[David Luchuk]: Joining me today in this session is the core of our Challenges team, which includes Nolan D’Souza, Matthew Naccarato, and Sonia Hamel.

Nolan will be providing an overview of the application process and will join me, as well as Matt, in answering questions, during the Q&A period.  Matt, along with Sonia, will also be compiling questions in the chat to be addressed in our question & answer period at the end of this session, and as I’ve mentioned, we’ll try to get through as many of those as we can.  

So, let’s  begin with an overview quickly of the agency and the centre and our work Impact Canada on this Challenge.  Following that, I’m going to hand things over to Nolan who will provide an overview of the Challenge and it’s objectives, as well as the submission and evaluation process that we are launching into.

And as mentioned, we will then jump into a Q&A session at the end. So, let’s get right into that. 

Here at the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Type 2 diabetes Prevention Challenge is housed in the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Equity - I’ll refer to this as the Centre. The Centre’s mandate is to reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote health equity.  We do this through a variety of activities such as our recently launched call for proposals under the Healthy Canadians and Communities Fund program, and we also run Challenges, similar to this one, in other areas, like concussion detection and vaccine uptake.  

Further, our colleagues in policy and engagement here at the centre have collaborated, very likely with many of you, on the development of the Framework for Diabetes in Canada.  Which is an incredibly important foundational document that the agency intends to help shape activities in the public and private sectors for years to come in addressing challenges associated with diabetes across the country. 

2021 was an important year for diabetes. It marked the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of insulin and the Government of Canada announced, that year, $35 million in investments focused on diabetes, which included Framework for Diabetes in Canada and it’s development, as well as this Type 2 diabetes Prevention Challenge.  These activities are important because diabetes remains one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in Canada, with approximately 3.4 million Canadians living with one of the three main types of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which is preventable, is the most common form of diabetes in Canada, and accounts for approximately 90% of cases in Canadian adults.  And this is really the area, in which the Type 2 diabetes Prevention Challenge aims to make a dent.  We want to address the increasing prevalence of diabetes in Canada  -particularly, in communities that are disproportionately impacted by elevated risk and incidences of this disease.  I really want to underscore this moment.  We are very conscious of the time and energy, the expertise and effort, that have gone into attempts to address prevention and attempts to address equity, and to try to make a difference in terms of type 2 diabetes prevention.  And this challenge is really an opportunity for us at the agency to put a mechanism forward where innovators, such as yourselves, will have an opportunity to bring new ideas forward and to advance our approach to addressing type 2 diabetes, in a context where a lot of effort has gone in. And there are still a lot of challenges ahead of us.  And we hope that this challenge is going be part of ongoing effort, in an equitable manner and an effective manner, find new ways of preventing this disease. 

For this initiative, we have partnered with Impact Canada.  Impact Canada is a Government of Canada-wide effort that aims to accelerate the adoption of innovative funding, among departments and agencies like ours, including approaches like running Challenges such as this one.  We have benefited from the diverse group of problem solvers and experts at Impact Canada and we’ve also leveraged the online application portal and website provided by that initiative, which is where you find all the information ultimately – all the application tools and materials to apply for this Challenge.  In collaboration with them, we are pleased to be pursuing concepts from a broad range of innovators that can address the barriers that the communities experience which lead to an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Through the Challenge, these concepts can be developed and implemented in communities, co-designed with communities across Canada and reflect the diversity of needs and the diversity of potential approaches that exist across the country.  We really hope to bring ideas forward that will be new.  The flexibility we hope to provide through this challenge will be a venue for you and your organizations to stand up initiatives that will move diabetes prevention in new directions.  I really want to reiterate our thanks and appreciation for you taking part in this session today.  And with that I’d like to pass it over to colleague Nolan D’Souza for overview of the Challenge and it’s objectives.

Thanks David.

[Nolan D'Souza]: Before we begin, to support the accessibility of this presentation. I’d just like to mention I’m a dark skinned male with short black hair, wearing stripped button up shirts. 

Alright, so Challenge principles. The Type 2 diabetes Prevention Challenge, as David mentioned, is seeking concepts that use a combination of community strengths and resources from inter-sectoral partnerships.  These two aspects are combined to overcome the barriers to type 2 diabetes prevention for specific communities in Canada. By expanding on the knowledge and skills held by these communities, PHAC aims to find models or the approaches that are meaningful to those that live within them.  And then PHAC can also find ways, and the innovators can find ways,  to adapt these approaches for the diversity that Canada has.

