COVID-19 Challenge: Made in Canada filtration material for the manufacture of N95 respirators and surgical masks

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

To protect healthcare personnel against exposure to airborne particles and droplet hazards related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is seeking a solution that will provide alternative filtration materials at large scale volumes that are suitable for use in the manufacture of N95 respirators and surgical masks for healthcare workers.

Challenge Sponsor: National Research Council of Canada (NRC)

Funding Mechanism: Grant

Opening date: April 7, 2020
Closing date: April 17, 2020, 18:00 Eastern Daylight Time

Prospective applicants should refer to the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document.

Phase 1 award recipients

Phase 2 award recipients

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Challenge

Problem Statement

The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), with emphasis on surgical masks and N95 respirators, resulting in a global shortage of finished product and raw material, and a resultant spike in prices.

The Government is pursuing a multi-prong strategy to ensure that Canadians have the equipment they need, including N95 respirators. This includes an aggressive international procurement effort to source masks from reputable suppliers abroad. It also includes the development of permanent and significant domestic production capacity so that Canadians can be assured of availability from Canadian suppliers.

As an additional element of this comprehensive strategy of leaving no stone unturned, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is seeking alternative solutions for the industrial production of efficient filtration material entirely sourced and manufactured in Canada, to be used for manufacturing of surgical masks and N95 respirators. These alternative solutions could potentially further increase the security of supply for Canadians.

Desired outcomes and Considerations

A revision has been made to Essential (Mandatory) Outcome numbers 4 and 7. The revisions are highlighted.

Essential (mandatory) Outcomes

The proposed solution must:

Phase 1

  1. Clearly identify if it is:
    • proposing the repurposing of existing facilities to produce material similar to currently commercially available products; OR
    • proposing entirely novel concepts
  2. Be sourced and manufactured in Canada
  3. Describe a complete strategy for the industrial production of the domestically produced filtration material for use in NIOSH-certified N95 respirators and Surgical Facemasks tested to ASTM F2100.
  4. The solution must be scalable to allow for the production of a minimum of 50,000 m2/The following has been changed from year to month.month of filtration material needed for the production of NIOSH-certified N95 respirators and Surgical Facemasks tested to ASTM F2100.
  5. Describe the characteristics and properties of the solutions that will be conducive to conversion into respiratory protection devices such as NIOSH-certified N95 Respirators and Surgical Facemasks tested to ASTM F2100.
  6. Demonstrate feasibility of prototypes meeting the following requirements when tested as material samples :
    1. N95 respirators made from the new material must be able to be meet the requirements of 42 CFR part 84 and be NIOSH-certified (ref. test TEB-APR-STP-0059: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/stps/pdfs/TEB-APR-STP-0059-508.pdf )
    2. Surgical Facemasks made from the new material must be able to be meet the requirements of ASTM F2100 Level 1 at minimum.

Phase 2

  1. Result in industrial scale system capable of producing 50,000 m2/The following has been changed from year to month.month filtration material.
  2. As demonstrated by test data, production lot of a filtration material that allows the production of :
    1. N95 respirators made from the new material must be able to be meet the requirements of 42 CFR part 84 and be NIOSH-certified (ref. test TEB-APR-STP-0059: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/stps/pdfs/TEB-APR-STP-0059-508.pdf )
    2. Surgical Facemasks made from the new material must be able to be meet the requirements of ASTM F2100 Level 1 at minimum.
Test ASTM F2100-19
Standard Specification for Performance of Materials Used in Medical Face Masks
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Bacterial Filtration Efficiency, % ≥95 ≥98 ≥98
Differential Pressure, mm H2O/cm2  <5 <6 <6
Submicron particulate filtration efficiency at 0.1 micron, % ≥95 ≥98 ≥98
Resistance to penetration by synthetic blood, minimum pressure in mm Hg for pass
result
80 120 160
Flame spread Class 1 Class 1 Class 1

Note: Applicants are reminded that under Question 1a (Scope) proposals must describe how solutions clearly meet all 8 of the Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes listed in this section. Applicants should focus their Phase I project plan on demonstrating the feasibility of Essential Criteria 1-6. Applicants can focus on Essential Criteria 7 to 8 during Phase II work.

