Strategic Clusters 2017 - 2018


Summary

Competition year :

2017-2018

 

Deadline (notice or letter of intent) :

May 20th, 2016, 4 PM

 

Deadline (application) :

October 26th, 2016, 4 PM

 

Amount :

300 000 $ - 600 000 $

 

Duration :

2-6 years

 

Announcement of results :

End of April 2017

 

Program rules

The Fonds expects to receive new and renewal applications that convincingly meet the objectives and assessment criteria in effect for the two components of the program. As many clusters have already been created, successful applications must set themselves apart when it comes to their relevance, their specificity, their contribution to the development or consolidation of broad research fields of strategic importance to Québec, their complementarity with similar initiatives in Québec and Canada, and their involvement in research on an international level.



1.

Objectives

The objective of the Strategic Clusters program is to strengthen and support the emergence of centres of research excellence that are in line with international scientific networks and which contribute to the development of priority areas with potentially significant scientific, technological, social and economic benefits for Québec.

More specifically, this funding program aims to:

  • encourage the consolidation and development of international collaborations;
  • encourage the consolidation and development of university/college collaborations;
  • give impetus to the research system by facilitating the emergence or consolidation of groups of researchers from various disciplines and sectors;
  • support the establishment of multidisciplinary teams by facilitating the pooling of human and material infrastructures;
  • foster knowledge transfer and the founding of partnerships with the public and private organizations that are the potential users of the research results;
  • support the emergence or consolidation of stimulating high-quality host environments to train researchers and highly qualified personnel;
  • support the implementation of major scientific equipment and encourage its  optimal use by facilitating access to users from different environments and institutions;
  • create an important leverage effect to maximize investment in research and development in Québec.

The Strategic Clusters program is a complement to Canadian research support programs including the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Networks of Centres of Excellence and the Canada Research Chairs program.

Certain clusters may be part of strategic alliances and share funding from the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies, the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et Culture and the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé.


2.

Nature and characteristics of the cluster

A strategic cluster provides a scientific framework for the coordination of research and research training and the organization of knowledge dissemination and transfer activities. The cluster may be physically located on a single site or on several sites. Clusters bring together critical masses of researchers working in close collaboration and who focus the greater part of their research activities on the training of new researchers and highly qualified personnel.

A strategic cluster has unique characteristics as compared to other groups in the same field or related fields in Québec. The intent of the cluster must be rendered in a research development plan that sets out the group's strengths in training, research, knowledge transfer or technologies with significant development potential for Québec, helping to position the province at the forefront of major research trends in Canada and abroad.

The grant is meant to support the human and material resources necessary to ensure the strategic cluster's proper functioning (i.e., all of the resources and services shared by members and which are necessary to attain the research objectives).


3.

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

Component: Cluster of researchers

A strategic cluster:

  • has a coherent research program that integrates different research thrusts;
  • has a unique structure that distinguishes it from a department or faculty;
  • is officially recognized by one or several institutions, in keeping with their strategic research development plans;
  • is made up of at least 12 full-time researchers from various fields, departments or institutions having the following status: university researcher (CHU, CHUN or CHUT), college researcher (CHC or CHCT) or institutional researcher (CE). In addition, a cluster may include contracted researchers (CHO),award holder researchers (CHB), affiliated researchers (CHA), government researchers (CHG), industrial researchers (CHI), researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation (CHS), researchers outside Québec (CHH) and visiting researchers (VIS).

Component: Cluster built around a material infrastructure that meets an important need for access to major research installations and services.

A strategic cluster:

  • meets an important need for access to major research installations and their associated services; the major research installation must have already been funded or be on the point of being funded;
  • offers an inter-institutional service;
  • is made up of at least four Québec institutions of higher learning bringing together users from various fields and departments having the following status: university researcher (CHU, CHUN or CHUT), college researcher (CHC or CHCT), institutional researcher (CE), contracted researcher (CHO) or award holder researcher (CHB). In addition, a cluster may include affiliated researchers (CHA), government researchers (CHG), industrial researchers (CHI), researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation (CHS), researchers outside Québec (CHH) and visiting researchers (VIS). Only the regular users need to be specified in the application. However, the installations must be accessible to occasional users from both within and outside the university environment.

The application must be submitted by the home institution of the strategic cluster director.

Support from the institutions endorsing the application

The institutions endorsing the application must formally affirm their support. Partner institutions must be Québec universities or colleges.

Researcher status

University researcher (CHU)

Regular faculty member in a Québec university who holds a doctorate or an equivalent status or a researcher who holds a position equivalent to that of a professor and who has been authorized by his/her institution to supervise or co-supervise master's and PhD students. The salary of the CHU must be paid out of the university's regular budget.

A CHU whose salary is partially or totally supported by a salary award must select the CHB status.

New University researcher (CHUN)

Researcher who meets the criteria of the CHU status and who holds a regular full-time tenure track position since less than 3 years.