A quick note: For this Challenge, a community in Canada is defined by group of individuals that are united by shared beliefs, shared culture, goals, activities, or geography. Community members are connected to each other and work towards common interests.  For example, a community could share the same local geography, the same sociocultural beliefs, or could be a community of workers.

Now the Challenge has 4 objectives:

  • The first of which is to spur Community Innovation by attracting a broad cohort of innovators who can implement new concepts that address the determinants of health and their impact on the modifiable risk factors that lead to type 2 diabetes.  PHAC is seeking the ways to do this in ways that current methods cannot, or where the current practices haven’t been able to be adapted for type 2 diabetes prevention.
  • The second objective is to generate new partnership models.  These are ones that build on a community’s existing knowledge, tools, and services using expanded assets brought in from intersectoral partnerships.  The concepts surfaced through this Challenge act as templates for partnership models for prevention.
  • The third objective is to develop multiple options for type 2 diabetes prevention. So multiple ways to address the barriers and risks that lead to type 2 diabetes in multiple settings in Canada.  Those settings again can be geographic, cultural, and social, as an example.  
  • The fourth objective is to find additional opportunities to understand and measure type 2 diabetes risk.  So  PHAC would like to identify new social, participation, or other measures of estimating the risk to develop type 2 diabetes.  Similarly, PHAC would like to find ways to increase the effectiveness of using existing measures that are early predictors of risk (and that do not rely exclusively on blood glucose levels).  

Alright, those are the objectives.  If you are applying to this, how will you know what outcomes you should be reaching in order to say that you have allowed the challenge to get closer to it’s objectives.

Depending on the community, where there is a higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes, there are very different barriers and very different determinants of health that will impact that risk to develop te condition. So if this Challenge has pre-defines outcomes - some like the increased number of individuals that are eating healthy diet - it might be valuable but not necessarily another.  So this really depends on the needs and circumstances of the community in which the concept, or the approach, is being implemented in.  

For this Challenge, applicants are asked to use four challenge principles to create meaningful outcomes for one particular Canadian community.  So using these principles helps the applicant, or innovator, get to the outcomes that will have the highest impact on the community and subsequently get the/push the needle towards those Challenge goals.   

So what are those principles.

  • The first is Reducing stigma. Many people in Canada experience stigmatization for being at risk for type 2 diabetes. There is a common misconception that people need to simply alter diet and exercise habits to reduce risk but this perspective does not account for the realities of people’s lives. Understanding how to destigmatize type 2 diabetes, and the conversations about it, helps shift the conversation away from shame and blame towards one less judgmental and more supportive.
  • The second principle - Increasing self-efficacy. People at risk for type 2 diabetes may not know what their risk factors are, or their barriers to prevention are – they may not know what resources they have for support, and how to navigate access to resources if they are within the medical system or beyond the medical system. There is also the possibility that some people may be basing decisions/health decisions on misinformation/disinformation – that could relate to family history or it could relate to diet. So whenever possible, and where there is the means, helping people in Canada achieve greater self-efficacy in how they understand and respond to the risks to develop type 2 diabetes, helps more people in Canada make better informed decisions.
  • The third principle is increasing health equity.  So, there is a disproportionate impact of type 2 diabetes on many communities in Canada due to the social, economic, and geographical determinants of health, as well as historic injustices. So highlighting and beginning to respond to or remove the disparities in accessing prevention supports in ways that include and respect the philosophies, practices, and traditions of a community, can help respond to the unmet needs of people living in Canada.
  • The fourth principle is increasing human-centered care.  So considering the diversity of lived experience, preferences, and settings across the country helps tailor how the innovation offers of support and resources to community members with greater meaning. Supporting communities with concepts based on their context and how that context influences personal and consumer choices is important.  It can help create successful human-centered approaches.  Subsequently that engages more people in type 2 diabetes prevention activities.

A quick note here - focusing on all four principles in your application – it doesn’t increase the chances of becoming a prize winner – PHAC  welcomes concepts that have outcomes aligned to one principle or two principles that have a significant impact on them, as well as those applications that are able to touch on all 4 principles.