Additional Outcomes

The proposed solution should:

  1. Result in products meeting superior requirements such as ASTM F2100 Level 2 or 3 for Surgical Facemasks, as demonstrated by test data.
  2. Result in a product that can be used at least twice without loss of efficiency, for example through washing or sterilization.
  3. Result in a product that is capable of deactivating viruses while being non-toxic to human health.

Information for all applicants

NRC and partner agencies and departments will meet virtually with the most promising applicants prior to Phase 1 to validate their expertise and capabilities before engaging with them.

Phase 1: NRC will meet virtually the selected applicants at the end of Phase 1 to assess progress and discuss potential challenges.

Phase 2: NRC will meet virtually the selected applicants to monitor progress and discuss potential challenges.

Background and Context

The severe spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created a global surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), with emphasis on surgical masks and N95 respirators.

The Government of Canada's multi-prong strategy includes an aggressive procurement effort. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is asking suppliers about their ability to provide products and services. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are included (https://buyandsell.gc.ca/calling-all-suppliers-help-canada-combat-covid-19). An additional element of the strategy is to reduce Canada's dependency on external supplies and increase the security of supply for Canadians. To that end, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is seeking alternative solutions for the industrial production of efficient filtration materials to be used for the manufacturing of surgical masks and N95 respirators ensuring full protection against exposure to airborne particles and fluid hazards for healthcare personnel. The solutions must be entirely sourced and manufactured in Canada.

Conventional filtration materials are composed of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or bi-component fibers (PP-PE), or other appropriate polymeric fibers for medical applications. Those fibers, in the form of micro-fibers, nano-fibers or mixtures thereof, are commonly manufactured using extrusion technologies (such as melt blowing) before being assembled into a non-woven. The area density of conventional filtration materials is comprised between 10 and 25 g/m2, comprising 1 to 5 g/m2 melt blown microfibres. (Handbook of Medical Textiles, V Bartels - 2011 - Technology & Engineering, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/21f3/6a0256fe7e5eeec3a9731f154b6f5d2bd51e.pdf).

The numbers of synthetic polymer fibers and filaments and of surgical masks and N95 respirators manufacturers are limited in Canada (Canada listing search: http://www.companylisting.ca/CA/all/325220/default.aspx).

Standard test methods provided for reference:

ASTM F2100: Standard Specification for Performance of Materials Used in Medical Face Masks

NIOSH, Procedure TEB-APR-STP-0059: Determination of particulate efficiency filter level for N95 series filters against solid particulates for non-powered, air-purifying respirators standard testing protocols (STP).

Maximum grant value and travel

Multiple grants could result from this Challenge.

Funding of up to $1,000,000 CAD for up to seven (7) days could be available for any Phase 1 grant resulting from this Challenge.

Estimated number of Phase 1 grants to be awarded: 2

Funding of up to $5,000,000.00 CAD for up to four (4) weeks could be available for any Phase 2 grant resulting from this Challenge. Only eligible businesses that received Phase 1 funding could be considered for Phase 2.

Estimated number of Phase 2 grants to be awarded: 1

This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any grant for the total approximate funding. Final decisions on the number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will be made by Canada on the basis of factors such as evaluation results, departmental priorities and availability of funds. Canada reserves the right to make partial awards and to negotiate project scope changes.

Travel

For Phase 1 it is anticipated that several teleconference/videoconference meetings will be required

Kick-off meeting

Teleconference/Videoconference

Progress Review Meeting(s)

Teleconference/Videoconference

Final Review Meeting

Teleconference/Videoconference

Eligibility

Solution proposals can only be submitted by a business that meets all of the following criteria:

  • for profit
  • incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
  • research and development activities that take place in Canada

Evaluation Criteria

The applicant must complete the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form with a degree of information sufficient to enable Canada's assessment of the proposal against the criteria and the Evaluation Schema. The information must demonstrate how the proposal meets the criterion.

