Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
Government of Canada

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Key Criteria

2009 Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Competition for New Networks

Recipient Criteria

Eligible recipients must meet the general eligibility requirements of one or more of the three federal granting agencies partnering in the Program.

Recipients eligible to receive an NCE Network grant are:

  • Network host: Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions with a mandate for research and their affiliated institutions (including hospitals, research institutes and other not-for-profit organizations), or a private-sector consortium that hosts a Network, and associated researchers
  • Networks of Centres of Excellence: a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act, and their Network members and associated researchers

As a condition of eligibility, funded NCE Networks shall incorporate as a not-for-profit organization and have an established Board of Directors responsible for the approval of their annual financial reports and audits, before funding is released.

Where there is significant overlap or reasonable potential for perceived overlap between a proposed NCE Network and (a) currently or previously funded initiative(s), applicants must append a short explanation (maximum three pages) to their LOI. This explanation should describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the differences between the proposed new NCE Network and the currently or previously funded initiative(s).  Describe how the proposed new NCE Network will compliment or build on the activities of the other initiative(s), as well as the incremental value of the proposed Network.

The NCE Steering Committee will make final decisions on eligibility.

Program Criteria

To ensure that the new NCE Network goals and objectives are met, proposals are assessed against the five criteria, relevance to the NCE Network goals and objectives and relevance to the target research areas. Networks are evaluated on an ongoing basis during tenure of a grant against these same criteria.  Research excellence is a necessary condition for the initial and the continued funding of a Network; however, it is not the sole condition, because the goal of the NCE Network is also reflected in the four additional criteria.

The five new NCE Network criteria are:

1. Excellence of the Research Program

The Network's research program must be driven to address Canadian needs and problems, and is therefore expected to be multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral.

Elements being considered are:

  • The excellence, focus and coherence of the research program
  • The balance between research into new discoveries and the application of research breakthroughs to address practical problems facing Canadians
  • The achievements of the researchers in the continuum of research and their ability to contribute to the realization of the Network's objectives
  • The value added by the Network's multifaceted approach, in terms of having all the critical linkages in place to generate world-class research breakthroughs, to apply that knowledge to practical solutions, and to commercialize innovations that produce social and economic benefits
  • The extent to which the program will contribute to Canada's abilities and reputation for international leadership in areas of high economic and social importance to Canada
  • The extent to which new and emerging social and ethical challenges are an integral part of the research program
  • The relationship of the proposed research program to similar work conducted in Canada and abroad

2. Development of Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP)

The training and retention of HQP is imperative to maximize the effectiveness of the Networks' contribution to the wealth, wellness and well being of Canadians. The Training Program proposed by the Network is expected to add value to the formal training initiatives already available through the academic community and should aim at helping students find employment in the Canadian economy (i.e., private sector partners, government, etc.). The multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral nature of a Network should be utilized to provide unique mentorship and training opportunities to maximize HQP retention and integration in all facets of the workforce.

Elements being considered are:

  • The ability to attract, develop and retain outstanding researchers in research areas and technologies critical to Canadian productivity, economic growth, public policy and quality of life
  • Training strategies that expose trainees to the full range of economic, social, and ethical implications of the Network's research by involving them in activities from the initial research discovery to its application through to practical social and economic benefits

3. Networking and Partnerships

The Network must demonstrate that it has brought together the key individuals and organizations needed to generate and implement multifaceted solutions to the complex Canadian challenges it is designed to address.

Elements being considered are:

  • Effective research and technology development links between national and international academic institutions, federal and provincial agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector participants
  • Multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral approaches in the research program
  • Demonstration that the right partners/individuals are at the table to address the proposed issue, including international partners when applicable
  • Optimization of resources through the sharing of equipment and research facilities, databases and personnel
  • Presence, nature and extent of contributions from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and from international partners, as well as the prospect for increasing commitments as the work progresses

4. Knowledge and Technology Exchange and Exploitation

NCE Networks and Centres are expected to generate social and economic benefits by ensuring the rapid flow of ideas and innovations from researchers to Canadian receptors.  Applicants are expected to demonstrate that the appropriate activities will be undertaken and the appropriate resources allocated to maximize those benefits.   

Elements being considered are:

  • The new products, processes or services to be commercialized by firms operating in Canada as a result of the Network's activities and the extent to which these will strengthen the Canadian economic base, enhance productivity, and contribute to long-term economic growth and social benefits
  • The social innovations to be implemented as a result of the Network and the extent to which these will contribute to more effective public policy in Canada
  • Effective collaboration with the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in technology, market development, and public policy development
  • The extent to which the Network will help the partners develop strong receptor capacity to exploit current and future research breakthroughs
  • Effective management and protection of Canadian intellectual property resulting from Network-funded research
  • The extent to which additional/ complementary knowledge, and/or technology a foreign counterpart is contributing to Canada by an international partner, when international partnerships are relevant

5. Management of the Network

Each Network must have an organizational structure appropriate for the management of the research and business functions of a complex multidisciplinary, multi-institutional program.

The elements that must be included are:

  • A board and committee structure to ensure that appropriate policy and financial decisions are made and implemented
  • The presence of effective leadership and expertise in the research and the business management functions
  • Effective research planning and budgeting mechanisms
  • Effective internal and external communications strategies