Following the COVID‑19 global pandemic declaration in March 2020, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) pivoted its operations to support the Government of Canada's response to help protect the health and safety of Canadians. The NRC's International Innovation Office rapidly recognized the opportunity to leverage Eureka's international network to work with members on developing global responses to COVID‑19.
Through a strong network of engaged international partners, in less than 3 weeks the NRC was able to mobilize the engagement of 12 Eureka participating countries in 2 calls for proposals. These focussed on developing co‑innovation collaborations between small businesses, researchers and innovators to find and accelerate solutions to the new challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic.
In total, 17 projects involving 13 Canadian participants have been approved to pursue research and development collaborations. The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) is providing advisory services and up to $2.3 million in research and development (R&D) funding support for 7 Canadian companies, while 5 other Canadian organizations have also had projects approved under the Eureka label and are participating on a self‑funded basis.
Additionally, the NRC's International Innovation Office engaged and secured funding support for NRC researchers to work with Canadian small and medium‑sized businesses (SMEs) for the second call for proposals. As a result, the NRC's Construction Research Centre is currently participating in a multinational consortium of Canadian and international SMEs and academic institutions on one of the projects seeking to reduce the risk of viral contagion from airborne transmission of pathogens within building spaces.
The approved projects involve cooperation and additional financial contributions from international partners in countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden and Turkey. Global Affairs Canada Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) also supported projects that bring together Canadian participants with partners in France.
"It has been an honour to work through Eureka to demonstrate Canada's support of a global R&D initiative to respond to COVID‑19 challenges," says Mitch Davies, NRC President and Eureka Canada's High‑Level Representative. "Now more than ever it is imperative that we enhance cooperation among countries to bring our companies, economies and people together and Eureka is an essential platform to support this."
Each of the approved projects has received the internationally recognized Eureka label, adding significant value to their project and giving participants a competitive edge in their dealings with financial, technical and commercial partners.
Over the next several weeks, find out more about some of these important projects working on solutions to overcome COVID‑19 challenges and prepare for future potentially high‑impact pandemics.