The COVID-19 RAPID Research and Innovation Initiative (RRII) invites researchers to use the Rapid Research Grant by HEC mechanism, which allows HEC to receive and review proposals dealing with topics and issues of severe urgency with regard to the availability of or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment as well as quick-response research on COVID-19. There is an urgent and immediate need for research in order to gain a better understanding of the epidemic, to understand and contain the patterns of spread, develop diagnostics and improve patient care and the public health response. The said fund is supported by the World Bank and implemented by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The RRIF will provide funds to selected institutions based upon a competitive, yet swift peer-review of proposals.
Deadline for submission of applications is 3rd April 2020 (23.59 Pakistan Standard Time)
The priority themes for Rapid Research Grant by HEC
The priority themes for RRIF support include:
- Development of Infectious Diseases Surveillance Systems Systems using big data analytics and artificial intelligence: Including integrating the response into the entire medical system, from primary to secondary to tertiary
- Disease Epidemiological Modelling: Data systems and evidence-informed modelling for disease prediction, outcome prediction and impact assessment of interventions
- Immune Patterns of COVID-19: Immune Mechanisms of COVID-19 infections and recovery, implications for diagnostics and therapeutics, including understanding localized factors and responses (such as ethnic, genetic, social, behavioral, and climatic factors, etc.)
- Treatment modalities and strategies including concentration on local and traditional medicine
- Diagnostics kits: Rapid diagnostics based on antigen detection vide RTPCR systems, Gene EXPERT systems or alternatives
- Indigenous manufacture of Low cost Intensive-care equipment: Oxygen supply and monitoring equipment, Intravenous fluid devices, Ventilators/CPAP units, Cardio-respiratory monitors etc.
- Development of disinfectants particularly using indigenous herbal ingredients: low-cost sterilization and sanitation material for hospitals, general-purpose consumer hand sanitization material
- Personal Protective Equipment: N-95 Masks, other Personal Protective Gear (clothing gowns, goggles, and gloves), preferably reusable materials
- Information Collection and Dissemination IT platforms: Identify hotspots and growth patterns, Contact tracing modeling of affected people
- An additional priority area for the funding instrument RAPID Innovation Seed Fund (RISF) is Education Technology to facilitate learning at the basic and secondary education levels in a COVID-19 environment
Each applicant seeking funding through the RAPID Research and Innovation Fund can propose an idea based on one of the above-mentioned priority themes and can apply through one of the following three funding instruments:
Support under Rapid Research Grant by HEC
The RAPID Research Grant by HEC will support multidimensional research projects of strategic importance related to the above-mentioned priority themes. The present call is for research proposals that have the potential to contribute to the understanding of coronaviruses, including the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), in order to improve the clinical management or public health response. Projects should include relevant and cutting-edge research activities and should ensure WHO alignment. Research conducted in RRG projects must address specific challenges associated with the targeted priority theme and must clearly demonstrate a solution or significant progress in addressing a grand challenge.
Budgets for RRG awards will be up to a maximum of Rs. 15 million (USD 100 000), with a maximum project duration of 12 months. Principal Investigators are encouraged to seek co- and complementary financing from other sources.
Proposal Format for Rapid Research Grant for HEC Application
Rapid Research Grant Proposals must be designed to include milestones and key performance indicators that should (ideally) begin providing valuable information and advice right from the start of the project and not wait for all the results at the tail end of the proposed project. To the extent possible, the project must also be designed in a manner that research teams can begin working right away rather than waiting for lengthy procurement or hiring. Those projects that have a steady stream of high-value immediate outputs and outcomes will be preferred. The Project Steering Committee may review progress on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis.
Funding Amount and Details for Rapid Research Grant by HEC
RRG funding may be used for:
- Salaries for PI and co-PIs based on the amount of time spent on the project
- Stipends for bachelors, masters, doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars to conduct the research proposed
- The purchase and maintenance of appropriate approved equipment to conduct the research proposed
- The purchase of research supplies necessary to conduct the research proposed Limited research and development costs
- Patent filing
- Grants to attract visiting researchers from outside Pakistan to conduct research that contributes to the grant objectives. These visiting researchers can be either expatriate Pakistani scientists or foreign scientists.
