Research Platforms and Portals

The Research Platforms and Portals (RPP) Competition is a peer-reviewed competition that enables communities to develop research projects that improve access to shared datasets, enhance existing online research tools and facilities, or advance national or international research collaborations. The RPP Competition allows faculty members and their sponsored research groups access to compute and storage resources beyond what can be obtained via the Rapid Access Service. For more information about other Compute Canada’s Resource Allocation Competitions, click here.

Competition OpensSubmission Deadline
September 24, 2019November 7, 2019, at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard TimeExtension of this deadline is not possible.

Please read this year’s guide carefully. If you have questions, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. If you have questions about the terminology, please consult our Technical Glossary.

If you have additional questions, please contact our RAC team 

Table of Contents:

Definition of a Research Platform or Portal

A Research Platform or Portal is a set of community-developed set of tools, applications, and data that are integrated via a gateway or a suite of applications, usually in a graphical user interface, that is further customized to meet the needs of a specific community.Platforms and portals enable entire communities of users associated with a common discipline to use national resources through a common interface.

Note: The RPP competition focuses solely on scientific gateways. Pure compute requests should apply to the Resources for Research Groups (RRG) Competition.


This competition is open to researchers based at Canadian academic institutions who are eligible to apply for funding to the federal granting agencies.

Projects applying for the RPP Competition must also:

  1. Provide resources to a larger research community via a set of cloud-based tools, applications, and/or data, thus enabling them to access national resources via a common interface.
  2. Be able to develop, operate and manage the proposed portal or platform with minimal support from Compute Canada.

Generally, an RPP project will involve cloud resources, usually through the development of a front-end gateway on persistent virtual machines, with possible backend compute either through cloud compute nodes or job-based submission to the large national Compute Canada clusters. Additionally, many platforms and portals include large databases.

Important: If backend compute resources are required for this project, they should be included in the RPP application.

Co-PIs and Collaborators

In the context of this competition, Co-PIs are any co-lead investigators in your project with a Compute Canada account. Both the Principal Investigator (PI) and any Co-PI listed in an application MUST upload an updated CCV with their application (see CCV Requirement section.) International investigators or colleagues without a Compute Canada account can be listed as “collaborators” at the discretion of the lead PI.

Multi-Year Awards

Allocations may be awarded over multiple years (maximum of three years), subject to an annual review and availability of resources.

Important: Awarded multi-year projects do not need to submit a new application every year but are required to complete a mandatory annual progress report. The main applicant will be notified by email with instructions for the information required and the submission process. For more information on what is required for the RPP Progress Report, click here.

Submissions of the RPP Progress Report for 2019 start November 14, 2019 and are due December 20, 2019.

Multiple Platforms / Portals

Applicants can combine related platforms or portals into a single application (preferred), or may submit multiple RPP applications (i.e. one per portal/platform) if needed. Applicants can also apply for the RPP and RRG competitions at the same time.

Minimum Requests

Only applications needing more than the amounts below will be accepted:

  • CPU >= 50* Core years, OR
  • GPUs >= 10 GPU years, OR
  • Project storage >= 10 TBs, OR
  • Nearline storage >= 10 TBs, OR
  • Persistent cloud storage >= 10 TB, OR
  • Compute Cloud >= 80 vCPUs, OR
  • Persistent Cloud >= 10 vCPUs

*If you require <50 core years but high memory per core, please use the following formula to calculate the Core Year Equivalent to know whether you should submit an application or use the Rapid Access Service (RAS) for your compute needs.

Core Equivalent =MAX(cores, mem requested / 4GB)
Mem requested = CY* mem per core requested

For more information about compute allocations, core equivalent and scheduler priority, please visit this page.  If you have additional questions, email our RAC team

Please note that Compute Canada resources are limited; applications are scaled based on supply and demand. Please refer to the Appendix at the end of this Guide for the RPP Evaluation Criteria and scoring matrix.

If your resource needs are less than the limits mentioned above, you should use Compute Canada’s Rapid Access Service and do not need to submit an RPP application.

Submission Procedures and Deadlines

Proposals must be submitted electronically through the CCDB no later than November 7, 2019 at 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the application is complete, with all additional documentation uploaded, and that there is no discrepancy between the application document and the online form.

Following the review process, applicants will be informed regarding the status of their applications via e-mail in Spring 2020.

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Pre-Submission Consultations

Applicants are encouraged to consult with Compute Canada technical staff prior to submitting a proposal by emailing our RAC team

Note: If you are applying for the first time to this competition, we strongly encourage you to consult with us prior to submitting your application. This step is very important to ensure you are applying for the correct competition (RRG vs RPP).