A CHUN whose salary is partially or totally supported by a salary award must select the CHB status.

Retired university researcher (CHUT)

Researcher who, for the term of the grant, holds a visiting, associate or emeritus faculty position in a Québec university and who is authorized by his/her institution to supervise research projects and graduate students.

Institutional researcher (CE)

Researcher who:

  • works in a Québec non-university research institution and whose salary is paid out of the regular budget of this institution;
  • holds a doctorate and has a university affiliation allowing him/her to supervise or co-supervise master's and PhD students, for the duration of the grant being applied for;
  • is afforded the same conditions regarding the protection of academic freedom as Québec university or college researchers;
  • is subject to the same requirements concerning research ethics, integrity and intellectual property as Québec university or college researchers.

A CE whose salary is partially or totally supported by a salary award must select the CHB status.

Note: The researcher's home institution must make a formal commitment to certify that all those conditions are satisfied.

College researcher (CHC)

Full-time faculty member of a general or vocational college, private government-approved college of or a government school that offers postsecondary education. A college researcher can also be a part-time or a full-time researcher in a college centre for technology transfer.

Retired college researcher (CHCT)

Researcher from a general or vocational college, private college declare to be of public interest, government school that provides post-secondary education or centre for technology transfer. He/she is no longer employed by the institution but is pursuing his/her research activities.

Contracted researcher (CHO)

Researcher who holds a position or has received a firm offer of appointment to a position with an annually renewable contract in a Québec university.

The contracted researcher's nomination must be approved by the person(s) or body responsible for university nominations or their representative(s), in keeping with the regulations of the institution.

The position held must enable the CHO to carry out research activities without the supervision of another researcher and individually or jointly supervise undergraduate or graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Award holder researcher (CHB)

Researcher who holds a researcher's award or a salary award granted by a recognized funding agency. Employed by a research institution, his/her salary is totally or partially supported by the award,

Affiliated researcher (CHA)

Faculty member or researcher who holds a doctorate or its equivalent and is working in a Québec university but does not belong to its regular staff.

Government researcher (CHG)

Researcher from the government department or agency.

Industrial researcher (CHI)

Researcher from an industry.

Researcher outside Québec (CHH)

Researcher coming from a research environment that is not located in Québec.

Visiting researcher (VIS)

Researcher who comesfrom an institution other than the one with which the applicant is affiliated and who participates, on a term basis, in the research conducted by a team, group or centre.

Researcher without a recognized institutional affiliation (CHS)

Researcher who resides in Québec, does not hold a position and is not paid by any institutional research or teaching structure, private or public, in Québec or elsewhere.

Categories of researcher

Regular member

A regular member is a university researcher (CHU, CHUN, CHUT, CHO), a college researcher (CHC, CHCT), an institutional researcher (CE) or an award holder researcher (CHB) who contributes significantly to carrying out the scientific program or to the material infrastructure of a strategic cluster.

A researcher is deemed to be a regular member if his/her level of involvement in the cluster is at least 50%, or at least 25% if the researcher is member of a hospital research center funded by FRQS. His/her scientific productivity is subject to evaluation.

Collaborating member

A collaborating member is a university researcher (CHU, CHUN, CHUT, CHO), a college researcher (CHC, CHCT), an institutional researcher (CE) or an award holder researcher (CHB) who regularly or occasionally contributes to carrying out the scientific program or to the material infrastructure of a strategic cluster.

A researcher is deemed to be a collaborating member if his/her level of involvement in the cluster is 49 % or less. His/her scientific productivity is not subject to evaluation.

Affiliated researchers (CHA), government researchers (CHG), industrial researchers (CHI), researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation (CHS), researchers outside Québec (CHH) and visiting researchers (VIS) are also considered to be collaborating members.

Citizenship of university and college researchers and researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation

University and college researchers and researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation must be citizens or permanent residents of Canada or demonstrate at the time the grant is issued that the required steps have been taken to obtain permanent resident status.

Residence of university and college researchers and researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation.

University and college researchers and researchers without a recognized institutional affiliation must be Québec residents as stipulated in the Health Insurance Act. Researchers from Université du Québec en Outaouais who reside in Ontario are exceptionally exempt from this condition.

Participation in other research groups

Where warranted by the nature of their research, researchers may be regular members of two major infrastructures funded by any of the three Fonds de Recherche, provided they account for how their time is divided between them. A researcher is deemed to be a regular member of a major infrastructure if his/her level of involvement is at least 50%.

Under exceptional circumstances, a researcher may be a regular member of more than two major infrastructures. In such a case, the researcher must demonstrate the merit of such involvement, divide up to 100% of his/her research time among the infrastructures, detail the time spent carrying out the activities of each infrastructure, and obtain authorization from the appropriate Fonds.

