Canada – Germany 2+2 R&D Projects in Industry 4.0 Technology - Call for Proposals

1. Call description

Canada and Germany are announcing the first Call for Proposals for “2+2” R&D Projects, focusing on the development of Industry 4.0 (sometimes referred to as “Smart Factory”) enabling technologies.  “2+2” refers to the nature of an eligible project consortium, which must include at least one small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) on each of the Canadian and German sides, in addition to at least one academic partner on the Canadian side and one academic or research institute partner on the German side.  Applicants are expected to develop innovative market-ready solutions or projects which have strong market potential for Canada and Germany.

2. National authorities

Respective national authorities responsible for this call are as follows:

  • The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) is Canada's premier innovation assistance program for SMEs.
  • The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) is Canada's federal funding agency for university-based research and student training in natural sciences and engineering.
  • The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the DLR Project Management Agency (DLR) provides grants to German universities and non-university institutions as well as SMEs working on R&D collaboration projects between German and foreign partners.

These organizations will provide access to public funding for eligible and selected 2+2 projects.  The support will be given to each partner by its respective National Authority in accordance with national laws, rules, regulations and procedures in effect, on a non-exchange of funds basis, and subject to budgetary availability in each country.

3. Key dates and milestones for overall process

Release of call for 2+2 proposals: January 31, 2018
Letter of Intent (LOI) deadline: April 16, 2018
Notification of successful LOIs and invitation for full national funding proposals: May 14, 2018
National funding proposal submission deadline: June 22, 2018
Notification of successful 2+2 projects: September 21, 2018
Target 2+2 project start date: January 2019

4. Scope

This call invites 2+2 projects in the area of Industry 4.0 enabling technology development.

Industry 4.0, or the "Smart Factory", refers to the digital transformation of manufacturing, connecting automated machines to each other, to their operators, to other processes and services, to the Internet of Things, and the supply chain.  The Smart Factory can act upon the available information to self-optimize, customize production, and self-manage for improved energy efficiency and enable decentralized manufacturing. It represents the convergence of enabling technologies such as robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, virtual reality, additive manufacturing, the digitization of the supply chain, etc. to create an "information driven cyber-physical environment".

5. Eligibility criteria

Canadian SMEs must contact their NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) to confirm their eligible status. If not already an NRC IRAP client, contact the NRC IRAP office in your region (1-877-994-4727 or to discuss eligibility.

In order to apply to the present call, partners must meet the qualifying criteria below.

5.1 The project consortium

The project consortium must consist of, at a minimum:

  • One Canadian university and one eligible Canadian SME partner that meets the NRC IRAP eligibility criteria; PLUS
  • One German university and/or non-university research institution and one eligible German industrial partner that is considered to be an SME.

Third-party participants (such as large companies, Canadian research institutes, not-for-profits, other government research organizations, etc.) are welcome to participate on a self-funded basis.

Each National Authority will conduct an assessment of the eligibility of the participants as follows:

  • DLR on behalf of BMBF will assess both the required German partners
  • NRC IRAP will assess the participating Canadian SME against their eligibility criteria
  • NSERC will assess the eligibility of the Canadian university institution and the identified researcher

Financial and other resources available to the partners to undertake such an international partnership will also be evaluated.

5.2 The project

The project must meet the following elements:

  • The products/processes to be developed must be highly innovative and with significant commercial potential.
  • The project should demonstrate the scientific and technological contribution of the participants from both countries.
  • The domestic partnership and international collaboration should show an obvious advantage and added value resulting from the technological cooperation between the participants from the two countries (e.g. increased knowledge base, commercial leads, access to R&D infrastructure etc.).
  • The project must demonstrate an adequate balance of effort between the Canadian and German sides and a substantive contribution provided by each partner.
  • The partners in Canada and Germany demonstrate their ability to implement, manage and finance their share of project costs.
  • The training of students will result from the project activity.
  • Project duration of no less than 24 and no more than 36 months.

