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Call for joint Canada-UK projects on Quantum Technologies (QT)

Overview
Duration 1 to 3 years
Application Deadline Expression of Interest: June 8, 2020
Response to Expression of Interest: June 12, 2020
Full proposal: June 15 to July 29, 2020
Notice of decision: November 1, 2020
How to Apply Expression of Interest

Full proposal (in Canada)

  • Proposal: Complete an Application for a Grant (Form 101) 
  • Applicant: Complete a Personal Data Form with CCV Attachment (Form 100A), and ask any co-applicants to complete one as well
  • Partner organizations: Ask the representative at each partner organizations to complete a Partner Organization Form (not required for other funders or postsecondary institutions)
  • Applicant: Develop a common research plan jointly between applicants in Canada and in the UK (no form; see Full proposal, below)
The full proposal, including your Common CV, and the Common CV of any co-applicants, must be uploaded through NSERC’s online system. To create or access an application, select On-line System Login.
For More Information Contact rp-quantum@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) are partnering to launch a call for research proposals on quantum technologies. The call builds on complementary interests and research expertise in this area in the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada.

This call will allow for the collaboration between leading-edge scientists and potential innovative users, from industry and/or government sectors, to accelerate the development of quantum technologies.

The call will provide up to C$4,000,000 in funding over three years, with a maximum of C$400,000 per project, from NSERC. It will also provide up to £2,000,000 in funding over three years, with a maximum of £300,000 per project, from Innovate UK.

Eligible proposals must be prepared by a consortium including an applicant in Canada and one in the UK. Canadian applicants are principal investigators who will receive funding through NSERC Alliance grants, which require at least one partner organization, for this call in the private sector, whose cash contributions will be recognized for cost-sharing (see Alliance grants: Role of partner organizations). The NSERC Alliance program will be used to deliver research support.

UK applications are led by businesses, partnering with academic researchers and research and technology organizations (RTOs), which will be eligible for a share of up to 50% of total eligible project costs.

Background

The UK and Canada both have recognized research strengths in quantum science and technologies, making this area of research ripe for collaboration. The UK’s National Quantum Technologies Programme, which started in 2014, has now reached £1 billion in investment. Canada has invested more than C$1 billion in quantum R&D.

This call will advance the development and application of quantum technologies. The potential benefits are multifaceted. Innovation in quantum technologies would allow Canada and the UK to access cross-cutting technologies and to function securely in a global ecosystem where the safe exchange and protection of data is paramount. It also aims to bring together dynamic consortia that will foster collaboration between established researchers and the next generation of young scientists in partnership with the private sector and/or government. This will help break down silos among disciplines and promote gender balance, diversity and inclusion. The research in these collaborations will provide demonstrable evidence of the impacts of quantum technologies for the economy and society.

Research scope

The specific areas that can be investigated under this call are:

  • quantum secure communications
  • quantum computing and simulation
  • quantum sensing and imaging

Proposals must provide evidence of how academic researchers, industry and/or government partners will be engaged and work together to develop and apply quantum technologies.

For additional areas of particular interest to potential private or public sector partners, see Additional QT research areas of interest to Canadian partners.

Project duration and funding

Projects funded under this call must have a duration between 1 and 3 years. For the Canadian portion of the project, proposals must incorporate training of highly qualified personnel such as graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Canadian applicants are only eligible to receive funding from NSERC and other Canadian sources (government and/or industry) and UK applicants are only eligible to receive funding from Innovate UK.

Funding will be provided to each project lead/principal investigator (and eligible consortium partners in the UK) by the respective national funding body subject to national rules and budgetary availability.

The collaboration should ensure an adequate balance and significance for all project partners, with no more than 75% of the project budget contributed by any one organization or country.

Partnerships

To be eligible for project funding, consortia must include:

In Canada

  • One Canadian university researcher, or a team of Canadian university researchers, who is eligible to receive NSERC funds
  • At least one private partner organization that is eligible for NSERC Alliance grants and whose cash contributions will be recognized for cost-sharing
  • Optional: Other partner organizations who play an important role in your research project whether or not their cash contributions are recognized for cost sharing

In the UK

  • At least one eligible industrial partner
  • One eligible UK university or research and technology organization (RTO)
  • Optional: A government department or agency as an additional partner

To lead a project, an organization must be a UK-registered business of any size and must collaborate with one or more UK businesses, research organizations, public sector organizations or charities.