The following are considered to be major infrastructures: Research Centres and Groups (FRQS) and Strategic Clusters (FRQSC and FRQNT). For the purposes of this Strategic Clusters program, the FRQNT does not take into account the researcher's participation in FRQS hospital-based research centres.

Identification of the strategic cluster leader

The applicant is a university (CHU, CHUN) or college (CHC) researcher who holds a professor position in a Québec educational institution.


4.

Application assessment

Assessment process

Letter of intent

The first step in the assessment process for strategic clusters is the submission of a letter of intent. This requirement applies both to clusters submitting a new funding application and those seeking to renew their funding. Letters of intent will be assessed by the members of the Scientific Council. This process is eliminatory. The Council will consider:

  • compliance with eligibility criteria;
  • consistency with program objectives;
  • the consideration given to the cluster in the research development plan of the college or university responsible for the application;
  • the  opportunities stemming from Québec, Canadian and international initiatives;
  • the unique characteristics that distinguish the group from other existing groups;
  • the priorities outlined in the different government policies on research and innovation; and
  • the potential benefits for the development of Québec society.

The letter of intent must be accompanied by the CV of the cluster director.

The Fonds will quickly inform the cluster director of the outcome of the letter of intent assessment by the Scientific Council.

The letter of intent will be used to establish the eligibility of the cluster. The Fonds will carefully evaluate the letters of intent, and will only ask certain clusters to submit a complete application. Discussions may be held between Fonds authorities and college or university administrators after the letter of intent is submitted and before the complete application is presented. These discussions will be for the sole purpose of encouraging consultation between the parties involved.

Cluster directors will be invited to submit a complete application following a favourable recommendation by the Scientific Council.

Note that renewal applications cannot be refused at this stage. 

Application assessment

Funding applications will be assessed by a multidisciplinary assessment committee made up of university researchers and representatives from various public and private research institutions at the national and international levels. The composition of the committee will be determined according to the number of funding applications submitted to the FRQNT and their sectors of research. A member of the Scientific Council will serve as an observer on the committee.

The multidisciplinary assessment committee will create as many visiting committees as necessary for the number of applications received. Visiting committees will be composed of a minimum of two members of the multidisciplinary assessment committee and two outside specialists, and will be chaired by a member of the multidisciplinary assessment committee. The Strategic Clusters program officer will serve as an observer and resource person. A FRQNT staff member will assume the role of secretary of the various visiting committees and will be responsible for producing written reports of the proceedings.

The visiting committees will hold a series of meetings as follows:

30 minutes

Meeting with the administrators concerned. Videoconferencing may be used.

60 minutes

Meeting with the strategic cluster director.

60 minutes

Meeting with heads of research and the cluster director and coordinator. Up to three other people may join this group if judged necessary by the director.

60 minutes

Meeting with students to obtain their assessment of the various scientific activities.

120 minutes

In-camera dinner meeting of the visiting committee to prepare the meeting report.

The visiting committees' reports will consider the performance of the strategic clusters in relation to the assessment criteria and indicators in effect for the program component for which they are applying.

The multidisciplinary assessment committee will formulate its funding recommendations to the Board of Directors based on the visiting committees' reports and its own detailed analysis of the applications.

Every funding application will be analysed, criterion by criterion, by the multidisciplinary assessment committee, which will assign a letter grade for each assessment criterion (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D or D-). Once all of the applications have been evaluated, the letter grades will be converted to numerical values as follows:

A  =  4

A- =  3.6

 

B+  =  3.3

B   =   3.0

B-  =   2.6

C+ =  2.3

C   =  2.0

C-  =  1.6

D+  =  1.3

D    =  1.0

D-   =  0.6

These numerical values will be used to assign an overall percentage grade to each funding application and to rank the applications in order of merit. The multidisciplinary assessment committee will then use this ranking to determine funding levels according to grade bracket, within the limits of available funding.

The program officer is responsible for ensuring that all persons involved at all stages of the assessment process comply with the assessment criteria, processes and ethical rules in effect. In addition, the program officer will work with the multidisciplinary assessment committee chairperson and members to determine the members of the visiting committees and the outside experts who will serve on the committees. Finally, the program officer will ensure that funding proposals meet the financial constraints set by the Board of Directors.

Clusters follow-up

After one year of operation, each strategic cluster that has been awarded funding for a six-year period must submit a brief report on the progress of the work and the performance indicators to be taken into account in the mid-term assessment. The progress report will be analysed by Fonds personnel. This analysis will be followed by a meeting between the cluster director and the program officer, who will jointly determine which performance indicators will be used at the mid-term assessment.

All clusters that receive funding for a six-year period are subject to a mid-term assessment, carried out under the supervision of the Scientific Council. This assessment will consider the progress of the work based on the cluster's initial proposal and the selected performance indicators. In light of the results of this assessment, the visiting committee will make recommendations on the level and/or period of funding as well as any other recommendations deemed appropriate.

