These FAQs answer the most common questions about the ‘Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund’:
What is the objective of the Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund?
The overarching goal of the Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund is to help participants become more globally competitive by developing innovative technologies and research-based alliances with the potential to foster economic growth.
Further goals include:
- Connecting industry players and researchers across jurisdictions;
- Developing new models of collaboration between Alberta and Europe that leverage key research and technology capabilities, address common priorities, and accelerate the commercialization of new technologies;
- Launching revolutionary research and product development projects that aim to bring new products and services to market, and to deliver economic benefits to citizens in both jurisdictions.
What is the total amount of funding available?
Approved projects will be funded on the Alberta side by the ECCIR with up to $250,000 CAD. European partner companies may apply for funding through agencies and other appropriate sources in their respective jurisdictions. To see a list of European funding opportunities, please go to our Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund website. Should the European partner company be too big, or should circumstances prevent an application to an appropriate European funding agency, then the only prerequisite for participation is that the European contribution matches the amount of the ECCIR contribution.
Who is eligible for funding? Who can apply?
Albertan small and medium-sized enterprises (1 to 499 employees and less than $50 million in gross revenue) are welcome to apply to the Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund, if they meet the key scoring considerations. Albertan SMEs are defined as incorporated (Albertan or Canadian registration) for-profit companies, sole proprietorships or partnerships with an office and employees in Alberta. The company needs to have a significant technology development presence in Alberta. The partner from Europe can be a small or medium-sized enterprise, or a larger company. Independent research institutions in Europe can also participate in projects and may be eligible to apply for funding from appropriate European funding agencies as well, if the option exists in the relevant jurisdiction. All proposals to the program must involve an industry partner from each jurisdiction with an interest in commercialization.
It is also important to note that the two (or more) project partners must be legally independent. A subsidiary is not a partnership. If your company has investment in the other company, you can still apply, as long as each party is independently investing in the project.
Please see the key scoring considerations below.
What are the areas of technology that are eligible for funding?
Calls will be open to projects focusing on developing innovative products, technology-based services, or methods in all technological and application areas that have strong market potential.
What types of joint project activities are eligible under the program?
Projects may include any or all of the following stages of pre-commercial activity on the path to commercialization:
- Applied research and development
- Product development
- Technology demonstration
- Prototype development
- Proof of concept
How can my SME submit an application to the program?
The Alberta application form can be downloaded from the ECCIR website. European application forms are available on the appropriate European funding agency websites. Current application deadlines can be found on the ECCIR website as well. Incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible and will not be sent for external review.
Who fills out the application?
The Albertan SME is to fill out the Alberta application form and submit it to the ECCIR. Please note that a signature from the European partner is required. The European SME is responsible for completing and submitting the documents required by the appropriate European funding agency.
How will my application be reviewed? What are key scoring considerations when reviewing projects?
Applications will be reviewed in conjunction with the program objectives. They will be scored for their fit within the project requirements and key scoring considerations, including the project’s innovation and commercialization potential. Applications will also be reviewed for their technology, process, product or service and market opportunity, commercial strategy, quality of project plan and SME capabilities, financing plan and the project’s potential value to the SME, specific sector, and overall economy.
All applications will be reviewed by multiple external reviewers from appropriate sectors. This leads to a ranking of the applications. The final decision-making authority on the Alberta side lies with the ECCIR Steering Committee.
How are the program funds to be used?
Funds may only be used to pay for budget items as outlined in the application and the written agreement between the ECCIR and the Albertan SME. Claimed expenses are subject to approval by ECCIR. Eligible costs are limited to project-specific expenses (i.e. costs associated with developing/testing the product as described in the application).
Eligible costs include:
- Costs of Alberta-based project personnel (i.e. researchers, engineers, technicians, tradesman, project management and support staff when involved in project activity). Monetary contributions from ECCIR can also be put towards resources from a third-party organization (e.g. consultants or contractors).
- Costs of instruments and equipment required for the project (except when disposed of on a commercial basis after the project is over) are eligible.
- Additional costs incurred directly as a result of project activity;
- Other project-specific expenses including materials and supplies and travel expenses for trips to Europe related to project activities (travel expenses are limited to 10% of program funds, but applicants can contribute further funds for additional travel);
- Professional services directly related to project activities; as well as
- IP management, market assessment, fees for service labs.
What is eligible for consideration as cash or in-kind contributions by the SMEs?
For the Alberta-Europe Technology Collaboration Fund, cash and in-kind contributions from the applicants are mandatory. This contribution is meant to reflect a meaningful collaboration and equal involvement of the partners. For the Albertan company, a minimum cash contribution of 40% of the total grant amount awarded by ECCIR is required.
If the company applies for $250,000 CAD from ECCIR, they must contribute a total of $250,000 CAD as well. Of that total, 40% or $100,000 CAD, must be a cash contribution from the company.
