The Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters (GCRC) competition was jointly created by the Offices of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the Provost & Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver to enable the formation and growth of interdisciplinary research excellence clusters. Fostering collaboration is a central priority in UBC’s strategic plan (Shaping UBC’s Next Century).
For the purposes of this funding competition, a research excellence cluster is defined as a network of researchers spanning multiple disciplines at UBC who form and nurture interdisciplinary teams that foster partnerships and collaborations, develop new research questions/directions/themes in research creation, address key societal and cultural problems, and work together to solve challenges that transcend traditional boundaries. These grants are specifically targeted to catalyzing research initiatives, thereby enabling clusters to produce a greater impact than would otherwise be possible. Researchers from all disciplines are invited to apply for funding.
GCRC competitions are open to clusters led by researchers at our Vancouver campus and affiliated hospital sites. Clusters being led by researchers at our Okanagan campus can apply for funding through the Eminence program.
This compeition is now closed.
There will only be one competition in the winter for 2023/24 GCRC. New clusters and eligible clusters funded by previous GCRC competitions are invited to apply.
NOI: November 1, 2022
Full application deadline: January 11, 2023
Information sessions: October 13 and 17, 2022
Information sessions were held via Zoom on:
- October 13 from 10-11:30 am, and
- October 17 from 10-11:30 am
An optional Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Session was held on November 14 for those who submitted an NOI.
SUBMISSION AND SELECTION PROCESSES
online application PROCESS
To apply to the GCRC competition, the cluster lead must log in to VPRI’s online application system UBC Research + Innovation Apply using their campus-wide login (CWL), and follow the instructions provided. Once the full application has been initiated, the cluster lead may invite co-applicants with a CWL to contribute using the “add collaborator” button located in the left side block. Applications can be saved and completed at a later date before final submission and can be downloaded as a PDF at any time. Each section must be marked as complete before the lead applicant can submit the application.
A completed and signed Research Project Information Form (RPIF) must be uploaded as part of the application.
Researchers are invited to submit an application that demonstrates how the requested funding will be used to create and/or advance a research excellence cluster. Clusters should seek to generate new opportunities for collaborative research, scholarship and/or artistic creation. The outcomes achieved with GCRC funds may vary among applications (e.g., new partnerships, the pursuit of increased extramural funding opportunities, and international collaborations, which should make a strong case for the value of those outcomes to the proposed research cluster, and demonstrate how the funding will be used to achieve them.
Applications include the following components:
- Notice of Intent (NOI) [deadline Nov 1, 2022]
- An administrative NOI is required to enable the recruitment of reviewers and coordinate potentially overlapping applications. It is not adjudicated. Once the cluster lead submits the NOI, the full application will become available, and is due on Jan 11, 2023. Details of the full application are below.
- Cluster Lead Applicant Information
- Proposal Narrative
- Describe the research themes, new directions for research, scholarship and/or artistic creation that form the basis for the proposed cluster (800 words max)
- Complete the table of confirmed team members, collaborators, and partners (min 5 people, max 15 people).
- Describe the role confirmed team members, collaborators and partners will have in the cluster, including objective measures of the team’s excellence in research, scholarship and/or artistic creation (1000 words max).
- Describe the cluster's commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion as it applies to cluster membership, proposed activities and research themes (300 words max; please refer to our updated GCRC EDI Guide for Applicants).
- Articulate the cluster's goals and expected outcomes, including a project timeline (500 words max).
- Describe the cluster’s knowledge exchange activities, including the change or impact desired resulting from the cluster’s research, and identify target audiences and potential collaborators (300 words max; for additional knowledge exchange resources please see the knowledge exchange resource guide).
- 1 page max for references and 1 page max for figures and tables uploaded as PDFs (both are optional and have strict formatting instructions that must be adhered to or they will not be reviewed).
- Budget Justification
- Trainee Stipend (optional, 500 words max)
- To enhance training as part of cluster activities, emerging clusters may apply to use up to $30,000 of their cluster grant for trainee stipends. Established clusters may apply to use up to $60,000 of their cluster grant for trainee stipends. These training activities must support research projects that advance the cluster’s goals and outcomes.
- Applicants must provide a brief description of the research project(s) and role(s) that the trainee(s) will play in support of your cluster goals and proposed outcome, and how this will mutually benefit both the cluster and the trainee(s); and
- Provide a brief description of the access the trainee(s) will have to research training support, mentorship, and career development.
- Outcomes Report (required for all previously funded clusters for their most recent GCRC award). Outcome reports are completed online using UBC Research + Innovation Apply. Sample outcomes report
- Completed and signed Research Project Information Form uploaded as a PDF to UBC Research + Innovation Apply.