The visiting committee is composed of the program officer and one member of the Scientific Council, who also chairs the committee. During the mid-term assessment meetings, various cluster members and other concerned parties will be called upon to answer questions posed by the visiting committee. Note that the same two outside experts who took part in the initial funding application assessment will be asked to evaluate the mid-term report submitted by the strategic cluster in question.

The schedule of the mid-term assessment is as follows:

30 minutes

Meeting with the strategic cluster director

60 minutes

Meeting with primary stakeholders, heads of research, administrators, students. A maximum of ten people can attend this meeting.

60 minutes

Meeting with students.

45 minutes

Meeting with potential users of the research results.

120 minutes

In-camera dinner meeting and preparation of the visiting committee report.

The meeting report will be written by the secretary of the visiting committee.

Assessment criteria and indicators

The assessment procedure for strategic clusters incorporates the notion of added value for each of the assessment criteria.

Component: Cluster of researchers

Applications are assessed based on the following criteria and indicators:

The relevance of the cluster and its position on an international level

  • Specificity of the cluster - its purpose and the expertise that enables it to stand out from other groups;
  • The added value associated with the critical mass and diversity of expertise, the scientific program and resource pooling;
  • Relevance of the research activities with regards to the strategic sectors for development in Québec;
  • Importance of the cluster in the institutions' research development plans;
  • Complementarity with other funding programs and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and abroad;
  • Need for highly qualified personnel in the field.

Resource pooling and use

  • The plan to support the pooling of human and material infrastructures;
  • Support for the implementation of major scientific equipment;
  • The plan to make optimal use of the joint resources;
  • Access to the infrastructures and resources by users from other environments and institutions.

Scientific quality of the program and its international profile

  • The integration of research themes and thrusts;
  • Development plan for the centre including objectives and timetable;
  • Formal international collaboration initiatives and activities;
  • Involvement in the organization of symposia, conferences and national and international conventions.

Quality of the cluster

  • Proficiency and performance of the cluster director and regular researchers;
  • Complementarity and degree of involvement of members;
  • Integration between members within each thrust;
  • Creation of new collaborative research activities;
  • Suitability and balance of member skills in relation to research thrusts;
  • The integration of new researchers and college researchers.

Organization and management

  • Leadership of the scientific directors;
  • Management and organizational approaches, including any partnership agreements;
  • Steering committee and its role;
  • Resource pooling or the joint resource and equipment use policy;
  • Realism of the budget and diversification of funding sources.

Quality of the training environment

  • Training activities: seminars, symposiums and other activities geared towards students;
  • Highly qualified personnel in the field;
  • The number of registered graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows integrated into the research or concerted activities.

Knowledge dissemination and transfer

  • Positioning and interaction with other groups in Canada and abroad;
  • Relevance and impact of the dissemination and transfer activities;
  • Exchange processes with research users;
  • Dissemination of research results to the general public;
  • Technology transfer, such as through spinoffs, contracts, licences, patents.

The assessment grid provided in the appendix is used by the Fonds and by all committee members and other persons involved throughout the strategic cluster assessment process.

Component: Operation of a material infrastructure that meets an important need for access to major research installations and services

The relevance of the cluster and its position on an international level

  • Complementarity with other funding programs and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad;
  • Specificity of the cluster - its purpose and the expertise that enables it to stand out from other groups;
  • The added value associated with the critical mass and diversity of expertise, the scientific program and resource pooling;
  • Relevance of the research activities with regards to the strategic sectors for development in Québec;
  • Importance of the cluster in the institutions' research development plans;
  • Need for highly qualified personnel in the field.

Resource pooling and use

  • The plan to support the pooling of human and material infrastructures;
  • Support for the implementation of major scientific equipment;
  • The plan to make optimal use of the joint resources;
  • Access to the infrastructures and resources by users from other environments and institutions.

Organization and management

  • Leadership of the scientific directors;
  • Management and organizational approaches, including any partnership agreements;
  • Steering committee and its role;
  • Resource pooling or the joint resource and equipment use policy;
  • Realism of the budget and diversification of funding sources.

Quality of the training environment

  • Training activities: seminars, symposiums and other activities geared towards students;
  • Highly qualified personnel in the field;
  • The number of registered graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral fellows integrated into the research or concerted activities.

The assessment grid provided in the appendix is used by the Fonds and by all committee members and other persons involved throughout the strategic cluster assessment process. 

Integrity of the assessment process

The Fonds board members are not involved in the scientific evaluation of funding applications, and at no time may researchers, students or institutional authorities make contact with the assessment committee chairperson or members. The Fonds have the right to withdraw an application from competition if there is any attempt to lobby the
committee or sway the evaluation process.

