Smart Computing R&D Challenge

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) are partnering to support collaborative research and development projects by Ontario industry companies and academic research partners through OCE’s Voucher for Industry Association R&D Challenge Program. 

SOSCIP is a research and development consortium established in April 2012 that pairs academic and industry researchers with advanced computing tools and expertise to fuel innovation leadership in Canada.

The Smart Computing R&D Challenge is a $7.5-million program initiative providing academic and industry researchers with access to advanced computing tools and infrastructure and supporting collaborative R&D projects in the areas of advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, digital media, mining and other SOSCIP focus areas as appropriate. Goals of the program include commercialization and increased productivity with significant economic benefit for Ontario (jobs, revenues, etc.) and program partners.

The SOSCIP Consortium invites interested researchers who are affiliated with Carleton University, McMaster University, OCAD University, Queen’s University, the University of Ontario Institute for Technology, the University of Ottawa, Ryerson University, Seneca College, the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, the University of Windsor, Western University, Wilfrid Laurier University and York University to submit expressions of interest in partnership with industry partners for the development of collaborative research projects for this Smart Computing R&D Challenge.

Learn more about SOSCIP.

Objectives

The Smart Computing R&D Challenge aims to:

  • Generate creative collaborations among SOSCIP consortium member academic institutions and industry
  • Facilitate new opportunities for researchers and industry to access high performance Blue Gene/Q, Cloud, Agile, and Large Memory System computing environments
  • Address industry challenges across a broad range of strategic sectors
  • Create new products and/or services that can be commercialized in Ontario and applied both domestically and around the globe.

How Funding Works

OCE, in partnership with industry and NSERC, will support approximately 15 qualified projects (each lasting up to two years) which undertake research and development in the strategic focus areas and demonstrate an economic benefit to Ontario.

Priority will be given to projects that will address one or more of the following focus areas:

  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital media
  • Mining

Projects in the following areas will also be considered:

  • Agile Computing
  • Cities
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Water

Contributions from OCE, NSERC and the industry partner(s) may total up to $500,000 per project (cash and in-kind). Overall, this program provides industry partners with a maximum 2:3 total leverage on their contribution (in-kind and cash). For details on OCE and NSERC leverage calculations, please see examples below.
 
OCE will provide funding of up to $100,000 per project to the academic institution. The OCE contribution is inclusive of institutional overhead, up to a maximum of 20% of direct research costs. 

To qualify for OCE funding, applicants must provide a minimum match of 2:1 (including cash plus in-kind) from industry. The cash component of the industry contribution must be at least 100 per cent of the amount requested from OCE; i.e. if OCE contributes $100,000 per project, the industry contribution must be a minimum of $100,000 cash PLUS $100,000 in-kind. 

Industry contributions to the project are further leveraged by NSERC CRD and ARD programs. 

For industry-university projects, NSERC CRD grant will match the cash contribution from industry, less institutional overhead*, up to twice the net industry cash contribution if the in-kind contribution is at least the same as the net industry cash. Institutional overhead rate is applied to the industry contribution to the direct costs of research (i.e., the Net Contribution).

Sample calculation showing additional NSERC CRD leverage on the Industry Contribution: 

  Gross Contribution ($) Institutional Overhead ($) (35% example) Net Contribution ($) NSERC CRD Contribution ($)
Industry Cash 100,000 26,000 74,000 74,000
Industry In-kind* 100,000 0 100,000 74,000
Total Industry 200,000 26,000 174,000 148,000

For industry-college projects, NSERC ARD grant will match industry’s total cash and/or in-kind contributions. Refer to NSERC ARD website for more details.

Please refer to NSERC CRD and ARD contribution and eligibility requirements online:

Benefits

Computing resources that will be available include the following:

  • Blue Gene/Q supercomputer and accompanying infrastructure – situated at U of T’s SciNet facility.
  • Agile and Cloud (utilizing the Virtual Computing Lab environment) computing infrastructures – situated at Western’s SHARCNET facility.
  • Large Memory System – situated at Queen’s University’s HPCVL facility

Human resources that will be available include the following:

  • Cloud/Agile and Blue Gene/Q specific technical support personnel
  • Cross-team support personnel – including data architects and analytics specialists

Benefits to companies:

  • Access new talent and established academic researchers
  • Access to SOSCIP advanced computing tools and infrastructure
  • Identify innovative marketable solutions to current industry challenges
  • Gain affordable short-term skilled labour
  • Increase productivity and revenue
  • Gain exposure for company and brand

Benefits to academia:

