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Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Application Guide

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Notice: Proposal submission due date

The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub is now closed for submissions. The deadline was September 14, 2018.

Table of contents

Section A: General information

1. Introduction

This application guide has been developed to assist in the completion of a project proposal for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). It provides information on how to submit an application for funding as well as the assessment criteria against which project proposals will be assessed.

Prior to developing your project proposal, it is recommended that you first read this application guide to ensure a clear understanding of the WEKH's objectives, and eligibility criteria.

To be considered for funding, applications must be complete and provide all the required information, as stated in this application guide. Applicants with additional questions are encouraged to visit the Frequently asked questions page or are invited to contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) at

2. About the Hub


The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality, women's economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy), announced in Budget 2018. As part of the Strategy, the Government has made available funding over three years to accelerate the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, data and best practices for women entrepreneurs.

Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)

The WEKH will help close information gaps regarding the economic participation of women entrepreneurs and their access to business support services. Through evidence-based research, improved knowledge, and the development of public metrics related to women and the entrepreneurship ecosystem, this investment will support governments and stakeholders to:

  • gauge the engagement and impact of funded government programs;
  • share best practices;
  • identify and address stereotypes about women as entrepreneurs and in business; and
  • develop business support materials that translate research into useful tools for women entrepreneurs and organizations that engage or support them.

The aim of the WEKH's activities must help ensure that women entrepreneurs, women business support organizations, government bodies and financial institutions in Canada will be equipped with useful resources and new information to better understand and assist women entrepreneurs. These outcomes will help facilitate the full engagement of women entrepreneurs in Canada's economy.

3. Submission details and deadline

A complete project proposal for the WEKH must be submitted by September 14, 2018, 11:59 p.m. PDT and should consist of:

  1. The WEKH Application Form (MS Word document);
  2. List of Partner Applicants – Template 1 (MS Excel);
  3. Detailed Budget Information and Justification (Template 2) (MS Excel); and
  4. Required supporting documentations (see Appendix A: Checklist).

Application Intake

All applications must be submitted by email or registered mail by the deadline posted on the WEKH website September 14, 2018, 11:59 p.m. PDT. Should your application package be incomplete, this will result in your application being rejected. ISED will acknowledge receipt of your application package within two business days. All applications will be reviewed after the deadline.

By registered mail

Please send your application package to the following address:

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy – Small Business Branch
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H5

By email

Proposals and supporting documents for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub are to be submitted to ISED through the generic email:

Please be advised that this generic email account is un-secured and should not be used if you are sending sensitive or personal information. If you wish to submit your application package electronically in a secure manner, contact us through the generic email to obtain more information (Please ensure sufficient time (72 hours) for this process in order to submit your request within the deadline).

Submission prior to the deadline date is encouraged to ensure that applications are successfully received. Late submissions will not be retained for consideration.

4. Application process

Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis and awarded to the submission that best fits the initiative needs and assessment criteria.

The templates provided with this Application Guide must be used and submitted in their original formats (e.g., using the same columns or headings, not saved as another file format); responses must be typed single-spaced in Times New Roman, font size 12. Please also provide supporting documents, as indicated on the checklist (Appendix A).

5. Eligibility requirements

5.1 Eligible applicants

Applicants may apply independently or as a Consortium with other organizations to deliver the Hub activities.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as a Consortium to strengthen their application request; increasing the scope and breadth of activities they can deliver.

Eligible applicants are one of the following:

  • Canadian post-secondary academic institutions;
  • Canadian research institutes;
  • A consortium of one or more of the above parties partnering with Canadian incorporated non-profit organizations

Consortium applicants

  • Must have a Canadian post-secondary academic institution or a Canadian Research institute Lead Applicant
  • Canadian incorporated non-profit organizations are encouraged to participate as a Consortium member

The Lead Applicant will be responsible for the completion and signing of the application form, managing the project and contribution funding and report on results.

Ineligible applicants

  • For–profit organizations

Please note: the Province of Quebec's M-30 legislation may apply to Québec based applicants. For further information, consult the following website prior to submitting your Application for Funding: An Act respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (M-30).

