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Competition FAQ

Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) - 2007-08

 Competition FAQ

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Who are eligible applicants? 

Eligible organizations are the not-for-profit corporations created by:

  • universities
  • colleges
  • not-for-profit research organizations
  • firms, or
  • other interested non-government parties

Is it necessary for the Centre to be incorporated at the Letter of Intent stage?

At the LOI stage, the NCE Secretariat will accept applications from organizations on behalf of the Centres to be incorporated.  As it is the case currently in the NCE Program, the application needs to clearly describe the proposed governance structure of the Centre, and how such a structure meets the incorporation requirement.

For Centres that are more research focused initially, is it still mandatory to incorporate?

YES, all CECR will need to have separate governance and management structure and incorporation (or its equivalent) will be mandatory.  If a Centre wishes to use an approach other than incorporation, it should check with the NCE Secretariat in advance of submitting its Letter of Intent in order to obtain a ruling on the eligibility of such an approach.

If existing Centres can apply, must they be research performing organizations or can they be organizations that fund or deliver commercialization services to research centres and industry, but do not themselves perform research or develop products or technologies?  Secondly, could these existing Centres apply for CECR grant funds to enhance or expand their programs (using current or future provincial funding commitments as the 'match' or balance of eligible expenditures)?

As far as eligibility is concerned, the CECR Program makes no difference between past and new Centres.  The CECR Program supports a variety of Centres from the ones that are dedicated to commercialization to others that have not yet reached commercialization.  However, the Program is expected to support a large portion of commercialization related activities.  Where an organization provides commercialization services to research centres, it should clearly indicate how those services meet the requirements of a “Centre of Excellence”.

Commercialization VS Research: Will priority be given to proposals that have both research and clear commercialization mandates?

The Committee will consider all applications from the ones that are dedicated to commercialization to others that have not yet reached commercialization.  Overall, the Program is expected to support a large portion of commercialization related activities.  Excellence of the research and/or commercialization model remains key factors in assessing all proposals.

Approval of annual financial reports and audits: Is this a requirement for the applicant institution only?

No, as a condition of eligibility, CECRCECR must have a Board of Directors responsible for the approval of the Centre’s annual financial reports and audits.


What remains unclear is the definition and role of the "Host Institution".  If a Centre is located on the site of another institution/corporation, then the other institution is the Host (and signs the Letter of Intent).  However, the CECR Letter of Intent Form indicates: “It is agreed that the general conditions governing grants as outlined in the Granting Agencies literature apply to any grant made pursuant to this application and are hereby accepted by the Centre Director and the proposed Centre Host Institution", which implies a more significant role for the Host Institution.  Does it mean that only the Centre could receive funds?

As indicated in the guidelines, funding is provided to the Centre for its operations.  However, funding may flow through a Host Institution as it is the case in the NCE Program.

Could you clarify what is meant by "capital equipment expenditures"?

This Program is intended to support the operational costs of a Centre, not its capital expenditures.  The only exception is for specialized capital equipment in the case of commercialization centres that would be ineligible to receive support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.  In this instance, the total is further capped at $1 million and at most 20% of the total eligible grant.

What is the effective date when costs are considered eligible under the CECR grant??  How much 'back dating" is permitted? A corollary to this is how “new” should Centres be??  Can they have been in existence (incorporated) and active for a few years before August 2007?

The CECR program will not consider past costs (no backdating).  Yes, existing Centres are eligible.

Duration of CECR:: The Guide indicates that successful applicants will normally receive $15 million over five years.   We were told that the $15 million could be over three (3) years.  Can you clarify?

Under this competition, the expected “average” multi-year grant size is around $15 million dollars over a period of between 3 to 5 years.

Are CECR funds intended for students or researchers?

CECR funds are for operational costs and other related costs (salary of technicians, administrative staff, etc).  In the case of research undertaken by the Centre, it is expected that funds already exist from other sources, i.e. federal or provincial granting agencies, etc.  The costs of researchers and students are not covered under this Program.

Am I correct in assuming that the budget table should only outline CECR funds?

Indeed, the table should only include requested CECR funds. The funds from partners should be summarized in the body of the application (text) and verified in the letters of support.  Section C is meant to provide explanation on the budget, including reference to partner contributions.


According to the Guide, each Letter of Intent must present a potential new CECR.  How does that relate to the 7 Centres announced in Budget 2007?  Can these 7 Centres apply to this Program?   

The CECR program does not exclude existing Centres whatever their origin.  However, as in any competition, the excellence criteria must be met and the need for funds must be demonstrated.

What is required in the letters of support from Provincial or other Granting Organizations at the Letter of Intent stage?

The Letter of Intent must include letters of support from other key funding organizations, including any provincial governments where they are expected to support the Centre:

  • For Provincial or other Government Funding already in place, a letter from the agency involved clearly specifying the terms of funding is needed;
  • For requests currently in front of a Provincial or other Government Funding agency, a letter from that agency confirming that they have received the proposal, explaining the general terms of their funding program, and indicating when they expect to make a decision on the proposal;
  • For industrial support, a letter indicating as much as possible the level of interest, the minimum funding being considered and any conditions that may affect their decision.

At the second stage, complete proposals will undergo a consultation and assessment process.  Proposals will be distributed by the NCE Secretariat to the  Canada Foundation for Innovation, the relevant granting agency(ies) and other relevant organizations (e.g. Business Development Bank of Canada, National Research Council of Canada, Regional Agencies) for consultation and comment.

Letter of support: A cash commitment from the private sector may not be possible given the tight timeframe (deadline: August 20, 2007) or the lack of information related to the Centre (no Board of Directors in place, pending review of projects related to the Centre activities, etc.)  How should we manage that?

Letters of support must be indicative enough and provide information about stakeholder organization’s commitments.  However, at the time of the full application (assuming that the Centre will be invited to submit a full proposal), the Centre will have to make sure that the previous commitments made in the Letter of Intent stage are converted into cash contributions.

The guidelines ask for letters of support that include letters of support from key funding organizations.  Is this from funders of the new Center or the host organization or both? 

The letters must be specifically in support of the centre for which CECR funding is being requested


Agreement: We understand that a customized agreement will be developed for the CECR projects.  Is it possible at this time to identify substantive differences foreseen between this new agreement and the existing NCE one? 

The agreements are being developed at this time and should be ready in early fall.  As was the case for NCE, we will consult the appropriate stakeholders when developing the agreements.  We expect the CECR agreement to be simpler than the NCE one, as funding provided is for operations and research support with associated Intellectual Property (IP).

IP policy: It is my understanding that the IP philosophy of the NCE program will apply.  IP ownership and rights will be of particular interest in this competition and any information that could be made available now would be very helpful in our discussions with our partners.  

IP policies will be consistent with those of the three granting agencies and the NCE.

Who makes the final funding decision?

The Private Sector Advisory Board (PSAB) is responsible for making recommendations to the NCE Steering Committee who then makes the final decision.

Will the $165 million dollars allocated to the 2008 CECR Competition cover the operations of the seven Centres of Excellence announced in Budget 2007?

No. These are two different budgets. The $105 million budget set aside for the seven Centres of Excellence mentioned in Budget 2007 is a separate budget and not included in the $165 million budget allocated to the 2008 CECR Competition.

I can't find any information on your website about acquiring the PIN required for Section A of the LOI application. 

The PIN is not a required entry.  The PIN may be from either one of the 3 granting agencies: NSERC, SSHRC or CIHR.  Please leave the space blank, if the proposed centre director does not have one.