Part 1: Mandatory Criteria

Proposals must meet all mandatory criteria identified by achieving a "Pass" in order to proceed to Part 2. Proposals that do not meet all mandatory criteria will be deemed non-responsive and given no further consideration.

Mandatory Criteria

(Applicant's proposal must address)

Question 1 a: Scope

Describe the proposed solution and demonstrate how it responds to the challenge. Include in your description the scientific and technological basis upon which the solution is proposed and clearly demonstrate how the solution meets all of the Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes section in the Challenge Notice.

Evaluation Schema (Mandatory - Pass/Fail)

Pass

The Applicant's proposed solution is clearly articulated, within the scope for the challenge and addresses all Essential (Mandatory) Outcomes (if identified) in the Challenge Notice.

Fail

The proposed solution is articulated as out of scope for the challenge.
OR
The proposal does not clearly demonstrate how the proposed solution addresses all Essential Outcomes listed in the challenge.
OR
The proposed solution is poorly described and does not permit concrete analysis.
OR
There is little to no scientific and/or technological evidence that the proposed solution is likely to meet the challenge.

Question 2: Current Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
  • Indicate the current TRL of the proposed solution. (Drop Down Menu of the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form)
  • Describe the research and development activities that have taken place to bring the proposed solution to the stated TRL.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory - Pass/Fail)

Pass: The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution is currently between TRLs 1 and 6 (inclusive), and provided justification by explaining the research and development (R&D) that has taken place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.

Fail: The Applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the current TRL is between 1 to 6 (inclusive) including:

  • There is insufficient/no evidence provided for TRL judgment.
  • The solution involves the development of basic or fundamental research.
  • The solution is demonstrated at TRL 7 or higher.
  • Insufficient/unclear/no justification explaining the R&D that took place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.
  • The explanation simply paraphrases the description of a given TRL level.
Question 3a: Innovation

Demonstrate how the proposed solution meets one or more of the ISC definitions of innovation below:

  • An inventionFootnote *, new technology or new process that is not currently available in the marketplace.
  • Significant modifications to the application of existing technologies/components/processes that are applied in a setting or condition for which current applications are not possible or feasible.
  • An improvement in functionality, cost or performance over an existing technology/process that is considered state-of-the-art or the current industry best practice.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory – Pass/Fail)

Pass:

The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution meets one or more of the ISC definitions of innovation.

Fail:

  • Applicant has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the proposed solution meets any of the ISC definitions of innovation; OR
  • Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution is an incremental improvement, "good engineering", or a technology that would go ahead in the normal course of product development (i.e. the next version or release).
Question 3b: Advance on State of the Art

Describe in detail the competitive advantages and level of advancement over existing technologies. Where appropriate, name existing technologies as well as potential substitutes or competitors.

To demonstrate this, proposals should include the following information:

  • Improvements (minor or major) over existing technologies or substitutes. Use direct comparison.
  • How the proposed innovation will create competitive advantages in existing market niches or market spaces.
Evaluation Schema (Mandatory Criteria – Pass/Fail + Points)

0 points/Fail:

  • The Applicant has not demonstrated that the proposed solution advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including available competing solutions; OR
  • The proposed solution improves minimally upon the current state of the art, though not sufficiently enough to create competitive advantages in existing market niches; OR
  • The stated advancements are described in general terms but are not substantiated with specific, measurable evidence.

5 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers one or two minor improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions, that have potential to create competitive advantages in existing market niches.

12 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers three or more minor improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions, that together are likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches; OR
  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers one significant improvement to existing technologies that is likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches

20 points/Pass:

  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution offers two or more significant improvements to existing technologies, including available competing solutions that are likely to create competitive advantages in existing market niches and could define new market spaces; OR
  • The Applicant has demonstrated that the proposed solution can be considered a new benchmark of state of the art that is clearly ahead of competitors and that is likely to define new market spaces

Part 2: Point-Rated Criteria

Proposals must meet the overall minimum pass mark of 50% to be deemed responsive. Proposals that do not achieve the minimum pass mark will be declared non-responsive and given no further consideration.

