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Call for Nominations

Nomination deadline: April 15, 2014

The Synergy Awards for Innovation honour outstanding research and development (R&D) partnerships between a university or a college, and industry, in the natural sciences and engineering. Since 1995, the Awards have showcased the benefits of pooling university and industry resources to make the most of Canadian research excellence and Canadian industrial expertise.

In addition to the four categories for universities, the Awards now include a category for colleges, to highlight the impact and lasting benefits of their applied R&D collaborations with industry partners. Only nominations in the natural sciences and/or engineering will be considered.

Winners of the Synergy Awards show effective use of human, technical and financial resources, leading to tangible commercial benefits with their industrial collaborators. Universities must demonstrate a lasting partnership while colleges may focus on the impact of near-term applied research.

The Synergy Awards are your opportunity to show the world what Canadian ingenuity and collaboration can accomplish.


The nominated partnership must be in the natural sciences and/or engineering and be between a Canadian university professor, or group of professors, or a Canadian college, and a Canadian-based company or companies with commercial activities in Canada, such as R&D and/or manufacturing.

An individual, team of individuals or a college may be nominated for the NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation and other major NSERC prizes in the same year, but can receive only one such prize in a given year. There is no limit to the number of nominations for the Synergy Awards for Innovation that a university or college can put forward in a given competition.


Nominations can be made in one of five categories:

For universities:

  • Small and Medium-Sized Companies—A partnership with a single company of up to 500 employees.
  • Large Companies—A partnership with a single company of more than 500 employees.
  • Two or More Companies—A partnership with two or more companies of any size or a consortium of companies.
  • Leo Derikx Award—An established innovative model of long-standing university-industry partnership in pre-competitive R&D that has improved the general well-being of an industry.

For colleges:

  • Colleges—An innovative applied R&D partnership with demonstrable impact between a college research team and one or more companies, of any size.

Up to five awards may be presented annually, one in each category.

Nomination Process and Selection Criteria

How to Nominate a Partnership

Refer to the Nomination Checklist to ensure that your nomination package is complete.

Nominations must be submitted by a senior executive from one of the participating organizations, such as the:

  • President, Chief Executive Officer, Vice-President of Research, or equivalent of one of the industrial partner organizations; or
  • President, Vice-President of Research, or equivalent from the university or college.

The nomination package must include letters of support from:

  • the nominator (a senior executive of one of the industrial partner organizations or an executive head of the university or college);
  • the senior executive or executive head of all other partner organizations, including the university(ies) or colleges, listed on the Synergy Awards Nomination Form.

Nominations that are not legible (e.g., font size too small), or that do not meet the Presentation Guidelines, will be rejected. Additional material or information will not be accepted.

Complete the Synergy Awards Nomination Form, with all required signatures, and use it as a cover letter for the nomination material. The Terms and Conditions of Applying Form must also be completed and signed. For universities, the Form must be signed by the nominee and each co-nominee, if applicable (academic researchers only); for colleges, it must be signed by the leader of the innovation project (researcher, faculty member, administrator, as it applies).

Nomination Material

Quantified outcomes for each criterion will assist the committee in assessing the nominations. Use the following headings:

  1. Background: Describe the objective of the partnership and how the university or college and industrial partners worked together to achieve that objective.
  2. Partnership: Successful entries for universities will demonstrate a lasting partnership between the university and industrial collaborators rather than a one-time initiative aimed at addressing a single problem or challenge. College entries will demonstrate the benefits of the partnership with industry in terms of impact and productivity and may focus on near-term applied research. Entries should describe:
  • the role of each of the partners;
  • the objective of the partnership and how the partners worked together to achieve that objective, clearly illustrating superior partnership management practices that were used;
  • innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship; and
  • the contributions of both the university or college and the industrial partners, as well as other sources of financial or non-financial support that contributed to the success of the partnership.
  1. Effective use of resources: Successful entries will demonstrate effective and sustained use of both the university’s or college’s and industrial partners' human and technical capital, and provide evidence of:
    • high-quality research in the natural sciences and engineering, which for colleges may be of a more applied nature;
    • effective training of college students or university undergraduate and graduate students, as applicable, as well as their engagement in the collaboration; and
    • strategies that maximized the use of resources from the university or college and industry.
  1. Tangible benefits: Successful entries will provide evidence of tangible commercial and knowledge-based benefits to both the industrial and university or college partners and to Canada, and demonstrate results that include:
    • rewards to the institutions, such as enhanced research, as well as teaching capabilities for universities or practical teaching capacity for colleges;
    • rewards for the industry, such as new and improved processes, products or techniques, patents, or enhanced export potential;
    • other socio-economic benefits to Canada; and
    • evidence, where applicable, of pre-commercial and/or commercial success, increased employment opportunities for students and graduates, and spin-off benefits to other sectors of the economy.
  1. Innovative model (for the Leo Derikx Award only): Document the innovative model of a long-standing university-industry interaction with pre-competitive benefits that has contributed to the general well-being of an industrial sector.

Resubmissions should demonstrate significant advancement since the previous submission.

Presentation Guidelines

When you prepare your nomination material, follow these guidelines:

  • Use a maximum of six (including figures), white, one-sided, 8 1/2 x 11 inches (21.5 cm x 28 cm) sheets, in portrait format with a single column.
  • One extra page is allowed for references. Do not refer to Web sites for additional information. Do not include hyperlinks in your list of references.
  • Set margins at a minimum of 3/4 of an inch (1.9 cm) all around.
  • Print must be in black ink and of letter quality.
  • Condensed fonts, and nominations completed strictly in italics, will not be accepted.
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines per inch.
  • The accepted font is Times New Roman regular 12 pts, or any comparable font. Smaller font sizes will result in the nomination being rejected.
  • Number your pages sequentially.

What do the signatures on the nomination mean?

By signing and submitting a nomination, the nominator:

  • certifies that the information provided in the nomination documents and related documents is true, complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge;
  • consents to the sharing between NSERC and any university or college to which they are, or may become, affiliated of any and all information, including personal information, in any way related to the nomination and to the grant/award;
  • understands the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act (including the Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Provided to NSERC) as they pertain to information contained in the nomination package;
  • attests that all individuals named in the nomination have agreed to be included;
  • certifies that the nominator is not currently ineligible to apply for and/or hold funds from NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or any other research or research funding organization world-wide for reasons of breach of policies on responsible conduct of research such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies; and
  • certifies that the nominator complies with and will continue to respect the This link will take you to another Web site Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, as required only if they are, or were in the last 12 months, a public servant in the federal government.

The meaning of the signature for the nominee and co-nominees (if applicable) is described in the Terms and Conditions of Applying Form.

By signing and submitting a support letter, the authorized officers of the industrial partner organizations certify that the organization:


The winners will be selected by a peer review selection committee on the basis of the outstanding excellence of the partnership and its suitability for each category. All decisions are final. Entry material will not be returned to the nominators. Winners will be notified by letter following the selection committee meeting and will be recognized at an event hosted or co-hosted by NSERC.

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