This is an open and thematic competition which allows the variability of issues that each community faces to be addressed by one single Challenge.  It is designed to fund a broad range of potential innovations on a prospective basis and then it focuses on evaluating how effective they are.  As such, a challenge statement is not defined by PHAC for this Challenge. Instead, applicants are asked to define their own challenge statement and to tailor their concept to the those outcomes that meaningful,  the most meaningful outcomes that address type 2 diabetes prevention barriers in that community and, of course, is guided by Challenge principles.

An example is on the slide here. "Our remote community will overcome access barriers to healthy food, physical activity, and type 2 diabetes stigmatization by combining a trusted and familiar location with community-led food growing, activity spaces, and places to dialogue.“  This Challenge statement is important because it is a guiding light for your concept.

Once you’ve got your Challenge statement, what can the actual concept look like?  In Challenges, often times, there is a goal to achieve but the way to achieve it is left flexible.  It can be discovered during the problem solving process with the room to pivot as needed.  This challenge is designed to catalyze rapid launch and scale of those ideas. The concepts can be “out-of-the-box”, they can be creative.  They could have multiple activities that you will deploy in the community or they could have one really big one.    You concept could include some of the examples listed on this slide.  This list is no way exhaustive or a reflection of what would be considered a winning idea. But if you’ve got something novel or non-traditional it’s strongly encouraged to submit an application. If you’ve got something that shown to be effective that hasn’t been deployed in a community or adapted for type 2 diabetes, you’re also encouraged to submit an application. ON the slide there are the few examples for inspiration and I’ll go through them quickly.   

  • Could your concept include a component that has a youth focused dialogue or activities that promote a communities strengths for youth?
  • Does it include an adaption of a technology that can foster participation of community members in prevention activities?
  • Does it include navigation supports and access to risk reduction resources within a network of partners in a way that addresses unmet needs?
  • Does it create spaces or avenues that serve the communities needs for prevention?  
  • Addressing perhaps physical issues, social issues, culinary issues – sorry, physical spaces, social space, culinary space, potentially this is done in ways that leverage the communities traditions or philosophies 
  • Or does your concept include to destigmatize how you measure the risk for type 2 diabetes, using existing or new measures.

We’re going to move into the actual application and review process now

Eligible applicants for this slide are noted on this slide.  They include the following: not-profit organizations, indigenous organization and groups located in Canada, post-secondary/academic institutions, business or for-profit organization, as well as individuals or groups of individuals this includes societies or coalitions, and municipalities or regional/local governments. 

Now In order to receive funding, applicants are required to be a Canadian legal entity (such as a company or a corporation or a not-for-profit organization). If an applicant is not currently a legal entity they’d need to establish one in order to receive funding. International organizations may submit an application provided that these requirements are met. If it is not something that has been done, it is recommended to begin this process upon submitting an application, if required.

As well, to apply to the challenge and ensure that co-design with a community has been performed.

An organization whose mission represents a community within Canada must be on the application.

This could be lead applicant itself or it could be listed as a co-lead.  This means the organization representing the community has been involved in the design, and will be involved in the implementation and direction of the concept.  So that organization representing the community could be a cultural organization, could be an organization serving a specific geography, it could be a social organizations.  This attestation is required in section 3 of the application.  

We will not be answering questions about becoming a legal entity in Canada.  This is outside our expertise, but if you do have specific questions please send to our email.   

There is a lot of work in the diabetes prevention space and this challenge is meant means for novel or adapted ideas to unlock the barriers to prevention in Canadian communities.  Thus, the concepts should be: be new for the community in which it is deployed, or a new application of a previously successful approach. It shouldn’t replicate existing initiatives/projects already in place in a community.

It should be specific to a community that is at an elevated risk to develop type 2 diabetes

It should be specific to early intervention before community members require entry into the medical system

And it should not be solely for professionalizing, building capacity, communications, promotions, scaling up/replicating existing activities, or commercial research and development

If you meet all of the eligibility criteria (applicant and concept wise) and have an idea that can help prevent Type 2 diabetes, it is highly recommended to apply.  

The Challenge Application process consists of 3 steps. 

  • Step 1 – Read the applicant guide and FAQ page in full. Both can be found on the official Challenge website.  On the impact Canada website
  • Step 2 – Once you’ve gone through the materials and FAQs. Develop your application using the online Application Form, which you can save and return to as needed.  
  • Step 3 – Submit your application and attestations through the online Portal by March 1st at 5:00 PM Central Time. This is a firm deadline. There is a small mistake on this slide, there is no supporting documents but there is an attestation that needs to be submitted.  Applications submitted after this date will not be considered.  

