ONRP3: Program Summary

Rapid advances in genomics research and their application within Ontario’s diverse agriculture and agri-food sector have the potential to dramatically impact and improve both Ontario’s economy and the well-being of its people. Genomics, which to date has been applied primarily in major field crops and select livestock species, offers tremendous untapped potential to enhance the productivity, sustainability and profitability of many more segments of this sector. Ontario is well-known for its extensive research community and robust private sector, which have led to highly successful industry-academic partnerships. Through partnerships like these, Ontario is uniquely positioned to lead the application of genomics/genomics-derived technologies, tools and processes to advance the agriculture and agri-food sector.

To this end, Ontario Genomics (OG) has partnered with Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) and Genome Canada (GC) to deliver the new Ontario Regional Priorities Partnership Program (ON-RP3). Funding through this program will support co-led industry-academic, proof-of-concept stage projects within Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector. These projects will deliver genomics-derived technologies, tools and processes for industry-identified challenges and opportunities. The outcomes of these projects will position teams for successful implementation within two years or less of project completion.

Objectives

The primary objectives of the ON-RP3 are to:

  • Develop industry-academic partnerships that will drive the adoption of genomics-derived technologies, tools and processes to advance the Ontario agriculture and agri-food sector
  • Address industry-identified challenges and/or opportunities in the agriculture and agri-food sector and demonstrate the readiness of genomics solutions for implementation
  • Achieve the benefits of genomic discoveries by bridging the gap between applied research and implementation

Key Parameters of the Program

The ON-RP3 program is open to Ontario-based, co-led industry-academic projects. Industry includes for-profit companies and not-for-profit organizations actively operating in the Ontario agriculture and agri-food sector. Proposed projects must address real-world challenges and/or opportunities in Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector by using genomics/genomics-derived solutions.

  • Eligible Projects: Proof-of-concept stage projects with a clear plan for implementation within two years or less of project completion. 
  • Eligible Applicants: Projects must be co-led by an Industry Lead and an Academic Lead, both based in Ontario.
  • Funding Available: Up to $2 million.
  • Project Size: $375,000 - $500,000 total project budget; smaller projects of at least $150,000 will be considered if they are well-justified and still meet the review criteria.
  • Co-funding: 1/3 of the total project budget must be obtained from eligible sources including the Industry Lead. A minimum of 1/6 of the total project budget must be in the form of cash obtained from the Industry Lead.
  • Funding Duration: One to three years, beginning no earlier than July 1, 2019 and ending no later than June 30, 2022.
  • Communications Plan: Projects must present a strong plan to communicate the project outcomes to a broad audience.

ON-RP3 Public Education and Engagement Initiative: Successful project teams that are selected for funding will be required to work collaboratively with OG, AAC and GC on a common, group-identified public education/engagement-themed initiative. The aim will be to identify and implement an initiative that benefits all projects. This initiative is expected to begin in the summer of 2020 and will be financially supported by OG, AAC and GC.

Eligibility

To be considered eligible, projects must:

  1. Respond to the objectives and intent of the ON-RP3 program
  2. Have an eligible Industry Lead and Academic Lead located in Ontario and demonstrate that the project being funded will be performed in, and benefit Ontario
  3. Put forward a genomics or genomics-derived solution (technologies, tools and processes) for an agriculture and agri-food sector-driven challenge or opportunity
  4. Align within one or more of the outlined strategic priorities listed below
  5. Build on existing research/preliminary data to demonstrate proof-of-concept by the end of the funding period
  6. Provide a plan that demonstrates how implementation will be achieved within two years or less of project completion
  7. Provide a communications plan

Proof-of-concept stage projects are defined as projects that build on existing discovery research and/or preliminary data towards Research & Development (R&D) that demonstrates the feasibility of implementing the genomics/genomics-derived solution. With the proof-of-concept data generated by end of the project, teams should be well-positioned to execute their defined implementation plan.

Strategic Priorities

Projects must align with one or more of the strategic priorities outlined below, that are  based on the recommendations from the sector strategy report, Genomics for Agriculture & Agri-Food: Ontario’s Strategic Opportunity.  This report was prepared by Ontario Genomics following extensive sector review and consultations with academic, government, industry and other sector stakeholders:

  • Multidisciplinary Research - Augment multidisciplinary R&D using a systems biology approach, with a focus on increased understanding of microbiomes and their interconnectivity to human health
  • Sustainable Agriculture & Food - Prioritize programs for sustainable agriculture and food that consider the economy, the environment, and society, for crop production and livestock
  • Advanced Processing Systems - Enhance advanced manufacturing and processing systems for both food and industrial bioproducts, including fermentation and traceability
  • Rapid Diagnostics & Biologics - Develop rapid diagnostic methods to support regulation and trade, rapid disease detection and traceability in crops and livestock, and biologics to reduce the use of antimicrobials
  • Address Barriers to Adoption - Address barriers to the adoption of genomics innovations including issues related to data sharing, intellectual property, regulation and public acceptance
  • Leverage Computational Biology & Artificial Intelligence - Leverage Ontario’s strengths in computational biology and artificial intelligence to accelerate the development and application of agricultural genomics-based innovations

Application and Review Process:

The ON-RP3 application process includes three stages, as follows:

  1. Registration (Eligibility Assessment)
  2. Application Submission
  3. Application Review