Delivering on Budget 2007 Commitment - Canada's New Government Launches a Competition to Fund Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research



    EDMONTON, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister
of Industry, and the Honourable Rona Ambrose, President of the Queen's Privy
Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of
Western Economic Diversification, today announced the launch of a national
competition to fund new Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and
Research (CECR).
    The competition will determine which organizations obtain a share of the
$165 million set aside in the last federal budget for the CECR program. The
successful organizations will develop Centres of Excellence in four distinct
areas:

    - Environmental science and technologies;
    - Natural resources and energy;
    - Health and related life sciences and technologies; and
    - Information and communications technologies.

    "The Canadian scientific community is already among the leaders in many
areas of research, and it needs a greater number of world-class centres of
research and commercialization," said Minister Bernier at a breakfast meeting
hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. "I am happy today to announce that
Canada's New Government is delivering on its budget commitment by launching
this competition. We need the academic, private, public and not-for-profit
sectors to join forces and do more to improve the Canadian global economic
competitiveness."
    Minister Ambrose said, "Every region of the country has unique strengths
to offer and is well-positioned to bid for new centres. Through them, a region
can build up and diversify its economic base while contributing to the growth
of Canada as a whole."
    "Edmonton is a hotbed of research and innovation, recognized nationally
and internationally in the areas of energy, health sciences, information and
communications technology, and the environment," said Martin Salloum,
President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. "We are pleased to
partner with the Government of Canada in hosting an announcement of this
significance, the results of which will further our vision of creating the
best possible environment for business."
    The Centres of Excellence program is a key element of the Entrepreneurial
Advantage component of Canada's new Science and Technology Strategy. The
Strategy can be summed up in two words: excellence and commercialization. Its
ultimate goal is for more people with cutting-edge knowledge to bring their
ideas to market with the help of entrepreneurs.
    Not-for-profit corporations created by universities, colleges,
not-for-profit research organizations, firms and other interested
non-government parties are eligible to receive funds.
    Centres wishing to obtain funding must begin by sending letters of
intent, by August 20, 2007, that describe, among other things, the expected
research and/or commercialization benefits for the proposed project.
    Dr. Suzanne Fortier, Chair of the Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE)
Steering Committee and President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering
Research Council of Canada welcomed the government initiative.
    "Today's announcement demonstrates the government's commitment to
supporting an environment in which ideas can grow into research, and research
can grow into business opportunities. The ideas are out there. The
entrepreneurs are out there. We just have to bring the two together and 'wow'
the world," she said.
    Interested centres should visit the NCE website to find out more about
the application process: www.nce.gc.ca. To view the minister's announcement by
webcast, go to: http://events.startcast.com/events/163/B0002.

    
                                 Backgrounder

          National competition for funding Centres of Excellence in
                           Commercialization (CECR)

    The Grants Program for the Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and
Research (CECR) Program is a federal mechanism to support the operation of
research and/or commercialization centres that bring together people,
services, and research infrastructure to position Canada at the forefront of
breakthrough innovations in priority areas.
    The goal of the CECR Program is to increase private sector investments in
research in Canada, support the training of skilled researchers, and connect
the resulting ideas and talent to businesses seeking to bring innovations to
market.
    The CECR program also aims to create internationally recognized centres of
commercialization and research expertise in four priority areas to deliver
economic, social and environmental benefits to Canadians. As established in
Canada's new Government Science and Technology Strategy.
(http://ic.gc.ca/cmb/welcomeic.nsf/532340a8523f33718525649d006b119d/3e7f6374fd
018f9c852572de00503b8a!OpenDocument), the priority sectors are:

    - Environmental science and technologies
    - Natural resources and energy
    - Health and related life sciences and technologies
    - Information and communications technologies

    The program accomplishes its goals by investing in research and
commercialization centres that yield a certain number of benefits. These
include:

    - Create, grow and retain companies in Canada that are able to capture
      new markets with breakthrough innovations;
    - Accelerate the commercialization of leading edge technologies, goods,
      services in priority areas where Canada can significantly advance its
      competitive advantage;
    - Attract investment (including direct foreign investment and venture
      capital);
    - Attract and retain top talent (including internationally recognized
      business leaders, post-graduate and post-doctoral students);
    - Open up opportunities for Canadian firms and researchers to access
      world-class research equipment, facilities and networks.
    

    The CECR Program is overseen by the federal Network of Centres of
Excellence Program Steering Committee made up of the Deputy Minister of
Industry Canada, the presidents of the three granting agencies-the Natural
Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes for
Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council (SSHRC)-and the President of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
    Day-to-day administration of the CECR Program is provided by the Networks
of Centres of Excellence Program Secretariat (The Secretariat).
    The Secretariat runs periodic national competitive processes through
which the Steering Committee selects successful centres on the advice of
international peer review and a Private Sector Advisory Board.
    Not-for-profit corporations created by universities, colleges,
not-for-profit research organizations, firms, and other interested
non-government parties are eligible to receive funds.
    To be eligible, organizations applying for CECR funds must have an
established Board of Directors responsible for approving its annual financial
reports and audits as part of its accountability practices.
    Centres wishing to obtain funding must begin by preparing letters of
intent that describe, among other things, the expected research and/or
commercialization benefits for the project period.
    The Private Sector Advisory Board will assess the letters of intent
against the program selection criteria and recommend a short-list of
applicants to the Steering Committee. Short-listed applicants will develop
full project proposals by October 31, 2007 from the detailed criteria.
    Complete proposals received by the Secretariat by the deadline will
undergo a consultation and assessment process. To ensure that the program's
goals are met, proposals will be assessed against three selection criteria:
benefits to Canada, track record and potential of the applicants, and strength
of the business plan.
    Given the multidisciplinary nature of the projects, funding may come from
more than one granting agency, and so the Secretariat will be the primary
point of interaction for all project applicants throughout the life of their
project.
    A total of 165M is available for the 2008 Competition. Successful
applicants will normally receive $15 million over five years. However, larger
awards will be considered where a project holds the potential for significant
benefits. Successful centres may optimize resources by drawing on other
sources of funding. However, every project will be carefully monitored to
ensure that total funding does not exceed admissible limits.
    Interested organizations wishing to apply for the new funding should
consult the NCE Program website for details about the competition and the
eligibility and requirements for funding at www.nce.gc.ca.




For further information:

For further information: Isabelle Fontaine, Office of the Honourable
Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry, (613) 995-9001; Media Relations,
Industry Canada, (613) 943-2502; Pierre Floréa, Office of the Honourable Rona
Ambrose, (613) 943-1831; Marie-Reine Cluniat, NCE Communications, Cell: (613)
447-1609


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