Once the application is submitted, how is it assessed? So, assessment a application or the concept within the application is based on the following 6 assessment criteria and it will be evaluated by a panel of expert judges using a using a common scoring grid based off this assessment criteria.

I want to reiterate that it is really important to look at Applicant guide. Section 4.3 of the applicant guide provides details of what to expect within each of these assessment criteria for the questions in the application form.  There is a table in section 4.3 that details what to expect at stage 1 of the application (which is now – the concept that will be submitted) as well what is expected further along for successful participants in stage 2 and 3. 

That being said, on a high level what are the assessment criteria:

  • The first is innovation Overcoming barriers/problems to type 2 diabetes prevention in ways that existing approaches cannot
  • The second is assessment criteria is applicability to Canadian Communities: Show how concept has been tailored type 2 diabetes prevention, how it’s specific Canadian community, and the potential for adapting  it in additional communities or contexts
  • Concept Design (Model): A concept with projects, activities, and/or ideas that address barriers to prevention for a community in Canada.  The model should  create outcomes aligned to Challenge principles that are bespoke to the needs of that community, and has there should the potential to continue supporting the community post-challenge
  • Partnership Development and Strengths-based Approach: This assessment criteria is asking the application to show how to combine community strengths with assets and resources from inter-sectoral partnerships to better meet the type 2 diabetes prevention in that community
  • Community Member Engagement: It’s asking the applicant to demonstrating how to design and adapt a concept based on the voices and needs of community members in a way that is inclusive and representative of the diversity of the community
  • Outcome Measurement: Define ways to measure the risk for type 2 diabetes and barrier reduction outcomes that are meaningful to community members.  Again it could be existing or new, and could be social, participation, or other measures

So we’ll move along to a quick over overview of the Challenge Process and Prizes.

The Challenge officially launched on November 22nd in 2022.

We’re in stage 1, applicants should submit their  application by the march 1 deadline. On a high level, the application will need to describe why they’ve chosen their particular community, why their concept will be effective, which partnerships they will need to establish (if any), and the type 2 diabetes prevention outcomes they are seeking in their community that are aligned to the Challenge principles. After the deadline, the applications are reviewed and up to 21 semi-finalists are selected to receive  $35,000 each in prize funding and to move to the next stage. All the prize amounts listed here are the amounts for each winner, not the total prize pool.  So it would be $35,000 for each of the winners. 

In stage 2, the semi-finalists that were selected in stage 1 will have approximately 4 months to develop their concept.  This means ,they’ll do some research, potentially they may need to do stuff on the ground, in to the barriers prevention relevant to their community and respond come up with a fully implementable plan.  And if needed formalize partnerships that will be used to expand on the resources from their community to respond to those barriers. As part of the development of their concept, semi-finalists will also need to develop a plan to measure and evaluate how effective their approach is in achieving outcomes for their community. Once developed concepts are submitted for review and assessment, up to 7 finalists will be selected and they will receive a $600,000 prize each. They will move on to the final stage.  PHAC is determining what additional supports outside of prize funding will be available to participants and prize winners.  They could other supports that will support winners, and as you may have seen on the website there could be other supports and those include business develop or evaluation supports but it would be determined by the cohort of winners. 

Now Stage 3. Those finalists that were selected in stage 2 will have 18-21 months to rigorously test and evaluate the effectiveness of their concept, as it is being deployed. They will generate evidence that their approach is effective.  That it has the ability reduce the number of individuals who are at risk to develop type 2 diabetes and a method of understanding and measuring that risk. At the end of this stage, finalists are expected to show how their approach could be adapted to other communities or contexts in Canada. Finalists will be asked for a plan, in this final stage, on how they continue to operate their approach once the Challenge ends. Finalists once they implement, once they generate evidence and once all of that has been submitted for review and assessment, up to two grand prize winners will be selected to receive $1.25M prizes each.  Like in stage 2, there will also be supports outside of prize funding and that is still be determined for what would allow the innovators to reach their outcomes and accelerate their progress through the challenge. 