All Quebec based organizations will have to address this matter and demonstrate their compliance with the Act prior to entering into a contribution agreement.

5.2 Eligible projects

Each of the following requirements must be met in order for projects to be considered for funding:

  • the project must ensure a national reach (i.e. access to services, including in rural, remote and Northern regions must be available across Canada);
  • activities and products must be delivered in both official languages;
  • proposals must include all three activities as described in 5.3;
  • activities must incorporate diverse, intersectional groups as described in 5.3.
  • submit a 36 month workplan and budget (three years);
  • the total amount requested for a non-repayable contribution with ISED cannot exceed $8,620,000; and
  • the inclusion of a financial sustainability plan for the funding of the knowledge hub after the contribution agreement end date.

5.3 Eligible activities

Applicants or Consortiums must deliver the following activities:

  1. A report on the progress of women entrepreneurs in Canada, including a measure or review of the entrepreneurship ecosystem supports for women in Canada
    • Identifies a sound strategy for working with women's business support organizations in order to take inventory of existing business supports
  2. Activities related to collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information, and/or advancing research on women's entrepreneurship
    • Identifies and addresses incorrect assumptions/stereotypes about women in business;
    • Develops business support materials that translate academic research into user friendly useful tools for stakeholders; and
    • Develops a communications plan to disseminate new research, other relevant information, and best practises to women's business support organizations, government bodies, and private financial institutions
  3. Activities to support sharing of best practices and knowledge amongst women business support organizations. (e.g. sharing of information related to best practices for increasing diversity, and tools to help increase the participation of women on boards and within senior management).
    • Identifies a sound strategy for working with women's business support organizations to identify best practices.
    • Includes a survey of women's business support organizations to determine WEKH resource uptake in their programming for women entrepreneurs.

Applicants are also encouraged to engage in additional activities that will contribute to the achievement of the WEKH objectives.

Diverse, intersectional groups (such as youth, indigenous, minority, and LGBTQ, rural, remote or Northern communities) should be included in each of the above activities.

Please note any activities started prior to the signing of an agreement with ISED will not be eligible for reimbursement.

5.4 Eligible costs

Eligible costs are expenses that are directly related to managing the WEKH and its activities.

Eligible costs include:

  • Salaries and benefits of employees specifically identified as delivering the activities of the WEKH;
  • Costs related to marketing and communication;
  • Administrative expenses (cannot exceed a maximum of 10% of the total contribution amount paid annually), such as:
    • travel costs, in accordance with the National Joint Council Travel Directive;
    • professional fees (i.e. IT, technical expertise, legal, translation, digital and social media production); and
    • costs of essential materials, supplies, minor equipment, computers, and furniture (total costs, up to a maximum of $10,000 annually);
  • Other costs necessary to support the purpose of the funding, as approved by the Minister of ISED.

5.5 Ineligible costs

The following are examples of ineligible costs:

  • Allowance for interest on invested capital, bonds, debentures, bank or other loans together with related bond discounts and finance charges;
  • Losses on investments, bad debts and expenses for the collection charges;
  • Losses on other projects or contracts;
  • Federal and provincial income taxes, goods and services taxes, excess profit taxes or surtaxes and/or special expenses in connection with those taxes;
  • Premiums for life insurance on the lives of officers and/or directors;
  • Amortization of unrealized appreciation of assets;
  • Depreciation of assets;
  • Fines and penalties;
  • Capital expenditures such as land and building expenditures;
  • Expenditures related to developing a project proposal for funding;
  • Costs related to the routine administration and operation of the applicant and partner organizations, except the reimbursement of salary and administrative costs specifically identified and related to the Hub;
  • Salary of members of the Board of Directors;
  • Contingency costs; and
  • Honoraria, gifts, donations, and entertainment expenses.

5.6 Expected results and outcomes

Project outcomes should help facilitate the engagement of women entrepreneurs in the economy.

All projects submitted must demonstrate the following anticipated results:

Outcome(s) Performance Indicator(s)

Raised awareness and interest in the Support for the WEKH.

