CITO hands out cash to schools for tech R&D

Eight Ontario universities are getting $9 million in funding from an Ontario government-sponsored agency and its industry partners to support their high-tech research projects.

Communications and Information Technology Ontario (CITO) is a non-profit group that is sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation.

Darin Graham, president and CEO of CITO in Ottawa, said CITO received about 94 applications overall for funding, and 30 projects were approved. They are spread throughout eight Ontario universities, including Carleton University, McMaster University, Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo and York University.

Each project will be receiving between $100,000 to $150,000 for two years, thus each project will receive total funding of between $200,000 and $300,000. CITO group awards these grants twice a year, in April and September.

For this round of grants, CITO contributed about $5.4 million while industry partners invested about $3.7 million. Industry partners also provide in-kind contributions such as access to laboratories, software tools and personnel, Graham said.

“We really try to invest the money in the academic environment – universities and colleges – in leading-edge research that eventually gets commercialized in a three- to five-year window,” Graham said. “We try to work with the industry partners…to link them into that university research so the industry becomes the receptor of the technology.”

Industry partners include Research In Motion Ltd., AT&T Canada and Soma Networks Inc.

Graham said that there are two main categories of research – telecommunications and IT. He said wireless is a popular research area right now and some projects currently being funded including new applications in wireless handheld security, antennas for wireless routers and new graphical user interfaces for wireless handhelds.

CITO has 120 reviewers that peruse the applications to select the most viable projects. Graham said the deadline to apply for funding for the September round is not firm, but will likely be in July.

Also, because universities tend to have more resources when it comes to compiling research proposals, colleges tend to get overlooked. CITO therefore has a college-dedicated sponsorship program as well. Graham said those recipients would be announced next month.

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