Ontario Centres of Excellence – Ontario-China Research and Innovation Fund (OCRIF) – Call for Applications (Second Round)

Notice: Faculty members who are planning to apply for funding are encouraged to login to the My Research Application (MRA) on-line system well in advance of the submission deadline to ensure that there are no problems with your login credentials. The system utilizes your UTORid credentials. The information in the on-line form will be automatically routed to the appropriate internal approvers for review and endorsement. If you encounter problems, please consult the My Research - Application User Guide for additional information or contact the RAISE help desk (416-946-5000, RAISE@utoronto.ca).

Sponsor

Description

The Ontario-China Research and Innovation Fund (OCRIF) supports scientific and technological collaboration projects between China and Ontario. Offered through a partnership with Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS), China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), OCRIF promotes scientific, technological and industrial research and commercialization cooperation.

Successful Ontario applicants will be eligible to receive a maximum of $210,000 CAD per project (for academic applicants) or $250,000 CAD per project (for company applicants) from OCE to fund the Ontario portion of the project.

OCE anticipates that approximately four projects will be funded through the 2017 Call for Proposals.

Objectives

  • To support scientific and technological collaboration between Ontario and China
  • To develop and enhance cooperation in the field of industrial and technology innovations, to improve competitiveness, and to further economic and business collaboration between Ontario and China

Priority Fields

The current call for proposals will accept project applications focusing on the following research theme:

  • Energy Storage

How Funding Works

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) will conduct parallel application processes. Ontario-based organizations must apply directly to Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and China-based organizations must apply directly to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

Project Duration

Project terms cannot exceed three years and are non-renewable.

Grant Amount

OCE will support up to 50 per cent of the direct, eligible research costs, to a maximum of $210,000 CAD per project (for academic applicants) or $250,000 CAD per project (for company applicants) for the Ontario portion of the project. MOST will support up to 50 per cent of the eligible research costs, to a maximum of $250,000 CAD per project, for the Chinese portion of the project. The maximum total grant amount, including OCE and MOST contributions, to be received by a project is $460,000 CAD (where the Ontario applicant is a post-secondary institution) or $500,000 CAD (where the Ontario applicant is a company).

Contributions by OCE and China must be matched at least 1:1 in cash and/or in-kind by applicants/partners in Ontario and China, respectively; i.e. to receive the maximum grant amount, the Ontario applicant/partner(s) must provide at least $210,000 CAD (for academic applicants) or $250,000 CAD (for company applicants), and the Chinese applicant and/or partner(s) must also provide at least $250,000 CAD. Letters of support from each organization providing cash and/or in-kind contributions must be included along with the application, confirming both the amount of matching funding and the intended use of the contributions.

Flow of Funds

  • For a project to be considered for funding under OCRIF, each project’s lead Ontario partner must apply directly to OCE, and the Chinese partner must apply directly to MOST. Funding is conditional on both applicants receiving funding approval from their respective organizations.
  • For Ontario applicants from post-secondary institutions only: Institutional overhead is not an eligible OCRIF direct project expense and should not be included on either the OCE or industry funded portions of the OCE application budget. The overhead that is to be attributed as part of the OCE contribution will be calculated directly by OCE and paid annually to Ontario post-secondary institutions, at a rate of 20 per cent x direct costs of OCE-funded research. For example, a post-secondary institution can include up to $210,000 CAD direct project costs in the application (excluding overhead) and will separately receive up to $40,000 in overhead over the course of the project. Overhead on the industry funded portion of the project (if applicable) should not be included in the OCE project budget; any overhead must be discussed with your institution’s research administration office at the time of application to ensure it is correctly accounted for.
  • Funds will be disbursed in tranches, based on successful progress reporting:
    • For projects under 18 months in duration: OCE will release an initial payment of 45 per cent of the OCE contribution when the OCE Funding Agreement has been executed. A subsequent interim payment (45 per cent of the OCE contribution) will be released upon receipt of interim progress and financial reports.
    • For projects 18 months or longer in duration: OCE will release an initial payment of 30 per cent of the OCE contribution when the OCE Funding Agreement has been executed. Subsequent interim payments (two tranches, each 30 per cent of the OCE contribution) will be released upon receipt of interim progress and interim financial reports.
    • For company applicants, upon successful execution of the Funding Agreement, 25 per cent of funds will be released directly to the company. The remaining funding will be released to the company on a claims and reimbursement model for eligible expenses. Claims can be made when submitting interim report(s), and the final report, required at the end of the project.
    • For all projects, a holdback of 10 per cent will be released upon project completion and receipt of the following: final progress and financial reports, outcomes and attestation from the institution regarding the use of funds.

Matching Contributions

Matching contributions can consist of both cash and in-kind contributions from any non-government source. In-kind contributions are non-cash resources and are to be listed as part of a project’s overall budget. Applicants must be able to verify the value of in-kind contributions with independent third party valuations.