Number of stakeholder organizations engaged using the Knowledge Hub's communications strategy (i.e. outreach)

Women business support organizations are equipped with coordinated and useful resources to assist women entrepreneurs

Number of business support organizations who work with the Knowledge Hub

Percentage of business support organizations for women entrepreneurs which indicate that they have modified their programming and/or services to reflect information and resources produced by the Knowledge Hub

Government bodies and private financial institutions are equipped with new information to better understand and serve women entrepreneurs

Number of Government bodies who receive new information about women's entrepreneurship from the Knowledge Hub

Number of private financial institution representative bodies that receive new information about women's entrepreneurship from the Knowledge Hub

The successful Recipient will also be required to:

  • provide ISED with quarterly progress updates; and
  • develop and publish an annual report.

6. Assessment criteria

Applications will be reviewed in a two-step process as follows:

  • Step 1: Initial Screening: All application packages will be screened by ISED to ensure that they are complete and meet the eligibility criteria. If an application package is incomplete or fails to meet the eligibility criteria, applicants will be notified in writing that their application will not be considered further.
  • Step 2: Review and Approval: Eligible application packages will be assessed for quality, merit and relevance. Please note that the assessment criterion for each section is included in the Application Guide. All Applicants will be assessed using an evaluation grid based on the criteria determined for each question.

To be considered for funding, Applicants must score a minimum of 70/100.

Criteria for assessing proposals will include:

Capacity and History 20%


  • Knowledge of women's entrepreneurship, including women entrepreneurship ecosystem in Canada
  • Experience working with entrepreneurs
  • Experience working with diverse, intersectional groups of women


  • Experience in effectively managing projects of a similar size and scope
  • Experience in financial administration and management of projects of similar size and scope
  • Expertise in knowledge management, information compilation, classification, and dissemination
  • Experience in leveraging funding to achieve sustainability
Implementation 70%


  • Proposal demonstrates sound methods and ability to capture and process information from evidence-based sources
  • Activities clearly meet the project requirements and will achieve the goals of the WEKH
  • Diverse, intersectional groups (such as youth, indigenous, minority, and LGBTQ, rural, remote or Northern communities) are included in activities

Workplan and Timetable

  • Well-defined activities that will achieve the Hub's objectives
  • Lead for each activity and sub-activities are identified
  • Clear and feasible timelines

Performance Measurement

  • Clear outputs/outcomes
  • Quality success indicators
  • Detailed data collection methods and sources of information
  • Timelines and frequency (how often data will be collected and for what time period)

Risk Mitigation

  • Risks are identified and ranked
  • Reasonable mitigation measures are identified

Sustainability Plan

  • Viability of a financial self-sufficiency plan to achieve financial sustainability by the end of funding agreement
Budget 10%


  • Provides detailed justification of the resources required to carry out the project activities
  • Requests eligible expenditures within the budget ceilings
  • Demonstrates value for money
  • Contributes other sources of funding (leveraging), and provides documentation to prove the status of funding

The Government of Canada reserves the right to accept a proposal, in whole or in part, and give consideration to factors such as government priorities, geographic coverage, delivery approaches and diversity.

ISED may seek input from other federal government partners to benefit from their expertise and experience in working with women entrepreneurs.

7. Approval and contribution agreement

Once the competitive assessment process has been completed, Applicant(s) will be informed of the status of their submission.

Following project approval, a Contribution Agreement between the successful Applicant(s) (which then becomes the Recipient) and ISED will be prepared. This document will include the legally binding responsibilities and obligations of both parties. All Consortium Applicants will be co-signatories on the same Contribution Agreement.

8. Stacking provisions and other government assistance

Leveraging of funds is strongly encouraged and will be an assessment criterion for this initiative. However, total Canadian government assistance for all eligible expenses under the WEKH, including federal, provincial/territorial and municipal, cannot exceed 100% of total eligible costs funded. The stacking limit applies to the scope of activities captured by the Contribution Agreement.

The Recipient for the WEKH will be obligated, as set out in the Contribution Agreement, to inform ISED of all Canadian government (federal, provincial, territorial, municipal) financial assistance it has requested and/or received toward WEKH eligible activities prior to the Minister approving the Contribution Agreement.

