Alliance Consortia Quantum (Call for proposals: Supporting coordinated quantum research and innovation across Canada)
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Quantum science is the study, manipulation and control of systems at the atomic and subatomic level. Quantum technologies are at the leading edge of science and innovation, both in Canada and worldwide. They will support the growth and transformation of key sectors, enable new economic opportunities and help advance a range of benefits for society. Canada is a leader in quantum research, and Canadian scientists are well positioned to capitalize on these opportunities.
Following up on Budget 2021, the Government of Canada launched the National Quantum Strategy (NQS) to amplify Canada’s significant strengths in quantum research; grow its quantum-ready technologies, companies and talent; and solidify Canada ’s global leadership in this area. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) supports the implementation of the NQS through funding opportunities that build on NSERC ’s sustained investments in quantum research. The NQS and the results of the associated consultations held by the Government of Canada informed these funding opportunities.
Canada’s investments to date in this field have created significant strengths in quantum science across the country, particularly in a few quantum research and innovation hubs (geographic areas where key quantum ecosystem players, including universities, companies and other types of organizations, are clustered together). Alliance Consortia Quantum grants support the development of large-scale domestic research collaborations in quantum science and technology by enhancing synergy across Canada ’s regional quantum research and innovation hubs, with the additional aim to connect with industrial applications and government needs. These grants enable collaborations between university researchers and partner organizations from the private, public or not-for-profit sectors. This funding opportunity is delivered through calls for proposals, of which this is the second.
Proposals submitted in response to the present call must be for projects that require a large-scale coordinated approach, beyond any one of Canada’s regional quantum hubs, to develop and apply quantum technologies that will benefit Canada. Proposals may focus on areas of sectoral growth, or they may address major national challenges. They may span theory and experiment, and foster collaborations across quantum research areas.
Proposals may address any challenges in quantum science, but their thrust must aim to advance one or more of the NQS missions through the development of any of the following areas of quantum technologies, or a combination thereof:
- quantum algorithms/encryption, including post-quantum cryptography
- quantum communications
- quantum computing
- quantum materials
- quantum sensing
Proposals may also synergistically couple any of these quantum technology thrusts to other research topics in the natural sciences and engineering.
Research Team Eligibility
Your research team must include eligible academic researchers from universities located in two or more of Canada's regional quantum research and innovation hubs. The team may also involve eligible academic researchers from universities outside these hubs.
The regional quantum research and innovation hubs are the following geographic areas:
- Greater Vancouver area, British Columbia
- Calgary-Edmonton corridor, Alberta
- Waterloo-Toronto-Ottawa corridor, Ontario
- Montreal-Sherbrooke-Quebec City corridor, Quebec
For this call for proposals, you may apply for only one Alliance Consortia Quantum grant as the principal applicant. If you hold an active Alliance Consortia Quantum grant from your participation as an applicant or co-applicant for a previous call for proposals, and you intend to submit a new application to this call, you must discuss and explain in your new proposal any relationship and/or overlap, conceptual or financial, between the two applications. Otherwise, your new proposal will not be accepted. This information will be considered in the merit assessment of your new application.
You may concurrently apply, as the principal applicant or as a co-applicant, to other Alliance funding opportunities, including Alliance Quantum grants, to support separate projects. The grants must cover distinct expenses; no duplication of funding is permitted.
While NSERC will cover 100% of the project's eligible costs, you must have at least one partner organization whose cash contributions would be recognized for cost sharing, had there been any required. Consult the Alliance grants: Role of partner organizations web page for complete guidelines regarding partner organizations, including requirements for partner organizations whose cash contributions can be recognized for cost-sharing purposes with NSERC. You may involve whichever partner organizations you need to achieve the project's research goals and successfully mobilize the research results to achieve the desired impact
Partner organizations may include Canadian federal departments or organizations that perform R&D, as well as anticipated end users of the project's targeted quantum technologies. Other funding organizations (e.g., other provincial or federal funding agencies) may participate as financial partners and provide support to the project in addition to NSERC.
