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College and Community Innovation Program - Innovation Enhancement Grants

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Duration Two years: entry-level IE Grants
Five years: five-year IE Grants
How to Apply Letter of Intent Application
  • Form 186 – Letter of Intent to Apply for a College and Community Innovation Program - Innovation Enhancement Grant
  • F103CV (form-fillable) – CCI Personal Data Form and instructions
  • Form 103 – Application for the CCI Program
  • Form 183A – Information Required from Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs
  To complete the Form 103CV or to view its instructions, select the links above.

To create or access an application, select On-line System Login. To view forms and instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
Thirteenth Competition Fourteenth Competition Fifteenth Competition
Letter of Intent May 29, 2015 May 26, 2016 May 25, 2017
Invitation to
Submit an Application
Early August 2015 Early August 2016 Early August 2017
Application for
for Five-Year IE Grants
October 30, 2015 October 27, 2016 October 26, 2017
Decision on  Application Early February 2016 Early February 2017 Early February 2018
For More
Consult the Contact List

Federal Granting Agencies/Canada Foundation for Innovation Joint Initiative for Colleges

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is pleased to participate in the Innovation Enhancement (IE) Grants component of the granting agencies’ College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program in order to foster partnerships between colleges and the private sector that will lead to business innovation at the local, regional and national levels.

This joint initiative allows colleges to apply for a comprehensive funding package supporting both research costs (through the fourteenth competition of the five-year CCI-IE Grants) and research infrastructure (through the CFI’s new College-Industry Innovation Fund: Stream 2). A Call for Proposals for the CFI College-Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF) is available on the This link will take you to another Web site CFI website.

All information submitted to the joint initiative by researchers, company and college employees, community members, reviewers and other individuals will be used to review applications and to administer and monitor awards. The three participating agencies—NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)—and the CFI share the submitted information among themselves as required to manage the CCI–IE Grants. By signing and submitting their CCI-IE and CIIF applications to CFI and NSERC, researchers agree to this use and disclosure of their personal information.

Important Information

The CCI Program is managed by NSERC in collaboration with CIHR and SSHRC. The IE Grants can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and/or health. All applications must be submitted to NSERC. Grants are given by NSERC, with the exception of funded proposals exclusively in the social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences, which will be given by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate.


The objective of the IE Grants is to increase innovation at the community and/or regional level by enabling Canadian colleges to increase their capacity to work with local companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They support applied research and collaborations that facilitate commercialization, as well as technology transfer, adaptation and adoption of new technologies.


IE Grants stimulate applied research that brings together necessary expertise from diverse fields such as natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, and/or health sciences to address business-driven challenges and opportunities. IE Grants provide funding to colleges on a competitive basis to enhance their applied research capacity and carry out applied research and technology transfer activities in collaboration with and to the benefit of companies—SMEs in particular. These grants will focus on an area where the college has recognized expertise and that meets local or regional needs and where there is the potential to increase economic development of the community.

The five-year IE Grants are non-renewable. Colleges are limited to one five-year IE Grant per applied research area. Colleges can apply for more than one five-year IE Grant; however, it must be clearly demonstrated that the application falls within a new applied research area. Applications that overlap with a previous IE Grant will be rejected. The expectation is that at the conclusion of their five-year IE Grant, colleges will have increased their applied research capacities and have developed the necessary strong partnerships with their regional company partners to sustain parts of their applied research activities. Colleges can further build and maintain their applied research activities by applying for multi-year funding through an Applied Research and Development Grant, a College-University Idea to Innovation Grant, a Technology Access Centre Grant, or an Industrial Research Chair for Colleges Grant.

Note: Colleges can apply for a five-year IE grant in the same applied research area as a previous entry-level IE grant.

Funding Level and Duration

Entry-Level Innovation Enhancement Grant

Funding Years 1 and 2: Funding of up to $100,000 per year.

Five-Year Innovation Enhancement Grant

Funding Years 1 to 3: Base funding of up to $500,000 per year.

Funding Years 4 and 5: Four-fifths of the annual base funding.