Every person recruited to sit on an assessment committee must comply with standard rules of confidentiality regarding the application packages, committee makeup, deliberations and recommendations. The assessment committee chairperson, members and outside experts are required to disclose any conflicts of interest and must sign a written statement in this regard.


5.

Required documents

To submit an application to the program, the cluster director and his/her home institution must first present a letter of intent, which must be sent electronically no later than:

  • May 20, 2016 at 4 p.m.: Letter of Intent (Lettre d'intention) e-form;
  • May 20, 2016 at 4 p.m.: Letter of Support from the Managing Institution (Lettre d'appui de l'établissement gestionnaire) eform;
  • The Fonds will advise the institutions of the decisions of the Scientific Council by the end of June 2016.

The application for funding must be submitted electronically no later than:

  • October 26, 2016 at 4 p.m.: through the eCluster (eRegroupement) system;
  • the required Canadian Common CVs;
  • October 12, 2016, at 4 p.m.: Managing and Partner Institutions Declaration (Déclaration de l'établissement gestionnaire et des établissements partenaires) e-form.

The application must address each of the indicators listed in point 37, for each assessment criterion. It may be written in French or English. However, the title and summary must be in French.

All documents submitted with the e-forms must be single-spaced. Any attachments must be in PDF format. Only the following fonts and sizes will be accepted: Times New Roman (12 points) for Microsoft Office and Open Office users or Nimbus Roman (12 points) for Latex users. "Narrow" fonts will not be accepted.

Only the official forms, Canadian Common CVs and other required documents will be accepted. Any additional pages will not be considered and only the prescribed number of pages will be transmitted to the assessment committees. Applicants will not be asked to provide any missing documents or information. Any documents received after the application deadline will not be considered. An application cannot be updated. Because the form is submitted electronically, all electronic transaction guidelines must be followed.

The signing applicants affirm that all of the information provided is accurate and complete. They agree to respect the rules of the Fonds, especially those pertaining to research ethics and integrity. The researchers therefore authorize their institutions to transmit any personal information in accordance with these policies, if applicable, and accept that the information contained in the application be communicated for evaluation or study purposes, providing that those who have access to the information respect all confidentiality rules. In addition, signing applicants must agree to respect the division of responsibilities defined by the government of Québec in its action plan for the management of intellectual property in universities and health and social services institutions where research activities are conducted.

The Fonds will assign a permanent personal identification number (PlN) to each researcher who appears on the applications. This number provides access to the computer system and facilitates communications between the Fonds and its clientele, in keeping with the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information.

Applications that do not contain the information required to establish eligibility and carry out the assessment will be deemed non-receivable by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT).

Any additional documents must be submitted electronically to the following address: regrstrat.nt@frq.gouv.qc.ca

Additional documents for retired researchers

  • A letter from the home institution attesting that the retired researcher had CHU status prior to his/her retirement and that he/she will have access to the premises and logistical support necessary to carry out his/her research activities and continue to train students and prepare the next generation of experts in his/her field.

Other additional documents (where applicable)

  • A letter from the university attesting to doctoral equivalency for researchers who do not hold doctorates or who do not have an equivalent status;
  • A letter from the university attesting that cluster researchers who are not regular professors are authorized to supervise graduate students;
  • Proof that the required steps have been taken to obtain permanent resident status, if applicable;
  • A letter from the administration of the college centre for transfer and technologies attesting that the researcher holds a full-time professor position.

6.

Description and nature of the funding

Researchers are invited to consult the Common General Rules for grant management.

Operating grant

The operating grant aims to cover approximately 50% of the human and material infrastructures required to ensure the proper functioning of the strategic cluster. The total amount granted is based on the actual expressed needs, the other sources of revenue, the quality of the cluster, the extent of its activities and the cluster's emergence and takes into account the financial resources available in the different research fields.

The average amount awarded is $400,000 per year for six years for established centres and $300,000 per year for two years in the case of new centres.

Part of the grant may be used to pay invited consultants and researchers of high calibre.

An amount may be set aside for students and activities such as internships carried out abroad by researchers and students. For example, the funds may constitute a scholarship supplement to bridge funding between the start of a student's studies and the time he/she is awarded a scholarship or support equivalent to a scholarship for students in the rare sectors in which scholarships are limited or inexistent.

Up to 10% of the FRQNT grant may be used as start-up funds for innovative research.

The financial contribution of partner institutions may be paid out in kind or cash.

A part of the FRQNT grant can be used as eligible expenses to provide salary support for College or CCTT researchers.