Cash contributions are defined as incremental (new) costs. Eligible cash contributions include expenses for the direct costs of carrying out the project and achieving the objectives for which the grant was awarded (e.g. IP protection costs, incremental staff costs, equipment, tools, chemicals, software, consultants etc.).
Up to 100% of salary and benefits for incremental (new) hires count as a cash contribution to the project (industry standards for benefits) by the applicant. Up to 50% of staff costs can be counted as in-kind by the applicant if using existing staff. The applicant can also utilize the monetary contributions from ECCIR to cover up to 50% of existing staff costs, or up to 100% of incremental staff costs. In neither case can the reimbursement for a given individual’s salary exceed 50% of the funding awarded.
Further eligible in-kind contributions include non-monetary resources that the applicants provide to support the project. In-kind contributions can be management time or tools that the company already owns, specialized skills and advice, or access to special equipment, space, or data sets. In-kind contributions will be recognized at cost (e.g. labour, material, devaluation) backed up by documentation. No funding will be granted for the duplication of infrastructure in either Alberta or Europe for the purpose of conducting a project.
Costs that are charged by an affiliated company (e.g. both companies have the same owner) cannot be claimed as cash expenses. It is possible, however, that these costs can be claimed as an in-kind contribution, if production costs can be demonstrated.
What are ineligible expenses under the program?
Expenses not eligible under the program include:
- Training courses;
- Administrative fees or overhead charges for administering this program;
- Design and production of advertising material;
- Sales and promotion activities;
- Costs associated with applying for government grants and programs;
Any expenses outside of those listed above must be pre-approved by the ECCIR prior to the actual expenditure. Ownership of all purchased materials resides with the SME.
Is it possible to get any portion of the grant up front to help with the start of the project?
It is possible to get up to 20% of the funding awarded as an initial payment at the start of the project. The initial payment can, for example, be used to purchase a specific piece of equipment that is necessary for the project. In the case that a company is requesting an initial payment, the company needs to inform ECCIR what the money is to be used for. Receipts demonstrating how the initial payment was spent then need to be submitted to the ECCIR either within 6 months of receiving the payment, or prior to the company’s first milestone, whichever occurs first.
When will I know if my SME has received funding under the program or not?
After the call is closed, it will take approximately three months for the external review and decision by the ECCIR Steering Committee. The approved projects can begin as soon as project partners are informed and a grant agreement between the ECCIR and the Albertan project partner has been signed.
What if my application is rejected?
If your application is not approved, the ECCIR can provide feedback and would encourage you to apply to subsequent rounds of the program.
My company’s project was approved for the program. How do we proceed?
If your company’s project has been approved for the program, you will be notified by email promptly after the decision-making process. The ECCIR then sends you the project agreement. The projects can start as soon as the project agreement and all attending documents are agreed upon and signed by both the ECCIR and company representatives.
When can I expect to receive the program funds?
Funds are distributed as reimbursements made according to milestones determined in the written project agreement. Cheques are issued following submission of milestone reports to the ECCIR and approval of these reports by ECCIR staff.
How do I cancel my Alberta-Europe project?
Please contact the ECCIR and inform them of your intention to cancel. As soon as the ECCIR is informed about the SME’s intention to cancel, the project will be terminated immediately (unless otherwise decided) and all funding and claims under the program will cease as of that day. Depending on the conditions surrounding the project cancellation, the Albertan company may be required to pay back any funding disbursed up to the point of cancellation.
How much time do the project partners have to complete the project?
The project partners have up to two years to complete the project. This term begins with the signing of the project agreement.
Does the ECCIR audit the Albertan and European participants?
The accuracy of the reporting is the responsibility of the Albertan company. The ECCIR reviews each milestone report thoroughly before issuing a payment. The ECCIR will also conduct announced site visits to Albertan companies. ECCIR staff do try to visit the European project partners when possible. These visits allow us to get to know all project participants and to ensure that the European partners have contacts on both sides of the program. Visits to European companies are not audits, as the project management on the European side is the responsibility of the appropriate European funding agency. Should the European partner not be funded, however, the ECCIR will take a more active role in monitoring the European side of the project.
How can I request a scope change for an approved project?
Any changes in scope made to the project approved in the original proposal must be approved by the ECCIR. The ECCIR will provide instructions to the company on how best to submit the scope changes, but usually this includes demonstrating why the change is needed, and providing a new project timeline and a budget if necessary. Where significant changes occur, such as a change in ownership (all or part) or bankruptcy, the project is subject to immediate cancellation.
What if the total project costs end up being lower than originally estimated?
The ECCIR can only reimburse actual costs with proof of invoices paid by the company. If the cost of the project is lower than originally estimated, company and ECCIR expenditures will be lowered accordingly.