Point-Rated Criteria

(Applicant's proposal to address)

Question 1b: Scope

Demonstrate the scientific and technological basis of how the proposed solution addresses the Additional Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes section in the Challenge Notice. If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, text entered in this section will not be considered.

If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, Applicants will receive 10 points.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the solution will address any of the Additional Outcomes. 0 points
  2. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address some (<50%) of the Additional Outcomes. 3 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address most (50% or more) of the Additional Outcomes. 6 points
  4. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the solution will address all (100%) of the Additional Outcomes. 10 points
Question 4: Phase 1 Science and Technology (S&T) Risks

Describe potential scientific and/or technological risks to the successful development of the proof of feasibility and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has considered potential risks and mitigation strategies and/or information provided contains significant gaps. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has considered some potential risks and associated mitigation strategies but there are minor gaps in risks and/or associated mitigation strategies. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has sufficiently considered the risks and defined associated mitigation strategies. 10 points
Question 5: Phase 1 Project Plan

Demonstrate a feasible Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.

  • Indicate if any milestones and activities will be completed concurrently
  • Indicate the estimated exit TRL at the completion of Phase 1. (Drop Down Menu of the Challenge Stream Electronic Submission Form)
Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate a feasible project plan for Phase 1 and/or the project plan exceeds the maximum duration indicated in the Challenge Notice. 0 points
  2. Project plan for Phase 1 is conceivably feasible but not clearly demonstrated and/or includes gaps. 10 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates a feasible project plan for Phase 1. 20 points
Question 6: Phase 1 Project Risks

Describe potential project risks to the successful development of the proof of feasibility and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1.

Applicants should address the following risks, as applicable:

  • Human Resources
  • Financial
  • Project Management
  • Intellectual Property
  • Other project-related risks

Note to Applicants: S&T risks should not be included in this section. Question 4 addresses S&T risks.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has considered potential risks and mitigation strategies and/or information provided contains significant gaps. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has considered some potential risks and associated mitigation strategies but there are minor gaps in risks and/or associated mitigation strategies. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has sufficiently considered the risks and defined associated mitigation strategies. 10 points
Question 7: Phase 1 Implementation Team

Demonstrate how the project implementation team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the project plan for Phase 1 by completing the table. A member of the implementation team can have more than one role.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the project team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 0 points
  2. Information is provided but there are minor gaps in required management and/or technological skill sets and/or experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 10 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the project team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the Phase 1 project plan. 20 points
Question 8: Inclusivity

If your business were to receive funding from Innovative Solutions Canada, describe what actions (e.g., recruitment strategy, internships, co-op placements, etc.) might be taken in Phase 1 to support the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., women, youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, visible minorities) in the research and development of the proposed solution. Each Applicant in their response to this question must focus only on describing relevant programs, policies, or initiatives that it currently has in place or would put in place to support the R&D effort in Phase 1.

Note: Do not provide any personal information of individuals employed by your company or that of your subcontractors in the response.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. No description and/or concrete examples of actions provided that would be taken to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups. 0 points
  2. A description and concrete examples of actions to encourage greater participation of under-represented groups provided.5 points
Question 9: Phase 1 Financial Proposal

Demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient information provided and/or information provided significantly lack credibility. Does not demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan. 0 points
  2. Information is provided but some costs lack credibility and/or are unclear for the Phase 1 project plan. 7.5 points
  3. Information provided contains credible elements to clearly demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan. 15 points
Question 10: Phase 1 Financial Controls, Tracking and Oversight

Describe the financial controls, tracking and oversight that will be used to manage the public funds throughout Phase 1. Applicants should indicate if an individual or firm will be managing the public funds and provide their credentials and/or relevant experience.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate the Applicant's ability to manage public funds in Phase 1. 0 points
  2. Information provided is vague and/or contains gaps. The Applicant has some controls, tracking and/or oversight in place to manage the public funds in Phase 1. 5 points
  3. Information provided clearly demonstrates that the Applicant has strong financial controls, tracking and oversight to manage public funds in Phase 1. 10 points
Question 11: Phase 2 Overview