In-kind contributions must:

  • Be essential to the implementation of the project
  • Represent an item or service that would otherwise have to be acquired with cash
  • Be priced at the lesser of fair market value or the actual cost to the donor

In-kind contributions can include:

  • Equipment or related warranties
  • Materials and expendable supplies
  • Software and databases/datasets
  • Use of space or facilities
  • Salaries (including benefits) of professional, technical, analytical, or project-specific administrative personnel donated by the private sector partners
  • Access to unique databases or high performance computing services
  • Travel (costs may be limited), including per diems paid to  private sector partner employees or contractors, for essential, time-limited off-site work related to the project.

Ineligible in-kind contributions include:

  • Donations in the form of goodwill
  • Services that are usually performed for free
  • Salaries and benefits of staff not directly related to the project
  • Salaries and benefits of personnel who usually act as volunteers
  • Overhead costs incurred by private sector partners contributing personnel time
  • Standard discounts – academic or otherwise
  • Equity in an emerging private sector company

For more information on eligible and ineligible expenses please refer to the OCRIF Eligible Expenses Guidelines.

Eligibility

Eligible Applicants

Funding is open, on a competitive basis, to:

Ontario Applicants:

  • Ontario publicly-assisted universities
  • Ontario colleges of applied arts, science and technology
  • Not-for-profit research institutes affiliated with an Ontario university
  • Consortia of the above, with one institution as lead applicant, assuming responsibility and accountability for the consortium
  • Other Ontario not-for-profit research institutions at the discretion of OCE.
  • Technology companies with operations in Ontario

China Applicants: research institutions or companies in China

Ontario applicants should direct their China partners to apply directly to MOST for funding.

Project Criteria

  • A lead Ontario applicant must form a dedicated project team, including at least one lead Chinese partner and at least one Ontario-based private-sector partner. Each research team is to be structured as follows:
    • Two Principal Investigators, one from Ontario and one from China, who will represent the project and be responsible for the management of the application and for the project’s internal scientific management. The Principal Investigators must be from an Eligible Applicant organization. Please refer to the above Eligible Ontario Applicants section for details.
    • Each Principal Investigator will be responsible for managing the project and reporting on the scientific and financial aspects to the granting agency in their respective jurisdiction. Principal Investigators in Ontario will report to OCE, while Principal Investigators in China will report to MOST.
  • To be considered for funding, projects must present a clearly-identified research focus. Networking and exploratory activities will not be supported under this program. Each project must identify a key added value that the Chinese partner(s) will contribute to the project.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) arising from the project will be managed by the project participants as OCE does not claim or manage IP rights. The project applicants and partner(s) should agree in advance of application submission on the IP rights and on the commercialization strategy of the product or process, through signing a letter of intent (“LOI”). At the final stage of the application process, a fully signed IP Sharing Agreement or Collaborative Research Agreement must be submitted to form an integral part of the OCE Funding Agreement (Schedule D) to be executed by OCE and the Ontario Applicant(s) if the project is funded.
  • The project should demonstrate the contribution of the participants from both jurisdictions.
  • The project must provide mutual benefit for applicants from both jurisdictions.
  • Applicants must undertake the responsibility to ensure any experimentation will be acceptable on ethical and safety grounds and maintain the highest standards of research integrity.

Evaluation and Assessment

OCRIF is a discretionary and non-entitlement program. As such, even if applicants submit complete applications and meet all OCRIF program criteria, there is no guarantee they will be awarded funding.

Review Procedure

Applications will be assessed under a three-step process:

  1. All Ontario applications will be evaluated by OCE for completeness, compliance with program criteria and eligibility. MOST will independently review applications from the China-based applicants.
  2. OCE and MOST will independently review applications. Applications that meet the program criteria and eligibility will be evaluated by independent, external subject matter experts who will assess the project’s scientific and commercial merit, quality of research and project management characteristics.
  3. Based on the first two steps, the Ontario-China Joint Working Group on Science and Technology will make joint decisions on successful projects to receive funding.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the basis of assessment criteria which include but are not limited to:

  • Collaboration foundation and capability
  • Rationale for collaborating with China
  • Clear research plan and scientific excellence
  • Clear plan for results sharing and intellectual property protection
  • Potential benefits for Ontario and China
  • Project implementation feasibility
  • Overall quality and completeness of the application

Funding Agreement and Project Reporting

Applicant’s Agreement

If selected to receive a grant under OCRIF, Ontario applicants, and partner(s) if applicable, must enter into an agreement with OCE within 60 days of receipt of notification letter.

Download a template of the full Funding Agreement. Please do not fill out this form; a copy of the agreement will be generated through OCE’s online management system and sent to you upon approval of your project. Please note disbursement of OCE funds is also conditional upon execution of an agreement between MOST and China-based applicants.

