Introduction

NBIF is excited to announce a suite of programs to accelerated Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) applied research in New Brunswick, with the goal of Providing access to AI expertise, talent, and research for Atlantic Canadian companies to increase their productivity and competitiveness in the short and longer term. Over 2021 and 2022, we will invest $3.2M in artificial intelligence research, via:

• Helping industry partners progress through phases of AI maturity
• Accelerating ongoing applied AI research programs
• Engaging industry in AI research via collaborative events and sharing success stories
• Delivering a suite of targeted applied research programs, described below.

 

For a complete look at the AI Fund Application Maturity click here.

Are you a researcher in N.B. working in AI, or an industry partner interested in implementing AI? Contact us today to find out more about how this opportunity can help you. 

 

Definition of AI

We define Artificial Intelligence as: the constellation of technologies that work together to enable machines to sense, comprehend, act, and learn with human-like intelligence. This includes machine learning, neural networks, and other related technologies. This fund is focused on applied AI development projects, and their deployment to industry. Theoretical studies on artificial intelligence will not be supported by this fund. We support research that looks for applications of AI algorithms and techniques outside of academia and helps private sector users deploy these applications.

Please note that these programs are not intended for projects that focus on solely on related technologies, like data analytics or robotics. The application of artificial intelligence as a central component of the project is essential for all our AI research funds.

NBIF AI Pre-voucher 

The purpose of this fund is to help foster the creation of new industry-academia collaborations by allowing an industry partner to explore a small project related to an artificial intelligence (AI) application with an academic partner, at no cost. The project must center around the use of applied AI to solve an industrial problem, with the potential to advance the industry partner’s problem definition through to at least a proof of concept within a nine-month time frame.  This pre-voucher is aimed at industry partners who are uncertain about investing in AI and who need to see a demonstration before committing to a paid contract. The desired outcome of this funding will be increased industry uptake of AI. The maximum pre-voucher size is $20,000, and no leverage is required. 

Application forms can be filled out on the NBIF portal (https://nbif-finb.smapply.io/) by the PI or by an industry engagement professional at the institution. Applications open on Oct 21, 2021 and are expected to close in summer 2022. New funding for this program will be released approximately every 3 months.

This program is non-competitive, and funding will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to applicants who are judged by NBIF to meet all the program requirements. A decision on whether an application will be supported can be expected within two weeks of receipt of a complete application form. Applicants will have 1 month to return a signed NOD. Projects must be completed within 9 months of funding disbursement.

At the end of the 9 months of funding, a report will be requested from the PI on the project outcomes. For 12 months following the award, the PI must keep NBIF appraised, at a high level, of any follow-up AI projects that occur with the industry partner. Additionally, the Industry partner must participate in an end-of-project debrief with NBIF staff, to understand project impact and explore next steps for AI adoption.

The industry partner must agree to allow NBIF to share publicly share specified non-confidential details of their project, specifically the name and location of Industry partner, name and institution of PI, plain language summary of the project, and size of NBIF contribution. This publicity may include written content on the NBIF website, posts on NBIF social media, or in presentations at NBIF events. 

The maximum award that can be requested from NBIF is $20,000 and no leverage is required (there is no required contribution from the industry partner). At least 60% of the budget is for staffing costs (students, technicians etc). The remainder can be used for related equipment, consumables, etc. but any equipment purchased remains the property of the research institute. There can be no overhead included in the NBIF portion of the budget.

NBIF takes no stake in the intellectual property developed in these projects. Applicants will need to describe their own approach to IP in the application form.

Industry partner

• The industry partner has demonstrated revenue from FY20-21 and would be in a position to make a cash contribution to a project within the next 12 months.
• The industry partner has not previously contributed cash to a research project with the proposed PI.
• The industry partner has physical operations in NB and is incorporated in Canada.
• The industry partner has not previously used this NBIF AI pre-voucher program.
• Pending the results of this pre-voucher, the industry partner might consider engaging in a follow-up project, which could involve a direct cash contribution. This could involve use of another funding mechanism, such as an NBIF Innovation Voucher.

PI

• The PI is an eligible NBIF grant holder at an NB research institution.
• The PI or someone on their team has some expertise in artificial intelligence, as demonstrated by any combination of their CV, previous AI projects, and/or peer-reviewed articles.

NBIF AI Strategic Acceleration Fund

The Strategic Acceleration initiative accelerates ongoing research programs centered on active AI development projects. Applications for this initiative will need to meet the fund’s evaluation criteria and must demonstrate:

• The research team has expertise in AI development and active research projects in this space,
• There are existing industrial partners in their AI research projects,
• There is a pipeline of new industry-linked AI development and deployment projects, and
• The ability to rapidly start activities that will accelerate their AI research projects.

Applications can be made via NBIF’s application portal (https://nbif-finb.smapply.io/) between Oct 21,2021 and Dec 16,2021 and will collect information on:

• The PI’s research program, especially the aspects centered on AI applications
• The PI’s academic track record, and their track record on student training
• The industry partners that the PI has worked with on AI projects over the last 5 years, and the potential future industry partners that the PI would like to collaborate with.
• For collaborative AI projects with industry that the PI is currently involved in or has completed, information on the outcomes realised to date.
• A plan for acceleration of the PI’s AI centered research over the next two years, with specific milestones and a proposed budget for the activities
• Evidence that at least 30% of the budget can be covered by leveraged funding sources, half of which must be direct contributions from industry. This leverage may be already secured for projects currently underway, but cannot be already spent at the time of application.

Applications can be made between Oct 21, 2021 and Dec 16, 2021. Decisions will be made by Jan 31, 2022 and applicants will have 3 months to confirm conditions and start grant activities, and 21 months to use the funding. The maximum extension that will be granted for this fund is 3 months.

Allowed expenses would include salary support for students and research professionals such as technicians, equipment, business development activities including travel, and program management (this is not an exhaustive list – contact NBIF for further questions about allowed expenses). A maximum of $400,000 can be requested. Application must include provision for management of the AI research program and this grant, and expenses for this program management can be up to 20% of the total amount requested. 

NBIF takes no stake in the intellectual property developed in these projects. Applicants will need to describe their own approach to IP in the application form.