  • Access exciting innovation challenges and conduct cutting edge research to solve industry and sector-wide problems
  • Increase visibility of your team in both academic and industry research environments
  • Create intellectual property
  • Establish relationships with industry firms 

 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Those eligible to submit proposals are researchers who are affiliated with one of the members of the SOSCIP Consortium. Applicants from a university/college must have a faculty appointment with their institution. Large companies, as well as small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are eligible to participate by collaborating with Principal Investigators from one of the Consortium’s academic members. OCE funds support the academic partner(s) who must be affiliated with one of the members of the SOSCIP Consortium.
  • All projects must meet NSERC eligibility guidelines.
  • Projects must not exceed 24 months in length.
  • Projects must include at least one investing industry partner.
  • Industry partner(s) must have an R&D presence and/or manufacturing facility in Ontario, and the operations in Ontario must be expected to commercialize the R&D results of the project.
  • R&D projects must take advantage of the unique research strengths of SOSCIP Consortium members and leverage the Consortium’s advanced computing infrastructure (Blue Gene/Q, Cloud, Agile, or Large Memory System environments).
  • 2:1 cash plus in-kind matching is required from the industry partner(s); e.g. If OCE invests $100,000, the industry partner must contribute a minimum of $100,000 cash plus $100,000 in-kind.
  • R&D projects should fall within one of the following priority focus areas: mining, advanced manufacturing, digital media and cybersecurity with a demonstrated immediate benefit to the industry leading to novel, processes, products, or services.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) arising from the project will be managed by the project participants following SOSCIP IP principles and the IP policies of the collaborating academic institution(s), as OCE does not claim or manage IP rights. Academic institutions will negotiate a sponsored research agreement with the collaborating company following the institution's normal practices for NSERC CRD/ARD projects. In addition, participants will be asked to sign the SOSCIP Terms of Use for these projects.
  • Participants must co-operate in providing project and outcomes metrics, annually at a minimum.
  • For use of funds, please refer to the eligible expenses document.

How to Apply

Application is a two-step process:

  1. Expressions of Interest (EOI) stage: OCE will issue a Call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for industry-academic R&D projects that address opportunities/challenges in the identified focus areas.
  2. Invited NSERC application stage: Selected applicants submit a full application to NSERC CRD or ARD grants.

Step 1:
Eligible applicants must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) describing the specific challenge or opportunity along with an industry letter of commitment which must include the following items:

  • Support for and agreement with the proposal
  • Reasons for being involved in the collaboration
  • Anticipated benefits from the project outcomes
  • Effort required to exploit the results in Ontario
  • Benefits to the Ontario economy and the relevant time frame
  • Anticipated interaction of industry personnel with the university/college researchers
  • The contribution to the direct costs of the research (cash and in-kind)
  • In the case of a small company, it is recommended that a company profile be included

Applicants have the opportunity to engage with an OCE Business Development Manager to help in the preparation of the EOI. Applicants can also contact the Application Support Team (application-support@oce.zendesk.com) who will assist in initiating your application. 

EOIs for Round 2 must be submitted via the OCE Online Application System before 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. To apply and initiate your Online application, please contact your OCE Business Development Manager or the Application Support Team (application-support@oce.zendesk.com) who will assist. Download EOI questions. Once the EOI questions are complete, please upload to your On-line application. 

An EOI review committee comprised of the SOSCIP Scientific Advisory Committee (SOSCIP SAC) will review and select EOIs to go forward for submission to full application to the NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) or Applied Research and Development (ARD) program.

Step 2:
Applicants whose EOI is selected by the EOI Review committee will be invited to submit a full application to NSERC CRD or ARD grants. See forms at the links below:
NSERC CRD;
NSERC ARD

The first draft of NSERC CRD/ARD applications must include a completed application, budget information and letter(s) of support. The draft must be submitted to NSERC by Monday, May 9, 2016 before 5:00 p.m.

The final NSERC CRD/ARD application must include the acceptance of OCE contract terms. Final applications must be submitted to NSERC by Monday, June 6, 2016 before 5:00 p.m.

Successful applicants and their industry partners must execute OCE’s non-negotiable funding agreement, including a completed Schedule D (Intellectual Property Term Sheet) within 60 days of notification of NSERC award. A copy of the OCE Funding Agreement can be downloaded for your reference. Please do not fill out this form; a copy of the agreement will be generated through our online management system and sent to you upon approval of your project. 

