Request for Solution: Smart Mining Infrastructure at the NORCAT Underground Centre

Request for Solution submissions for this program are now closed. 

A. Program Overview

Under the Next Generation Network Program, CENGN (Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks) is looking to fund innovative projects across Ontario that demonstrate flexible, cost-effective, enhanced communications systems for mining.  This program is designed to drive future growth, create high-quality jobs, and enhance Ontario’s global competitiveness in the mining industry.

CENGN will be providing funding for individual projects from its Smart Mining Initiative as part of the Next Generations Network Program.  CENGN is seeking technologies that address the requirement for enhanced communications systems within the mining industry.  With the increasing demand for real-time video, voice communications, remotely operated and autonomous equipment, IoT devices, big data and AI applications, there is an increasing need for communications infrastructure to meet these needs.

In order to provide an environment to effectively demonstrate the value of the communications systems, CENGN has partnered with NORCAT to allow for the installation of the selected systems in the NORCAT Underground Centre, an underground operating mine located in Onaping, Ontario.  The purpose of the installation will not only be to demonstrate the effectiveness of the communications infrastructure, but also to provide a testbed that may be utilized by other Ontario or Canadian companies wishing to demonstrate their technology, which could demonstrate use cases on the installed infrastructure. It is key that the proposed infrastructure will be open and accessible by other companies in order to further drive the commercialization of other technologies.

In order to facilitate the establishment and continued operation of the testbed, applicants must be ready to:

  • Provide all necessary infrastructure equipment including hardware, software, and supporting materials to install their equipment in the NORCAT Underground Centre
  • Provide necessary labour and/or support to install the equipment in the centre
  • Fully commission the communications system
  • Provide ongoing support to maintain the system at an optimum state of operation for a period of three years
  • Provide access to the infrastructure that will allow third parties to utilize the infrastructure for the purpose of testing/validating/demonstrating complementary technologies
  • Demonstrate compliance to all regulatory requirements to ensure the technology is safe in accordance with operating mines in Canada

B. How Funding Works

Through the Next Generation Network Program, CENGN will contribute 50 percent of eligible project costs for an approved project to a maximum contribution of $500,000 per project, with the remainder contributed by a minimum 1:1 cash match from the successful applicant.  The project will be 36 months in duration.  The total number of funding projects will be dependent upon demand.

This is a reimbursement program.

Flow of Funds

CENGN funds flow only to the Applicant.  The Applicant is responsible to reimburse partners if applicable.

  • Reimbursements are triggered by the submission and approval of claims and reports.
  • Reimbursement claims from Applicant to CENGN can be made when submitting interim and final reports.
  • Reimbursement claims and reports are submitted quarterly.
  • Applicants should refer to the Eligible Expenses Guide for complete details of eligible expenses.

Payment Terms

Details of the claim submission process will be made available to the successful applicants.

  • Quarterly interim payments (based on submitted and approved reimbursement claims and reports)
  • 10 per cent final payment (based on submitted and approved reimbursement claim and final report)
  • Payments are based on the total funded project value.
  • Only eligible expenses incurred after the awarding of the contract to the successful RFS applicant will be allowed.

C. Eligibility

Only those applicants that were eligible for, and previously submitted a response to the CENGN Smart Mining Expression of Interest are eligible to submit a response to the Smart Mining Request for Solution.

Eligible Projects

  • Applicant may not submit multiple applications to this RFS
  • Applicants and Partners required to have operations in Ontario and carry out their projects in Ontario
  • Minimum 1:1 cash match by Applicants
  • Project must be 36 months in duration
  • This program is not intended for research to prove feasibility or basic technology research. Projects should be at Technology Readiness Level Scale 7 – 9 (7: operational environment functional demonstration, 9: Technology proven through successful deployment in an operational setting)
  • Typical project activities include: installation, demonstration, product/service validation, and testing.
  • Applicants and/or Partners should demonstrate close collaboration and scalable outcomes with high potential for commercialization, competitive advantage, and alignment with the program intended fund benefits.
  • Eligible projects MUST include installation and demonstration of actual products that can be showcased at the NORCAT Underground Centre.

