These FAQs answer the most common questions about the ‘Alberta-Canada-France Collaboration Fund for Joint Industrial R&D Projects’:
What is the objective of the Alberta-Canada-France Collaboration Fund for Joint Industrial R&D Projects?
The overarching goal of the Alberta-Canada-France Collaboration Fund is to help participants become more globally competitive by developing innovative technologies and research based alliances with the potential to foster economic growth.
Further goals include:
Connecting industry players and researchers across jurisdictions;
Developing new models of collaboration between Alberta, Canada, and France that leverage key research and technology capabilities, address common priorities, and accelerate the commercialization of technology;
Launching revolutionary research and product development projects that aim to bring new products and services to market, and to deliver economic benefits to citizens in both jurisdictions.
What is the total amount of funding available?
The French funding agency Bpifrance will contribute up to 3,000,000 € through a reimbursable loan with 0% interest to the French partner. Approved projects will be funded on the Alberta side by the GCCIR with a grant of up to $250,000 CAD. To assist in matching the French contribution, should it be necessary or desirable, NRC-IRAP will be able to provide additional funding to the Albertan company. Should the French company be too big, or should circumstances prevent an application to Bpifrance, then the only prerequisite for participation is that the French contribution matches the amount of the GCCIR contribution.
Who is eligible for funding? Who can apply?
Albertan small and medium-sized enterprises (1 to 499 employees and less than $50 million in gross revenue) are welcome to apply to the Alberta-Germany Collaboration Fund if they meet the key scoring considerations. Albertan SMEs are defined as incorporated (Albertan or Canadian registration) for-profit companies, sole proprietorships or partnerships with an office and employees in Alberta. The company needs to have a significant technology development presence in Alberta. The partner from France can be a small or medium-sized enterprise, or a larger company. French Universities/Research Organizations are not eligible for funding from Bpifrance, but they are welcomed as subcontractors of a French company. Costs relating to subcontracting are considered eligible project contributions.
Furthermore, the two project partners must be legally independent. A subsidiary is not a partnership. If one company has investment in the partner company, an application can only go forward if each party is independently investing in the project. Please see the key scoring considerations below.
What are the areas of technology that are eligible for funding?
Calls will be open to projects focusing on developing innovative products, technology-based services, or methods in all technological and application areas that have strong market potential.
What types of joint project activities are eligible under the program?
Projects may include any or all of the following stages of pre-trade activity on the path to commercialization:
Applied research and development
Proof of concept
How can my SME apply to the program?
The Alberta application form can be downloaded from the GCCIR website. The French application forms and processes will be available on the Bpifrance website. Current application deadlines can be found on the GCCIR website as well. Incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible and will not be sent for external review.
If additional funding is required by the Albertan SME, the company must contact their NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) to proceed with the NRC-IRAP application process. Both funding authorities, GCCIR and NRC-IRAP, will coordinate coverage of expenses together with the companies.
Who fills out the application?
The Albertan SME is to fill out the Alberta application form and submit it to the GCCIR. Similarly, the Albertan SME will be responsible for completing and submitting the NRC-IRAP form. Please note that a signature from the French partner is required. The French SME is responsible for completing and submitting the documents required by Bpifrance.
How will my application be reviewed? What are key scoring considerations when reviewing projects?
Applications will be reviewed in conjunction with the program objectives. They will be scored for their fit within the project requirements and key scoring considerations, including the project’s innovation and commercialization potential. Applications will also be reviewed for their technology, process, product or service and market opportunity, commercial strategy, quality of project plan and SME capabilities, financing plan and the project’s potential value to the SME, specific sector, and overall economy.
All applications will be reviewed by multiple experienced business people and subject-matter experts from different sectors. This leads to a ranking of the applications based on Alberta Economic Development and Trade’s Progrid methodology. The final decision making authority on the Alberta side lies with a Steering Committee consisting of one industry member, one member of the Alberta Government, and one GCCIR board member.
On the NRC-IRAP side, your application will be processed by your NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA), who will provide you with more information.
How are the Program funds to be used?
GCCIR Funds may only be used to pay for budget items as outlined in the application and the written agreement between the GCCIR and the Albertan SME. Claimed expenses are subject to approval by GCCIR. Eligible costs are limited to project-specific expenses (i.e. costs associated with developing/testing a product in a particular setting).
Eligible costs include:
Costs of Alberta-based project personnel (i.e. researchers, engineers, technicians, tradesman, project management and support staff when involved in project activity). Monetary contributions from GCCIR can also be put towards resources from a third-party organization (e.g. consultants or contractors).
Costs of instruments and equipment required for the project (except when disposed of on a commercial basis after the project is over) are eligible.
Additional costs incurred directly as a result of project activity;
Other project-specific expenses including materials and supplies and travel expenses for trips to France related to project activities (travel expenses are limited to 10% of program funds, but applicants can contribute further funds for additional travel);
Professional services directly related to project activities; as well as
IP management, market assessment, fees for service labs.
NRC-IRAP is providing funding support to eligible SMEs located across Canada. Total support for the firm is in the form of a nonrepayable contribution. More information can be obtained on the IRAP website, including specific eligibility criteria. In the case of joint GCCIR and NRC-IRAP funding to Albertan SMEs, both funding authorities will coordinate coverage of expenses with the companies in accordance with the eligible expenses considered under each program.
What is eligible for consideration as cash or in-kind contributions by the SMEs?
For the GCCIR program stream, cash and in-kind contributions from the applicants are mandatory. This contribution is meant to reflect a meaningful collaboration and equal involvement of the partners. For the Albertan company, a minimum cash contribution of 20% of the total Alberta budget is required. (For example, if the company applies for $250,000 from GCCIR, they must contribute a total of $250,000 as well. This gives a total Alberta budget of $500,000, which then necessitates a cash contribution from the company of $100,000.)