In the event that the Recipient exceeds the stacking limit, ISED will adjust the Contribution Agreement, prior to signing, accordingly to respect the above mentioned limit.

9. Governance, management and budget allocation

In the instance that the successful Recipient for WEKH will operate as a Consortium, governance and administrative structures to administer the project and disburse funding to Partner Applicants must be put in place according to the terms in the Contribution Agreement.

Section B: Application form instructions

Step 1: Applicant contact information

This section should be completed by the Applicant. In the case of a Consortium, the lead Applicant will be the key point of contact and is requested to complete and sign the Application Form. Applicants must ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this section.

Step 2: Proposal information

1. Project executive summary

Provide details on the Applicant's proposed vision for the WEKH, and an overview of key aspects of the proposal, including projected benefits for the women entrepreneurship ecosystem and how this proposal will meet WEKH objectives.

2. Organizational capacity and history

Responses in this section are meant to provide background information on the capacity and suitability of your organization.

2.1 Overview

Please provide any relevant organizational information (e.g.: mandate, mission statement etc...)

2.2 Suitability:

Please clearly demonstrate how your organization has:

  • knowledge of women's entrepreneurship, including an in-depth understanding of the women's entrepreneurship ecosystem in Canada.
  • experience working with entrepreneurs; and
  • experience working with diverse, intersectional groups of women.
2.3 Capacity

If applicable, please clearly demonstrate if your organization has:

  • Previous experience in effectively managing projects of a similar size and scope (i.e. national audience), including overseeing work of the proposed project team (e.g. personnel, quality of work delivered by Partner Applicants)
  • Experience in financial administration of projects of similar size and scope
  • Experience in leveraging funding to achieve sustainability.
  • The expertise in knowledge management, information compilation, classification, and dissemination to plan the activities of a Knowledge Hub and manage its operations
2.4 Monies from government sources

Please list all government funding (municipal, provincial or federal) your organization or members of your Consortium has received in the last five years.

2.5 Amounts owing to the Government of Canada and other arrears:

This information is meant to provide an overview and status of any amounts owing to the government and other arrears by the Applicant or Partner Applicant, if applicable, in the last five years.

3. Partnership, collaboration and governance (For Consortiums only)

Applicants for the WEKH can apply as a Consortium. This section focuses on demonstrating partner commitment to the activities indicated in the proposal.

Instruction on how to complete the List of Partner Applicants – Template 1 is provided in Section C

3.1 Overview

Please provide any relevant organizational information for each Partner Applicant (e.g.: mandate, mission statement etc...)

3.2 Role of Partner(s)
  • The roles and responsibilities of each partner.
  • The role of the Partner Applicant(s) in achieving project objective(s).
3.3 Ability
  • How each Participant Applicant has the breadth and depth of expertise to successfully deliver on eligible Hub activities.
3.4 Governance Structure
  • The proposed governance and reporting structure of the Consortium and the legal arrangements between partners. Please include conflict resolution and risk management strategies.

4. Implementation

4.1 Reach

Describe how you intend to provide activities and services, in both official languages to a diverse group of women entrepreneurs. In addition, provide details on your ability to ensure your project has a national reach (i.e. access to services, including in rural, remote and Northern regions must be available across Canada)

4.2 Delivery

In accordance with the eligible activities you propose to deliver in your submission, please provide a detailed explanation of each activity you will undertake.

4.3 Describe any proposed "Additional Activities" to support women entrepreneurship

If applicable, the activities proposed under this section must demonstrate how they contribute to the Hub objectives of advancing evidence-based research.