Eligible expenses

Salaries

Release from teaching duties (college or university researcher)

For management and coordination tasks (CHU), or for tasks relating to the execution of research activities (CHC)

Administrative staff
Professionals and technicians

Up to 50% of salaries

College, undergraduate, master's, doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows  

Student scholarships

Bridging scholarships and scholarship supplements

College, undergraduate, master's, doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows

Professional fees

Conference speakers, invited researchers and consultants

 

Operations

Travel and living expenses
Up to 10% of the grant

Conferences, symposia, seminars, steering committees, strategic
cluster member meetings, invited researchers

Research materials and supplies

 

Material and equipment transport

 

Equipment rental

 

Telecommunications

 

Computer supplies and databases

 

Reproduction, publishing and printing

For dissemination, collaboration and transfer activities

Translation

 

Dissemination of research results to the general public

 

Ethics-related activities

 

Equipment

Capitalized equipment purchases

Up to 20% of the grant

The total cost of transfer and outreach activities (conferences, seminars, publications, etc.) may not exceed 10% of the grant.


7.

Duration of the funding

Renewal grants are generally awarded for a six-year period with a mid-term assessment in grant year 4. Following this assessment, the Fonds may decide to revise the amount. Should the cluster fail the mid-term assessment, funding for the last two years may constitute a probationary grant, and the annual amounts may be adjusted accordingly.

The amounts are paid out annually for the period from April 1 to March 31.


8.

False or misleading information

Under the Act respecting the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie (L.R.Q., C.m-15, 1, 0, 1), any applicant who gives false or misleading information to obtain or procure financial support is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine. If found guilty, the individual is barred from receiving financial support for a five-year period.

Where a legal entity commits an offence, any of its directors or representatives who knew about the offence are considered to be parties to the offence and are also subject to a fine, unless they prove to the court's satisfaction that they did not agree with the commission of the offence.

The Fonds have the right to impose any penalty or take any additional measures they deem expedient. They may also take legal action to recover fraudulently obtained funds and collect damages.


9.

Announcement of results

Funding awards are announced at the end of April. The decisions of the Board of Directors will be sent to the institutions and cluster administrators. For competition results information, researchers should contact the research office of their institution.

It is strictly forbidden to contact the members of the multidisciplinary assessment committees, members of the sub-committees, outside experts or scientific advisors for information on the competition results. Each participant has signed a confidentiality agreement in which they consent not to reveal any of the information gained during the course of their mandates. All discussions are also subject to confidentiality rules.

All decisions of the Board of Directors are final and without appeal.


10.

Research Ethics and conformity

All projects involving human subjects or biological materials (body parts, products, tissues, cells or genetic material from a human body, of a person living or dead) or administrative, scientific or descriptive data from human subjects, require the approval of the research ethics board of the principal applicant's institution (Common General Rules, article 5.3). Furthermore, if applicable, researchers must report any environmental impacts of their research and employ reasonable efforts to minimize them. To this end, they must obtain the required authorization and permit before the start of the project.


11.

Responsibility of the Fonds

 

The Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT) is not responsible for any direct or indirect damages resulting from the processing of any application with regards to any fellowship, funding or any other type of request. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the FRQNT is not responsible for any direct or indirect damages resulting from the unauthorized disclosure of any information contained in an application. Despite all of the precautions taken by the FRQNT to preserve the confidentiality of all information that should remain as such, it is possible that certain countries to which the information is communicated do not follow the same protection processes (e.g.: asymmetric cryptography, enciphering, etc.).

Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information

The FRQNT is subject to the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information (R.S.Q., c. A-2.1). Applicants can obtain information on access procedures, the protection of personal information and the rights of recourse stipulated in the Act by contacting the person responsible for the Act at the FRQNT.

The responsible authority for access to documents held by public bodies and the protection of personal information:

Me Mylène Deschênes, B.C.L., LL.B., LL.M.
Director of Ethical and Legal Affairs
responsableacces.nt@frq.gouv.qc.ca


14.

Appendix

Assessment grid

Component : Cluster of researchers

1. The relevance of the cluster and its position on an international level Score
  • The cluster is essential in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to carry out work that could lead to global breakthroughs in terms of the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • The research carried out by the cluster will lead to highly significant benefits.
A
  • The cluster is important in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to resolve key leading issues; the results will be recognized worldwide.
  • The research carried out by the cluster will lead to significant benefits.
B
  • The cluster is relevant in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to carry out work that will be important to advancing knowledge in the field.
  • The research carried out by the cluster will lead to benefits.
C
  • The cluster is of little use in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to carry out work that will advance the general knowledge in the field.
  • It is difficult to assess the benefits of the research carried out by the cluster.
D
2. Resource pooling and use Score
  • The group is very open to pooling human resources and material infrastructures.
  • The joint resources use plan is optimal and structuring.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is well thought out and realistic.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will maximize research capacity.
A
  • The group is open to pooling human resources and material infrastructures.
  • The joint resources use plan is very satisfactory.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is relevant.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will significantly contribute to research capacity.
B
  • The group is open to pooling human resources and material infrastructures.
  • The joint resources use plan is appropriate.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is adequate.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will contribute to research capacity.
C
  • The group is not particularly open to pooling human resources and material infrastructure.
  • There is no joint resources use plan.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is not clear.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will not contribute to research capacity.

