AGILITY Research & Innovation Grant in Social Enterprise

By October 8, 2015Funding for Students
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 The University of Lethbridge AGILITY program is a new university-wide initiative designed to nurture and support innovation and foster entrepreneurship ambition. 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 cultural benefits for Alberta and beyond. One such support is the AGILITY Research and Innvoation Fund.

In partnership with the AGILITY program, the Office of the Vice-President (Research) is issuing a targeted call for proposals for projects that will provide outcomes which create added value for the local community.  The supported initiative could involve a new product, process or program that generates a positive and collective outcome for the Lethbridge region.  The aim is to establish lasting community-based partnerships to devise effective, efficient, sustainable, and innovative solutions to key social challenges on the basis of sound research.  We encourage the development of prospective partnerships within the community, as well as proposed social innovations.  The submitted proposals should include a plan by which the innovation can sustain itself beyond the life of the grant (e.g., launching a crowdfunding campaign, or competing in a major entrepreneurial contest).  Guidance and mentorship to aid in the project will be available for successful applicants from a leading social innovator.

All proposals should be team based, with considerable student involvement.  Proposals may be student- or faculty-initiated.  AGILITY Research and Innovation Grants in Social Enterprise are valued at up to $10,000 over a maximum duration of 18 months.  Two grants will be awarded in 2015/16. This competition is open to undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty.  Resources about social innovation and social enterprise can be found below.

Please note the following deadlines:

  • Notice of Intent – October 30, 2015
  • Full proposals – November 20, 2015

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

  • 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 the presence of community, business, and/or technical expertise on the team as suits the project.

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 ORIS merit review panel.

Applications for overlapping objectives or deliverables that are supported by other funding programs will not be considered.

Evaluation

Applications submitted to the ARIF-SE program are subject to competitive adjudication and will be reviewed by one or more external assessors.

To judge the viability of the business or social venture, external assessors may be drawn from amongst those with expertise in social enterprise, including industry experts, social innovation specialists, philanthropists and others. 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. Final recommendations will be made to the Vice-President (Research), by a merit review panel for the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts.

Projects will be further assessed based on criteria specific to the identified focus of the technology/idea, as follows:

(i) 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
  • Team composition, commitment, expertise, and institutional support

(ii) Applications proposing a venture that may drive social change through new strategies, concepts or organizations to meet a social need will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Idea, concept, or challenge
  • Social value creation
  • Team composition, commitment, expertise, and institutional support
  • Community partnership
  • Sustainability plan

Application Procedure

Applicants to the AGILITY Research and Innovation Fund Social Enterprise competition 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 through 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:

  • whether the application is for a venture that (1) will produce economic returns that may drive substantial market value, or (2) will drive social change through new strategies, concepts or organizations, to meet the social needs of society;
  • the project or idea (up to one page);
  • the team composition; and
  • the names and contact information of up to three 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-SE NOI” to ORIS (oris@uleth.ca) by October 30, 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 five 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-SE support;
  • Other funding for the technology/idea (either confirmed or pending); and
  • Budget and thorough justification (up to two 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 on November 20, 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 three co-investigators, just list the three 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 disregard.
  • 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-SE awards are subject to the following additional conditions:

  • Term: The usual term of an award is 18 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 24 months.
  • Reports: A final report on the work funded by the ARIF-SE must be submitted within six 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-SE grant assisted the team move the technology/idea closer to implementation,
    • Describe significant milestones achieved because of ARIF-SE 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 about the ARIF-SE opportunity, please contact Hector MacIntyre (ORIS) or Reed Pisony (AGILITY Program Coordinator).

Here are some online resources about social innovation and social enterprise in Canada:

Social Enterprise Alberta (with a definition of social enterprise)

Hubcap BC – Online social innovation community

“C3” Community Contribution Company (BC)

Social Enterprise at the Stanford Social Innovation Review

JS Daw & Associates Blog (Calgary)

Elevate Consulting Blog (Edmonton Social Innovation Consultancy)