What is the timing and process to implement multi-year funding?
The Alliance has been actively planning the implementation of each initiative since October 2022 in preparation for ISED’s funding decision. Implementation plans describe how the Alliance will administer each initiative by defining the program requirements, metrics, timelines, oversight, resources, risk management and communications. Contribution Agreements between ISED and the Alliance have been in development since early 2023 and will be finalized soon.
Once Contribution Agreements are signed, the Alliance will engage with regional organizations and partner institutions with respect to the development of funding agreements, updated operating budgets and cost-matching requirements.
Initiatives will be rolled out according to readiness and timelines. The high-level contribution funding process will unfold as follows, over a six-to-14-month period; some steps may proceed in parallel.
- The Alliance and ISED sign Contribution Agreements
- Partners/proponents secure cost-matching
- The Alliance and partners/proponents update initiative operating budgets and complete Alliance Funding Agreements
- The Alliance publishes Program Guidelines and issues Calls for Proposals
- The Alliance initiates internal and external reviews; recommends proposals for award
- The Alliance provides notification of award and contracting
- Ultimate Recipients execute projects in accordance with terms of award and funding agreements (the Alliance monitors delivery, financial and performance outcomes)
- Ultimate Recipients begin operations (projects are complete and new infrastructure or services are deployed)
Why were some initiatives not approved?
ISED assessed proposed projects based on their readiness for uptake and scalability, as well as alignment with the strategic vision and national mandate of both ISED and the Alliance for 2023-25. Initiatives that ISED deemed essential for service provision or to address rapidly growing demand were prioritized, for a total federal investment of up to $228.3 million over two years. Some initiatives will require additional collaboration and development to gain ISED approval. These initiatives will be re-evaluated as part of the Alliance’s 2025-30 funding proposal.
What happens to initiatives that were not approved for funding?
The Alliance remains committed to working with partners to address gaps in Canada’s digital research infrastructure (DRI), as identified during the collaborative development of the 2023-25 Multi-Year Funding Proposal (MYFP). Some initiatives will require additional consultation and groundwork to gain ISED approval. These initiatives will be re-evaluated as part of the Alliance’s 2025-30 funding proposal, to be submitted in fall 2023. We will continue to work with our colleagues across the DRI ecosystem to advance this important work.
Is there an opportunity to resubmit business cases for ISED consideration in 2023-25?
Our primary focus in spring and summer 2023 will be to develop a proposal for 2025-30. If our consultations with the DRI community identify a major funding gap that poses a significant risk to our ability to deliver on the National DRI Strategy in 2023-25, we will follow up with ISED.
Will cost-matching be required for initiatives?
ISED has required cost-matching from provinces and institutions for most initiatives and engaged provinces about co-funding requirements as part of its decision-making process. ISED will outline cost-matching requirements in Contribution Agreements as they are finalized. The Alliance will clearly communicate cost-matching requirements through the Program Guide and calls for proposals, and will work with proponents to ensure clarity.
What is the Alliance’s role with regard to securing total funds/contributions from various stakeholders, as required by the Contribution Agreement with Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada?
Our work is governed by a cost-matching funding model. Over the duration of our five-year mandate (2018-2023), we must achieve a 60:40 balance between federal funds and other funding sources, such as investment from provincial governments or institutions, including qualified in-kind commitments.
The Multi-Year Funding Proposal the Alliance submitted in September 2022 proposed a 60:40 funding model for capital investments and 50:50 for infrastructure funding.
We have been actively working with ISED and provincial representatives since the summer of 2022 to provide the tools and materials they need to make these investment decisions. Our role is to enable governments and institutions to navigate internal priorities by articulating the benefits and risks associated with the DRI investments, as collaboratively defined in the Alliance 2023-25 Multi-Year Funding Proposal.
How will the implementation of approved initiatives begin on April 1, 2023 when partner or regional agreements may not yet be in place?
There has historically been a bridge period between the start of the fiscal year and the flow of funds to institutions. In 2022-23, the bridge period was from April to August.
For existing programs, the Alliance is working with partner institutions to establish the necessary agreements to ensure a smooth transition into the next fiscal year.
The Alliance will work closely with applicants and partner institutions to ensure ISED and Alliance requirements are met, and funds can flow to institutions. New programs will roll out as requirements are met over the 2023-24 fiscal year.
What feedback did ISED provide on the Research Software proposal that was not funded in the 2023-25 DRI Investment package? What steps is the Alliance taking to secure funding for Research Software in the next funding cycle?
In our discussions with ISED following our submission, it became clear that in the absence of an approved national strategy for Research Software in Canada, there is a need to more clearly and collaboratively define the national role and mandate of Research Software activities.
ISED’s feedback did not question the importance of investment in the Research Software pillar, but whether the submitted business case, which proposed funding to specific institutions to deliver software services and benefits, would have an impact at the national level.
Our focus will be to first align with ISED on these national-level requirements and then revisit the business case with this shared understanding in mind.
In terms of engagement, our path forward will follow two tracks:
- We established a Research Software (RS) Strategy Working Group in January 2023 that is drafting a national RS strategy for 2023-30. The Working Group will also develop recommendations for the next funding proposal as part of the strategy.
- Planning is underway to develop the next proposal for 2025-30. The community engagement approach will be defined in spring 2023 and shared with the community soon after.
A new funding proposal for Research Software will begin after the completion of the draft National RS strategy, which is expected in late spring 2023. The final version will be in circulation in late summer 2023.
What is the Alliance’s Research Data Management (RDM) strategy going forward given that approved 2023-25 RDM funding was less than proposed in the MYFP?
Although some of the proposed initiatives to expand RDM services were not funded (e.g., National PIDS Strategy and Network Curation Services), the approved operational funding will enable the Alliance to maintain core RDM infrastructure and services, expand and pilot some services (DMP Assistant, Lunaris and a pilot program around controlled access for sensitive data in FRDR) while working to collaboratively define an RDM strategy for the next five years.