 

Timelines

Round 1:

Date Application steps
May 2015 Call for EOIs - CLOSED
Thursday, September 3, 2015
EOI deadline for submission to OCE
Monday, November 16, 2015 First draft of NSERC CRD/ARD application is due for invited candidates.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015 Final project submission to NSERC CRD/ARD.
After April 2016 Approved projects start

Round 2:

Date Application steps
November 2015 Call for EOIs – Round 2 – download EOI questions
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
EOI deadline for submission to OCE
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Notification to applicants on results of EOI   
Monday, May 9, 2016
First draft of NSERC CRD/ARD application is due for invited candidates  
Monday, June 6, 2016
Final project submission to NSERC CRD/ARD
After October 2016 Approved projects start


To apply, please contact your OCE Business Development Manager or the Application Support Team (application-support@oce.zendesk.com) who will assist in developing an Expression of Interest.

 

Decision-Making Process

Applicants work with an OCE Business Development Manager throughout the application process. The funding process is competitive. Expressions of Interest will be reviewed by a panel comprised of the SOSCIP Scientific Advisory Committee.

The top ranked EOIs will be invited to submit full proposals through NSERC’s Collaborative Research & Development (CRD) or NSERC Applied Research & Development (ARD) programs.

Full applications will undergo arms-length peer review, leveraging the NSERC CRD and ARD programs.

Preference will be given to EOIs that:

  • Demonstrate close industry-academic R&D collaboration, economic benefit to Ontario and are very likely to be commercialized/implemented.
  • Engage a medium-sized enterprise as an industry partner.
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to solving an important challenge.
  • Proposals that engage or include training opportunities for post-doctoral fellows and graduate students will be given priority.
  • Proposals must anticipate tangible deliverables in the form of new technologies, new processes, significant skills transfer, job creation, or other downstream benefits to society.

Flow of Funds:

OCE funds will flow directly to the academic institution to support the academic research directly related to the project. Upon execution of the OCE Funding Agreement, OCE will release payments as follows: OCE will release an initial payment of 30 per cent of the OCE contribution when the Agreement has been executed. Subsequent interim payments will be released upon receipt of interim progress and financial reports. 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. 

NSERC funds will flow to the academic institution following NSERC CRD/ARD guidelines based on project length and value, as shown on NSERC's website:

Project Reporting Requirements

Interim Progress Reports:

1. For 24-month projects, an interim report (including progress and financials) will be required every six months for the project duration. The Applicant will receive notification and a link from OCE’s MIS system to submit the report. The report must be approved by OCE for release of subsequent funding tranches.

Final Reports:

2. Sixty days prior to the scheduled completion date, the Applicant and Client will receive a notification of the project end date from OCE’s MIS system, with a link to the Final Project Report should the Applicant or Client wish to begin entering data. If an extension is required, it must be requested from your OCE Business Development Manager at this time.

3. On the scheduled project completion date, the Applicant and Client will receive notification and a link to complete a Final Project Report (including progress, financials and metrics) from OCE’s MIS system. Both the Applicant and Client reports must be received and approved by OCE within 30 days of project completion.

4. When the Applicant and Client final reports have been approved, the academic institution will be required to complete an attestation of the use of funds to close the project.

5. All required final reports by all partners must be submitted within 30 days of project completion in order to release the holdback, and maintain good financial standing with OCE.

Project Metrics:

6. If the project continues past a fiscal year end (March 31), the Applicant and Client will be required to complete an annual Metrics survey each April, for the part of the project that has been completed since the previous March 31. This annual report is mandatory for OCE to fulfil its contract with the Ministry of Research and Innovation. Required metrics reports from all partners must be submitted in order to maintain good financial standing with OCE.

Retrospective Survey:

7. Two years after project completion, the Client will be sent a link to complete a retrospective survey to collect data on commercial outcomes from the project. This information is required by OCE for assessment of program impact and continuous improvement.

For more information on the Smart Computing R&D Challenge, please contact:

For general inquiries about the program: eligibility, funding, timelines, application process:

Application Support
(416) 861 1092 x2400
application-support@oce.zendesk.com

Pamela Kanellis, PhD
Program Manager
(416) 861 1092 x1087
pamela.kanellis@oce-ontario.org

For OCE BD assistance with preparation of EOI:

Lenny Freilich, MSc, MBA
Industry Engagement
High Performance Computing Program
(416) 861 1092 x1007
lenny.freilich@oce-ontario.org

Please Note: If the Smart Computing R&D Challenge does not meet your needs, SOSCIP is also continuing to accept applications for standard SOSCIP projects to gain access to its advanced computing resources. Those interested in discussing this opportunity should contact David Tweddell, SOSCIP Operations Manager at info@soscip.org, or Lenny Freilich at Lenny.Freilich@oce-ontario.org