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Competition FAQ

2014 Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) program competition



Role of Universities

Role of Government

Budget/Eligible Expenses

Full Application



Currently, the BL-NCE program targets five (5) research priority areas of the government of Canada (i.e. the S&T priority areas), however the 2014 BL-NCE competition will only select up to four (4) BL-Networks. Are you looking to establish new BL-Networks in each of the other targeted research areas?

No. Because proposed BL-Networks can address issues in one or more S&T research priority area targeted by the BL-NCE program, the program is not limited to funding a BL-Network in each research priority area. The final selection of proposals will, however, give consideration to balancing the program funds amongst research within the S&T priority areas in such a way to ensure that the largest number of S&T priority areas are included, thus maximizing the impact of the BL-NCE program. Applicants are nonetheless expected to be selective in targeting one or two research topic areas that best align with the vision of their proposed BL-Network.

Are BL-Networks required to have private sector participation from across Canada?

This is not a requirement, however, where the sectoral challenges addressed by the Network impact organizations from across Canada, those groups should be included in the BL-Network activities.

What about collaborating with international Networks and other foreign partners?

Foreign partners may be involved in Network activities; however all research carried out using BL-NCE program funds must be conducted in Canada. Foreign partners are expected to use their own sources of funding for activities taking place in their region. Benefits resulting from the activities should align with the mission and vision of the Network and fit within the spirit of the Benefit to Canada section of the application. There are no limitations on soliciting international partners in advisory capacity, remembering that all grant and matching dollars must be spent in Canada.



Who can apply to the 2014 BL-NCE Program Competition?

Applicants can be Canadian private sector companies, consortia, associations, research networks with a focus on business issues and who are proposing to deliver a BL-Network in a Canadian research priority area of the government of Canada (i.e. S&T priority areas) as defined in the competition guide. Although applicants in the BL-NCE competition do not need to be incorporated at the time of the application, they must be eligible to incorporate as a Canadian not-for-profit corporation under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act and must be ready to incorporate as a Canadian not-for-profit prior to signing a funding agreement with the NCE Secretariat, if they are successful in the competition.

When must the not-for-profit consortium incorporate?

Although applicants in the BL-NCE competition do not need to be incorporated at the time of the application, they must be eligible to incorporate as a Canadian not-for-profit corporation under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act. If successful in the competition, the applicant must be incorporated as a Canadian not-for-profit prior to signing a funding agreement with the NCE Secretariat. Incorporation prior to this stage is not required.

Are only newly formed not-for-profit consortia eligible or can already existing not-for-profit consortia apply to the BL-NCE competition?

Both newly formed and already existing not-for-profit consortia are eligible, however, in both cases, network membership must reflect the purpose of the proposed network, i.e. members of the network must primarily come from the private sector. This requirement extends to the Board of Directors, where the majority of members should be from the private sector.


Role of Universities

Can a university lead an application in the BL-NCE competition?

No. Applications must be led by the private sector.

Do university researchers need to be involved in the research of the BL-Network or can the research all be done in the private sector?

All relevant researchers who can contribute to overcoming the challenges of the research program should be engaged.This includes but is not limited to the academic researchers.

Are there any guidelines or expectations as to the number of universities that should be involved in the BL-network and whether or not there should be representation from across the country?

There are no guidelines on a required or expected amount of participating universities and expectation or requirement for geographic representation; however the proposal must demonstrate the participation of the most appropriate members based on the scope of the network and the private sector community it serves.


Role of Government

How can government research laboratories participate?

The participation of government research labs in BL-Networks that help achieve the research goals of the network are encouraged; however, BL-NCE funds cannot directly support research activities in the government labs or Crown corporations.


Budget/Eligible Expenses

Are the majority of the BL-NCE research funds to be spent in university labs?

The BL-NCE funds can be spent on eligible research activities in university, not-for-profit and private sector labs.

Can equipment be funded through the BL-NCE program?

Essential pieces of equipment can be acquired but it is expected that a larger percentage of the funds are to be spent on research and commercialization opportunities rather than infrastructure such as equipment. See the BL-NCE Program Guide for details on purchasing capital expenses.

Is there a limit on the amount of BL-NCE funds that can to be used for the administrative-related expenses?

Expenses related to the administration cannot exceed 20 percent of the total BL-NCE grant. These expenses include the salary and benefits of the administrative staff, networking activities, specialized consulting services, etc.

Are BL-Networks eligible to apply for a second funding cycle?

Yes, successful applicants are eligible to apply for a second funding cycle if they have applied for the full term of the first funding cycle, i.e. 5 years.

Is there a limit for in-kind contributions versus cash contributions?

There is no requirement for a specific percent of cash versus in-kind contributions, however, applications must justify how the nature and value of the contributions (financial or resources) will enable the BL-Network to succeed.

Are cash or in-kind contributions from foreign partners eligible?

Yes, but the contribution(s) must be used in Canada and for the benefit to Canada.

Do partner contributions that committed prior to receiving the BL-NCE funding count towards the matching requirement?

Yes, up to the date that the BL-NCE competition was officially launched (January 15th, 2013).


Full Application

What is the role of the NCE Liaison in the development of the Full Application?

An NCE Liaison is assigned to each applicant invited to submit a full application.  The NCE Liaison works with the applicants to address questions regarding the competition, reviews drafts of the full application for eligibility and alignment with the BL-NCE program and helps prepare the applicants for the meeting with the Expert Panel. 

When is a draft due to the NCE Secretariat?

A draft of the full application is due to the NCE Secretariat on month prior to the full application submission deadline.

What is expected at the draft stage of the full application?

The draft is expected to have, at the minimum, sections 6 and 7 of Part1 (budget and budget justification), and Part 2 (the freeform section).

In Part 2: Free Form, can we include sub-headings in addition to the major headings?

Yes, sub-headings are acceptable. The Free form section must contain the three major areas of the program (i.e. Benefit to Canada, Track Record and Potential of the Applicant, and Business Plan); any other subsections may be organized at the applicants discretion.

How is the percent of agency mandate represented by the BL-Network research activities determined? Will we be rejected if we are only under the mandate of one granting council?

See This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency for guidelines on the eligibility of subject matter related to NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR. Selecting more than one council is not a requirement, but it is encouraged.

Can we include private sector letters that do not include a contribution of cash or in-Kind to the BL-NCE application?

Letters of Support that do not include contributions of cash and/or in-kind to the BL-Network must explicitly describe the organization’s direct involvement in the BL-Network activities and/or how the organization will directly apply the results from the BL-Network.



Is a template of the BL-NCE funding agreement available?

Yes, a template of the BL-NCE Funding Agreement is available  here.

Who makes the final funding decision?

The Private Sector Advisory Board (PSAB) provides recommendations to the NCE Steering Committee who makes the final decision.