Volume 92, Issue 43

Thursday November 19, 1998

billionaire boys' club


Research funding getting closer

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Western has moved a little closer to potential funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation after receiving an anticipated letter from the CFI.

The foundation is part of a government initiative to help fund research projects at Canadian universities. Schools from across the country submit proposals to the CFI and those approved are granted 40 per cent of the cost of the program, provided they can generate the other 60 per cent on their own.

Last June, Western submitted 15 research proposals to the CFI for the institutional innovation competition. In October, the school received word that nine of those proposals had been selected to go onto the next phase in the approval process.

Since then, one of the proposals has been withdrawn after receiving funding from an alternative source, while another proposal was incorporated into the other proposals.

"We haven't been able to proceed until we got detailed letters from the CFI. We got them [yesterday] and there has been a flurry of meetings to generate the information the CFI wants to see from us," said Frederick Keenan, director of the office of international research and coordinator of research infrastructure programs at Western.

Keenan explained the university has until Jan. 8 to provide the CFI with the answers to a number of specific questions to the proposals in phase two. "The main one is what funds do you have donated by the private sector and the institute and are they firm or tentative – they are looking for firm commitments."

He added he was hopeful Western's proposals would be accepted, but said the competition would be tough as the amount of money requested from the CFI is double the amount available. "The national average is that about half [the proposals] will be funded, we hope we can do better than that ratio at Western," he said.

Pierre Normand, communications advisor for the CFI, said each proposal is examined through a custom tailored process.

The review of proposals must be done diligently, Normand added. He said this could even include site visits by the CFI to see how the infrastructure proposals a university submits might be used.

Normand said the information sent back by universities will go to further review by committees, who will then make recommendations to the CFI's Board of Directors. "We expect to start making decisions in the first half of 1999," he said.

Although Western has done well in the CFI competition so far there is still work to be done, said Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic. "The only thing we can say is we did very well in the first round and made the steps we needed to make."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998