At least one of the partner organizations must have a demonstrated ability to exploit the project's research results, while other partners may be chosen for their ability to generate and mobilize knowledge. Each partner organization must actively play a role in the project and support it through in-kind contributions. Such involvement must be achieved by doing at least one of the following:
- play an active role in the project's research activities
- utilize the project's research results to help achieve its desired outcomes
- play an active role in translating or mobilizing knowledge to ensure that the research results have an impact
Various in-kind contributions could be made toward the project, such as the time of the partner organization's scientific, engineering or technical staff to provide direction and participate in the project; provision of equipment, materials or services; and provision of access to special equipment or data. Active participation in the project and in-kind contributions are not required from funding organizations that may provide financial support to the project alongside NSERC (see Funding your research project).
Alliance Consortia Quantum grant funds from NSERC cover the direct costs of the research. The funds from NSERC are paid to eligible universities and cannot be used to buy equipment, products or services from any partner organization, or to cover any part of the travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures for partner organization personnel.
You can only include NSERC-eligible direct costs of research in your project budget, such as
- salary support for undergraduates and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows to perform research and related training
- salary support for technicians and research professional personnel
- materials and supplies
- activities that support collaborations and knowledge mobilization related to the project
- activities to develop and grow the research collaborations with the partner organizations
Refer to the guidelines on the use of grant funds in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration.
You can also include the costs of equipment, provided that the equipment is
- essential to achieving the objectives of the research project
- incremental to the equipment already available at the university or at the partner organization's location
If your total expected equipment cost (including operation and maintenance) exceeds $400,000 over your project’s duration, then you should apply for an alternate source of funding.
You may also include project management costs, up to 10% of the total direct research costs (see Guidelines for research partnerships programs project management expenses).
Maximum Project Value
Grant support ranges from $500,000 to $1 million per year, for a duration of three to five years. NSERC will provide support for 100% of the eligible costs of research. Although partner organizations do not need to provide cash contributions to participate, they must actively play a role in the project and support it through in-kind contributions. A broad range of in-kind contributions could be made toward a project; refer to the Partner organizations web page for additional information.
You and your co-applicants may receive funds from other sources to cover direct costs of your project. These sources of funds could include cash contributions provided by the university or by other funding agencies. Such funds would add to and complement those requested from NSERC. You must include all of the project's direct costs funded by sources other than NSERC in the budget table. All costs must be explained in the proposal and are considered in the merit assessment of your proposal.
3 to 5 years.
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National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships
In the case where your application involves one or more partner organizations from the private sector, including when they participate alongside other partner organizations from the public and/or not-for-profit sectors, you must complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships' risk assessment form and include it as an integral part of your application.
At all times, Canadian researchers are encouraged to exercise appropriate levels of due diligence to safeguard their research. Resources to do so are provided by the Government of Canada on the Safeguarding Your Research portal.
If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.
Alliance Consortia Quantum applications are accepted up until October 16, 2023. Funding decisions should be made within 24 weeks after the submission deadline.
OR-5 and full application must be submitted to the Research Services Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) a minimum of two (2) weeks prior to the intended submission date to NSERC, no later than October 2, 2023. Please be sure to "submit" in NSERC's online system.
The Research Services Office will submit the full application on behalf of the applicant to NSERC through NSERC's online system.
How to Apply
For this call for proposals, you may apply for only one Alliance Consortia Quantum grant as the principal applicant.
- Log in to NSERC's online system and choose 'Create a new form 101'.
- Select 'Research partnerships programs', then 'Alliance grants'.
- For the Proposal type field, select 'Full proposal'.
- For the Type of call field, select 'Consortia Quantum - Coordinated research and innovation' from the drop-down menu.
- Following the instructions for completing an Alliance Quantum grant application, fill out the Alliance Quantum grants proposal template and complete the other sections of your application.
- In the case where your application involves one or more partner organizations from the private sector, including when they participate alongside other partner organizations from the public and/or not-for-profit sectors, also complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships' risk assessment form.
- Submit your completed application and supporting documents, including the personal data form with CCV attachment for yourself and all co-applicants, through NSERC's online system. The contact person you listed for your partner organization(s) will be invited through the online system to provide information about the organization following the partner organization instructions.
Information For Co-applicants
If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Office of Research (contact information below) ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).