Calls for superclusters - Principles of engagement with the NRC
The selection of superclusters is a competitive process. Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) is the adjudicating body for any proposals in this competitive process. The NRC will have no role in the selection of projects. Where NRC staff are seconded to ISED they are to be treated, and to act, as employees of ISED, and so there should be no communication with them regarding this competitive process.
The NRC cannot receive funding from the $950M, and cannot be a member of the supercluster consortia, as the supercluster funding is contribution funding for third-parties such as industry, universities, etc.
Working with the NRC on supercluster proposals
Given the mandate of the NRC and its publicly-funded resources, where asked, NRC will be supportive of supercluster proponents with development of their proposals. This can include: making available information about our capabilities (like decks on our website), providing information and advice related to their potential innovation and commercialization diagnostics and plans, facilitating connections among potentially interested parties, and participating in meetings and discussions in a supportive way.
Regarding the substance of proposals, supercluster proposals can propose to make use of NRC researchers and facilities, consistent with NRC mandates, cost recovery practices and with government policy. While the NRC cannot receive funding from the clusters program, industry expenditures on NRC research support and facilities as part of their cluster activity do count toward their matching funding obligations. This means the NRC should not be proposed to receive government funding, but can receive funds from the private sector part of the overall funding envelope if they chose to use us in some capacity.
Supporting more than one supercluster participant
The supercluster call is an open and competitive process in which there will be many proposals but only a few selected winners. Therefore, the same NRC facilities and staff will potentially figure in more than one proposal. The NRC will be open to participating in discussions and supporting more than one cluster in any area. The NRC will operate in a neutral way among proponents and will respond to any and all supercluster requests in an open and transparent manner, as not all proposals will be successful.
Fees for commercialization support
Where the NRC is being asked to provide support for near-commercial work, the NRC will charge for services provided as per its standard practices. Where the NRC is participating in longer-term, lower-TRL-level work, the NRC can be open to pooling resources and making an in-kind investment by contributing staff and facilities time to achievement of their objectives. The NRC will not provide financial support for superclusters directly; but may make investments to build longer-term NRC capacity that also would benefit potential superclusters.
Intellectual Property (IP) sharing
Regarding IP, in accordance with the NRC’s standard practice each party retains its background IP. The NRC would be open to pooling arising IP generated for supercluster participants. The NRC would consider working on longer-term foundational IP for collaborative projects in a supercluster context, but would need to examine the benefit to Canada of doing so (being a publicly funded entity). The NRC will be open to exploring various IP models, subject to the appropriate authorities being granted to the NRC, where the consortia could own or have full access to the IP.
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