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Canada launches First Research Excellence Fund

A significant investment of CAD 1.5 billion (EUR 1.03 billion) would fund Canadian universities to excel globally in research areas. The initiative, first of its kind in the country, is called Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), and although announced earlier this year (see ACA Newsletter ‘Education Europe’, Edition February 2014) it was officially launched by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on 4 December. 
The CFREF will be available to all post-secondary institutions on a competitive basis. Grants will be awarded on the basis of scientific merit, strategic relevance to Canada (including the potential for the research area to create long-term economic advantages for Canada), and quality of implementation plan. Submissions will be reviewed by independent panels of international scientific experts as well as a selection board composed of experts from the academic, public and private sectors. In the first competition, institutions will compete for up to CAD 350 million in awards over seven years, with applications due in March 2015. A second competition will be launched by 2016. 
In early December the government also published a renewed Science Technology and Innovation Strategy, which reviewed Canada’s research and innovation strengths and added emerging fields – including advanced manufacturing and agriculture – to existing priorities.