A component of the grant will be earmarked for the problem solving (i.e., it will be released only if there is demonstrable evidence of success in solving the chosen problem).
Lead Principal Investigators (PIs) must:
- Be university faculty member (PhD or FCPS/MCPS/FRCS) from medical institute or research-intensive institution as specified for GCF-2020 call (The VC/Rector shall ensure that max. two exceptional proposals per HEI will be submitted)
Project Team may include:
- A consortia of faculty members from multiple university departments and/or multiple universities
- Private sector participants, particularly when they bring prior IP or capability to the consortium and/or significant deployment, implementation, or scale up capability
- International partners
International collaborations are encouraged:
- When the international partner brings a unique added value to the project team
Rapid Technology Transfer Grant by HEC
The RAPID Technology Transfer Grant (RTTG) seeks to support university-industry technology transfer of a previously developed an existing prototype or an advanced model (or equivalent). Owing to the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, the RTTG shall be ideally utilized to quickly transition science or technology to an actual industrial partner (or partners) that will result in significant and qualitative improvement in the latter’s capacity to meet the emerging challenge of COVID-19.
Budgets for RTTG awards will be up to a maximum of Rs. 7.5 million (USD 50 000) with a maximum project duration of 6 months. Principal Investigators are encouraged to obtain co-financing – including in-kind and/or cash contributions – from the industry collaborators. The requested amount of RTTG funding for the academic institution cannot exceed the co-financing committed by the industry collaborators.
The RTTG Proposals must be designed to include milestones and key performance indicators that should (ideally) begin delivering an impact right from the start of the project and not wait for all the results at the tail end of the proposed project. To the extent possible, the project must also be designed in a manner that teams can begin working right away rather than waiting for lengthy procurement or hiring. Those projects that have a steady stream of high-value immediate outputs and outcomes will be preferred. The Project Steering Committee may review progress on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis.
Funding Details for Rapid Technology Transfer
Budget requests should be consistent with the proposed research and development activities. RTTG funding may be used for:
- Salaries for PI and co-PIs based on the amount of time spent on the project
- Stipends for bachelors, masters, doctoral students and post-doctoral scholars to help take the prototype or proposed product to market.
- Limited prototype development costs
- Laboratory tests or access to data
- Patent filing
- Producing licensing agreements
- Legal and financial investment advice
- Marketing of the prototype or proposed product to appropriate investors or stakeholders.
Eligibility Criteria for Rapid Technology
Principal Investigator (PI) must;
- be a regular faculty member (PhD or FCPS/MCPS/FRCS) of universities (Public or private sector) (The VC/Rector shall ensure that max. two exceptional proposals per HEI will be submitted)
- Co-financing (including in kind or cash contribution) by the industry partner is mandatory
Rapid Innovation Seed Fund by HEC
The RAPID Innovation Seed Fund (RISF) will be implemented through the existing BICs located at HEIs. Within the RISF competition, the Higher Education Commission aims to support a portfolio of entrepreneurial teams that, as a whole, will lead to successful start-ups addressing the COVID-19 national response. To take full advantage of the national research and innovation capacity in Pakistan, the portfolio of awards will reflect the diversity of potential entrepreneurs in Pakistan, including current students, recent graduates, and faculty members.
The budgets for RISF projects will be Rs. 5 million (USD 35,000) for a period of 6 months. The project budget will finance the following activities:
- Working capital or initial order costs
- Certification, registration or endorsement
- Laboratory testing
- Marketing costs or arranging demonstration
- Funds to scale the venture
- Financial management, or other (please specify)
Students, recent graduates and/or faculty from universities (Public or private sector) (The VC/Rector shall ensure that max. two exceptional proposals per HEI will be submitted)
How to Apply for Rapid Innovation Seed Fund
Applications can be submitted in response to a call for proposal. Submission must be made to the HEC online portal (eportal.hec.gov.pk) after 25.3.2020 according to the guidelines provided in the call for proposals document under the “Downloads” section.
- Create an account on eportal.hec.gov.pk
- Login on eportal and start your application under Research & Development tab
- Select the type of research grant to apply
- Fill the online required details including budget section
- Upload project proposal on the specified template (available under Downloads section) and other necessary documents
- Click on submit
Further Details about Rapid Research Grants by HEC
For further information click on this link to download Budget template, project template and guidelines for budget:
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