TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $20 million to advance medical research and develop tools and resources to combat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases through the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. The government is calling on all of the province's world-class research institutions, postsecondary institutions, and non-profit scientific partners to take action in the development of innovative solutions to track and defeat COVID-19.
The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford and Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. The investment is part of Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
"We have some of the best and brightest minds anywhere in the world right here in Ontario," said Premier Ford. "Whether it's developing a vaccine, using 3-D printers to make personal protective equipment or designing better portable ventilators, our brilliant researchers are leading the charge in the fight against COVID-19 and giving our frontline health care workers the tools and resources they need to deliver top-notch care for patients."
Ontario's postsecondary education sector and research community has already taken on a leadership role to combat COVID-19. Colleges and universities, research hospitals and institutes across the province have stepped up to support their local communities by donating lifesaving ventilators, personal protective equipment and conducting invaluable research on detection and treatment.
"Our province, our country and the entire world face an unprecedented situation, and the innovation and expertise of our research community is needed now more than ever," said Minister Romano. "We need to continue mobilizing people and ideas and leveraging our top talent in this global effort to find a solution to this crisis and keep people safe."
Ontario researchers are encouraged to submit proposals through the new Ontario Together website. This portal was established to locate or manufacture emergency products and identify immediate and innovative solutions to help support the province's response to COVID-19. The website also includes an option for research institutions, in addition to individuals, corporations and other entities, to submit ideas about how to expand health care capacity and knowledge, better utilize artificial intelligence, and build Ontario's current and future supply chain capacity. Research submissions through the Ontario Together portal will be accepted until April 24, 2020.
"When we launched Ontario Together on March 21st, our province's medical technology and pharmaceutical companies quickly stepped up to offer made-in-Ontario solutions in the fight against COVID-19," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "This incredible response demonstrates the strength of the Ontario Spirit in our business community and world-class manufacturing and life sciences sectors."
The province is particularly interested in proposals that are highly feasible with achievable results within one year or a maximum of two years.
A diverse field of COVID-19 research will be eligible for funding and may include, but is not limited to, researching the COVID-19 strain, developing a vaccine, enhancing testing procedures, or improving modelling tools to help track the virus.
Researchers are encouraged to contact their institutions for further details.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities is supporting researchers currently conducting Ontario Research Fund and Early Researcher Award projects by allowing salary payments, changing reporting deadlines and extending projects that would have otherwise been completed before March 31, 2021.
Ontario is developing a new platform, the Pandemic Threat Response (PANTHR), to provide secure and anonymized health data that will allow researchers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the immediate need to analyze the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Postsecondary institutions have donated hundreds and thousands of items, including personal protective equipment and ventilators.
Ontario is combatting COVID-19 by working with colleges to get trained paramedic students into the workforce to support frontline health care workers. Colleges will provide training opportunities and a streamlined path to early graduation and practice for paramedic students with valuable skills needed by the health care sector.
Visit the Ontario Together website to learn more about submitting a research proposal to combat COVID-19.
Read more about the province’s Ontario Together initiative.
Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 or to take a self assessment.
“Ontario Universities appreciate the government’s investment in research that will help detect, manage and combat the spread of COVID-19. Working with hospital partners, our university researchers were the first to isolate the virus. This type of ground-breaking research, along with other work currently underway at universities across Ontario, will contribute to the global understanding of COVID-19, ultimately leading to better solutions that will address the current crisis and support Ontario's economic recovery.” David Lindsay President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities
“Ultimately, it will be science that defeats COVID-19. Ontario is home to some of Canada’s leading scientific talent and the OHA welcomes the government’s important investment in research. Ontarians, Canadians, and the broader global community will benefit from research conducted right here in the province.” Anthony Dale President and CEO, Ontario Hospital Association