4.4 Workplan and Timetable

The completed Workplan and Timetable should identify the following:

  • Activities that you will deliver in the context of this project (please refer Section A 5.3 for a full list);
  • Well-defined and realistic sub-activities that will achieve the project's key activities;
  • Responsibilities for each of the key activity areas are identified; and
  • Feasible timelines that reflect the requirements of the activities being proposed.
4.5 Performance monitoring chart
  • Describe how your activities will contribute to the three required outcomes for the Knowledge Hub (for more information please refer to Section A 5.6).
  • Complete the Performance Monitoring Chart in full, ensuring that activities clearly align with proposed outputs, indicators, targets, data collection methods and timelines/frequency.
4.6 Risk mitigations chart
  • Describe the three main risks that could have an impact on your organization's ability to carry out the activities proposed and achieve the desired objectives related to the project as a whole.
  • Please indicate the probability (indicate low, medium or high) for each risk.
  • Describe mitigation strategies for each risk.
4.7 Planned future revenue generation (i.e. Project Financial Sustainability Plan)

Identify your organization's and Partner Applicant's future financial support. Describe plans for revenue generation to achieve financial self-sufficiency following the three year period of funding provided by ISED.

Step 3: Declarations

The declarations and certifications are made by the Applicant and are mandatory.

Step 4: Submitting your application

Please follow the instructions identified in the section to submit your application. The Application Form must be signed by an individual authorized to legally sign on behalf of the Applicant.

Section C: List of partner applicants – Template 1

Please provide "Letters of Support" from each Participant Applicant. The Letters of Support must state clearly how the Partner Applicant will support the Lead Applicant in delivering the project activities. The letters must be signed by an authorized member who has signing authority.

Please attach Template 1 – List of Partner Applicants to the submission. The list must include the following details:

  1. Name of Partner Applicant
  2. Type of Organization (e.g. post-secondary institution, research institute, not-for-profit organization)
  3. Line of business and/or focus of activities
  4. Business Number
  5. Address of location
  6. Contact name
  7. Contact Phone Number
  8. Contact Email Address

Please note: All information provided may be verified by ISED for accuracy and used as part of the assessment of applications.

Section D: Detailed budget information – Template 2

Project costs may only be incurred after a Contribution Agreement has been signed between the Recipient and ISED and must be directly related to approved project activities.

Identify budget items and funding expected for each of the three fiscal years* of the duration of the project.

* Please note, the federal government's fiscal year begins April 1 and ends March 31.

Project costs: A. Total eligible costs

Populate line items under each eligible cost category and provide associate budget per fiscal year. Eligible costs are described in Section A 5.4 of the guide.

Project costs: B. Total ineligible costs

Indicate the ineligible costs necessary for the project. Ineligible costs are described in Section A 5.5 of the guide.

Project funding: A. Total funding requested from ISED

Please enter final requested amount

Project funding: B. Total funding from other sources

This section requires the following information:

  1. Will you or your Partner Applicants receive other government funding (i.e. federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal) to support the activities under this project? and/or
  2. Will you or your Partner Applicants receive funding from other private or not-for-profit sectors?

    If yes, please provide the following information:

    • Name of funding source(s) and amount of funding by fiscal year;
    • Status of application;
    • Approved (attach a copy of documentation confirming funding approval); and
    • Pending (indicate contingency plan should the funding not be available
  3. Will the Applicant and/or Partner Applicants support the activities through cash* and/or in-kind** contributions to the project?

    If yes, please provide the following information:

    • Name of funding source(s) and amount of funding by fiscal year
    • Other funding

*Cash contributions are: money, leveraged positions and salary top-up invested in the project.

**In-kind: donated goods and services such as training or technical services, supervision, workspace and equipment, secretarial support and other resources provided without charge by Hub partners. These contributions must be estimated at fair market value.

Appendix A: Checklist

Your application package must include the following:

  1. Completed original Application Form signed by an authorized representative of your organization (e.g. CEO, CFO, etc.). In the case of a Consortium, only the Lead Applicant is required to sign.
  2. Completed Templates 1 & 2 (List of Partners and Detailed Budget)
  3. Copy of Applicant's and Partner Applicant's status certificate, incorporation documents (patent letters) or articles of Incorporation;
  4. Documentation of financial support/leveraging from other sources towards costs of planned activities under this proposal.
  5. Sustainability plan for WEKH's financial self-sufficiency following the three-year period of funding provided the Government of Canada through this initiative.
  6. Audited financial statements for both Applicant and Partner Applicants (note: unaudited financial statements may be submitted, however, audited financial statements must be submitted once they are made available to the organization). If available online, please share links.
  7. Letters of Support from Partner Applicants stating how they will contribute to the project.
  8. The Applicant's and Partner Applicant's most recent annual report. If available online, please share links.

