Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence (ORF-RE)

The Ontario Research Fund – Research Excellence (ORF-RE) provides research institutions with funding to support the operational costs of major projects of strategic value to the province.  The fund provides up to one third of the total value of a project.  The remaining two thirds of funding comes from a combination of private sector and institutional contributions.

See the ORF-RE website for Round 12 Program Guidelines and Application Forms.

Program Overview

There are two streams of funding. For both streams, priority will be given to applications focused on:

  • artificial intelligence
  • automotive (includes electric vehicles)
  • critical minerals (includes research that supports Ontario’s Ring of Fire)
  • genomics
    • life sciences (supports Ontario’s Life Sciences Strategy and provides an opportunity to leverage federal funding provided through the Canada Biomedical Research Fund (CBRF) stage 2 competition)
  • medical devices
  • quantum technology

Stream 1: Basic and Applied Research

  • is open to all research disciplines
  • is at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 1 or 2
  • funds projects from $500,000 to $2,000,000
  • funds projects up to a maximum of 5 years

Stream 2: Experimental Research

  • funds projects that demonstrate strong commercialization potential, where the innovation is at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 or higher
  • requires collaboration with an Ontario-based company
  • funds projects from $300,000 to $2,000,000
  • funds projects up to a maximum of 4 years

Stream 2 applicants must work with the Research Innovation Office to develop a commercialization implementation plan.

Evaluation criteria and review process

Applications are assessed on the following criteria:

  • Research Excellence
  • Commercialization Potential
  • Strategic Value to Ontario
  • Plan for Achieving Impact
  • Development of Research Talent (HQP)
  • Project Management and Governance

There are four stages of review and adjudication. 

  1. Peer Review Panels.  Review the proposal against program criteria and make funding recommendations to the Ontario Research Fund Advisory Board. 
  2. Office of the Provincial Security Advisory (OPSA).  Assess potential research security risks.
  3. Ontario Research Fund Advisory Board (ORFAB) reviews Peer Panels’ recommendations and makes funding recommendations to the MCU Minister.
  4. Minister Decision. The final funding decision rests with the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The Minister may approve applications, approve subject to terms and conditions, or decline applications at their sole discretion.

ORF-RE program is a discretionary, non-entitlement program and funding is awarded on a competitive basis.  Decisions are final and there is no appeal process.


Private sector partnerships and contributions are required.

Stream 1:  Private sector partners can come from outside of Ontario; however, the applicant must demonstrate that the project will make a positive impact on Ontario's research and commercialization capabilities.  International partners are eligible for Stream 1 but ensure your proposal demonstrates how their involvement in the project will benefit Ontario, and why the private sector partner would want to be involved if the main benefits are for the province (ie. their motivations).

Stream 2:  Applicants must have a collaboration with at least one Ontario-based company. Private sector partners should demonstrate that they have the financial, managerial, and strategic business capability to exploit research results.

Contributions can be cash or in-kind.  An indirect cost rate of 40% applies to private sector partner cash contributions. See Indirect Costs of Research at the University of Guelph.

Workshops and Webinars

MCU information sessions

UG Information Sessions:  Will be held with each applicant or College, depending on the number of NOIs submitted.  Support to be offered by the Research Services Office (RSO), Research Financial Services (RFS) and Research Innovation Office (RIO).

Application timeline and requirements for applicants



June 20 and June 27, 2023

MCU Workshop.

June 28, 2023

University of Guelph Applicants: Notice of Intent (NOI) due to stratprg@uoguelph.ca. A NOI consists of:

  1. PI name
  2. Title
  3. Private Sector Partners – identify potential partners
  4. Identify technology readiness level
  5. Funding Stream – identify if you will be applying for Stream 1 or Stream 2.

First 2 weeks in July, 2023

Meetings with NOI applicants with RSO       

July 17, 2023

Submit sections 2-4 (stream 1) and sections 2-5 (stream 2) to peer/College for internal review

Last week in July, 2023

Stream 2 applicants submit draft text to the Research Innovation Office (re: Commercialization Implementation Plan)

August 7, 2023

Submit sections 1-4 (Stream 1) or sections 1-5 (Stream 2) and MEGR checklist.  A Word Application Template will be provided for sections with large amounts of text to facilitate edits/comments. Submit to stratprg@uoguelph.ca.    

  • General Information (on application form)
  • Research Excellence
  • Commercialization Potential (Stream 2 only)
  • Strategic Value to Ontario
  • Plan for Achieving Impact
  • Mitigating Economic and Geopolitical Risk (MEGR) Checklist (on form)

August 28, 2023

Submit the following to stratprg@uoguelph.ca:

  1. Sections 1-8 for Stream 1 or Sections 1-9 for Stream 2 of the UG Word Application Template
  2. Draft letters of support from all private sector partners
  3. Draft letters of support from collaborating institution(s)
  4. Draft institutional letter of support (with emails confirming college commitments)
  5. Draft letter from RIO (Stream 2 only)
  6. Draft Budget

September 11, 2023

Submit Final Budget and Supporting Documents to stratprg@uoguelph.ca:

  1. Final letters of support from all private sector partners and collaborating institutions 
  2. Final letter from Innovation Office (for AVPR RIO signature)
  3. Final institutional letter of support (for AVPR RSO signature)
  4. Final budget
  5. Final MEGR checklist (for Manager, Research Risk final review)

September 20, 2023

FINAL INTERNAL DEADLINE: Submit OR-5 and all final application documents to ailsakay@uoguelph.ca and research.services@uoguelph.ca.

September 27, 2023

External deadline: RSO will submit to MCU.

Application timeline and requirements for co-applicants



June 20 and June 27, 2023

MCU Workshop.

August 9, 2023

Email stratprg@uoguelph.ca if involved in an application led by another institution. Identify: 

  1. Lead institution
  2. Project title
  3. Principal Investigator

August 28, 2023

Submit to stratprg@uoguelph.ca:

  1. Draft institutional letter of support (for AVPR signature)
  2. Draft institutional budget and total ORF request

September 20, 2023

FINAL INTERNAL DEADLINE: Submit OR-5 and all final application documents to stratprg@uoguelph.ca and research.services@uoguelph.ca.

September 27, 2023

Please submit a copy of the lead institution’s full application to stratprg@uoguelph.ca.

External deadline: Lead institution to submit to MCU.

Previous projects funded

View information about past supported projects.

Post-Award Expectations

Quarterly financial reports are required and written annual reports provide updates on project milestones and deliverables.  A cumulative final report is required.

Internal Resources and Links

External Resources and Links

Research Services Office Contacts

Patricia Van Asten
Awards and Agreements Officer, Strategic Programs

Ailsa Kay
Manager, Strategic Programs

Research Financial Services Contacts

Jennifer Fletcher
Senior Manager, Collaboration and Partnerships

Research Innovation Office Contact:

Steve De Brabandere
Director, Technology Transfer and Industry Liaison