The lead applicant must be a UBC Vancouver faculty member eligible to hold Tri-Agency funding. Clusters may include non-faculty researchers, and we encourage clusters to include researchers from both UBC campuses and affiliated hospital sites as appropriate. Researchers may be members of more than one cluster, but can only be the nominated lead on one application per competition.
Clusters led by faculty members at the Okanagan campus must apply for cluster funding through the Eminence Program.
Currently and previously funded clusters whose project term lengths have ended or will end by March 2022 are eligible to apply.
All clusters must apply as either an Emerging or Established cluster and must choose a one- or two-year project term. The two-year term is designed to allow more flexibility for planning and spending an awarded budget. Please note that there is no budget increase if a two-year term is chosen. Applicants selecting a two-year budget term will not be eligible to apply to a potential 2024/25 GCRC competition.
Direct costs of research are ineligible. Clusters may choose to use a portion of their funding to support trainees by completing the trainee stipend section of the application. Stipends cannot be applied for following the awarding of GCRC funds.
Lead applicants from all disciplines who seek to propel their clusters towards global leadership are invited to apply. Applicants will be asked to self-identify their proposed cluster as either Emerging or Established for adjudication.
General characteristics and potential catalytic activities for each cluster type are presented here for illustrative purposes:
Examples of catalytic activities
(up to $100k)
(up to $200k)
A total funding envelope of $3.5M is available for this competition. Emerging clusters may request grants up to $100,000 per proposal. Established clusters may apply for grants of up to $200,000. Applications must include a strong budget justification that aligns specific activities with goals and expected outcomes. The GCRC review committees will carefully consider each budget item and have the option to recommend funding of only partial budgets if required.
All applicants will be notified of the competition results in February 2023, and grants will commence in April 2023. Funding must be spent within 1 year of receipt, or if a two-year term is chosen, clusters must spend at least 30% of their budget by the end of the first year. Successful applicants are required to submit an outcomes report no later than 60 days after the end of the grant. No extensions will be permitted.
The Vice-President, Research & Innovation (VPRI) Office will provide successful clusters with website development (provision of a web template plus development support) and access to specialists in innovation and commercialization. Applications that request funding for these activities must specify why additional support in these areas is required.
Successful clusters will be invited to participate in a cluster exchange workshop in May 2023. Details will be provided closer to the date.
Applicants are required to select one of three interdisciplinary review panels (STEM, Health, or Social Sciences, Humanities and Performing & Creative Arts). We recognize that clusters may include members and activities that work across more than one stated research area. Applicants are asked to try their best to assign their application to the review panel that best represents the primary research theme and activities of the cluster. If you are uncertain as to which panel you should apply, please contact the Manager, Internal Research Competitions: Stacey Herzer (firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance of submission to discuss.
Interdisciplinary panels will review applications and make decisions based on merit and the ability to best demonstrate how GCRC funds will be used to develop or expand a research cluster. Specific assessment criteria for both Emerging and Established clusters include:
- The proposed research addresses one or more complex and important questions facing society, and funding the cluster has the potential for transformative impact
- The proposal leverages GCRC funding to attract further funding opportunities
- Proposed collaboration involves multiple disciplines, partners, and/or sectors
- The research team demonstrates evidence of excellence in research and/or artistic creation
- Proposed knowledge exchange activities support the stated societal or cultural impacts, and involve and meet the needs of the targeted stakeholders
- A commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion is reflected in cluster membership and proposed activities through the following:
- The creation of diverse teams that plan to include a range of gender and sexual identities, career stages, and groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education
- A commitment to the equitable development and support of all team members
- The design of cluster activities that ensure team members, collaborators and partners have equal opportunities and access to resources, feel they belong, and are adequately supported and integrated into the team
For additional resources, see the GCRC EDI Guide for Applicants, the EDI Best Practices Guide (developed for the SSHRC New Frontiers in Research Fund competition), and the Support of Researchers – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion webpage on the VPRI website.
Additional criteria for Established clusters include:
- Demonstrated track record of teamwork (e.g., co-publications, co-supervised students, team grants, etc.)
- Evidence of previous knowledge exchange accomplishments and a plan for future activities (e.g., community engagement, policy impact, commercialization, etc.)
- Long-term plan for sustained funding
Additional criteria for the optional Trainee Stipend include:
- The proposal describes the research project(s) and role(s) that the trainee(s) will play in support of cluster goals and proposed outcomes, and how this will mutually benefit both the cluster and the trainee(s)
- The proposal describes what the trainee(s) will receive with respect to research training support, mentorship, and career development
Additional criterion for previously funded clusters:
- The extent to which the outcomes of the previous grant have been met or exceeded. If proposed cluster goals have not been met, deviations from expected outcomes and progress towards completing goals need to be well justified
The VP Research & Innovation Office will be hosting two information sessions on the current competition. We encourage all groups who are interested in applying for this competition to attend one of these sessions.
