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The Annual RBC EPIC Founders Final Pitch Competition is going Virtual

Seven startups will compete in the 2020 RBC EPIC Founders Final Pitch Competition on Thursday, Aug. 6.

This is the first time that the annual event will be held on a completely virtual platform because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RBC EPIC Founders Program gives students and recent graduates the opportunity to work on their own startup full-time from May to July. In addition to receiving a stipend, founders get to work with mentors to validate their business model and develop a minimum viable product. The program is funded by the RBC Foundation.

“As an entrepreneurship centre, our startups normally have the opportunity to complete the 12-week accelerator program in a collaborative and open-concept environment at the EPICentre, one which fosters innovation and creativity,” said EPICentre Director Wen Teoh.

“This year, our startups faced the challenge of completing the program on a completely virtual platform. With the guidance of our EPIC Program Lead, Sydney Thompson, we were able to provide our founders with a modified experience that still kept them engaged and excited."

The RBC EPIC Founders Final Pitch Day is the culmination of the program, where participants will be pitching their businesses to a panel of judges. The winning pitch will receive the $3,500 Top Founder Award sponsored by the RBC Foundation. Runner-up will receive $1,000 sponsored by the Lucas Imagine Fine. The event will be live-streamed via the EPICentre Facebook page on Thursday, Aug. 6 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

For more information on the RBC EPIC Founders Program, please visit: https://www.epicentreuwindsor.ca/epic-founders-program/

Federal funding to support research personnel

On May 15, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the Canada Research Continuity Emergency Fund (CRCEF) as part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

This temporary program has been established to help sustain the research enterprise at Canadian universities and health research institutions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This research funding relief strategy is the latest rolled out by the federal government, representing an additional investment of $450M. 

The program has two objectives: 

As a priority, to provide wage support to universities and health research institutions, both of which are ineligible to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), to help them retain research-related personnel during the course of COVID-19 pandemic (up to $325M), and; 

To support extraordinary incremental costs associated with maintaining essential research-related commitments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then ramping up to full research activities ($125M). 

The CRCEF is being rolled out in three stages. Stages 1&2 correspond to the first objective above, with Stage 2 effectively serving as residual support for demonstrated needs in excess of the Stage 1 allocation. 

Stages 1 & 2 are directed specifically at wage support for research personnel (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other personnel associated with research projects) paid from non-governmental sources. This means that research projects supported by non-governmental sources (typically foundations or industry contracts) that were slowed or stopped because of COVID-19 may have some of their research-related personnel losses recovered by this program. Details related on the second objective of the program (Stage 3) will be provided at a later date. 

CRCEF support to the University of Windsor 

The University of Windsor has been allocated $437,046.54 for Stage 1, and the University is responsible for distributing this funding, proportionally, based on a government-prescribed formula applied to University and affiliates' publicly reported levels of non-governmental research income. 

What expenses are eligible for CRCEF support? 

Up to 75% of the portion of research personnel's salaries/wages normally supported by non-governmental sources, to a maximum of $847/week for up to 12 weeks of salary support (consecutive or broken up over the eligibility period) per individual, incurred within the eligibility period of March 15, 2020 to August 29, 2020. 

Personnel who have been laid off or furloughed as a result of COVID-19 within the eligibility period can become eligible retroactively, as long as they are rehired, and their retroactive pay and status meet the eligibility criteria for the claim period. 

User fees that support research facilities (i.e., where multiple PIs share a common research facility) count as a non-governmental source of funding. If there are research-related personnel that are supported in whole or in part by user fees to research facilities, those salaries/wages (or share of those salaries/wages) will be eligible. 

 What expenses are NOT eligible for CRCEF support? 

The salaries/wages of research-related personnel who work in broad areas of research services that are typically funded by indirect costs (e.g., animal care facilities). 

Salaries/wages for research-related personnel who were laid off due to COVID and claimed other wage support (e.g., Canada Emergency Response Benefit or "CERB" or the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit or "CESB"). 

The salaries/wages of research-related personnel that were transferred to University operating funds or governmental funds (federal, provincial, municipal) to avoid layoff during the eligibility period can be considered eligible, although if University operating funds or governmental sources were the exclusive source of research-related salaries/wages before COVID-19, these are not eligible. 

What about research related personnel paid from multiple sources? 

We recognize that many research personnel are paid from multiple sources, only some of which may be non-governmental, and that some funding sources (e.g. MITACS) are themselves combinations of governmental and non-governmental sources. However, only the portions of non-governmental salaries/wages are eligible for CRCEF support. 

The Office of Research and Innovation Services and Finance are collaborating to develop guidelines and procedures for administering the CRCEF. Researchers will also receive support with CRCEF-related accounting matters. 

If you believe you may qualify for CRCEF, and have not received a communication directly from the Office of Research and Innovation Services, please contact oris@uwindsor.ca. View more information online.