Eligible Applicants and Partners

Eligible Applicants could be either of the following:

  • Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME’s)
  • National and Multi-National Enterprises (NE’s and MNE’s)

Eligible Applicants must:

  • Carry out their projects in the NORCAT Underground Center in Onaping, Ontario
  • Be for-profit and have operations (manufacturing, R&D, etc.) in Ontario
  • Aim to install, demonstrate and/or implement the results of the project in Ontario and for the benefit of Ontario
  • Be an innovation-driven business developing products or services addressing mining industry challenges
  • Have sound business plans and secure financial backing
  • Be in good financial and reporting standing with CENGN
  • Demonstrate the capacity to conduct contracted project activities. CENGN reserves the right to limit the number of applications from companies already benefiting from, or applying to, other CENGN program funding.

Eligible Partners can be any of the following:

  • Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs)
  • National and Multi-National Enterprises (NEs and MNEs)
  • Publicly-funded Post-Secondary Academic Institutions
  • Municipalities
  • Indigenous Communities
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations

Eligible Expenses

  • All project activities must be performed within Ontario, unless written approval has been obtained from CENGN before submission of an application.
  • CENGN may reimburse expenses occurred after the application approval date. The Funding Agreement must be executed by relevant parties before a project is activated. Unless activation is complete, project expenses are incurred at the risk of the participants.
  • Applicants must refer to the Eligible Expenses Guide for full details.

D. Evaluation and Project Activation

The CENGN Smart Mining Program is a discretionary, non-entitlement program with limited funding.  CENGN will fund qualified projects with potential for the greatest economic benefits and contribution towards Smart Mining advancements in Ontario. Not all eligible applicants may be funded.

All submissions to the Request for Solution (RFS) by eligible applicants will be assessed on their merit and undergo a review process, where the applications are assessed against program objectives and evaluation criteria.

In order to ensure that all applications are evaluated in a fair and comprehensive manner, CENGN will utilize the following review entities in the process:

  • EOI (Expression of Interest) Committee made up of CENGN staff and management and NORCAT
  • CENGN Review Committee made up of CENGN staff and management
  • CENGN Internal Review Panel (IRP) made up of CENGN senior management
  • External Review Panel (ERP) made up of independent reviewer(s) with domain and sector expertise
  • NORCAT Review Committee made up of NORCAT staff and management

The RFS will be assessed based on the criteria shown below in ‘Evaluation Criteria’.

The application process has the following steps:

  • An Expression of Interest (EOI) is submitted (deadline was September 28, 2018)
  • The EOI’s are reviewed by the EOI committee (completed October 26, 2018)
  • Upon approval of the EOI, an Applicant is invited to submit a full RFS application
  • A full Request for Solution (RFS) response is submitted by eligible applicants
  • The full RFS responses are validated by the CENGN Review Committee for:
    • Eligibility -see ‘Eligibility’ above
    • Completeness – all sections of the RFS are completed
    • Financial compliance -funding ask does not exceed CENGN maximum ask
  • Based on the CENGN Review Committee validation, the RFS is either accepted or rejected. Applicants with rejected submissions will be notified.
  • Upon acceptance of the RFS by the CENGN Review Committee, the RFS will be provided to both the NORCAT Review Committee, and the External Review Panel for review.
  • The External Review Panel will evaluate the RFS response based on the criteria as shown below in ‘Evaluation Criteria’. External Review Panel members execute Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) prior to the RFS review.
  • Those qualified Applicants and their Partners (as previously determined by the CENGN Review Committee) will be invited to present their proposals in-person or by video conference to members of the following committees:
    • CENGN Review Committee
    • CENGN Internal Review Panel (IRP)
    • NORCAT Review Committee
  • Following the Applicant and their Partners making their presentation, the CENGN Review Committee and the NORCAT Review Committee will provide their input for consideration by the CENGN IRP in evaluating the viability and merit of the individual applications.
  • The External Review Panel (ERP) will independently make a funding recommendation to the CENGN Internal Review Panel (IRP).
  • The CENGN Internal Review Panel (IRP) makes the final funding decision(s).
  • Successful Applicants will be notified by CENGN and provided an outline of conditions and additional information to activate the project.
  • Applicants who are not selected will be notified by CENGN. Feedback can be provided by a CENGN Business Engineering Manager.
  • All reviewers are bound by Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA). The final funding decision is made by CENGN.

Evaluation Criteria

The full RFS applications are assessed on merit.  They are evaluated based on program objectives as well as assessment criteria, which include but are not limited to:

  • Clarity of the challenges, significance of the market opportunity, expected economic benefit to the companies and the province of Ontario (e.g., new revenues, job creation/retention, productivity improvements), and potential benefit/contribution to Ontario’s mining ecosystem.
  • Ability of the innovation to address challenges and market opportunity, and technical merit and novelty.
  • Expertise and experience of the team members, clarity of roles and responsibilities, and evidence of collaboration with their partners and other members of the mining sector.
  • Clarity, feasibility and appropriateness of the project plan and budget
  • A clear strategy and capacity to implement the proposed solution and bring the results to market.
  • Ability for other companies to utilize the infrastructure to further their technology
  • Overall quality and completeness of the application

In order to assist in the assessment of the RFS’s, a pre-defined CENGN evaluation scoring system will be used by all reviewers.

