International Funds

October 10, 2001

The response to the Call for project outlines issued last March for the International Funds has confirmed the strong interest of the research community in major international collaborations. Indeed, 72 project outlines were received in July, requesting over $1 billion. The estimated budgets of the project outlines for the International Joint Ventures Fund amounted to over $740 million, while the total dollars requested under the International Access Fund was about $289 million. Each of the two Funds has a budget of $100 million.

Although no limit was set on the number of projects to be funded under the Access Fund, the Call for project outlines indicated that there would be no more than four projects funded under the International Joint Ventures Fund. The research community was clearly not deterred by the high standards that had been set for these two funds. This overwhelming response made the task of selecting the projects to proceed to the complete application phase all the more challenging.

On the advice of a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee, the Board decided at its September 25 meeting to invite 5 projects under the International Joint Ventures Fund and 13 under the International Access Fund. As was stated in the call last March, the CFI is inviting somewhat more projects than could feasibly be funded within the available budget given the complexity and the amount of work required for institutions to mount international collaborative projects.

The invitation to submit a full proposal is in no way a guarantee of subsequent approval. The Board will only approve extraordinary initiatives that meet the highest standards as set out in the Call for project outlines.

The following provides a description of the process used to select the projects that are proceeding to the complete application, a list of the invited projects and the next steps.

Review Process

The CFI appointed a Multidisciplinary Assessment Committee of 12 members chaired by Dr. Michael Gibbons from the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The Committee’s principal charge was to assess the project outlines against the requirements set out in the call and recommend the most promising projects that should proceed to a full application.

The CFI staff carried out an administrative review of all 72 submissions for compliance with the Call for project outlines. Six projects were deemed non-eligible because they were not infrastructure or access projects. Of the remaining 66 projects, 31 were Joint Ventures Fund projects and 35 in the Access Fund projects.

In advance of the Committee meeting, each member was asked to review all of the 66 project outlines and to determine whether a project met or did not meet the various requirements of the call for project outlines (see links below). Members also provided an overall assessment of whether a project should or should not proceed to a full application.

Those projects which at least half the members had determined that they should not proceed to full application were not discussed at the meeting, unless a member requested a discussion. About 50% of the projects were not discussed.

Projects proceeding to full application

Project descriptions are available by clicking on the project title.  Desciptions have been provided in the language of the application.

International Joint Ventures Fund

The CFI has invited four projects to the complete application phase as follows:

  • A Canadian Research Icebreaker to Study the Changing Arctic Ocean;
  • Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) Project;
  • An International Facility for Underground Science;
  • International Vaccine Testing Centre (INTERVAC).

Nanotechnologies and nanodevices - the CFI has invited the three institutions that submitted proposals in this area to explore the feasibility of developing a common project, on the understanding that the CFI will fund at most one initiative in this field.

In addition, there are two projects that might be invited to proceed in the event that some of the above do not submit a full application and/or are not successful in meeting the criteria.

Based on the budget estimates provided by the institutions, the total cost of all 5 projects would be about $143 million and the budget available is $100 million.

International Access Fund

The CFI has invited the following 13 Access Fund projects totalling an estimated $130 million to the full application stage:

  • Canadian Participation at the Spallation Neutron Source;
  • Development of Technology for Synchrotron Experimental Endstations Dedicated to High-Throughput Structural Genomics;
  • Submillimetre Common User Bolometer Array -- SCUBA-2;
  • The Southern Sky Cosmology Initiative;
  • Canadian Participation in the North American Program in Radio Astronomy;
  • A Tropical Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Facility: Challenge and Innovation in the 21st Century;
  • Canada in the International Integrated Ocean Drilling Program;
  • An International Perspective on Protecting and Improving the Health of the Canadian Workforce;
  • Kenya International Collaboration on Infectious Diseases Research: Building on Strengths and Enhancing Capacity for Innovation.
  • KOPIO - A new investigation into the heart of matter
  • The ATLAS Particle Physics Experiment: Computing Resources at CERN
  • NEPTUNE Canada
  • The CIRMMT-CARROUSO International Research Initiative

The budget available for this Fund is $100 million.

Next Steps

The CFI is planning for decisions on several of these projects at its May 2002 Board meeting. Various review mechanisms will be used. For instance, the review of a project could involve joint review with other organizations to avoid duplication of efforts.

Comments are being provided to institutions for the projects proceeding to full application.

As indicated in the initial Call for project outlines, the review of the selected projects will focus on the following three criteria:

Quality of research and need for infrastructure;

  • Excellence and innovative potential of the research and the researchers at the very highest of international standards;
  • Quality of the partnerships;
  • Demonstration that the proposed infrastructure and the international collaboration are essential to develop innovative research activities that could not be pursued otherwise;
  • Effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed infrastructure in view of the research activity planned;
  • Effective management, operation and maintenance of the infrastructure on an ongoing basis.

Contribution to strengthening the capacity for innovation;

  • Importance of the infrastructure to institutional capacity for innovation;
  • Potential for increased international visibility for Canadian research;
  • Contribution to exchanges of highly qualified personnel e.g. awareness of the international dimension of research, unique expertise from abroad;
  • Contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel;
  • Contribution to building linkages of high quality among institutions and researchers within Canada and outside Canada, among sectors and disciplines.

The potential benefits of the research and the international collaboration to Canada.

  • Contribution, through innovation, to the Foundation's goals of job creation and economic growth (including commercialization of research results); and/or
  • Improvement of the environment, health and quality of life.

There are no plans for future calls for project outlines at this time. There may be other calls if funds remain after this next phase is completed.