To enhance the applied research capacity at the college and strengthen partnerships with local or regional companies, IE Grants are awarded for either a two-year or a five-year period. For the two-year grant, $100,000 per year for each of two years is provided. For the five-year grant, a base grant of up to $500,000 per year is provided for the first three years. During the course of the grants, colleges are expected to increase (progressively) their complementarity and effective collaboration with local or regional companies and other existing community resources. To ensure increased and sustained commitment and involvement from college partners in years four and five of the five-year grants, IE Grants will provide only four-fifths of the average annual base funding received in the first three years. We expect that other sources of support will become available from business and other partners (either cash or in-kind contributions). This will build in the requirement for sustainability.

Each grant will be administered by an eligible college and will be composed of a portfolio of fixed applied research projects and technology and knowledge transfer/outreach activities. Funds will go to individuals and/or teams of faculty members, working with their students on specified collaborative projects with business. The activities supported must be incremental to those already planned by the college and the college must demonstrate this incrementality in its application. The grants are intended to be flexible and to accommodate a variety of activities and address the needs of a range of colleges (from small to large, rural to urban, etc.). All proposals must include a plan to involve faculty and students enrolled in programs at the college and indicate how they will work with the local companies and, possibly, other relevant partners.


Canadian colleges that have been declared eligible to administer grants according to the eligibility requirements for colleges of at least one of the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, CIHR and/or SSHRC) may submit a grant application.

If the proposed research and knowledge/technology transfer activities lie entirely within the mandate of one agency (NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC), the college must be declared eligible to receive funding from that granting agency.

  • The college must offer programs in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences and in line with the applied research areas proposed.
  • The college’s faculty members involved in the IE Grants must be engaged in applied research in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences.
  • The college must provide the space, facilities and services to enable its natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences faculty members to conduct applied research.

Entry-Level Innovation Enhancement Grant

  • Colleges who have received an Innovation Enhancement, Technology Access Centre, or Industrial Research Chair for Colleges Grant will not be eligible for an entry-level IE Grant.
  • If a college obtains a five-year IE Grant while holding an entry-level IE Grant, no further entry-level IE Grant instalments will be paid.
  • Colleges are not eligible to submit an entry-level IE Grant proposal to the same competition to which they are submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI) or an Application for a five-year IE Grant.

Participation of Business and Other Organizations


Companies must participate in the IE Grant and must be engaged at the application stage, as well as throughout the grant period. Colleges will have to demonstrate that they have leveraged in-kind support for the IE proposal from business partners who could benefit from the activities. Cash contributions from business are also expected but a minimum level has not been set, since it is expected that most of the companies will be SMEs. Rather, the initial level of contribution will need to be justified and an increasing level of business contributions and engagement is expected as the work progresses. At the LOI and application stages, NSERC will require letters of support from companies.

The purpose of the IE Grant is to support collaboration with a range of companies. To ensure companies are involved in the grant, company participation will be monitored closely throughout the grant and before releasing annual instalments. Past and future contributions (in-kind and cash) from local or regional companies involved in the IE Grant will have to be reported on an annual basis to NSERC. To be considered eligible by NSERC, private sector contributions must:

  • relate directly to the activities proposed by the college;
  • be for a collaborative applied research project and not a contract for services rendered; and
  • be cash contributed by the private sector partner paid to the college (deposited in a grant account) for the purposes of the grant activities.

For five-year IE Grants, at the time of the progress reports (18 and 36 months), updated information on budget expenses, partner contributions, associated Forms 183A and letters of support must be provided to NSERC to reflect additional partners that have joined the project (not applicable for the Entry-Level IE Grant).

Other Organizations

The active participation and contributions (cash and in-kind) from governments (provincial, municipal, federal) and other organizations are encouraged as they strengthen the application by broadening the impact of the applied research activities on the local or regional community.

To demonstrate the importance of the economic area identified in the IE Grant application, colleges will be encouraged to submit, as part of the application, letter(s) of support confirming the need for more applied research and technology transfer activities from local or regional business associations, chambers of commerce and/or provincial and federal government offices.

Application and Review Procedures

Entry-Level Innovation Enhancement Grant

There is a one-stage evaluation process for entry-level IE Grants. Proposals are peer-reviewed through a competitive process against the established IE Grant selection criteria.

