1. What is considered a college?
The term “college” refers to a community college, institute of technology, polytechnic school, post-secondary private college or public college (for example, CEGEP).
Only colleges declared eligible to administer grants may apply to the CCI Program. Colleges must be eligible according to the eligibility requirements for colleges of at least one of the three granting agencies (i.e., NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada [SSHRC] or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR]).
It is recommended that colleges initiate the eligibility process well in advance of the competition deadline for which they wish to submit a proposal. For information on eligibility criteria, please see the Institutional Eligibility Requirements for the Administration of Grants and Awards.
Note: If an award is recommended for a proposal that does not have a natural sciences and engineering component, NSERC will transfer funds to either SSHRC or CIHR to enable the grant to be funded by the appropriate granting agency.
A - The person who prepares the application is the “applicant” and it is his or her name that will appear on the application. That person must be an employee of the college— preferably an administrator or a manager who has experience in managing grants of a value equivalent to the amount for which the application is being made.
B – The person who approves the application must be at a higher level in the hierarchy than the applicant. He or she must also be an employee of the college. Contact NSERC at least one month before submitting the grant application, in order to obtain information on how to register that person to approve the submission of the grant application through NSERC’s On-line System. NSERC will provide you with the Registration Form for Authorized Institutional Representatives for the registering of that person.
Note: The person who approves the application must be designated by the director general of the college or his or her representative.
First-time users must register on NSERC’s On-line System before completing a grant application using the system. Forms are available on the Main Menu page of the On-line System, under Forms management>Forms>Researcher. A college may submit a grant application in either official language.
Yes, all grants under the CCI Program can be used to fund applied research projects across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and/or health. Applications must be submitted to NSERC, and all grants are funded by NSERC, with the exception of applications whose area of applied research lies exclusively in the social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences, which will be funded by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate.
No. While applicants are welcome to discuss CCI proposals with staff in the regional offices or in Ottawa, the evaluation of CCI Grants is managed by staff based at NSERC’s headquarters in Ottawa. However, the staff in the regional offices is responsible for the evaluation of the Connect Grants. These grants are open to colleges but do not fall under the CCI umbrella.
Yes. A college can receive multiple CCI Grants. The maximum amount payable to an institution is limited to $5 million per year. The only exception is that a college can only hold one entry-level Innovation Enhancement Grant.
The region or local community that the program is intended to benefit is the community or region that the college serves according to its mandate. A business located in the same province as the college may also participate in CCI Program activities. However, since the objective of the CCI Program is to stimulate collaboration between a college and local or regional companies, the majority of CCI-funded activities should focus on collaboration at the local or regional level. In some cases, proposals may relate to a sector for which the planned activities will be national in scope. Proposals must clearly demonstrate that the scope of the project is justified and that the project can indeed be carried out.
1. What is a company partner?
A company partner is defined as a local or regional company, providing products or services, that derives the majority of its revenue from the sale of these products and services and not from government aid. Such partners must be willing and able to exploit the research results for the economic benefit of Canada. For the CCI program, most of the company partners are expected to be local or regional small and medium-sized enterprises.
Multinational companies can also participate if they have commercial activities taking place in the region, such as research and development (R&D) or manufacturing related to the proposed research, and if the funded activity will result in significant economic benefit to the region and to Canada.
In the case of a consortium, financial support for the project can be derived from member company sources, if one or more member companies are actively involved in the project, or from the consortium itself, if it can demonstrate the capacity to guide the project and disseminate the results to its member companies.
Public utilities can also be considered company partners.
Start-up companies (companies in the R&D phase) that have sound business plans and secure financial backing may be accepted as company partners. However, they must demonstrate that they have, or have the potential to acquire, the capability to exploit the research results.
Please note that the terms “company partner” and “industrial partner” are used interchangeably in describing NSERC’s Research Partnerships Programs and the CCI Program.