D

3. Scientific quality of the program and its international profile Score
  • The research program is exceptional and highly innovative.  It clearly meets the highest international standards.
  • The development plan includes clear objectives, realistic schedules, and critical decision-making steps and demonstrates long-term scientific vision.
  • For funding renewal applications, the results thus far surpass initial expectations and will have a major impact.
  • The cluster is highly involved in the organization of symposia, conferences and national and international conventions.
A
  • The research program is innovative and based on a highly relevant research theme. It meets the highest international standards.
  • The development plan includes realistic objectives and schedules and critical decision-making steps.
  • For funding renewal applications, activities are progressing as expected; the cluster has already obtained major results.
  • The cluster is actively involved in the organization of symposia, conferences and national and international conventions.
B
  • The research program is relatively innovative and based on a relevant research theme. It partially meets the highest international standards.
  • The development plan includes specific objectives and realistic schedules.
  • For funding renewal applications, the activities are progressing well but with some delay.
  • The cluster is involved in the organization of symposia, conferences and national and international conventions.
C
  • The research program is mainly discipline-driven and shows little innovation. It does not meet the highest international standards.
  • The development plan is adequate.
  • For funding renewal applications, the activities have yielded only partial concrete results.
  • The cluster is largely uninvolved in the organization of symposia, conferences and national and international conventions.
D
4. Quality of the cluster Score
  • Several members are recognized as international leaders in their fields or as new researchers or college researchers who show particular promise through their research leadership and creativity.
  • The vast majority of researchers share common interests.
  • The skills of the members are highly complementary. The quality and results of each unit strongly depend on the other units.
A
  • Certain members are recognized as international leaders in their fields or as new researchers or college researchers who show promise through their research leadership and creativity.
  • Many researchers share common interests.
  • The units are very complementary; there is much collaboration between the members of each unit.
B
  • The main cluster members have a solid reputation among their peers or are new researchers of high calibre.
  • Several researchers share common interests.
  • The units are complementary; there is some collaboration between the members of each unit.
C
  • Certain members have good reputations among their peers or are promising new researchers.
  • Certain researchers have common interests.
  • The units are relatively complementary but there is little collaboration between members from each unit.
D
5. Organization and management Score
  • The administrative structure is effective and maximizes the use of services, support staff and installations by all members and users. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are exceptional. A multidisciplinary advisory committee including non-university users will be implemented.
  • The cluster director/coordinator is internationally recognized by the scientific community and is an excellent leader, strongly fostering collaboration between members. He/she clearly supports the next generation of researchers when it comes to the cluster's scientific leadership.
  • The budget is detailed, and the cluster receives significant funding from external sources.
A
  • The administrative structure is effective and leads to the proper use of services, support staff and installations by all members and users. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are excellent. A multidisciplinary advisory committee was implemented.
  • The cluster director/coordinator is an internationally recognized researcher and a solid leader. He/she relies on a steering committee that is very representative of the cluster's strengths.
  • The budget is detailed; the cluster receives considerable funding from external sources.
B
  • The administrative structure is acceptable and leads to the adequate use of services, support staff and installations by all members and users. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are relevant. A multidisciplinary advisory committee will be implemented.
  • The cluster director/coordinator is a nationally recognized researcher and a good leader. He/she fosters collaboration between cluster units.
  • The budget is realistic; the cluster received a satisfactory amount of external funding.
C
  • The cluster mainly relies on the facilities of one of the institutions for services, support staff and installations. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are acceptable.
  • The director/coordinator is a well-established researcher. He/she does little to promote the strengths of cluster members and takes an autocratic approach to cluster management.
  • The budget is not realistic; the cluster receives very little funding from external sources.
D
6. Quality of the training environment Score
  • The cluster provides a training environment that is unique in Québec.
  • There is a shortage of highly-qualified personnel in the field, which has been deemed a priority by different levels of government.
A
  • The cluster carries out well-structured training activities and supervises a high number of students who excel in their fields.
  • There is a significant demand for highly-qualified personnel in the field; graduates easily find employment.
B
  • There are a certain number of scientific activities meant specifically for students, postdoctoral fellows, associates and research professionals.
  • There is a need for highly-qualified personnel.
C
  • There are relatively few scientific activities meant specifically for students, postdoctoral fellows, associates and research professionals.
  • There is little need for highly-qualified personnel.
D
7. Knowledge dissemination and transfer Score
  • There are formal agreements between the cluster and large national and international research networks.
  • There is an elaborate and well-structured plan to disseminate the research results and provide access to the services offered by the cluster.
  • Many users significantly contribute to cluster activities and funding.
  • There are many transfer activities including workplace internships, the creation of spin-off companies, the organization of forums and technology events, knowledge dissemination including general-public popularization and promotion activities, consultations, contracts.
A
  • Most members are part of large national and international research networks.
  • There is an adequate plan to disseminate the research results and provide access to the services offered by the cluster.
  • Several users significantly contribute to cluster activities and funding.
  • There are transfer activities including workplace internships, the creation of spin-off companies, the organization of forums and technology events, knowledge dissemination including general-public popularization and promotion activities, consultations, contracts.
B
  • Certain members are part of large national and international research networks.
  • The knowledge gained from the research or services offered will be accessible through standard means.
  • A certain number of users of the research results contribute to cluster activities and funding.
  • There are some transfer activities including workplace internships, the creation of spin-off companies, the organization of forums and technology events, knowledge dissemination including general-public popularization and promotion activities, consultations, contracts.
C
  • Members regularly collaborate with researchers in other institutions or research environments.
  • The knowledge gained from the research or services offered will be somewhat accessible through standard means.
  • The users of the research results contribute little to cluster activities and funding.
  • There are few transfer activities such as workplace internships, the creation of spin-off companies, the organization of forums and technology events, knowledge dissemination including general-public popularization and promotion activities, consultations, contracts.
D