The cash contribution is defined as new incremental costs. Eligible cash contributions include expenses for the direct costs of carrying out the project and achieving the objectives for which the grant was awarded (e.g. IP protection costs, incremental staff costs, equipment, tools, chemicals, software, consultants etc.).
Salary and benefits of new hires count as cash contributions to the project (industry standards for benefits). Up to 50% of staff costs can be counted as in-kind by the applicant if using existing staff. The applicant can also utilize the monetary contributions from GCCIR to cover up to 50% of existing staff costs, or up to 100% of incremental staff costs. In neither case, can the reimbursement for a given individual’s salary exceed 50% of the funding awarded.
Eligible in-kind contributions include non-monetary resources that the applicants provide to support the project. In-kind contributions can be management time or tools that the company already owns, specialized skills and advice, or access to special equipment, space, or data sets. In-kind contributions will be recognized at fair market value backed up by documentation. Management overhead counts as an in-kind contribution. No funding will be granted for the duplication of infrastructure in either Alberta or France for the purpose of conducting a project.
Costs that are charged by an affiliated company (e.g. both companies have the same owner) cannot be claimed as cash expenses. It is possible, however, that these costs can be claimed as an in-kind contribution, if a fair market price can be demonstrated.
NRC-IRAP funding supports up to 80% of salaries for staff involved in an R&D capacity in the funded project. NRC-IRAP can also support 50% of contractor costs, provided the contractors are involved in supporting the R&D mentioned above. For more details please contact an IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA).
What are ineligible expenses under the program?
Expenses not eligible under the GCCIR program include:
Administrative fees or overhead charges for administering this program;
Design and production of advertising material;
Sales and promotion activities;
Costs associated with applying for government grants and programs;
Any expenses outside of those listed above must be pre-approved by the GCCIR prior to the actual expenditure. Ownership of all purchased materials resides with the SME.
NRC-IRAP only covers salary and contractor costs.
Is it possible to get any portion of the grant up front to help with the start of the project?
It is possible to get up to 20% of the funding awarded as an initial payment at the start of the project. The initial payment can, for example, be used to purchase a specific piece of equipment that is necessary for the project. In the case that a company is requesting an initial payment, the company needs to inform GCCIR what the money is to be used for. Receipts indicating how the initial payment was spent then need to be submitted to the GCCIR within 6 months after the payment has been issued.
When will I know if my SME has received funding under the Program or not?
After the call is closed, it will take approximately three months for the external review and decision by the GCCIR Steering Committee. The approved project can begin as soon as project partners are informed. Please note that the NRC-IRAP process is different and will be explained to you by an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA).
What if my application is rejected?
If your application is not approved, the GCCIR can provide some feedback and would encourage you to apply to subsequent rounds of the program. In case your NRC-IRAP application is not approved, but your GCCIR application is approved, the project can still go ahead with only one source of funding. When applying, please try to create two distinct but linked projects that can be divided between the two funding organizations.
My company’s project was approved for the program. How do we proceed?
If your company’s project has been approved for the program, you will be notified by email promptly after the decision-making process. The GCCIR then sends you the project agreement. The projects can start as soon as the project agreement and all attending documents are agreed upon by GCCIR and company representatives. If NRC-IRAP is involved as well, the three parties will discuss and arrange the details of the agreement.
When can I expect to receive the program funds?
Funds are distributed as reimbursements made according to milestones determined in the written project agreement. Cheques are issued following submission of milestone reports to the GCCIR and approval of these reports by GCCIR staff. NRC-IRAP reimbursements will be explained to you by an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA).
How do I cancel my Alberta-Canada-France Project?
Please contact the GCCIR and inform them of your intention to cancel. As soon as the GCCIR is informed about the SME’s intention to cancel, the project will be terminated immediately (unless otherwise decided) and all funding and claims under the program will cease as of that day. Depending on the conditions surrounding the project cancellation, the Albertan company may be required to pay back any funding disbursed up to the point of cancellation. NRC-IRAP cancellation terms will be explained to you by an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA).
How much time do the project partners have to complete the project?
The project partners have up to two years to complete the project. This term begins with the signing of the project agreement.
Does the GCCIR audit the Albertan and France participants?
The accuracy of the reporting is the responsibility of the Albertan company. The GCCIR reviews each milestone report thoroughly before issuing a payment. The GCCIR will also conduct announced site visits to Albertan companies. GCCIR staff do try to visit the French project partners when possible. These visits allow us to get to know all project participants and to ensure that the French partners have contacts on both sides of the program. Visits to French companies are not audits, as the project management on the French side is the responsibility of Bpifrance. Should the French partner not be funded by Bpifrance, however, the GCCIR will take a more active role in monitoring the French side of the project. If NRC-IRAP is involved in the project, your assigned Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) will follow up with you regarding the portions of the project supported by NRCIRAP funding.
How can I request a scope change for an approved project?
Any changes in scope made to the project approved in the original proposal must be approved by the GCCIR. The GCCIR will provide instructions to the company on how best to submit the scope changes, but usually this includes demonstrating why the change is needed, and providing a new project timeline and a budget if necessary. Where significant changes occur, such as a change in ownership (all or part) or bankruptcy, the project is subject to immediate cancelation.
What if the total project costs end up being lower than originally estimated?
The GCCIR can only reimburse actual costs with proof of invoices paid by the company. If the cost of the project is lower than originally estimated, company and GCCIR expenditures will be lowered accordingly.