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Competition FAQ

Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence (CIRCE)

Competition process


Content of application


Structure and scope of the centre

Administration and reporting

Competition Process

Are funds available to help applicants prepare their proposal?

Unlike the NCE Networks competition, the CIRCE competition does not provide Full Application Preparation funding. 

How many Centres will be funded as a result of the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence competition, and how much funding is available?

The CIRCE competition will result in one Centre receiving funding of up to $13.8 million over five years.

What will happen to the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence after five years?

Currently, there is no additional funding allocated to the initiative beyond the five-year term specified in Budget 2011. Beyond this period, the Centre may continue to exist (supported by sustainable activities created during the CIRCE), or leave a legacy through fostered partnerships. Applicants should describe their legacy/sustainability plans in the Management of the Network section of the application. 

Is a Notification of Intent required?

Yes. The Notification of Intent (NOI) is a mandatory part of the competition process.

Who is evaluating the Notifications of Intent? 

The NOI stage is non-adjudicative, but NOIs are screened by NCE staff. For more details see the NOI Guide.

Will the results of the Notification of Intent screening be made public?

No. Applicants with similar topics will be contacted and will be encouraged to collaborate in order to strengthen their application.

Is there room for change between the Notification of Intent and the Letter of Intent stage?

Yes. It is strongly recommended to explain the nature of and reasons for the change.

Who will assess the Letters of Intent and the full applications?

The NCE Secretariat is convening a special selection committee whose members have expertise in Canada-India partnerships. This committee will make recommendations on the LOIs and full applications to the NCE Steering Committee.

When will the Letter of Intent results be released?

Adjudication of the LOIs will take place in March or April 2012, after which the NCE Secretariat will contact all applicants to inform them of the results.

How many Letters of Intent will be invited to the full application stage?

It is anticipated that three to five LOIs will be invited to submit a full application.


Who can apply?

The lead applicant must be a Canadian researcher eligible to receive funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Is it a requirement to include participants and activities that touch on more than one granting agency?

Yes. As this is an NCE initiative, disciplines from at least two of the granting agencies must be included. 

Are Canadian universities the only organizations that can directly access funding?

Yes. Eligible Canadian universities are eligible recipients of CIRCE funding. Other sources of funding generated by the Centre may support activities at non-eligible organizations. 

Content of application

Are letters of support required at the Letter of Intent stage?

No. Letters of support will be required only at the full application stage.

What are Strategic Areas of Importance? How should these be defined in the application?

The CIRCE competition is open to all areas of research. The applicant must clearly describe the area(s) targeted by the Centre and show how they are of mutual strategic importance to Canada and India.

What kind of pre-established partnerships are you looking for? What kind of accompanying documentation is required?

Partners in the CIRCE may include Canadian and Indian universities, colleges, private-sector organizations, not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations, and government departments. Partnerships that have demonstrated success in the strategic area(s) of the CIRCE and are expected to continue as part of the initiative should be included in the application. Applicants will describe the track record, relevance and contribution of the partners to the Centre. Partner contributions will be confirmed in the letters of support.

How do we express in-kind support for Indian researchers/firms/organizations, and in which currency?

The value of cash and in-kind contributions should be expressed in Canadian dollars. Letters of support from Indian partners may detail the contributions in Indian rupees, but must be converted to Canadian dollars in the application.

Can the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence fund research? How should this be described in the application?

Yes. Research conducted at an eligible Canadian institution is an eligible expense. Applicants should recognize that the excellence of research program is one of the five equally weighted CIRCE evaluation criteria, and the total activities of the Centre must address all of the program criteria during the five-year time and using the available funds. The free-form section provides a maximum number of pages and it is at the applicant’s discretion how to divide the content.

Is commercialization an evaluation criterion?

Commercialization is not a requirement and therefore not an evaluation criterion. However, if commercialization is part of the Centre’s overall objectives, it should still be addressed in the application.

Can we include researchers from countries other than Canada and India in the list of researchers?

Yes. The list of researchers in the application should include all researchers participating in the Centre’s research program.

If the Centre is expected to generate revenue, where should the estimated value be listed in the application?

This information should be included at the full application stage, within the budget table and justification sections.

What details should be provided on the intellectual property strategy?

Required information on the management of intellectual property (IP) is described in the Full Application Guide.


Are Indian partner contributions required, and at what level?

The CIRCE is not a matching fund program however, as identified in the CIRCE Competition Guide, “Indian partners are expected to contribute cash and/or in-kind support at a level commensurate with the proposed collaborative effort.” It is up to the applicant to determine the partners’ level of support and explain how it will strengthen the application.

Are the relationships established by a Network of Centres of Excellence with an Indian collaborator considered valid examples of previous collaborations?


Structure and Scope of the Centre

How does the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence compare to a Network of Centres of Excellence?

The CIRCE initiative falls under the mandate of the broader NCE program and has many similar program elements. Key differences are:

Target area

Canadian priority areas

area(s) of mutual strategic importance for Canada and India

Focus of activities

research program in a targeted area

creating synergy and expanding upon existing collaborations

Term and funding

large grants to create a research program that spans up to 15 years

limited budget and a fixed term of five years

What role does the Host Institution play?

Where appropriate, the Host Institution houses and provides the necessary support for the administrative centre. It ensures that the Centre has suitable accommodation and access to appropriate computer, communications, and financial administration systems. Eligible Host Institutions may include 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.

Must the Centre incorporate as a Canadian not-for-profit?

Yes. Once selected, and prior to signing a funding agreement with the federal granting agencies, the Centre must be incorporated as a federal not-for-profit organization. Close financial and other ties to the Centre Host Institution are essential, as the grant will be paid to the Centre through the Host Institution.

Does the Centre have to focus on a specific research topic or can it be broad in scope?

The Centre may focus on either specific and/or broad research areas, as long as there is a common thread connecting the research under a clear and directed strategic plan, addressing the overall mandate of the Centre.

Is there a preference for research projects to be based at one institution or spread across multiple institutions?

Either model is valid under the CIRCE competition. It is up to the applicants to justify the model used. 

As a Canadian professor working on a project with an Indian researcher, should I apply to the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence competition?

The CIRCE will foster “organization-to-organization-level” relationships and increase “researcher-to-researcher collaborations.” A CIRCE may fund individual collaboration projects between researchers from Canada and India, but that cannot be the only component of the proposed Centre.

Does the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence have to be the go-to hub across all fields and all sectors or just the sectors in which it specializes?

The CIRCE selected will be the go-to hub for collaborations with India in its specific area of specialization.

Administration and Reporting

What kind of reporting will be required from the successful CIRCE?

The CIRCE must provide an annual report that includes participant lists, statistical tables, outcomes and success stories, financial reports, statements of other sources of funding, and administrative reports such as conflict of interest and activities reports as stipulated by the NCE Secretariat. An annual review of progress will also be carried out by the NCE Monitoring Committee. The annual report will also capture the contributions and leveraging against grant funds from Centre partners.

Are international researchers supported through the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence?

Support for international researchers must be derived from other sources of funding. 

Can funding be used to bring Indian students to Canada?

Yes, if it is part of the proposed collaboration model.