Project Change Requests

For any variances to the OCE budget of $5000 or greater, or extensions to the project end date, the applicant must complete a Project Change Request form prior to the project end date, using the Project Administration tab in their AccessOCE project file.

Reporting

Interim Progress Reports

  • For projects between 12 and 18 months in duration, one interim report (including progress and financials) will be required at the half-way point of the project duration. The Applicant will receive notification and a link from OCE’s AccessOCE system to submit the report. The report must be approved by OCE for release of the second funding tranche.
  • For projects 18 months or longer in duration, two interim reports (including progress and financials) will be required at one-third and two-thirds of the way through the project duration. The Applicant will receive notification and a link from OCE’s AccessOCE system to submit the reports. The reports must be approved by OCE for release of the second and third funding tranches.
  • Interim progress reports must specify:
    • The significant accomplishments and performance measures of the project
    • Achievement of milestones and deliverables as set out in the project plan, and any deviations from the activities or budget specified in the application
    • Actual project expenditures and partner contributions
  • The Applicant will receive a notification and the reporting template 45 days (forty-five) prior to the due date
  • Funds will be dispersed by direct deposit based on a reconciliation of expenditures versus budget estimates, following the completion and positive review of project reporting. Release of OCE funding will also be contingent on MOST confirming successful progress of the China-based component of the project.

Please Note: Applicant MUST retain all proof of purchases, receipts, and other relevant documentation relating to eligible expenses for the project duration in accordance with applicable Canada Revenue Agency or research requirements. 

Final Report

  • A Final Report each of the Ontario applicant and partner(s) if applicable will be required at the end of the project detailing:
    • The significant accomplishments and performance measures of the project including innovation, economic and commercialization metrics
    • Achievement of milestones and deliverables as set out in the above project plan, and any deviations from the activities or budget specified in the application
    • Actual project expenditures and partner contributions
  • The Applicant and partner(s) will receive a notification and the reporting template 45 days (forty-five) prior to the due date
  • If an extension for the project is required, it must be requested via OCE’s online AccessOCE system prior to the project end date
  • Ten percent (10 per cent) of the total OCRIF grant will be held back until the final report from the applicant and all project partners is received and approved

All required final reports by all partners must be submitted within 30 days of project completion in order for release of the holdback, and to maintain good financial standing with OCE. Release of OCE holdback will also be contingent on MOST confirming successful completion of the China-based component of the project.

Retrospective Project Reports

  • Applicants will be required to complete a brief retrospective survey on project outcomes on an annual basis three years from the end date of the project. The retrospective survey is mandatory for OCE for assessment of program impact and continuous improvement.

Timelines

Application Timelines for 2017 Call for Proposals

Activity Date
Call for applications November 20, 2017
Deadline for Ontario application submission using OCE’s online system, AccessOCE, and for China application submission to MOST

*Please ensure that you have initiated your online application through an OCE Business Development Manager at least one week prior to the deadline.

January 20, 2018
Notification of results April-May 2018
Contracting and first disbursement of funds July 2018

How to Apply

Preparing Applications

  • Ontario OCRIF applications must be initiated by an OCE Business Development Manager (BD). To apply, please contact your regional Business Development Manager who will assist you with developing your application. Your OCE BD will also maintain oversight responsibility for the OCE components of any approved project.
  • Prior to submission, applicants MUST first request their OCE Business Development Manager  to provide an endorsement of the application for eligibility and suitability. Once the endorsement is provided, the applicant or BD will then be able to submit the application. Please allow at least one week for the BD endorsement step to be completed prior to the submission deadline.
  • All submitted applications must be accompanied by a letter of intent (“LOI”) signed by all applicants and partners detailing intellectual property rights and commercialization strategy of the product or process. If the project is funded, a fully executed IP Sharing Agreement or Collaborative Research Agreement must be incorporated as Schedule D (Intellectual Property Term Sheet) in the OCE Funding Agreement to be executed by OCE and the Applicant. Applicants are strongly advised to begin negotiation of the terms of the IP Sharing Agreement immediately after submission of an application in order to meet the Application deadline.
  • China-based applicants will be also required to submit a separate application to MOST.
  • All completed Ontario applications must be received by OCE no later than the application deadline. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

A sample of the application template is available
Download instructions to complete the application

Downloads

Please review OCE’s Program FAQ.

Contact

Applicants needing additional information or clarification regarding the OCRIF 2017 Call for Proposals may contact:

OCE Business Development Manager responsible for the University of Toronto to initiate the process.

Dr. Bradford T. Brinton

Business Development Manager

Email Bradford T. Connect on LinkedIn

(416) 861 1092 x1029

Regions: Central Ontario

Areas of Interest and Expertise: Life Science Technologies; Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals; Medical Devices; Material Sciences; Entrepreneur Support.

Contact Information

Hema Prabhu
Contracts Assistant
innovations.partnerships@utoronto.ca | (416) 978-5557

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