AGILITY Research and Innovation Fund

By August 4, 2015Funding for Students

Call for 2015/16 – AGILITY Research and Innovation Grants in Agriculture

The University of Lethbridge AGILITY program is a new university-wide initiative designed to nurture and support innovation and entrepreneurship amongst our students.  AGILITY is unique.  It is grounded in student-led research, ideas and creativity.  The program draws across all disciplines and faculties and is focused on providing students with resources to enable transformative and innovative research with social, economic, and political benefits for Alberta and beyond. One such support is the AGILITY Research and Innovation Fund.

The Office of the Vice-President Research is issuing a targeted call for proposals for projects that will create added value to the agriculture and agribusiness sector for the benefit of producers, business, and society.  Proposals should explore themes designed to enable Alberta to play a key and leading role in the future of agricultural entrepreneurship, agri-business, and/or economic or social innovation to ensure Alberta continues to be a leader in global food and nutrition.

All proposals should be team based, with considerable student involvement. Proposals may be student- or faculty-initiated.  AGILITY Research and Innovation Fund (ARIF) grants are valued up to $10,000 over a maximum 18 month term.  Up to two grants will be awarded in 2015/16.

This opportunity is made possible through the generous philanthropic gift of one of southern Alberta’s most prominent agricultural entrepreneurs, Mr. Cor Van Raay.  With Mr. Van Raay’s vision as the foundation for this award, the University of Lethbridge is excited to be advancing opportunities to educate future generations in agribusiness innovation.

Please note the following deadlines:

Purpose

The objective of the AGILITY Research and Innovation Fund (ARIF) is to provide a meaningful learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity. The ARIF program supports projects proposing a venture with economic returns that may drive substantial market value, or projects that propose a venture that may drive social change through new strategies, concepts or organizations to meet the social needs of society. Projects may be at any stage in development.

Annual competitions will focus on a specific call or thematic opportunity.

Funding available

The ARIF program provides funding up to $10,000 to each successful applicant. Applicants can receive only one grant per project or technology. Funds are dispersed on a competitive basis. Applicants are advised that the demand for funds will likely exceed the funds available.

Eligibility

The ARIF is intended for University of Lethbridge undergraduate and graduate student-led teams. The minimum requirements for eligible teams are as follows:

  • There must be at least two full-time students on the team for the duration of the proposed grant period.  A student is considered full time, as follows:
    • An undergraduate student enrolled in at least nine (9.0) credit hours (three semester-long courses) in a fall, spring or summer semester.
    • A graduate student registered as full-time.
  • All teams require a faculty advisor to act as Principal Investigator (PI). The PI is responsible for tracking, overseeing, and reporting the disbursement of grant funds. Students cannot serve as Principal Investigators.
  • Other team members should include advisors from within and outside the university who have experience, knowledge, and network connections that will contribute to the team’s success. We strongly suggest that both technical and business expertise is represented on the team.

Use of funds

Eligible expenses include the following:

  • Personnel costs in accordance with university policy.
  • Travel directly related to research, including travel by research assistants in the performance of their assigned duties.
  • Professional business development services, including market research, business plans, legal and regulatory review;
  • Technical and scientific services related to prototype development and testing;
  • Research equipment, laboratory consumables and supplies;

Other items necessary for the project may be considered for funding at the discretion of the GFC Research Committee.

Research projects requesting retroactive funding, or requesting funding for teaching development will not be considered. Funding is not allowed for overlapping objectives and deliverables that are supported by other funding programs.

Evaluation

Applications submitted to the ARIF program are subject to competitive adjudication and will be reviewed by one or more external assessors; final decisions are made by the GFC Research Committee.

Assessors will be drawn from a variety of backgrounds including industry experts, specialists, philanthropists etc. deemed appropriate to judge the viability of the business or social venture. Where possible, assessors will be drawn from the southern Alberta region.

In general, assessors will be asked to evaluate the projects based upon their potential to become a viable new venture and the likelihood of achieving success based upon the team’s plan and experience. Projects will be further assessed based on criteria specific to the identified focus of the technology/idea:

Applications proposing a venture with economic returns that may drive substantial market value will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Technology innovation and feasibility;
  • Business model and innovation/commercial potential; and
  • Team composition, commitment, expertise, and institutional support.

Applications proposing a venture that may drive social change through new strategies, concepts or organizations to meet the social needs of society will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Idea or concept,
  • Social value creation,
  • Team composition, commitment, expertise, and institutional support.

