by Robert Balicsak, Principal, Colliers Project Leaders

If you are reading this, you know that in April 2016 the Government of Canada announced the launch of the $2-billion Post-Secondary Strategic Investment Fund. This fund is designed to improve research and innovation infrastructure at universities and colleges across the country. In recent months, successful applicants have had announcements in the media. Other institutions expect to make their funding announcements formal in the near future.

Since the announcement five months ago, Colliers Project Leaders has become the industry leader in SIF project strategy and delivery. Our team of experts has developed a national platform and strategy to help universities and colleges complete their applications and successfully obtain their SIF funding. A consistent response strategy can only benefit our clients, so we have aligned this national approach with the Government’s national initiative.

In the coming months, sifcertainty.com will feature blog postings that highlight many of these strategies. We will provide strategic insight on how we achieve “SIF Certainty,” based on challenges you will encounter.

To Colliers Project Leaders, SIF Certainty means:

  • Maximizing eligible funds
  • Minimizing schedule risks
  • Exceed conventional project management practices and strategies
  • Leveraging industry knowledge nationally

Sure, it seems simple enough, but there are many pitfalls and trap doors on the path to project success.

Colliers Project Leaders has already been working with industry partners to identify what is achievable within SIF’s schedule constraints. You must be able to realistically complete the scope of work you develop within the 18 month timeframe. Over the years, higher education has become more competitive; a facility cannot just be bricks and mortar anymore. Students and faculty have come to expect innovative features and high-grade finishes, making quality one of the most important considerations on your project. When was the last time you completed a fast-track project and it met all of the quality expectations and had a limited deficiency list? Quality must be built into your schedule. You must take this into consideration when developing the size and complexity of your project.

Working with our industry partners, contractors and trades, we have confirmed that a new SIF-funded building built on a greenfield site cannot be larger than 70,000-sq. ft. Anything larger, and the risk of not meeting substantial performance by April 30, 2018 is drastically increased, not to mention the risk of not meeting your quality expectations.

The complexity of the building type you select is also a major factor. For example, a building with multiple research-style laboratories requiring fume hoods, complex mechanical systems and additional safety requirements should not be larger than 50,000-sq. ft.  Even if you limit the size of this complex building, you also need to have a clear strategy for procuring long lead items early on in the process.

Project success is determined in the initial planning phase. Understanding your limitations when planning and designing your facility is a significant part of that success.

This is only one of the many trap doors that exist on the path to SIF Certainty. Do not fall through the trap doors – keep an eye on our blog, or give us a call.