Consultations must happen prior to October 31, 2019, to allow adequate time for support by Compute Canada technical staff.

Online Application Form

All applications to the RPP Competition are submitted online via the CCDB (Compute Canada Database). Users must log in using an existing Compute Canada account or register for a new account.

CCV Requirement

An up-to-date Canadian Common CV (CCV) is required for the scientific review process of all RAC applications and is also important for Compute Canada’s reporting to our funders. Please consult the CCV Submission Guide for further instructions.

The PI and all co-PIs are required to:

  • Upload an up-to-date CCV with any RAC application.
  • Report publications enabled by your use of Compute Canada resources.

The PI can view in the online application form the date in which any CCV linked to the application was last uploaded and whether any action is required.

Please plan ahead to avoid delays or the risk of missing the submission deadline due to this requirement. Deadline extensions due to missing CCVs are not possible.

Requesting Resources

Remember to fill in the online application form with all of your requests. There should be no discrepancies between what you request in the document attached to your application and what you request in the online form. In case of discrepancy, the online form will prevail.

Please visit the Available Resources page for a list of systems available for this competition and to understand how resources must be requested in the online form.

Application Document

Please use the following template for the required document that must be submitted with your online application. This document must be submitted in .pdf format.

Important: Page limits will be enforced. Applications exceeding the maximum page limit allowed will be automatically withdrawn from the competition and not evaluated. Details about page limits are included in the first page of the application template below—please read the instructions carefully.

Download Template (Word)

Download Template (LaTeX)

Allocation Process

The overall allocation process follows these steps:

  1. Compute Canada technical staff review each proposal.
  2. An Expert Review Committee evaluates each proposal, and each proposal receives multiple independent scientific reviews.
  3. Expert Review Committee meets to discuss the applications and gives a final science score based on a 5-point scale.
  4. The Chairs of the Expert Review Committees endorse a scaling function based on the science score. That scaling function is applied to all compute requests.

Technical Review

The technical review is conducted by Compute Canada staff who will:

  • ensure the appropriate system is requested by the PI and the required software is available;
  • evaluate application efficiency and scalability;
  • identify groups that may need help with application and workflow optimization;
  • identify discrepancies between the online request and the complete description of the project;
  • identify special software requirements;
  • provide a technical opinion on the reasonability of the request;
  • provide a technical opinion on the capability of the team to develop, operate and manage the platform or portal.

Note: During the technical review process, staff may require additional information from applicants and will engage them directly. In order to ensure an application can progress beyond the Technical Review, applicants are expected to respond to requests from the Compute Canada technical team within 48 hours of the request.

Technical reviewers are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement prior to accessing any RAC application.

Science Review

All applications submitted to the Compute Canada Resource Allocation Competitions are peer-reviewed and scored. Please note that the main purpose of this review process is to:

  1. Obtain expert opinion about the overall scientific merit and feasibility of the proposed research project(s);
  2. Evaluate the appropriateness of the requested resources for the research project(s);
  3. Provide feedback to the applicants.

The main outcome of this review process is an overall score for each application. These scores are used to scale and determine the final allocations to ensure fair and effective use of Compute Canada resources.

Please refer to the Appendix at the end of this Guide for the RPP Evaluation Criteria.

A scaling function, endorsed by the Chairs of the Expert Review Committees, is applied to compute requests to provide a means by which decisions on RAC allocations in a context of insufficient capacity can be made. For the RAC 2019, this function was set so that only applications with a science score of 2.3 or higher received an allocation. Visit the 2019 Resource Allocations Competition Results page for more details about the scaling function and other RAC stats.

We understand that some applicants may have already undergone an evaluation through the various granting councils. It is not the goal of this review process to evaluate and score a PI’s complete research program as an overlap to what the granting agencies have done. Rather, the goal is to determine how to accommodate such projects as best as possible given the limited resources available.

Scientific reviewers are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and accept Compute Canada’s Conflict of Interest Policy prior to accessing any RAC application.

Questions and Additional Information

For any questions on the RRP Competition, please contact our RAC team

You may also wish to consult our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page or the Technical Glossary.

For more information about other Compute Canada Resource Allocation Competitions, please see our main Resource Allocation Competitions page.