Demonstrate a realistic overview for the prototype development plan if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Responses should include:

  • key tasks
  • estimated cost for materials
  • human resources
  • project risks and mitigation strategies

Note: A more detailed proposal will be requested if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the Applicant has contemplated a realistic overview for the Phase 2 prototype development. 0 points
  2. Information provided demonstrates a conceivably realistic overview for Phase 2 prototype development, however there are gaps and/or the strategy is vague. 6 points
  3. Information provided demonstrates that the Applicant has a clear and realistic overview. 12 points
Question 12: Commercialization Approach

Demonstrate a realistic overall commercialization approach/business model that can successfully take the technology/service to market, and how the technology/service will help you develop and sell other products.

Responses should include:

  • Target markets (excluding Government of Canada)
  • Non-ISC funding sources
  • Transition to a commercially-ready product or service
  • Any other indicators of commercial potential and commercial feasibility

Note: A more detailed proposal will be requested if selected to participate in Phase 2.

Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Insufficient or no information provided to demonstrate that the proposed solution has commercial potential. 0 points
  2. Some information provided to demonstrate that the proposed solution has commercial potential, however there are gaps in the commercialization approach. 6 points
  3. A realistic commercialization approach is provided that demonstrates that the proposed solution has commercial potential. 12 points
Question 13: Resulting Benefits to Canada

Describe the benefits that could result from the commercialization of the proposed solution. Applicants should consider the potential benefits using the following three categories and provide justification for each claim:

  • Innovation Benefits: Expected contribution towards the enhancement or development of new industrial or technological innovations within your firm. Responses could include: potential spillover benefits, creation of intellectual property, impact on productivity of the new technology, etc.
  • Economic Benefits: Forecasted impact on the growth of Canadian firms, clusters and supply chains, as well as its expected benefits for Canada's workforce. Responses could include: number of jobs created, number of high-paying jobs, investment in Canada's economy, etc.
  • Public Benefits: Expected contribution to the broader public to the degree that the solution is expected to generate social, environmental, health, security or other benefits to Canada. Responses could include: solution-related environmental benefits, solution-related accessibility benefits, and solution-related impact on Indigenous communities.
Evaluation Schema (Point-Rated)
  1. Innovation Benefits

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

  2. Economic Benefits

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

  3. Public Benefits.

    Benefit not identified or insufficient claim of benefit. 0 points

    Benefit has marginal increment or limited justification. 1 point

    Benefit is significant and well justified. 2 points

Questions and answers

All incoming questions regarding this specific challenge should be addressed to solutions@canada.ca.

You can also consult the Frequently asked questions about the Innovative Solutions Canada Program.

glossary is also available.

Must all raw material inputs be sourced and manufactured in Canada, if an alternative is available in the United States but also able to be sourced in Canada is that an acceptable alternative?

Being independent from external supplies is a priority for this challenge. Raw materials should be available in Canada. Alternative supplies could come from the US, but priority is on Canadian sources.

Does the capital equipment necessary to fabricate said material need to be entirely sourced and manufactured in Canada or does that requirement only (potentially) hold for material used in construction?

Requirement only holds for the material. Capital equipment can be sourced outside of Canada. Prospective applicants should refer to the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document, specifically section 3.5 (Eligible Costs) and the description of allowable capital costs (reproduced below).

Capital costs: capital items (fixed assets) include equipment, testing tools, and instruments that have residual values as determined by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) at the end of the funding period. The eligible expense items allowed by the ISC are the cost of utilization/depreciation of capital item (fixed assets) specifically required for the delivery of the eligible project.

Will test equipment such as a TSI model 8130A automated filter tester or other be provided or made available in Phase 1 or Phase 2 for iterative development or validation?

NRC is currently working to build a list of companies/organizations that have the appropriate equipment to do the testing and that will be able to support the applicants for development and validation in Phase 1 or more likely in Phase 2. If necessary, NRC will initiate contacts with the applicants so that they can work together for development and validation in Phase 2. Please note that only companies selected for Phase 1 will have an opportunity to apply for Phase 2.

