Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern

Principals, Deans, Academic Directors, and Chairs Professor, Faculty Members, Research or Financial Administrators, Researchers, Research Support Staff, HQPs, Lab Technicians, Research Assistants


Overview

On January 16, 2024, the Federal Government released the Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern (STRAC).  This Policy is effective May 1, 2024 and applies to all new funding applications submitted through the Tri-Agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) and CFI.

The Policy addresses Sensitive Technology Research Areas and Named Research Organizations – research organizations and institutions that have been deemed to pose the highest risk to Canada’s national security due to their direct, or indirect connections with military, national defence, and state security entities.

It is important to note that the Policy is anticipated to have widespread impact to the UWindsor research community at this point in time. It is going to be applied on new grant applications only.  And for those who may be impacted, our intent is to support researchers in navigating the expectations of the policy.


Sensitive Technology Research Areas

  • Advanced communications technology 
  • Advanced computing technology 
  • Cryptography 
  • Cyber security technology 
  • Data storage technology 
  • Distributed ledger technology 
  • Microelectronics 
  • Next-generation network technology  
  • Advanced energy storage technology
  • Advanced nuclear generation technology 
  • Wireless power transfer technology 

Advanced Materials

  • Augmented conventional materials
  • Auxetic materials
  • High-entropy materials 
  • Metamaterials 
  • Multifunctional/smart materials 
  • Nanomaterials 
  • Powder materials for additive manufacturing 
  • Superconducting materials 
  • Two-dimensional (2D) materials

 Advanced Manufacturing

  • Additive manufacturing (3D printing)
  • Advanced semiconductor manufacturing
  • Critical materials manufacturing 
  • Four-dimensional (4D) printing 
  • Nano-manufacturing 
  • Two-dimensional (2D) materials manufacturing 
  • Advanced biometric recognition technologies 
  • Advanced radar technologies 
  • Atomic interferometer sensors 
  • Cross-cueing sensors 
  • Electric field sensors 
  • Imaging and optical devices and sensors 
  • Magnetic field sensors (or magnetometers) 
  • Micro (or nano) electro-mechanical systems (M/NEMS) 
  • Position, navigation and timing (PNT) technology 
  • Side scan sonar 
  • Synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) 
  • Underwater (wireless) sensor network 

Emerging or improved weapons used by military, and in some instances law enforcement, for defence and national security purposes. Advancements in materials, manufacturing, propulsion, energy and other technologies have brought weapons like directed energy weapons and hypersonic weapons closer to reality, while nanotechnology, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and sensing technologies, among others, have provided enhancements to existing weapons, such as biological/chemical weapons and autonomous weapons.

  • Advanced wind tunnels 
  • On-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing systems 
  • Payloads
  • Propulsion technologies 
  • Satellites 
  • Space-based positioning, navigation and timing technology 
  • Space stations 
  • Zero-emission/fuel aircraft 
  • AI chipsets 
  • Computer vision 
  • Data science and big data technology 
  • Digital twin technology 
  • Machine learning (ML) 
  • Natural language processing 
  • Brain-computer interfaces
  • Exoskeletons
  • Neuroprosthetic/cybernetic devices 
  • Virtual/augmented/mixed reality 
  • Wearable neurotechnology 

Biotechology

  • Biomanufacturing 
  • Genomic sequencing and genetic engineering  
  • Proteomics 
  • Synthetic biology 

Medical and Healthcare Technology

  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) medical countermeasures 
  • Gene therapy 
  • Nanomedicine 
  • Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine 
  • Quantum communications 
  • Quantum computing 
  • Quantum materials 
  • Quantum sensing 
  • Quantum software 
  • Molecular (or nano) robotics 
  • (Semi-)autonomous/uncrewed aerial/ground/marine vehicles 
  • Service robots 
  • Space robotics 

Additional Research areas that can be considered senstive (Principal Investigators should conduct apt due-diligence)

  • Research areas related to critical minerals, including critical mineral supply chains, on the The Government of Canada's critical mineral List.

  • Research areas classified within one of the critical infrastructure sectors of the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure. (Critical infrastructure refers to processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government.)

  • Research areas that use large datasets that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially related to human behaviour and interactions that may have ethical, commercial or legal impacts at the individual, domestic or international level. The sensitivity of a large dataset depends on the nature, type and state of the information it contains, as well as how it may be used in the aggregate.

  • Research areas that use personal data that could be leveraged by hostile state actors to harm Canada’s national and economic security through its exploitation.


Steps for Researchers when applying for Tri-Agency grants on or after May 1, 2024

  1. Determine whether your grant/funding will aim to advance any sensitive technology research area : 
    If the proposed research will not aim to advance any of the listed sensitive technology research areas, no further steps are required under the Policy.  If the proposed research will aim to advance any of the listed sensitive technology research areas, Step 2 must be followed.
  2. Check researchers’ affiliations :
    All researchers with named roles involved in the activities funded by the grant must attest that they are not affiliated with, or in receipt of funding or in-kind support, from any of the institutions on the list of Named Research Organizations  (note: this list will be updated regularly).  If affiliations exist, or the researchers are in receipt of funding or in-kind connects, these relationships must be terminated in order to continue with the application.
  3. Attestation :
    All researchers with named roles engaged in activities supported by the research grant will be required to attest that they have read, understood, agree with, and are compliant with this policy. They and their research team(s) will be required to comply with the policy for the duration of the federal grant. This includes student participants (who are not required to fill out an attestation). The Principal Invesigator should collect all attestations and coordinate wih the grant coordinator on the same.

Current rules applying to NSERC Alliance continue to apply, and in the future will be extended to additional federal programs.


Definitions

Any contribution to research related to the funded grant and throughout the lifecycle of the research project(s), up to and including the dissemination of research results (e.g., publications).

Individuals are considered affiliated to any organization at which they are employed, appointed, or conduct research. In cases where individuals hold multiple affiliations, all must be identified and considered when ensuring compliance to this policy.

Monetary or non-monetary contributions, that include but are not limited to goods, equipment, materials and supplies, professional services, use of facilities (office space, lab access), software, technologies and databases.

Any person conducting research activities. For the purposes of funding applications to the federal granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, researchers can hold different roles, including but not limited to applicants, co-applicants, collaborators, and highly qualified personnel (HQP). HQP can include undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, as well as research staff.

Areas of research identified on the list of Sensitive Technology Research Areas . For the purposes of this policy, only projects in listed sub-categories of areas of research are considered sensitive and trigger an attestation requirement. Areas of research not covered by the sub-categories of the list are not currently considered sensitive for the purposes of this policy and therefore do not trigger an attestation requirement. Within the scope of this policy, research in a sensitive technology research area is not a concern on its own, unless it is conducted in affiliation with a research-performing institution of concern. Research in these areas with likeminded collaborators, partners, and institutions is strongly encouraged.

As defined by the list of Named Research Organizations . The list is a non-exhaustive inventory of universities, research institutions, or laboratories connected to military, national defense or state security organizations that could pose a risk to Canada’s national security.

Please see STRAC FAQ  for additional information. More information will be posted as it becomes available.


General Inquiries:

Rahul Banerjee, Research Security Coordinator