The purpose of this fund is to help foster the creation of new industry-academia collaborations by allowing an industry partner to explore a small project related to an artificial intelligence (AI) application with an academic partner, at no cost. The project must center around the use of applied AI to solve an industrial problem, with the potential to advance the industry partner’s problem definition through to at least a proof of concept within a nine month time frame. This pre-voucher is aimed at industry partners who are uncertain about investing in AI and who need to see a demonstration before committing to a paid contract. The desired outcome of this funding will be increased industry uptake of AI. The maximum pre-voucher size is $20,000, and no leverage is required.
Application forms can be filled out on the NBIF portal (https://nbif-finb.smapply.io/) by the PI or by an industry engagement professional at the institution. Applications open on Oct 21, 2021 and are expected to close in summer 2022. New funding for this program will be released approximately every 3 months.
This program is non-competitive, and funding will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to applicants who are judged by NBIF to meet all the program requirements. A decision on whether an application will be supported can be expected within two weeks of receipt of a complete application form. Applicants will have 1 month to return a signed NOD. Projects must be completed within 9 months of funding disbursement.
Deliverables and Reporting
At the end of the 9 months of funding, a report will be requested from the PI on the project outcomes. For 12 months following the award, the PI must keep NBIF appraised, at a high level, of any follow-up AI projects that occur with the industry partner. Additionally, the Industry partner must participate in an end-of-project debrief with NBIF staff, to understand project impact and explore next steps for AI adoption.
The industry partner must agree to allow NBIF to share publicly share specified non-confidential details of their project, specifically the name and location of Industry partner, name and institution of PI, plain language summary of the project, and size of NBIF contribution. This publicity may include written content on the NBIF website, posts on NBIF social media, or in presentations at NBIF events.
The maximum award that can be requested from NBIF is $20,000 and no leverage is required (there is no required contribution from the industry partner). At least 60% of the budget is for staffing costs (students, technicians etc). The remainder can be used for related equipment, consumables, etc. but any equipment purchased remains the property of the research institute. There can be no overhead included in the NBIF portion of the budget.
NBIF takes no stake in the intellectual property developed in these projects. Applicants will need to describe their own approach to IP in the application form
- The industry partner has demonstrated revenue from FY20-21 and would be in a position to make a cash contribution to a project within the next 12 months
- The industry partner has not previously contributed cash to a research project with the proposed PI.
- The industry partner has physical operations in NB and is incorporated in Canada.
- The industry partner has not previously used this NBIF AI pre-voucher program.
- Pending the results of this pre-voucher, the industry partner might consider engaging in a follow-up project, which could involve a direct cash contribution. This could involve use of another funding mechanism, such as an NBIF Innovation Voucher.
- The PI is an eligible NBIF grant holder at an NB research institution
- The PI or someone on their team has some expertise in artificial intelligence, as demonstrated by any combination of their CV, previous AI projects, and/or peer-reviewed articles.
Sample application form available here.
Fund Manager: Eya Affes and Laura Richard (firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com)