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McGill-Western Initiative for Translational Neuroscience ITN Impact Grants

Overview

The Initiative for Translational Neuroscience (ITN) was born from two CFREF-funded initiatives (Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) at McGill University and BrainsCAN at Western University). The initiative was created to support large-scale projects that synergize the unique strengths of McGill and Western to deliver short- to medium-term economic and societal impacts that are unachievable by either institution alone. The ITN serves as the vehicle for long-term sustainability of the research collaboration between the two institutions.

The ITN Impact Grants aim to support translational research projects with impact-oriented objectives in the field of neuroscience. The ITN has a specific focus on collaborative projects that are ready to move to societal or economic impact in the real world in the short term.

Funds available

The total funding envelope for this program is $1.5M shared between HBHL and BrainsCAN. The envelope is meant to support 1-5 projects for a duration of 24 months.

Funds will be released in three tranches following progress reports and assessment by the ITN Executive Committee. Projects must demonstrate satisfactory progress towards project aims and achievement of milestones to receive funding beyond the first tranche.

Funding is non-renewable.

Timeline

Deadline to express interest to NeuroSphere staff: September 25, 2023
Deadline to meet with NeuroSphere staff: October 3, 2023
Application deadline: October 9, 2023

Application process

Prerequisites:

  • To be eligible, project teams must include two Co-PIs—one from McGill University and one from Western University;
  • The project must be translational in nature and impact-focused;
  • The project must have the ability to achieve key impact-related milestones within 24 months;
  • Applicants must meet with  NeuroSphere staffneurosphere [at] mcgill.ca ( ) prior to submitting an application to determine their eligibility (see below for details);
  • Applications will be reviewed internally for eligibility and relevance;
  • Applications will be sent to a review committee, consisting of external reviewers;
  • HBHL/BrainsCAN staff will submit funding recommendations to the ITN Executive Committee for final funding decisions;
  • Successful applicants will be required to submit regular milestone and final reports and meet with the ITN Executive Committee to report on milestones.

Submission

Submissions will be made by emailing NeuroSphere a completed application, the budget template, and by completing the online equity self-identification form on the website.


Process

1. Express interest to NeuroSphere staff via email and meet with NeuroSphere staff to obtain invitation to apply

All applicants must express interest via email to NeuroSphere staff by September 25, 2023. Applicants must then meet with the NeuroSphere team to discuss their application and evaluate the eligibility of their project based on the following strategic selection criteria:

Strategic criteria (each scored 1 to 5)

  • Capacity of the project to move to a key inflection point within project timelines
    • Potential for impact (defined as potential for the proposed project to result in applied, measurable, and specific impact within a two-year timeframe.
  • Strength of relationship and outlined collaboration plan between McGill and Western Co-applicants
  • Translational nature of the project
  • Potential for the project to attract continued financing beyond the funding period
  • Team expertise and environment
  • Budget justification
  • Outcomes and avenue(s) post-ITN grant

2. Eligibility review

The NeuroSphere team will assess the eligibility of applications based on the following criteria:

Applicant Eligibility

  • Applicants: the Co-applicants must include at least one McGill researcher and one Western researcher who are eligible to hold Tri-Agency research funding (students and postdoctoral researchers are not eligible) and must have been invited to apply to this funding opportunity following a meeting with NeuroSphere.

Intellectual property

  • If IP creation is of relevance in the proposed project, a Report of Invention (ROI) must be filed with the Innovation and Partnerships Office at McGill (I+P) and WORLDiscoveries at Western University and disclosed at co-applicants’ and/or collaborators’ institution if relevant.
  • If the McGill and/or Western-affiliated researchers decide to manage the IP by themselves, without I+P and/or WORLDiscoveries, they will not be eligible.
  • If IP creation is relevant to the project, collaborators must demonstrate active conversations are taking place regarding how IP will be shared at the time of application.
  • If relevant, a commercialization agreement must be in place before the first tranche of funding is released.
  • A complete list of all relevant background IP and its associated inventors should be provided as an appendix to the proposal (the ownership of the background IP should be clearly articulated in this appendix).
  • There should be some discussion on how the lead institution will be determined for commercialization purposes. The institution best positioned to commercialize should be identified, based on the inclusion of factors such as current contacts, strengths, past or current successful commercialization in this space, and any relevant alumni leadership in this sector.
  • A full disclosure of the funding (both the amounts and the sources of funding, be they government, for profit or not for profit) utilized to generate the relevant background IP must be disclosed, along with a listing of all third parties who have rights to this IP (options, licenses, etc.). A Disclosure of any pertinent prior existing agreement that will impact how the background IP must be utilized should be disclosed, with the prior consent of the third parties affected.

