Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


About the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund

What is the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund?

What is the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund?

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is providing up to $2 billion for infrastructure projects at post-secondary institutions across Canada to enhance and modernize research and commercialization facilities, as well as industry-relevant training facilities at college and polytechnic institutions.

The program supports projects that correspond to at least one of the following three categories:

  • improve the scale or quality of facilities for research and innovation, including commercialization spaces;
  • improve the scale or quality of facilities for specialized training at colleges focused on industry needs; and
  • improve the environmental sustainability of research and innovation-related infrastructure at post-secondary institutions and college training infrastructure.

The funds from federal sources will cover up to half (50%) of the project's eligible costs, with the remaining amount of funding coming from non-federal partners except for institutions accredited by an Aboriginal Government where total federal funding could be up to 100%.

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Why is the Government of Canada funding post-secondary institution infrastructure?

Why is the Government of Canada funding post-secondary institution infrastructure?

In Budget 2016, the federal government put forward a vision to build Canada as a global centre of innovation—one that focuses on strengthening the middle class by creating jobs, driving growth across all industries and improving the lives of all Canadians. Known as the Innovation Agenda, this is an inclusive plan to foster a confident nation of innovators - one that is globally competitive in promoting research, translating ideas into new products and services, accelerating business growth and propelling entrepreneurs from the start-up phase to international success.

The Strategic Investment Fund is helping realize the Innovation Agenda's vision by investing up to $2 billion over three years in post-secondary institutions infrastructure across Canada including universities, colleges and other research institutions to reinvigorate Canada's research and science base, address existing needs and help achieve Canada's long-term innovation and sustainability objectives.

Post-secondary institutions play a fundamental role in Canadian society by developing highly skilled and creative workers. Quality infrastructure in these institutions is key for attracting and retaining talented people, boosting innovation and building a sustainable economy. The Strategic Investment Fund aims to modernize research and commercialization facilities, as well as industry-relevant training facilities at colleges and polytechnic institutions. This helps strengthen the development of highly-qualified, talented people, performing world-leading research, and generating new breakthrough ideas.

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Will this be a permanent program?

Will this be a permanent program?

No, the Strategic Investment Fund is a temporary program to stimulate economic activity, while supporting longer-term innovation and environmental objectives. Consequently, approved projects must be substantially completed by April 30, 2018. Costs incurred after that date will not be eligible for funding under the program.

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About the application process

What was the deadline for project proposal applications?

What was the deadline for project proposal applications?

Project proposals were to be submitted to the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) by May 9, 2016. The application period is now closed.

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Will there be other calls for proposals?

Will there be other calls for proposals?

The Strategic Investment Fund is a temporary program to generate immediate short-term economic activity, while supporting longer-term innovation and environmental objectives. Projects were submitted (and selected) in response to a one-time call for application. Approved projects must be substantially completed by April 30, 2018.

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How were projects selected?

How were projects selected?

The Government of Canada accepted project proposals from post-secondary education institutions and from provinces and territories.

Project proposals were considered against the following criteria:

  • completeness of the application, i.e. whether all required information was submitted;
  • readiness, i.e. how quickly the proposed project could move forward; and,
  • merit, i.e. whether the project would generate short-term economic activity including any evidence that the project would be accelerated or expanded relative to what would have happened in the absence of Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund support; potential to promote innovation and long-term economic growth by improving research and innovation or commercialization space; potential to advance Canada's climate change and sustainability goals; potential to increase capacity and functionality of specialized training facilities at colleges focused on meeting industry needs; and potential to benefit Aboriginal populations.

The Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) conducted project proposal reviews against the program criteria. Eligible projects were selected at the discretion of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in consultation with the Minister of Science and the provinces and territories. Subsequently, contribution agreements were finalized and signed between the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and provinces, territories or individual institutions.

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Will project selection be carried out the same way in each province and territory?

Will project selection be carried out the same way in each province and territory?

Projects from all provinces and territories deemed an eligible institution for federal funding were considered for selection based on project readiness and merit, including their ability to generate economic activity, and their ability to enhance research and innovation capacity or sustainability.

A review of all eligible project proposals was conducted by ISED against the program criteria. Projects approved for funding under the Strategic Investment Fund were selected at the discretion of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in consultation with the Minister of Science. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions were also invited to identify projects that were a priority for their government.

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Which institutions were eligible for funding under this program?

Which institutions were eligible for funding under this program?

Accredited universities, colleges, publicly funded polytechnic schools, CEGEPs and institutes of technology were eligible for federal support under this program.

Eligible recipients were defined as those institutions that are directly or indirectly authorized by agreement, under the terms of provincial or territorial statutes, to deliver post-secondary courses or programs that lead to recognized and transferable post-secondary credentials. This encompasses both public and not-for-profit private institutions, including Aboriginal-controlled (institutions created by Aboriginal organizations, band councils or Aboriginal governments) and Government of Canada-controlled post-secondary education institutions.

Those institutions that are affiliated or federated with an eligible institution, for example research and teaching hospitals, research parks, incubators and accelerators, were able to apply but had to do so through the institution with which they are affiliated.

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Which types of projects were considered eligible for funding under this program?

Which types of projects were considered eligible for funding under this program?

Under the Strategic Investment Fund, projects were considered eligible if they corresponded to the enhancement, expansion, new construction or repair of infrastructure assets and fit into at least one of the following three objectives:

  • improve the scale or quality of facilities for research and innovation, including commercialization spaces;
  • improve the scale or quality of facilities for specialized training at colleges focused on industry needs; and
  • improve the environmental sustainability of research and innovation-related infrastructure at post-secondary institutions and college training infrastructure.

