and supplies, knowledge dissemination, intellectual property protection, travel, equipment or facility. Equipment and facility costs must not exceed $1 million and must not exceed 20 percent of the total eligible research expenses.

Administration Costs:

Administration costs include salaries and benefits of BL-Networks staff, some contracting of professional services, costs related to networking (communication activities and travel), costs to obtain liability insurance for members of the Board of Directors and BL-Network administrators, commercialization related costs such as market studies, business plan and prototype development.

Refer to the BL-NCE Program Guide and the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide for a complete description of eligible expenses.

Competition Process

The BL-NCE Renewal Competition follows a two-stage process that includes a letter of intent (LOI) and a full application (FA).  Both stages are mandatory and must be completed by the deadline dates. The NCE Steering Committee selects successful BL-Networks on the recommendation of Private Sector Advisory Board (PSAB) and an Expert Panel.  A brief overview of each stage is given below: 

Letter of Intent Stage:

  • Submissions will only be accepted from BL-Networks that are approaching the end of the first funding cycle and who have demonstrated a need for additional funding.
  • The LOI will be reviewed by the NCE Secretariat and will be used to identify experts to review the FA. 
  • Information provided in the LOI will be provided to reviewers at the FA stage.

Full Application Stage:

  • Submissions will only be accepted from BL-Networks that have submitted an LOI.
  • The FA will be evaluated against the selection criteria (detailed below).
  • Each FA will be reviewed by an Expert Panel. The Expert Panel will also meet with the applicant and present their findings to PSAB.
  • PSAB will review all FAs as well as the findings reported by the Expert Panel, and provide reports on each FA as well as a funding recommendation to the NCE Steering Committee.
  • The NCE Steering Committee will select the BL-Network(s) to be renewed. There is no appeal process.

Selection Criteria

Successful BL-Networks in the renewal competition will be selected based on the excellence of their proposal, the impact on the major R&D and commercialization challenges of their sector vision from the first funding cycle, expected impacts over the next five years, and the overall benefit to Canada. 

The FA will be evaluated against the specific program selection criteria below:

1. Benefits to Canada

  1. Identification of the vision for a given sector and the major R&D and commercialization challenges to be addressed to significantly advance the Canadian competitive advantage of that sector;
  2. Strengthening of public-private sector collaborations to meet private sector needs;
  3. Increasing industrial R&D capacity and receptivity to the results of R&D across large, medium and small enterprise;
  4. Positioning of Canadian firms in high-value segments of production chains;
  5. Creation, growth and retention of companies in Canada;
  6. Business and product innovations to capture new markets; and
  7. Increasing domestic collaboration across wide array of firms, sectors and regions.

2. Track Record and Potential of the Applicants

  1. Past progress:
    • Past achievements of the applicants;
    • Evidence of commercialization and/or business application of research results leading to competitive advantage;
    • Mechanisms to identify and manage conflicts of interest;
    • Ability to address recommendations from previous competitions or competition stages;
    • Demonstration of success in past collaborations across firms and in public-private collaboration;
    • Demonstration of an increase in business receptivity to the results of R&D across large, medium and small enterprise;
    • Management of deviations from previous strategic directions; and
    • Attraction of top talent to the proposed research and business activities.
    • Record of investment by private and other public partners in the network.
  2. Potential for success:
    • Potential to advance the proposed research and business activities;
    • Excellence, focus and coherence of a research program;
    • Capability of attracting new investments;
    • Mechanisms in place to track and manage BL-Network impacts;
    • Evidence of capacity to address significant research challenges that meet business needs; and
    • Proposed training and exposure of post-graduate and post-doctoral HQP in innovative research.

3. Business Plan :

  1. Rationale for funding:
    • Value of the partnerships both financially and in advancing the BL-Network;
    • Value-add of the network approach;
    • Plan to overcome challenges of the sector;
    • Identification of outcomes for the funding cycle; and
    • Justification and appropriateness of the budget request.
  2. Description of benefits to private sector participants:
    • Plan for the business application for the proposed research;
    • Business cases for the involvement of large, medium and/or small enterprise in the BL-Network; and
    • Identification of links between researchers and HQP with firms.
  3. Business approach:
    • Clear description of the path to market for the research through a market analysis;
    • Identification of key risks and mitigation strategies;
    • Communication strategies to engage under-represented entities within the current BL-Network membership;
    • Identification of future projects and anticipated changes to the technology readiness, stage-gate or maturity level of each;
    • Effectiveness of the plan to manage, protect and exploit IP in the network context; and
    • Mechanisms to accelerate commercialization and/or business application of technologies, goods and services within firms.

Available funds

 The BL-NCE program grants budget is approximately $11M for each fiscal year starting in 2012-13, and is anticipated to fund a portfolio of up to six BL-Networks (renewed and new) funded over a five-year period.

Timetable

Milestones Deadlines
Competition Launch June 28, 2012
Letter of Intent (LOI) Application Deadline August 1, 2012
Time Extension Request August 1, 2012
Full Application Deadline October 1, 2012
Expert Panel Review October 9-26, 2012
Competition Announcement December, 2012
Release of funds March, 2013

Contact

For more information, please contact:

Networks of Centre of Excellence
BL-NCE Renewal Competition
16th Floor, Mailroom
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1H5

Fouad Elgindy
Senior Program Manager
E-mail: fouad.elgindy@nce-rce.gc.ca
Telephone: 613-947-6366

On-line Resources

NCE website

www.nce-rce.gc.ca

Information Regarding the Meaning of Signatures

This link will take you to another Web site www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/OnlineServices-ServicesEnLigne/Approvals-Approbation_eng.asp

This link will take you to another Web site www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/22630.html#1-F

Information Regarding In-kind Eligibility

This link will take you to another Web site www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/NSERC-CRSNG/policies-politiques/orgpartners-orgpartenaires_eng.asp

This link will take you to another Web site www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/3758.html

Tri-Agency Use of Grant Funds

This link will take you to another Web site www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Professors-Professeurs/FinancialAdminGuide-GuideAdminFinancier/FundsUse-UtilisationSubventions_eng.asp

BL-NCE Program Guide

www.nce-rce.gc.ca/ReportsPublications-RapportsPublications/BLNCE-RCEE/ProgramGuide-GuideProgramme_eng.asp

2013 BL-NCE Renewal Competition Guide

www.nce-rce.gc.ca/Competitions-Competitions/PreviousCompetitions-ConcoursAnterieurs/BLNCE-RCEE-2013/CompetitionGuide-GuideConcours_eng.asp

2013 BL-NCE Renewal Competition Letter of Intent Guide

www.nce-rce.gc.ca/Competitions-Competitions/PreviousCompetitions-ConcoursAnterieurs/BLNCE-RCEE-2013/LOIGuide-GuideLI_eng.asp

2013 BL-NCE Renewal Competition Full Application Guide

www.nce-rce.gc.ca/Competitions-Competitions/PreviousCompetitions-ConcoursAnterieurs/BLNCE-RCEE-2013/FullApplicationGuide-GuideDemandeDetaillee_eng.asp