NRC and ISED are also in contact with companies/organizations capable of manufacturing masks and respirators from the filtration materials. If necessary, we will initiate contacts with the applicants so that they can work together for development and validation in Phase 2.

Clarification on Phase 1 and Phase 2 timelines, is Phase 1 only to last 7 days with $1 million granted at the end? Same for Phase 2, is that to last 4 weeks for the desired outcome with up to $5 million granted at the end?

Phase 1 is only 7 days. The budget has to be realistic versus the proposed deliverables and the technology readiness level. A maximum of up to $1M could be granted.

The challenge sponsoring department, in this instance NRC, will determine in consultation with funding recipients the disbursement schedule. Although typically there is some upfront amount that is released at the start of the project period.

Phase 2 is up to 4 weeks. Again, the budget proposal has to be realistic versus the proposed deliverables and the technology readiness level. A maximum of up to $5M could be granted. Only companies that are chosen for Phase 1 and successfully complete Phase 1 will receive an invitation to submit a Phase 2 proposal. Similar to Phase 1, NRC will determine in consultation with funding recipients the disbursement schedule. Although typically there is some upfront amount that is released at the start of the project period.

Please note that disclosure of maximum available funding for Phase 1 and Phase 2 is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any grant for the total approximate funding. Final decisions on the number of Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will be made by Canada on the basis of factors such as evaluation results, departmental priorities and availability of funds. Canada reserves the right to make partial awards and to negotiate project scope changes.

In closing the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document contains all relevant information applicants need to know, including: eligibility requirements, Phase 1 proposal instructions, evaluation procedures and criteria, proposal selection and grant award.

Will the NRC provide a testing apparatus to ensure our manufactured product meets the requirements of 42 CFR part 84 and be NIOSH-certified?

The NRC will provide a list of companies / organizations that are capable of testing and certifying the semi-finished and finished products. A budget required to run this testing can be included in a financial proposal.

How long would it take to provide the funds in Phase 1 from the time a proposal is selected?

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) will be doing its best to evaluate proposals, identify companies for grants, perform its due diligence and arrange grant agreements in a timely fashion. We encourage you to review Part 4 — Evaluation procedures, proposal selection and grant award of the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures Call 03 document to understand the steps from proposal selection to grant award. As the challenge sponsoring department, NRC will decide how grants will be disbursed, however, typically there is a portion provided up front. 

Are all tests supposed to be finished in one week?

The challenge sponsoring department, in this instance the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), has indicated that Phase 1 must be completed in 7 days. Activities identified in your Phase 1 proposal must be completed in 7 days, assuming of course your proposal was selected for a Phase 1 grant.

I have founded a company that developed a product that could be used to make novel filters that would indeed be permanent, however some of the monomers are not made in Canada currently. Could those materials be used or should all reactants that are used to make intermediate products be made in Canada?

The Challenge aims at reducing Canada's dependency from external supplies. As such, all raw materials should ideally be made in Canada.

In your questions and answers you state the following: "NRC is currently working to build a list of companies/organizations that have the appropriate equipment to do the testing and that will be able to support the applicants for development and validation in Phase 1". Does that mean that we supply the materials and NRC will do the testing? Or do we need to include the costs and time necessary to complete the applicable standards testing in Phase 1?

NRC will not do the testing but can provide a list of companies / organizations that have the capabilities to do it. The applicants should include the costs and time necessary for testing / certification in their financial proposal.

Could you please confirm that the timeline for Phase 1 is 7 days?

Yes.

Is there a Canadian lab which can test products for ASTM F2100 Level 1 specifications? I have only found US labs at this time?

Health Canada has recently published a list of laboratories and certification bodies accredited by the Standards Council of Canada to test against PPE (personal protective equipment) standards:
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-devices/covid-19-unconventional-manufacturing-personal-protective-equipment.html

Could you please clarify the meaning of 'Demonstrate feasibility of prototypes'? Is the outcome of the 1 week N95 Filter Material Challenge, Phase 1, required to be a physical prototype manufacturing system able to produce material(s) that have passed the required tests or to demonstrate the feasibility of producing a working prototype in CAD/writing/technical analysis that the proposed solution(s) will meet the N95 Filter Material Challenge Phase 2 outcome requirements?