Application Procedure

All applicants planning to apply for an AGILITY Research and Innovation Fund grant must submit a Notice of Intent to Apply (NOI). The NOI is a mandatory step in the application process. It allows ORIS to start the review process, namely the selection of appropriate external assessors. Applicants must then complete and submit the Application. An applicant who has not submitted a Notice of Intent will be ineligible to submit a full application.

1. Notice of Intent

The Notice of Intent should note the following information:

  • Indicate if the application is for a project that (1) proposes a venture with economic returns that may drive substantial market value, or (2) proposes a venture that may drive social change through new strategies, concepts or organizations to meet the social needs of society;
  • the project or idea (up to 1 page);
  • the team composition; and
  • the names and contact information of up to 3 external assessors suitable to evaluate the project idea.

 All NOI’s must be submitted using the NOI form and be submitted electronically, with the subject “ARIF NOI” to ORIS (oris@uleth.ca) by September 18, 2015. 

2. Full Application

All proposals must include a description of the project, written for an intelligent reader who is relatively uniformed in the field of the proposed project. Please use headings for clarity. Projects are to be completed within an 18-month term.

The proposal should not exceed 5 pages (excluding budget and budget justification) and must address the following points:

  • Overview of the technology/idea;
  • History of the project’s development, current status, and short summary of what is needed to further develop the technology/idea;
  • Strength and novelty of the project;
  • Need for the technology/idea (unmet need, solve a critical problem, improve an existing application etc.);
  • Project team;
  • Partners (either confirmed or prospective);
  • Project sustainability beyond ARIF support;
  • Other funding for the technology/idea (either confirmed or pending); and
  • Budget and thorough justification (up to 2 pages)

Please submit your application online through the Bridge using the Research Proposal Form and attach all required proposal components as a single PDF file. Applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on October 9, 2015. All approvals must be in place by the deadline date. Late submissions will not be accepted and incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible.

Please note the following responses to Frequently Asked Questions related to the use of the Research Proposal Form for internal grants:

  • DO NOT select the <Internal Grant Application> form.
  • Co-investigators: The form allows you to indicate the names of three co-investigators. If you have more than 3 co-investigators, just list the 3 names and ensure your full team details are included in the proposal.
  • Funding source: Select <other> from the drop down list and enter the following information in the fields that appear
    • Funding program: International Partnership Development Grant
    • Agency name: U of L
    • Address: U of L
    • Research requires approval by: there is a glitch in the form and you may be unable to uncheck the “Hazard Assessment Committee” check box. If your project does not require hazard assessment, please disresard.
    • The Research Proposal Form will be forwarded to the co-applicants listed on the form for their approval. They are not approving the proposal per se, but rather confirming that they are award of the project and have agreed to be part of the team.
  • Do not complete the online form until your application is complete and ready to be uploaded, as you cannot save the form for completion at a later date.

Disbursing Grants

The University disburses grants by paying or reimbursing proper expenses; it normally does not advance cash. Monies from the award will be deposited into an account to which the grant holder may submit expenses.

Conditions of the Award

Grant funds may be used only for the project and purposes described in the application, subject to any special conditions given in the Request for New Fund form. Special conditions may include human subject research or animal welfare approval. Funds will be managed in accordance with the standard terms/conditions for Tri-Council funding. Minor transfer of funds from one budget category to another may be permitted. Major transfers or the use of funds for a previously unspecified expend or a new budget item requires prior approval by the Office of Research and Innovation Services.

ARIF awards are subject to the following additional conditions:

  • Term: The usual term of an award is eighteen months or less, in accordance with the applicant’s request. Requests for extensions should be submitted to the Office of Research Services. The total term, including any extension, may not normally exceed twenty-four months.
  • Reports: A final report on the work funded by the ARIF must be submitted within 6 months of the termination/end date. Subsequent applications to internal grants administered by the Office of Research and Innovation Services will be considered only after receipt of satisfactory final reports, or progress reports for previous or existing grants. Final reports should address the following:
    • Outline significant accomplishments and impact;
    • Indicate how the ARIF grant assisted the team move the technology/idea closer to implementation,
    • Describe significant milestones achieved because of ARIF support, and
    • Provide an overview of next steps for the project.
  • Equipment & Library Acquisitions: Equipment or library materials acquired with grant funds remain as property of the University of Lethbridge in accordance with university policy.
  • Personnel: Personnel employed with grant funds are not regular University employees and are not covered by the provisions of the collective agreement with support staff.

The GFC Research Committee may stipulate other conditions of the award, which will be outlined in the letter of award to the recipient.

Further information

For further information and assistance, contact Penny Pickles at pickpj@uleth.ca