No. A wide variety of organizations (businesses, colleges, hospitals, public utilities, and associations) can be partners, but only private-sector companies are considered eligible partners for leveraging cash and/or in-kind contributions. The focus of the CCI Program is regional innovation, so the proposal must involve the close participation of strong private-sector organizations that can realize commercial value from the applied research results.
A not-for-profit organization is welcome to participate in a CCI Grant project. However, since regional innovation is the focus of the CCI Program, proposals must involve the close participation of one or more private-sector organizations that can realize commercial value from the applied research project’s results.
Yes. Suppliers can make valuable contributions to projects supported by a CCI Grant and can play an important role in applying and disseminating the project results. However, any contributions to the project from a supplier should be net of any financial advantage that the supplier receives from providing goods or services to the college or in connection with the project. For example, if it is anticipated that the supplier will get a $10,000 contract from the college in connection with the project, $10,000 must be deducted from the cash contribution from the supplier on Form 183A and in the letter of support. Thus, only the net cash contribution made by the supplier to the college for the project should be indicated in the proposal.
Yes. Eligible partners may make valuable contributions to a project supported by a CCI Program Grant. Projects supported by a CCI Program Grant should focus on the participation of partners in the local system of innovation. However, sometimes an organization outside the region or country can make a valuable contribution to the project that increases the benefit to Canada from the project. It is the responsibility of the applicants to demonstrate that partners are making clearly positive contributions to the project supported by a CCI Grant, to regional innovation and to the benefits for Canada.
Cash contributions are paid by the partner (in this case the college) into an account used for paying eligible expenditures, which must be authorized by the applicant in accordance with the specific terms and conditions of the proposal. Other contributions by the college (services, equipment, facilities and materials) constitute in-kind contributions.
Yes. Universities,1 Crown corporations, Aboriginal groups or other organizations may participate in the proposed activities and projects as collaborators, but they cannot benefit from the funds received. The funds are provided to build capacity specifically at the college. However, the involvement of collaborators can be as valuable as that of private-sector partners; this should be clearly described in the proposal.
For the purposes of the CCI Program, an SME is defined as a business with fewer than 500 employees, a small enterprise being one with fewer than 100 employees and a medium-sized enterprise being one with 100 to 499 employees. Enterprises with 500 or more employees are considered large enterprises.
Yes. The program focuses on SMEs, but the proposal may include collaboration with large enterprises as well. The businesses must be located in the community that the college serves and must have expertise in the specific field described in the proposal. The CCI Program focusses on SMEs in particular because often they do not have their own R&D facilities and have a greater need for assistance in developing, testing or improving new products or processes. If there are enterprises in the community of varying sizes-that can benefit from increased capacity at the college in the field to which the proposal relates, the college must demonstrate that it is prepared to work with SMEs as well as large enterprises.
Generally, yes. The application must describe how college students enrolled in a program of study at the institution will benefit from the grant, what new skills and knowledge the students will acquire, how this will be achieved and how it will benefit the community or region. The proposals will be evaluated on the quality of, and increase in, the training described in the proposal. An exception to the requirement for student involvement is the Technology Access Centre (TAC) Grants, which have an overriding focus to provide innovation support services to companies.
Yes. College students may be paid a salary from the CCI Grant to work on a project supported by the grant—for example, as a research assistant with a local enterprise—even if the project is outside their curriculum. The grant could be used to pay a student doing a co-op term in a participating company if the college regulations permit. Salary top-ups to students can be covered by either college funds and/or a partner’s cash contributions.
No. CCI Program funds cannot be used to pay salary or top-ups to full-time faculty. Faculty release costs to allow a faculty member to participate in a CCI-funded project, used to hire a replacement teacher (up to $9,000 per course release/semester/faculty) are an eligible expense, as described in the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.
CCI Program funds may be used to pay part-time faculty contributing to a CCI-funded project. It is expected that part-time faculty will conduct research in addition to regular responsibilities and that the total salary will not exceed that of full-time faculty.