If selected for a Phase 1 award, there is an expectation that the funding recipient demonstrates how their solution meets the Essential Outcomes.

If the funding recipient is not able to supply a laboratory scale sample or to have all desirable testing completed at the end of Phase 1, NRC expects to see scientific data showing evidence that the solution is likely to meet the requirements when used for the manufacture of N95 respirators or surgical masks. Potential applicants should note that the precise project activities identifying specific milestones will be negotiated between NRC and applicants selected for Phase 1 awards prior to the signing of any funding agreements.

Our team had a question about the application, specifically in section D, the difference between Part 4 Science and technology risk and Part 6 project risks. Could we get some clarification on this?

For illustrative purposes only. A science and technology risk might be the development of a new chemical formulation where it's unknown how chemicals will react when combined together (e.g., is there a possibility of an explosion). What will the company do if the formulation does not work? How will they mitigate this risk?

A project risk could be one of the following (illustrative list only):

  • Human Resources
  • Financial
  • Project Management
  • Intellectual Property

For example, if a company needs specific human resources but does not have them within their organization, what will they do? Will they recruit someone during the project period or will they outsource to a subcontractor?

Eligible expenses are the depreciation on machinery used during the process of Innovative Solutions Canada. Will this proposal be any different to facilitate the installation and set up of a manufacturing facility for filtration material?

For grant funded challenges, all Innovative Solutions Canada Phase 1 eligible costs are identified in Section 3.5 (Eligible Costs) in the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document.

We believe that we have an innovation for novel materials that can fully meet the requirements including all essential outcomes and additional outcomes. However, the 7 days to demonstrate this new material with all requirements for N95 has a big concerns on how and where we can test the novel materials?

Health Canada has recently published a list of laboratories and certification bodies accredited by the Standards Council of Canada to test against PPE (personal protective equipment) standards:
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-devices/covid-19-unconventional-manufacturing-personal-protective-equipment.html

Is the solution itself most valuable at this stage or the real material sample is most critical? 5 out of 6 essential outcomes require documentations to support the claims. We trust that our novel filtration material will meet all the outcomes and three additional outcomes. However, we have one technological parameter uncertain. It may not be able to be optimized within a week if the analysis is not available or not on time.

If a funding recipient in Phase 1 is not able to supply a laboratory scale sample or to have all desirable testing completed at the end of Phase 1, NRC expects to see scientific data showing evidence that the solution is likely to meet the requirements when used for the manufacture of N95 respirators or surgical masks. Potential applicants should note that the precise project activities identifying specific milestones will be negotiated between NRC and applicants selected for Phase 1 awards prior to the signing of any funding agreements.

ISC and NRC will keep all the submitted proposal confidential for all clients. Is this correct also for all not granted proposals?

The proposals are kept confidential. 

Is the funding award based on the costs? Or based on the solution potential value?

Grants are not awarded based on lowest cost. Prospective applicants should refer to the Innovative Solutions Canada Grant Instructions and Procedures document and specifically Part 4 — Evaluation procedures, proposal selection and grant award.  Under Part 4, we encourage you to read section 4.3.1 Proposal Selection and Method of Selection.

What is expected to accomplish in Phase 2 if the Phase 1 material is selected? 4-weeks is not sufficient to purchase the needed equipment for 50 000 m2 production line. Specially during COVID-19 lock down, many manufacturers are closing down or slowing down their production capability. What is the real catch here?

For Phase 2, funding recipients that are not able to have a large scale system capable of producing 50 000 m2 of filtration material / month at the end of Phase 2, NRC expects to see empirical evidence and a realistic schedule justifying that the funding recipient will be able to reach this capacity. Potential applicants should note that the precise project activities identifying specific milestones will be negotiated between NRC and applicants selected for Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards prior to the signing of any funding agreements.

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