We are at the application form. Some people have started partial applications.  You might have started your application.  The application form is on the website it’s all online .  Again after you’ve read through the application guide you can just start typing in your answers into application, and you can save it and return to it later.  The whole application is also available as a PDF if you prefer to work on it outside of the portal, write it up in a document and subsequently paste it in.  It is recommended to start early, work on the answers to application form early, and if you have any questions at all or are seeking any clarifications email the Challenge team early so you can get your questions answered early on.  

Submit only one application, even you are submitting a partnership of multiple organizations.  The person/organization submitting the application will be considered the lead applicant. The funding agreement is made with the lead applicant only.  And then the lead applicant is responsible for how the funding is distributed among partners.  

It is important to reiterate that the funding that is provided to winners through this Challenge is different than many traditional grants.  So the application is it. There is no need for an academic CV, there is not need for a publication record, a professional grant writer is not required because applicants are expected to respond to a series of questions.  Free text questions that ask them how their innovation is responding to the assessment criteria.  Again PHAC is interested in the concepts that advance the challenge’s objectives and create meaningful outcomes for communities in Canada that are aligned to the Challenge principles, and can be realistically implemented. Previous Impact Canada Challenge’s prize winners have been a broad range, ranging from undergraduate students to small start ups to larger enterprises.  

Another reminder is that the form has characters limits not word limits.  These have been based on having a sufficient number of characters to answer the questions in both official languages, French and English.

The application guide goes through the questions in details and has a lot of tips for responding to each question of the application.  I want to share a few reminders for when you fill out your application, if you chose to do so.

Section 1 is the application details. Nothing in section 1 is evaluated against the assessment criteria

Section 1.8  the co-lead organization representing a community in Canada . As I mentioned before the lead applicant must partner with an organization representing a community in Canada but if the lead applicant is the community organization, just leave question 1.8 blank.  That’s why it says, if applicable. 

Section 2 is important part of the application.  This is the section that judges are going to be looking at it.  Be as concise and compelling as possible here  - when all the character limits are totaled up from the application form, it amounts to about 5-6 pages worth of text here.  It’s a good idea to study the applicant guide, especially 4.3 of it to help you with designing your application.  

Now one of the questions in section 2, section 2.1 It can be worth it to return to question 2.1 after you’ve completed your full application.  The reason why is that question is actually a nice concise summary of your entire concept and it might be what judges look at first. 

Section 3 is the declarations that I had eluded to.  So there is 4 declarations.

Is there an organization representing a community in Canada involved in the application.

The person filling out the form. Do they represent the organization represents and does the organization support the submission.  The Acceptance of general Terms and Conditions and the privacy terms and conditions as well.

Section 4 is optional.  The purpose of this survey is to gather your insights as an applicant, if you chose to apply.  And that’ll help us improve the design of future challenges so that more effectively stimulate innovation. It is extremely useful feedback.  It is completely confidential.  The data collected in this survey will be aggregated. And allow us to help us understand what works in a challenge, what to improve the future. No individual answers are going to published. And none of the answers will any impact in your assessment in this Challenge process and will not affect your chances of success in it.  Will not affect your chances in any federal funding application.

Alright.  We’re coming to the close of the presentation.  Just a few more points here.  One of the things you may have noticed there is a lot of social media posts about this challenge and Impact Canada research has shown that Challenges can shine a spotlight on an important issue or priority, significantly increasing social media traffic and conversations about it.  So, we welcome you to use your own preferred social media channels to start talking about THE challenge concepts.  you can help amplify the conversation, you can spur collaboration, you can highlight your ideas.  If you’d like, you can use the hashtags that have been used in previous posts.  You might even find that doing so could identify others that would to partner with you, or potential partners that could be submitting a concept or are looking for partners to submit a concept with.  A very nice anecdote, is that when analyzing social media conversations from other challenges about growing food in space there were 350 tweets prior to the deep space food challenge.  Once the challenge was launched that jumped to 17,000 post launch.  So, it really does get a lot more people talking about the issue and the ideas. 

If you are intending on applying.  Frequently visit the impact Canada website.  If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, please let the challenge team know emailing the email address: DT2P@phac-aspc.gc.ca. 

And with that.  Thank you for your interest in the Challenge. This concludes the presentation portion of the webinar and we are going to shift into the Q&A period. A reminder to put questions into the Q&A function of the zoom platform.   The zoom meeting goes until 2:30pm Eastern time.  Feel free to exit the webinar if you need to, though.  The responses in this Q&A session will be posted the Challenge website, within the FAQS, if applicable and if they are not already there.