Appendix B: Glossary

Activities are undertakings that are eligible for funding under the WEKH and required to complete a project. Activities will be proposed by the Applicants as part of the project proposal and finalized in the Contribution Agreements.
The Applicant meets Hub eligibility and is a not-for-profit organization incorporated pursuant to the laws of Canada. The Applicant can also be a consortium or group of applicants. Applicants which are consortia require a Lead Applicant which is responsible for submitting the application. All Participants in a consortium must be incorporated in and active in Canada and meet the Hub eligibility criteria.
Refers broadly to the set of documents submitted to ISED in order to participate in the application process for funding for the WEKH.
Business support:
Organizations that provide business services (i.e. financing, mentoring, networking, business planning, financial literacy, etc.) to meet the needs of the wider business community.
Cash Contribution:
Refers to money, leveraged positions and salary top-up invested in the project.
Refers to a group of applicants applying to the WEKH that may include Canadian universities, colleges, research institutes, and/or not-for-profit entities. The Consortium must have one Lead Applicant and a group of Partner Applicants. The Consortium submits one application collectively, and may have various legal arrangements among its partners.
Contribution Agreement:
A written agreement between the Government of Canada and an eligible Applicant that sets out the obligations and understandings of both with respect to one or more transfer payments. Upon execution of the Contribution Agreement the Applicant is referred to as the Recipient. The Government of Canada is responsible for drafting the Contribution Agreements.
Eligible Costs:
The costs to which Hub funding may be applied and which are established in the Contribution Agreement.
Ineligible Applicant:
Applicants that do not meet the Hub eligibility criteria to receive funding from the WEKH.
Ineligible application:
Applications that do not meet the Hub eligibility criteria.
Ineligible Costs:
Costs that are not eligible for reimbursement through the Hub initiative.
In-kind Contribution:
Refers to donated goods and services such as: training or technical services, supervision, workspace and equipment, secretarial support and other resources provided without charge by Hub partners. These contributions must be estimated at fair market value.
Intersectional groups:
Intersectional groups are those with overlapping or intersecting social identities (for example LGBTQ groups in rural and northern areas).
Lead Applicant:
The Lead Applicant will be responsible for submitting the application and will be the main point of contact for ISED during the application and assessment process. The Lead Applicant must be identified in the mandatory field on the WEKH Application Form and must be a Canadian post-secondary academic institution or Canadian research institute.
Letters of Support:
Letters of support are provided by each Participating Applicant in a Consortium stating how they will contribute to the project. The Letter of Support has to be signed by an authorized representative of the Applicant.
Partner Applicants:
Partner Applicants are proposed members in a Consortium application. Partner Applicants must be identified in the mandatory fields on the Application Form. Any organization incorporated and active in Canada that meet the Hub eligibility requirement of the WEKH is eligible to be a Partner Applicant.
The combined activities that are required to accomplish a stated objective and the completion of the activities may result in specific outcomes being achieved. The Contribution Agreement includes a statement of work that details the eligible project and related activities.
A legal entity that is a party to the Contribution Agreement and receives funding. Upon approval of a project following Step 2 of the application process and the signing of a contribution agreement, the applicant becomes a Recipient.
Value for Money:
It is a term that refers to achieving economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and equity (in access) in project delivery.
Women business support organizations:
Organizations that provide targeted business support services to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs.
Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem:
The women's entrepreneurship ecosystem refers to the totality of organizations that support women entrepreneurs both directly and indirectly. This includes women's business support organizations, federal, provincial/territorial and municipal government departments and agencies, financial institutions such as the Business Development Bank of Canada, post-secondary institutions and academia, non-profit organizations such as Futurpreneur Canada, sector-specific national and provincial associations, and other business support organizations.
Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub:
The Knowledge Hub will be responsible for conducting several activities that will contribute to the Hub objectives of advancing evidence based research.
Women from underrepresented groups (or diverse women):
Underrepresented groups could include but not limited to women with disabilities, Indigenous women, women in rural or remote regions, recent immigrants, racialized women, and women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).
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