For further information on the GCRC funding competition, contact Stacey Herzer in the VP Research & Innovation Office.
September 29, 2022
October 13, 2022
10:00 am – 11:30 am
(Optional) GCRC Competition Information Session
October 17, 2022
10:00 am – 11:30 am
(Optional) GCRC Competition Information Session
November 1, 2022
|Deadline for submitting a notice of intent|
November 14, 2022
|(Optional) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Session for GCRC applicants|
January 11, 2023
|Deadline for submitting applications|
|April 1, 2022||
How do I submit an application?
- To apply to the GCRC competition, the cluster lead must log in to VPRI’s online application system UBC Research + Innovation Apply using their campus-wide login (CWL), and follow the instructions provided. A Notice of Intent (NOI) must be submitted by Nov 1, 2022, to qualify for the GCRC competition.
Do I need to include references or figures in my proposal?
- References and figures are not required but may be included in the application as optional uploaded PDFs. These uploads must strictly adhere to the formatting requirements stated in the application or they will not be reviewed.
Can I include CVs, letters of support, and other additional material as appendices?
- No. In the interest of fairness, these materials will not be reviewed.
Do I need to submit an RPIF with the proposal?
- Yes. A completed Research Project Information Form (RPIF) signed by the lead applicant’s Department Head, and if applicable, Centre Director and/or Dean must be included with the GCRC application.
Can details of the cluster proposal (e.g., members, title, PI, term length) change between submission of the NOI and full application?
- Yes. If the research area or requested review panel is changed, please email Stacey Herzer with the changes to ensure appropriate reviewers are secured.
What types of metrics should be presented as ‘Demonstrated evidence of excellence in research and/or artistic creation’?
- Appropriate metrics vary widely across areas of scholarly activity and should reflect the nature of the proposed cluster. Examples of research excellence could include attracted research funding, significant awards and honours, number of students/trainees in recent years, notable discoveries/impact, significant community partnerships, knowledge exchange activities with non-academic audiences, artistic exhibits, performances etc.
Who can be the lead applicant on a cluster grant?
- Any Vancouver-based UBC faculty member who is eligible to hold Tri-Agency funding.
Can a researcher be involved in multiple clusters?
- We do not limit the involvement of researchers in multiple clusters. However, serving in a leadership role for a cluster is a significant time commitment. Faculty members proposing to hold leadership responsibilities in more than one cluster will need to justify their time commitments in both proposals.
Can a researcher apply as the lead (nominated principal investigator) for more than one cluster?
- No. Researchers can only apply as the nominated lead on one application per competition. They may be identified as cluster co-leads on more than one application if time commitments are clearly justified in each application.
Can clusters involve researchers from other organizations?
- Yes. Inter-institutional and inter-sectoral collaboration is encouraged, but the proposal must bring together scholars within UBC as well.
Can potential collaborators and partners who are not yet secured be included in the proposal?
- Yes, strengthening/formalizing relationships may be part of the proposal, but potential collaborators and partners should be clearly differentiated in the proposal from those who are secured.
Can clusters that were unsuccessful in previous competitions re-apply?
Can clusters funded through previous competitions re-apply?
- Yes, clusters that received funding from previous competitions (in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020/21, 2021/22 and/or 2022/23 with a one-year funding term) are invited to reapply as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. They are required to submit the outcomes report from their most recent GCRC as part of their application and will be assessed on whether the proposed outcomes were achieved in addition to the merit of the new proposal. Any currently held GCRC funding must expire by March 31, 2023, to be eligible for the 2023/24 competition.
What can the funds be used for?
- Activities that are intended to solidify cluster formation or catalyze further development of a cluster. Common expenses include the costs of cluster meetings, workshops, and/or conferences, salaries for a cluster administrator/coordinator/grant facilitator, and community & stakeholder engagement. Direct costs of research are ineligible expenses.
- Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider the potential challenges that COVID-19 restrictions may impose on travel and large meetings when planning timelines and budgets.
Can I pay undergraduate students, grad students and/or postdocs with cluster funds?
- Up to $30,000 of the GCRC for emerging clusters and up to $60,000 of the GCRC for established clusters can be used to support students/trainees to conduct cluster-related research projects. This must be applied for using the Trainee Stipend form at the time of application. Trainees must be supervised or co-supervised by a UBC faculty member.
Can the funds be used for publication costs?
- Costs associated with publishing research outputs are considered direct costs of research, and as such are not eligible expenses for these funds. However, non-academic publications (e.g., a cluster annual report for stakeholders) are considered eligible expenses.