Feel free to  also contact your regional support team:

* In 2020, there will be a pilot project for the allocation of resources on a cluster provided by HPC4Health. Prior to the implementation of allocations in April 2020, users will be required to accept the following conditions with University Health Network (UHN), who will be acting on behalf of HPC4Health to onboard any projects:

1. Users agree not to act as a health information network provider under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), i.e., not to use the services to share the data to collaborators or through the web.

2. Users will sign a collaboration agreement with UHN.

3. Users will use two factor authentication to log in to the services.

Pre-consultation with HPC4Health is required in order for an allocation request to be considered. Contact our  RAC team to arrange a consultation.

It is expected that up to 10 allocations will be awarded on the HPC4Health cluster. Access to this cluster via Rapid Access Service (RAS) is not planned. Because this is a pilot project, user groups are encouraged to consider how the HPC4Health resource may integrate with their own workflows and research programs. Service configuration will be as per Compute Canada standards (Slurm, CVMFS); by request, specific technical configurations could also be considered.  Availability and support is not yet fully determined and may change during the allocation year, but the platform is anticipated to be supported to the same degree as other host sites.

Appendix A: Scientific Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria for RPP applications are divided into two categories: Merit of the Strategic Plan and Merit of the Management Plan.

Merit of the Strategic Plan (40%)

Considerations for the evaluation of the Strategic Plan include:

Research Problem and Justification
  • The research problem or need that the platform/portal will address is clearly presented.
  • The importance/relevance of the platform/portal is well justified.
  • The general objectives of the platform/portal are clear.
Goal, Alignment and Impact
  • The project goal is clearly stated.
  • The research area of focus is of importance and will generate benefits to Canada.
  • The expected impacts have been clearly explained.
Use of the Platform/Portal
  • The applicant has clearly explained the added value from the creation of the proposed platform or portal for the identified communities.
  • Creation of the research platform/portal is being driven by the research community targeted.
  • If applicable – the application details the level of interaction between Canadian and international research groups.
Expected Outcomes
  • The application presents a clear timeline for the delivery of the anticipated outcomes over the entire duration of the requested allocation and have indicated the means by which they will be measured.
  • The outcomes presented are of relevance and importance, and will benefit the users of the platform/portal.
Resource Justification
  • Resources requested from Compute Canada are well justified and deemed reasonable to achieve the project objectives.

Merit of the Management Plan (60%)

Evaluate how the platform will be, or is being, managed and the quality of the team assembled to manage, develop and operate the platform. Considerations of this criteria include:

Quality of the Team
  • The team assembled to manage, develop and operate the platform has the right combination of skills (where positions are not yet filled, a description of the position has been included).
Management of the Platform/Portal
  • The team assembled to manage the platform has the right combination of skills (where positions are not yet filled, a description of the position has been included).
  • The proposed management of the resources is well defined and will provide broad access to the research community.
  • The process for resource access is well defined and the application identifies a credible plan to maintain or increase the population accessing resources.
  • The reporting framework presented will not only ensure that the information collected on the users of the portal will provide the ability to track impacts (i.e. economic, social, Highly Qualified Personnel , disciplinary), but also ensure that the participants are maximizing the benefits of the resources to meet the expected outcomes of the application.
  • The proposed methods and technologies are suitable and well justified for the services to be provided by the platform.
  • The approach to sharing data sets across the platform/portal is well detailed and the application addresses any potential accessibility issues.

Appendix B: Scoring Matrix

Excellent4.0-5.0The application excels in most or all relevant aspects of the review criteria. Any shortcomings are minimal.
Good3.0-3.9The application excels in many relevant aspects of the review criteria and reasonably addresses all others. Certain improvements are possible.
Fair2.0-2.9The application excels in some relevant aspects of the review criteria and reasonably addresses all others. Some improvements are necessary.
Poor1.0-1.9The application broadly addresses relevant aspects of the review criteria. Considerable improvements or revisions are required.
Insufficient0-0.9The application fails to provide convincing information and/or has serious inherent flaws or gaps.

Appendix C: Privacy Policy

Confidentiality of Information

Compute Canada safeguards the information it receives from applicants. All reviewers are required to sign a Non-Disclosure agreement and accept Compute Canada’s Conflict of Interest policy. They are instructed to keep all proposal information confidential and to use it only for review purposes. All proposals are available for review by all Compute Canada reviewers and the RAC Administrative Committee.

Use of Personal Information

Any personal information collected by Compute Canada is used only to review applications. Such information may be shared with relevant officials in the relevant consortium and/or with their research institution.

Public Information

If approved for an allocation, Compute Canada will post the following project information on our website:

Full name of the lead PI
Platform or Portal Title
Project Summary