Examples of projects improving the scale or quality of facilities for research and innovation, including commercialization spaces, include but are not limited to:

  • research laboratory renewals and upgrades to all types of teaching laboratories or research centres;
  • expansion of buildings to meet research program needs, growth needs, and research and innovation needs;
  • research library renewal and expansion;
  • expansion of space for technology transfer offices, business incubators and accelerators to support post-secondary industry collaboration on research and development;
  • expansion of facilities that support prototype development as proof of principle assessment; and
  • renewing space (such as a former library or lecture hall) to be converted to a research and innovation or commercialization space.

Examples of projects improving the scale or quality of facilities for specialized training at colleges focused on industry needs include, but are not limited to:

  • expansion and retrofitting of classrooms or labs containing, or to be modified for the purpose of becoming equipped with industry standard equipment;
  • converting space into an industry or sector specific specialized training space (such as aviation, nanotechnology or green technology);
  • retrofitting old auditoria/lecture halls into industry or sector-specific specialized training space; and
  • increasing facility capacity for advanced areas, such as Red Seal trades.

Examples of projects improving the environmental sustainability of research and innovation-related infrastructure at post-secondary institutions and college training infrastructure include, but are not limited to:

  • new technologies or approaches for improved efficiency in energy use (such as energy efficient windows; energy efficient lighting/pumps/motors); and,
  • approaches for improved efficiency in generation, storage and distribution of energy, including investments in cogeneration facilities, converting heating plant burners to cleaner, more efficient fuels, and investments in renewable energy technologies.

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Were projects identified under provincial and territorial long-term plans eligible under this program?

Were projects identified under provincial and territorial long-term plans eligible under this program?

Yes, such projects were eligible provided that they corresponded to the enhancement, expansion, new construction or repair of infrastructure assets at post-secondary institutions and that they met the program's eligibility criteria.

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About the funding

When was the decision for federal funding of project proposals made?

When was the decision for federal funding of project proposals made?

Project selection concluded in the summer/early fall 2016. Funding decisions are currently being made and projects are being publicly announced.

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What was the maximum level of funding available per project?

What was the maximum level of funding available per project?

The Strategic Investment Fund sought to support projects at post-secondary education institutions in communities across Canada. A maximum level of funding per project had not been identified. Selected projects where the Strategic Investment Fund funding is above $50 million needed to undergo additional steps in the selection and approval process.

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How was funding from federal sources disbursed?

How was funding from federal sources disbursed?

The Government of Canada and the recipient established a schedule of payments over the life of the project. Payments are made against detailed quarterly reports.

The remaining amount of the project funding may come from the eligible recipients themselves, provincial or territorial governments, the charitable sector, the private sector, or others as appropriate. The level of investment from partners is required to be equivalent to the amount being funded by the federal government.

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Was there a provincial and territorial funding allocation formula?

Was there a provincial and territorial funding allocation formula?

There was no provincial or territorial funding allocation formula being used under this program. Project funding was awarded on the basis of assessment of eligibility, merit and readiness.

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Did the funding from other federal programs count towards matching funding amounts by non-federal partners?

Did the funding from other federal programs count towards matching funding amounts by non-federal partners?

No, the maximum allowable funding from all federal sources was 50% of the project's total eligible costs. An exception to this rule are institutions accredited by an Aboriginal Government. In those cases total federal funding could be up to 100%.

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Are contingency costs eligible for funding under the Strategic Investment Fund program?

Are contingency costs eligible for funding under the Strategic Investment Fund program?

Contingency costs are not an eligible expense under this program. Given that the Strategic Investment Fund is a claims-based program, all reimbursements will be based on claims for actual costs. Blanket contingency/allowance/escalation items (i.e. 10% of construction costs) are not eligible for funding under the program guidelines. The Strategic Investment Fund eligible costs are based on the program's Treasury Board approved terms and conditions, to ensure that the program meets its funding profile within program timelines, including a project completion deadline of April 30, 2018.

As per the program guide, applicants were encouraged to provide a breakdown of project costs when submitting their application. If applicants submitted contingency costs as part of their application, these costs were removed.

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Is the sales tax paid by the recipient eligible for reimbursement under the Strategic Investment Fund program?

Is sales tax paid by the recipient eligible for reimbursement under the Strategic Investment Fund program?

As per the program guide, ineligible expenditures include "provincial and federal sales tax, for which the ultimate recipient is eligible for a rebate, and any other costs eligible for rebates". In order to determine the eligibility of tax costs, applicants must provide the percentage of tax being applied net of rebates with details explaining the calculation. An acceptable substantiation of tax net of rebate includes a list of items to which the tax and rebate applies. It is not sufficient to provide a figure identified as tax net of rebate without this information.

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About the delivery of the program

Once projects were selected, what were the next steps?

Once projects were selected, what were the next steps?

Once projects were selected for funding, the negotiation of contribution agreements between the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and provinces, territories or individual institutions occurred; and projects are being publicly announced.

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How were provinces and territories involved with the Strategic Investment Fund program?

How were provinces and territories involved with the Strategic Investment Fund program?

The Strategic Investment Fund is a cost-sharing program between the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments. Consultations were held with all provincial and territorial partners throughout the program development phases and during the project approval process. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions were also invited to identify projects that were a priority for their government.

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How will the benefits of the program be conveyed to the public?

How will the benefits of the Strategic Investment Fund program be conveyed to the public?

ISED will report on the ongoing implementation and effectiveness of this initiative through the Departmental Performance Reports. Periodic updates of progress will also be posted on the program website.

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How will the projects be monitored?

How will the projects be monitored?

Similar to other grants and contributions programs managed by the federal government, the Strategic Investment Fund will have a project management framework with a number of control mechanisms (i.e.: regular reporting) that will allow us to track project progress, as well as how much funding has been spent throughout the project implementation.

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