 

Component : Cluster built around a material infrastructure

1. The relevance of the cluster and its position on an international level Score
  • The cluster is essential in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to carry out work that could lead to global breakthroughs in terms of the advancement of knowledge in the field.
  • The research carried out by the cluster will lead to highly significant benefits.
A
  • The cluster is important in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to resolve key leading issues; the results will be recognized worldwide.
  • The research carried out by the cluster will lead to significant benefits.
B
  • The cluster is relevant in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to carry out work that will be important to advancing knowledge in the field.
  • The research carried out by the cluster will lead to benefits.
C
  • The cluster is of little use in light of the research development plans of the institutions, government priorities and opportunities offered through initiatives in Québec, Canada and/or abroad.
  • The cluster will enable Québec researchers to carry out work that will advance the general knowledge in the field.
  • It is difficult to assess the benefits of the research carried out by the cluster.
D
2. Resource pooling and use Score
  • The group is very open to pooling human resources and material infrastructures.
  • The joint resources use plan is optimal and structuring.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is well thought out and realistic.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will maximize research capacity.
A
  • The group is open to pooling human resources and material infrastructures.
  • The joint resources use plan is very satisfactory.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is relevant.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will significantly contribute to research capacity..
B
  • The group is open to pooling human resources and material infrastructures.
  • The joint resources use plan is appropriate.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is adequate.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will contribute to research capacity.
C
  • The group is not particularly open to pooling human resources and material infrastructure.
  • There is no joint resources use plan.
  • The strategy to implement major scientific equipment is not clear.
  • The plan to ensure shared access to the infrastructure by other users will not contribute to research capacity.
D
3. Organization and management Score
  • The administrative structure is effective and maximizes the use of services, support staff and installations by all members and users. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are exceptional. A multidisciplinary advisory committee including non-university users will be implemented.
  • The cluster director/coordinator is internationally recognized by the scientific community and is an excellent leader, strongly fostering collaboration between members. He/she clearly supports the next generation of researchers when it comes to the cluster's scientific leadership.
  • The budget is detailed, and the cluster receives significant funding from external sources.
A
  • The administrative structure is effective and leads to the proper use of services, support staff and installations by all members and users. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are excellent. A multidisciplinary advisory committee was implemented.
  • The cluster director/coordinator is an internationally recognized researcher and a solid leader. He/she relies on a steering committee that is very representative of the cluster's strengths.
  • The budget is detailed; the cluster receives considerable funding from external sources.
B
  • The administrative structure is acceptable and leads to the adequate use of services, support staff and installations by all members and users. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are relevant. A multidisciplinary advisory committee will be implemented.
  • The cluster director/coordinator is a nationally recognized researcher and a good leader. He/she fosters collaboration between cluster units.
  • The budget is realistic; the cluster received a satisfactory amount of external funding.
C
  • The cluster mainly relies on the facilities of one of the institutions for services, support staff and installations. The group leadership and coordination mechanisms are acceptable.
  • The director/coordinator is a well-established researcher. He/she does little to promote the strengths of cluster members and takes an autocratic approach to cluster management.
  • The budget is not realistic; the cluster receives very little funding from external sources.
D
4. Quality of the training environment Score
  • The cluster provides a training environment that is unique in Québec.
  • There is a shortage of highly-qualified personnel in the field, which has been deemed a priority by different levels of government.
A
  • The cluster carries out well-structured training activities and supervises a high number of students who excel in their fields.
  • There is a significant demand for highly-qualified personnel in the field; graduates easily find employment.
B
  • There are a certain number of scientific activities meant specifically for students, postdoctoral fellows, associates and research professionals.
  • There is a need for highly-qualified personnel.
C
  • There are relatively few scientific activities meant specifically for students, postdoctoral fellows, associates and research professionals.
  • There is little need for highly-qualified personnel.
D