6. Funding

Selected projects will be eligible to receive funding from NRC IRAP (Canadian SMEs), NSERC’s Collaborative Research & Development Program (Canadian university researchers) and BMBF as delivered by DLR (German SMEs and non-SME research partners).

Canadian SMEs may receive up to 50% of their part of eligible project costs through NRC IRAP. The maximum amount of funding that may be received is $600,000 per project.

Canadian academic researchers and German partners are invited to contact NSERC and DLR, respectively, to review the available funding for their participation in the proposed project.

7. Submission, evaluation and approval process

Submission and approval procedures will be executed in two consecutive phases:

  • Letter of Intent (LOI)
  • National Funding Proposal, invited based on a successful review of the LOI

7.1 Letter of Intent (LOI) – Phase 1

The LOI form can be requested from  It is to be prepared in English jointly by the Canadian-German project consortium.  The form has to be signed by all participating partners.  The signatures must be scanned and sent together with the form as an integral part of the application. The LOI is to be submitted by the identified Project Leader by the above deadline to

The LOI will be screened against the above consortium, partner and project Eligibility Criteria and ranked.  The LOI screening results will be reviewed jointly by the Canadian and German National Authorities and selected LOI consortia will be invited to submit individual Full National Funding Proposals.

7.2 National funding proposals – Phase 2

Those LOIs that have been determined to be eligible by all three agencies will be invited to submit Full National Funding Proposals to each of their respective National Authorities by the above deadline.

The Full Funding Proposal consists of:

A common 3-page document will be written in English that describes the overall project, the role of each of the participants, the expected project outcomes, and the potential benefits as a result of the project.

A draft Cooperation Agreement negotiated between the entire consortia's partners (a final version of the Cooperation Agreement co-signed by all project partners will be required before project initiation). The draft agreement shall include, at a minimum:

  • The naming of all the project partners;
  • A summary of the project including the project objectives (also annex the submitted LOI form with any negotiated revisions as appropriate to provide the differentiation of subprojects by each partner with brief work plans and their estimated effort);
  • Identification of 3rd party contractors required in the project;
  • Regulation of intellectual property;
  • Basic regulation (i.e. preliminary agreements in principle) of joint commercialization and apportioning of benefits; and
  • Agreement on publishing rights and the means to review and grant permission for external presentation of project results.

An “International Project Consortium Agreement Template” can be provided by NRC IRAP.

For eligible German partners (SME and non-SME) a proposal prepared in German or English will be  submitted to DLR in written and electronic form using the PT-Outline (project outlining) tool and should not exceed ten pages.

Eligible Canadian SMEs will submit an NRC IRAP Project Proposal, contractor proposal(s) and any other supporting documents.  Guidelines for preparing the project proposal and the contractor proposal(s) can be provided upon request from their Lead Industrial Technology Advisors.

Eligible Canadian university research partners will submit an NSERC Collaborative Research & Development (CRD) application with input from the Canadian industrial partners – university partners should see the NSERC’s Canada-Germany 2+2 Call for Proposals website for further details.

7.3 Evaluation

NRC IRAP, NSERC and DLR will carry out independent evaluations of their respective Funding Proposals in accordance with their National/Institutional Laws and Regulations.  Upon completion of the independent evaluations, the National authorities will meet to communicate and compare their evaluation results.  A Project Proposal will be considered selected if NRC IRAP, NSERC and DLR jointly decide to approve and fund it.

8. Communication of the results

LOI applicants will be contacted with the results of the screening process from the Phase 1 evaluation.  LOI project partners of projects invited to proceed to Full National Funding Proposals will be informed of the Phase 2 evaluation results and joint decision of the National Authorities.  Each partner’s amount of funding will be confirmed as per each National Funding Authority’s processes.

9. Contact information

Canada (SMEs)
Mr. Andrew Bauder
NRC IRAP Germany National Program Coordinator
National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP)

Canada (Academics)
Mr. Marius Ivan
Manager, Manufacturing, Communications and Technologies Division
Research Partnerships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

DLR Project Management Agency
Dr. Barbara Hellebrandt

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