The entry-level IE Grant application must include:

  • an application for a CCI-IE Grant (Form 103), pages 1 to 3;
  • a description of the proposed initiative (up to five pages, not including literature references) focusing on one thematic element of the college’s applied research capabilities or plans describing:
    • the applied research to be carried out (describing at least 3 projects to be undertaken with company partners); and
    • the involvement of company, faculty, students and other relevant partners;
  • a College Personal Data Form (Form 103CV) from the applicant and key personnel involved in the project (up to five including the applicant);
  • a budget justification (one page only);
  • a letter of support from at least one potential partner (maximum of three letters); and
  • a letter of support from the college president.

Five-Year Innovation Enhancement Grant

There is a two-stage evaluation process for five-year IE Grants. Both stages are peer-reviewed through a competitive process using the selection criteria defined below.

Stage I: Letters of Intent

Colleges must submit LOIs that describe:

  • a plan for increasing the applied research capacity of the college in the area of the proposal and for facilitating its transfer to business;
  • the applied research to be carried out;
  • the involvement of companies, faculty, students and other relevant partners;
  • the fit of the proposal to the needs of local companies and the college’s strategic plan;
  • the key personnel involved in the project;
  • the gaps in applied research capacity that need to be filled, the expected outcomes and benefits to local companies; and
  • the requested funds.

Applicants who intend to apply to the NSERC/CFI Joint Initiative (available through the fourteenth competition for the five-year IE Grants) should add a paragraph that includes a brief description of the applied research and technology development infrastructure (e.g., equipment, renovations, etc.) for which funding is being requested and the projected amount requested from CFI in the budget justification section of the IE LOI. The IE LOI form must be submitted directly to NSERC. LOIs must:

  • be prepared according to the detailed instructions provided for the IE Grants;
  • be accompanied by a letter from the president of the college (one page only), outlining the institutional support for the application and the relation to the college’s strategic plan; and
  • include two letters (one page only for each letter) from local companies, outlining their support of the need for applied research in the area of the application and describing how the initiative will benefit them and contribute to local and/or regional innovation.

LOIs will be evaluated based on the selection criteria listed below by the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Review Committee, consisting of members who understand the role of colleges in economic development and their link with SMEs, and who have experience in the private sector and with innovation activities at the community level. This committee will recommend to NSERC the colleges to be invited to submit applications.

Applicants will be advised of the results of the LOI competition by the dates indicated in the table above. A confidential evaluation report, including the comments of the multidisciplinary CCI Review Committee, will be made available to each applicant. Based on the review, successful applicants will be invited by NSERC to submit an application.

Stage II: Application

Colleges proceeding to Stage II will be invited to submit applications that include:

  • a description of the proposed initiative, including information on the involvement of students, faculty and local businesses, and other relevant organizations;
  • a work plan for the duration of the proposed initiative including performance measures;
  • a summary of the college’s overall strategy and research strategy;
  • a College Personal Data Form (Form 103CV) from the applicant and key personnel involved in the project (up to five including the applicant);
  • a budget detailing the planned use of the funds;
  • a letter from the president of the college confirming the institutional support for the application and the relation to the college’s strategic plan;
  • letters of support from local companies and other relevant stakeholders that will be involved in and benefit from the initiative (up to 20 letters; no page limit);
  • an “Information Required from Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs” (Form 183A) for each company making a cash and/or in-kind contributions to the projects; and
  • a list of five possible external reviewers to be suggested by the college from different sectors.

Note: Those invited to submit an application to the NSERC-CFI Joint Initiative (available through the fourteenth competition of the five-year IE Grants) should complete an abbreviated CFI application form on CFI’s website to request funding for This link will take you to another Web site infrastructure.

The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information to enable the external reviewers and/or the CCI Review Committee to evaluate the relationship with other sources of support (held or applied for). The consequence of not providing adequate information is that the CCI Review Committee may recommend reduced or no funding.

All applications undergo peer review. Each five-year IE Grant application will be reviewed by external reviewers. The evaluation of the external reviewers will be taken under consideration by the multidisciplinary CCI Review Committee. This committee will provide advice and comments on each application and will recommend to NSERC the colleges to receive grants.