Upon approval, the Applicant and Partners (if contributing) must execute a CENGN Funding Agreement and fulfill all requested reporting requirements within 30 days of approval of the award.

E. Reporting and Expense Claims

Interim Progress and Claims Report(s)

Quarterly reports, including progress, project metrics, data and information requirements, proof of expenditures and partnership contributions, financial attestation, and a request for reimbursement must be submitted by the Applicant.

Final Results and Claim Report

A final report, including progress, project metrics, data and information requirements, proof of expenditures and partnership contributions, financial attestation, and a request for reimbursement, is required at the end of the project. 45 days prior to the scheduled completion date, the Applicant and all contributing Partners will receive an email notification of the project end date from CENGN with a link to the Final Progress and Claim Report should the parties wish to begin entering data.

Copies of detailed reporting instructions and templates will be sent to successful parties at the time of contracting. The report must be received and approved by CENGN prior to release of funds for eligible claims.

Note: Applicants MUST retain all proof of purchases, receipts, and other relevant documentation relating to eligible expenses. These should be included in all reporting.

  •  Applicant MUST request project extensions in writing to CENGN. Extension requests must be made before the project end date.
  • Applicant can request early reporting by emailing your assigned CENGN project manager.
  • On the scheduled project completion date, the Applicant and all contributing Partners will receive another notification to complete the Final Project Progress and Claim Report from your assigned CENGN Project Manager.
  • Applicants and contributing Partners must submit their Final Project and Claim Report within 30 days of project completion to be reimbursed for eligible expenses and maintain good financial standing with CENGN.

Metrics Survey

If the project continues past a fiscal year end (March 31), the Applicant and contributing Partners will be required to complete an Annual Metrics Survey each April, for the part of the project that has been completed since the previous March 31. This annual report is mandatory for CENGN to fulfill its contract with its funders. Required metrics reports from all applicants must be submitted to maintain good financial standing with CENGN.

Project Change Requests

For any variances to the CENGN budget of $5,000 or greater, or extensions to the project end date, the Applicant must submit a change request in writing to CENGN prior to the project end date.

F. How to Apply

Request for Solution submissions for this program are now closed. 

Only those applicants that have previously submitted a response to the CENGN Expression of Interest (EOI) – Smart Mining are eligible to respond to the Request for Solution (RFS) – Smart Mining.

Application to the Smart Mining Infrastructure at the NORCAT Underground Centreprogram contains two stages:

  • Expression of Interest (EOI) Application and
  • Full Request for Solution (RFS) Application as detailed below:
  • The EOI submission process, has been completed. (September 28,2018)
  • Applicants whose EOI are selected by the CENGN EOI Review Committee will be invited to submit a Full RFS Application to CENGN. Full applications must be submitted to CENGN by the Full RFS Application Intake Date of January 15, 2019.
  • A sample Full RFS Application Form can be viewed for informational purposes only. Applications are only accepted through by email.
  • Expected timelines for these steps are outlined in section G. Timelines.

Successful Applicants and their Partners must execute CENGN’s standard Funding Agreement, within 30 days of notification of award. A copy of the Funding Agreement can be provided for your reference.

To discuss potential applications to this program, please contact Richard Waterhouse:

Richard Waterhouse
VP, Business Development & Marketing
Tel:  +1-613-963-1200 x304

Click the below button to download the Request for Solution: Smart Mining Communications Infrastructure at the NORCAT Underground Centre and submit the completed document to

G. Timelines

EOI Applications

EOI Submission Deadline
September 28, 2018
EOI Decision Date
October 26, 2018
EOI Results and Invitation for Full RFS Response
December 07, 2018

RFS Applications

RFS Submission Deadline
January 15, 2019
RFS Invitation for Presentation
February 7-8, 2019
RFS Decision Date
February 28, 2019

H. Downloads & Inquiries

For inquiries related to application initiation, eligibility, contracting, and funding disbursement inquiries please contact:

Richard Waterhouse
VP, Business Development & Marketing
Tel:  +1-613-963-1200 x304

For general inquiries about the website and RFS application form, please contact: