Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters

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.
The UBC Vancouver research community is invited to contribute to an external review of the GCRC program.

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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

2023/24 COMPETITION

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW open

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

Information sessions will be held via Zoom on:

  • October 13 from 10-11:30 am, and
  • October 17 from 10-11:30 am

Please register here.

An optional Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Session will be held on November 14 from 9:30-11 am for those who submitted an NOI. Registration for this session will open closer to the date.   

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) due 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.

ELIGIBILITY

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.

GRANT DETAILS

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:

 

General characteristics

Examples of catalytic activities

Emerging clusters

 (up to $100k)

  • Key faculty members are emerging as leaders in their field
  • A limited collaborative history with other key members (< 3 years)
  • Demonstration of some knowledge exchange activities
  • Demonstration of a defined pathway for research outcomes to have societal impacts
  • Evidence of a strategy for collaborative group funding
  • Develop group funding proposals
  • Develop research collaborations
  • Initiate and develop partnerships
  • Initiate community engagement opportunities
  • Engage in collaborative activities and/or events with other members

 

Established clusters

 (up to $200k)

  • Key faculty members are established as leaders in their field
  • Established collaborative history among members (> 3 years)
  • Evidence of ongoing and advanced knowledge exchange activities
  • Evidence that research outcomes have societal and/or cultural impacts
  • Evidence of significant collaborative group funding
  • Engage in activities to enhance cluster funding
  • Expand international partnerships
  • Enhance community engagement
  • Partner across sectors to enhance multidisciplinary approach
  • Develop an innovation plan to increase the uptake of research outputs by research users

 

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. 

REVIEW PROCESS

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 (stacey.herzer@ubc.ca) 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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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.

Timeline

September 29, 2022

Competition Launch

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

11:59 pm

Deadline for submitting a notice of intent

November 14, 2022

9:30am- 11:00am

 (Optional) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Session for GCRC applicants

January 11, 2023

11:59 pm

Deadline for submitting applications
April 1, 2022

Funds distributed

FAQs

Application Process and Format
Eligibility
Budget