To apply

Expression of Interest

A common Expression of Interest (EOI), written in English (as this is a call jointly run with the UK), must be submitted to NSERC in Canada by June 8, 2020 and will be shared with Innovate UK in the UK.

The EOI must identify the potential participants from both countries and provide an overview of the proposed collaboration and a high-level description of the project. It must also identify both the project lead (in the UK) and the principal investigator (in Canada), including the business lead on the UK side. The proposal must fall within one of the three specific QT areas identified above.

The EOI is limited to four pages. Applicants must include a maximum of two cover pages and a draft research proposal (maximum two pages). All documents should follow the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

The cover pages must include:

  • the project title (preceded by “Canada-UK Quantum Technologies call:”)
  • up to 10 key words that describe the research proposal
  • an approximate budget request, by project year, indicating the amounts requested from each country
  • the principal investigator (Canada) and the project lead (UK), including the business lead for the UK, with their titles, affiliations and email addresses
  • a list of co-applicants, with their titles, affiliations and email addresses
  • a list of collaborators and partner organizations (and the lead person for such organizations), with their titles, affiliations and email addresses

The draft research proposal should include:

  • an overview of the proposed collaboration and a high-level description of the project
  • a description of the main joint research challenges
  • a discussion of the value added by the partnerships within each country and by the international consortium, including the responsibilities of both national teams and the approach to conducting the joint research project
  • a description of anticipated outcomes and benefits

Save your Expression of Interest as a single portable document format (PDF) file and upload it to the NSERC Secure Upload Site for EOIs before the deadline of June 8, 2020, at noon 12:00 pm (Canada EST) or 5:00 pm (UK GMT). The EOI will be shared with Innovate UK and used to assess your eligibility and your proposed partnership according to the requirements of each country. The topic of your research project will be assessed to ensure that it falls within one of the specific quantum technology areas listed above. The two funding agencies will respond jointly to Expressions of Interest by June 12, 2020.

Full proposal

Based on the assessment of your Expression of Interest, you may be invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals must be submitted to each of the funding agencies between June 15 and July 29, 2020, using the application process for each funding agency (see below). Your full proposal must include a common research plan developed jointly by Canadian and UK applicants, as described below, to provide context for external peer reviewers who will assess each full proposal according to the selection criteria of each agency.

Final funding decisions will be communicated to applicants in the UK and Canada by November 1, 2020.

Your full proposal must consist of:

  • Project title (preceded by “Canada-UK Quantum Technologies call:”)
  • Common research and technology plan developed jointly by the Canadian and UK applicants, up to three pages, attached to each national application as an annex, that describes
    • the overall research project plan,
    • the role of the participants,
    • the expected outcomes and
    • the potential economic and social benefits that will result from the project.
  • A separate national application submitted to each agency:
    • For the UK:  a UK full proposal submitted by the project lead to Innovate UK using the standard Innovate UK application form for the competition; for further details, consult the This link will take you to another Web site Innovate UK website
    • For Canada: an NSERC Alliance grants application submitted by the Canadian academic principal investigator to NSERC; for further details, consult Alliance grants. The applications can be submitted in English or French. Applicants who wish to write their proposal in French must provide the common research plan in both official languages (English and French).

Proposals should also explain how the consortium’s work will:

  • Increase UK–Canadian collaborative research and development
  • Increase the end-use potential of quantum technologies for both the Canadian and UK private, public or not-for-profit sector partners
  • Generate economic benefits for the UK and Canada
  • Enhance the innovative capacity of the participants
  • Add value through the international collaboration
  • Facilitate the training of diverse, gender-balanced teams of highly qualified personnel (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows)

Evaluation

Each agency will evaluate your proposal independently using its peer review process and evaluation criteria (UK applicants should refer to This link will take you to another Web site Innovate UK website and Canadian applicants should refer to Alliance grants). Innovate UK and NSERC will coordinate their respective evaluations to determine which projects will be funded.

If you submit a proposal under this call, you agree that information contained in your proposal may be shared between the agencies. Project leads in the UK and principal investigators in Canada are responsible for ensuring that all co-applicants, partners and collaborators are aware of the rules concerning disclosure of information contained in the proposal.

Terms and conditions

The agencies reserve the right to:

  • determine the eligibility of proposals
  • interpret the regulations and policies governing the national funding opportunities
  • apply conditions to individual grants, as appropriate
  • alter, with due notice to grantees, the terms and conditions of the grant awards