Selection Criteria

LOIs and applications are expected to explain the context of the environment in which the college operates, including its available resources and opportunities, and the commitment of the college to undertake this initiative. Contributions to local innovation will be of primary importance.

To ensure that the IE Grant objectives are met, LOIs and applications will be assessed using the IE Grants selection criteria outlined below.

Potential to Contribute to Local or Regional Innovation

  • The extent to which the proposal addresses the needs of the local community or region and the potential to have a significant and sustainable impact on local or regional innovation.
  • The effectiveness of the plan for transferring knowledge and technology to local or regional companies.
  • The involvement of various partners in the community, specifically companies (especially SMEs) and other relevant stakeholders from the public sector and non-governmental organizations, as well as prospects for increasing commitments as the work progresses.
  • The track record of the college in contributing to local or regional innovation and the potential to enhance its capacity to work with local or regional businesses.
  • The quality and incrementality of the training and the need for these enhanced skills in the local community or region.

Excellence of the Proposal

  • Focus and clarity of the specific objectives of the proposal.
  • Quality and feasibility of the work plan.
  • Merit of the applied research activities and their potential to achieve the objectives.
  • The quality of the team and the availability of the skills to accomplish the work plan.
  • The appropriateness of the plan for involving faculty and students in the context of the strategic plan of the college.
  • The quality and appropriateness of the administration and management of the initiative.
  • The extent to which the proposal supports the college’s strategic plan.

Need for, and Use of, Resources

  • The demonstrated need for increased capacity for applied research in the area of the proposal at the college and for supporting technology transfer.
  • The total resources available for this initiative from the college, the private sector and other sources such as public sector and non-governmental organizations.
  • The overall budget and the justification of the individual budget items.
  • The likelihood for this investment to result in sustainable capacity at the college allowing for continued collaboration with local companies in the area of the proposal.

Announcement of the Competition Results for Applications

Applicants will be advised of the results of the competition by the dates indicated in the table, and funding will commence shortly after. A confidential evaluation report including the comments of the external reviewers and the CCI Review Committee will be made available to each applicant.

Use of Grant Funds

IE Grant funds must be used for direct costs of research; however, some limited funds may be used for operating and equipment costs (up to 20% of the total award), as well as for overhead and administration costs (a further 20% of the total award). The college provides for other indirect or overhead costs. During the tenure of the IE Grant, reallocation of more than 20% of an annual budget item to other items may be permitted pending NSERC’s approval of a revised budget and justification for the changes.

A list of eligible expenditures is detailed in the CCI Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

The IE Grant does not support major infrastructure requests related to the initiative. For major infrastructure requests, an alternative source of funding should be pursued, such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation. For the five-year IE Grants fourteenth competition, NSERC and the CFI have developed a joint application and review procedure. Applicants wishing to use this procedure should consult CFI's This link will take you to another Web site College-Industry Innovation Fund: Stream 2.


IE Grants are monitored closely. The college is required to provide annual financial reports on expenditures and past and future contributions from businesses and other partners. Reporting requirements will be as follows:

Entry-Level Innovation Enhancement Grant

  • Progress report after 12 months (prior to the release of the second-year funding);

Grant funding for the second year is dependent on satisfactory progress, demonstrated by:

  • the launch of at least three projects with partners;
  • appropriate use of grant funds; and
  • a demonstrated need for funds.

Five-Year Innovation Enhancement Grant

  • Progress report after 18 months (prior to the release of the third-year funding);
  • Progress report after 36 months (prior to the release of the fifth-year funding).

Performance will be assessed based on the degree to which the objectives of the original proposal have been achieved and a demonstration of the short-term impacts. Release of subsequent installments of the grant depends on satisfactory progress and ongoing business partner participation. In addition, applicants will be required to report on performance targets, as set forth in the original application, during the tenure of the IE Grant.

Three months after the project’s end date, both entry-level and five-year IE grantees must submit a final report:

  • outlining the tangible and intangible outcomes of the funded activities; and
  • disclosing all sources of funding at the end of a project.
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