Application completeness

To be considered “complete,” the application must include:

3. Relevance review

The NeuroSphere team will evaluate the relevance of applications based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with the strategic criteria for this ITN grant.
  • Alignment with ITN’s mission of translational research for social impact.
  • Allowable Costs: Funding must go towards direct support of project milestones (i.e., personnel, materials and supplies). Business case and model evaluation and strategic planning (if relevant) may also be considered as allowable costs. Large equipment is not an eligible expense. Other non-eligible expenses include market studies, patent searches or filling, maintenance costs, or salaries associated with commercial development. Although these activities are not eligible, McGill University’s Office of I+P and HBHL’s NeuroSphere staff can provide assistance in these areas. Funds cannot be used for compensation/salary of principal investigators, co-investigators or collaborators.

4. Peer review

Once the eligibility and relevance have been validated, a peer review committee will be formed to review the application based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for impact
    • Potential for the proposed project to result in applied, measurable, and specific impact within a two-year timeframe.
  • Collaboration strategy between McGill and Western co-applicants
    • Clearly outlined responsibilities, process for decision-making, strategy workflow, and regular communication between sites.
  • Approach/research plan
    • Quality of the proposed project (i.e., the problem/objective is clearly identified and the approach is sufficiently innovative and effective to reach the objectives)
  • Project objectives & outlined next steps if accomplished
    • Clearly defined longer-term objectives and roadmap for continued progression beyond funding period.
  • Key inflection point/milestone(s) proposed to position the project favorably within the next two years for future funding opportunities and/or clinical/commercial uptake and/or immediate social impact and/or economic impact
    • Clarity, feasibility, and ambitiousness of milestones using SMART elements: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound.
  • Team expertise and environment
    • Alignment of team’s expertise with listed project objectives.
  • Appropriateness of the proposed budget
    • Detailed justification for funds requested.
  • Sex- and Gender-based Analysis Plus (SGBA+)
    • Appropriateness of the application’s integration of sex as a biological variable, gender as a sociocultural determinant of health, and other relevant factors (e.g., race, age, Indigeneity, ability) or an evidence-based justification for not including these or other intersectional factors.
    • The historical omission of sex, gender, and other identity factors from health research has resulted in a dearth of evidence about the effects of these factors. Therefore, a lack of evidence indicating the importance of these factors in the literature is not a sufficient justification on its own for omitting them in the proposed study.
    • SGBA+ will be reviewed separately by designated, knowledgeable reviewers for all applications. Applicants may be asked to revise this section prior to receiving funding if reviewers deem it inadequate.
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)
    • A clear plan for consideration of EDI practices in the composition and management of the research team at both McGill and Western and any other partner sites, if relevant.

5. Strategic selection and final approval

Upon completion of peer review, NeuroSphere/HBHL and BrainsCAN staff will submit funding recommendations to the ITN Executive Committee for a final funding decision. To reach a funding decision, the ITN Executive Committee will consider both the results of the peer review as well as the strategic investment value of highly rated applications in contributing to ITN objectives (e.g., available funding, potential for impact, translational nature of project, etc.).

6. Results and post-awards

  • Applicants will be notified by email of the results of their application.
  • Successful applicants will be sent a Notice of Award (NoA). It is the applicant’s responsibility to complete the Acceptance of Award form and other required documents, by the indicated date.
  • Project start date must fall after the award has been approved and within 1-2 months after the reception of NoA.

7. Responsibilities of successful applicants

Successful Principal Investigators are required to:

  • Spend all awarded funds within the granting period—no extensions will be permitted.
  • Provide a final report to the ITN within 30 days of the end of the granting period.
  • Submit regular milestone reports and meet with the ITN Executive Committee over the course of the granting period to report on progress.
  • Funded researchers, their collaborators, and trainees are encouraged to attend educational, training, and entrepreneurship events and or co-investigators and workshops offered by NeuroSphere/HBHL and/or BrainsCAN.

Budget

Access the Budget template  (upload as part of a single PDF application package).

Provide details of the anticipated expenses, and how they were calculated. Justify why these expenses are necessary to the project. Mention any relevant quotes from suppliers for materials or services >$10,000.

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