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 11 Program Guidelines and Application Forms.

Program Overview

Priority areas and funding streams

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities is prioritizing applications that support the Government of Ontario initiatives included in the 2021 Ontario Budget such as Ontario’s First-Ever Critical Minerals Strategy and Ontario’s Vehicle Innovation Network.  Applications that support research and development activities that lead to the commercialization of ‘Ontario Made’ products, technologies and solutions will be prioritized for funding.

Specifically, the Ministry will give priority to applications focused on:

  • connected, autonomous, electric vehicles (including battery and powertrain technology);
  • industrial/mining technologies related to electric vehicles, spanning the entire value chain from minerals to manufacturing to recovering resources from vehicles or their component parts at end-of-life.

Stream 1: General – Basic and Applied Research

  • is open to all research disciplines
  • funds projects from $500,000 to $2,000,000
  • funds projects up to a maximum of 5 years

Stream 2: Targeted - Experimental Research

  • funds projects that demonstrate strong commercialization potential, where the innovation is at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 or higher
  • Targets projects in the following sectors:
    • information communications technologies
    • life sciences and medical devices
    • industrial technologies
  • requires collaboration with an Ontario-based company
  • funds projects from $300,000 to $1,000,000
  • 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 (Stream 2 only)
  • 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. Written expert review by local and international subject matter specialists. 
  2. Peer Review Panels.  Disciplinary panels review all aspects of the proposal, with an emphasis on Research Excellence, Commercialization Potential, as relevant, and Strategic Value to Ontario.
  3. Ontario Research Fund Advisory Board (ORFAB) reviews the recommendations of the panels and makes recommendations to the Minister of Colleges and Universities on the portfolio of projects to fund based on the overall impact on Ontario.
  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


Private sector partnerships and contributions are required.

Private sector partners can come from outside of Ontario; however, the lead institution must demonstrate that the project will make a positive impact on Ontario's research and commercialization capabilities.  International partners are eligible; however, the applicant must demonstrate how their involvement benefits Ontario.

Applicants to Stream 2 must demonstrate 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

Workshop 1:  Introduction to ORF-RE.  Is this the right program for you?

Tuesday October 12th, 2021 - 2:00 – 3:00pm.  Attend at Teams Link.

Refer to Internal Resources (below) for workshop recordings and slides.

MCU information sessions

  1. November 23, 2021, 10:00  a.m. to 11:00 a.m. ET (1 hour)
    Register for November 23 (all participants)
  2. December 2, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. ET (1 hour)
    Register for December 2 (all participants)

Application timeline and requirements for applicants



October 12th, 2021


Workshop 1 – General Information Session Teams Link.

November 8th, 2021

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

  1. PI name
  2. Co-applicant name(s) and their institution (if applicable, typically maximum of 2)
  3. Title and brief description of research topic
  4. Private Sector Partners – names of partners and identify if funds are already confirmed
  5. Funding Stream – identify if you will be applying for Stream 1 or Stream 2

November 22nd, 2021

OptionalMajor Proposal Development Grant application due to stratprg@uoguelph.ca  If approved, ORS will contribute matching funds of up to $3,000.        

End of November, 2021

Stream 2 applicants reach out to the Research Innovation Office (re: Commercialization Implementation Plan).

January 24th, 2022

Submit sections 2-4 (Stream 1) or sections 2-5 (Stream 2) in of UG Word Application Template for Scientific and Strategic Review to stratprg@uoguelph.ca.

  • Research Excellence
  • Commercialization Potential (Stream 2 only)
  • Strategic Value to Ontario
  • Plan for Achieving Impact

February 14th, 2022

Submit the following to stratprg@uoguelph.ca:

  1. Sections 2-12 for Stream 1 or Sections 2-13 for Stream 2 of the  UG Word Application Template.  This includes:
    1. Draft letters of support from all private sector partners
    2. Draft letters of support from collaborating institution(s)
    3. Draft institutional letter of support (with emails confirming college commitments)
    4. Draft End User Letters of support
    5. Draft Budget (Excel spreadsheet)
    6. Two page CV

February 28th, 2022

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

  1. Final letters of support from all private sector partners and collaborating institutions 
  2. Final institutional letter of support (for AVPR signature)
  3. Final budget

April 7th, 2022

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

April 14th, 2022

External deadline: ORS will submit to MCU.

Application timeline and requirements for co-applicants



October 12th, 2021


Workshop 1 – General Information Session Teams Link.

February 7th, 2022

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

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

February 28th, 2022

Submit to stratprg@uoguelph.ca:

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

April 7th, 2022

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

April 14th, 2022

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

Office of Research Services Contacts

Ailsa Kay
Manager, Strategic Programs

Patricia Van Asten
Awards and Agreements Officer, Strategic Programs

Research Financial Services Contacts

Jennifer Fletcher
Senior Manager, Collaboration and Partnerships

Shaun Wilson
Manager, Special Research Projects

Research Innovation Office Contact:

Steve De Brabandere
Director, Technology Transfer and Industry Liaison