There is no limit on the duration of a paid internship.
Yes. Expenses for international travel to obtain training on significant and specialized equipment or processes are eligible under the CCI Program. The need for travel outside of Canada must be justified in the application.
No. Since the aim of the CCI Program is to promote local and regional innovation, expenses for international travel to interact with clients or attend conferences or trade shows are not eligible under the CCI Program.
No. The program is intended to support a portfolio of applied research projects, as well as technology and knowledge transfer/outreach activities, to build the college’s capacity to work with local companies in generating and/or adopting new technologies or improving existing products and processes. The objective is to stimulate new partnerships and new ways of working with the community. Consult the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs for further information.
Colleges must demonstrate that they have obtained in-kind support for the projects or activities to which the application for an IE Grant pertains from private-sector partners that could benefit from those projects or activities. There are no predetermined rules on in-kind contributions, and each stated in-kind commitment will be assessed on its own merits. The situation varies, depending on the college and the proposed area of activities. Cash contributions from companies are also seen as valid contributions. However, in some cases, cash contributions in addition to in-kind contributions may demonstrate a real commitment to, and interest in, the outcomes of the project proposed by the college.
No. The proposal may request funds to augment existing support for an initiative already underway. The ongoing activities, the resources committed to them and their impact must be described and the proposal must demonstrate how the proposed activities will be in addition to existing activities and commitments.
No. Activities and projects described in the proposal must support innovation in one specific field in which the college has recognized expertise, and the activities and projects must meet community needs. For example, a college may submit a proposal requesting funds to build capacity related to metallurgy to help businesses in the region adapt new technologies to meet their specific needs. In another proposal, this college might propose agri-food science activities to promote growth in that field in the region.
5. Are Innovation Enhancement Grants renewable after their five-year period?
No. It is anticipated that colleges will have increased their applied research capacities and have developed strong partnerships with their regional company partners and be well positioned to sustain parts of their applied research activities. Colleges can also apply for multi-year funding through an ARD, CU-I2I, TAC or an IRCC Grant in order to maintain their applied research programs.
The entry-level IE Grant is designed to enable colleges to build their capacity to work with local companies. The maximum value of the grant is $100,000 per year and the maximum duration is two years.
Unlike the five-year IE Grant, the entry-level IE Grant does not require as much initial capacity for innovation support. Please contact NSERC to ascertain which grant is most appropriate for your college.
Colleges wishing to submit an application for an entry-level IE Grant must complete certain sections of Form 103, which is on the Main Menu page of the On-line System, under "Forms management>Forms>Researcher." You will have the option of choosing between the entry-level IE Grant and the five-year IE Grant. In both cases, new users of the On-line System must first register in the system. Please see question #2 and #3 in the General Questions section.
At this time, only colleges that do not have an Innovation Enhancement or Technology Access Centre Grant may submit an application for an entry-level IE Grant. However, colleges that have only received an Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grant or a low amount of Applied Research and Development Grants are eligible to apply for an entry-level IE Grant.
Refer to question number one in the General Questions section.
Colleges are not eligible to submit an application for an entry-level IE Grant in a competition in which they are submitting a Letter of Intent or a complete IE Grant application.
NSERC accepts only one application for an entry-level IE Grant per college, per competition.
An entry-level IE Grant allows colleges to:
For more information on eligible expenses, consult the IE Grants Web page and the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.
1. What is considered an existing relationship between the college and the company partner?
An existing relationship includes:
1. Can a university researcher participate in an Applied Research and Development (ARD) Grant?
While university researchers are welcome to participate in the activities of an ARD-funded project, they cannot receive funds from the grant to support their participation.
2. Can colleges collaborating on an ARD project share funding?
Yes. NSERC grants are awarded to an applicant (lead college). However, participants in other colleges can share in the project activities and use project resources. The applicant from the lead college is responsible for managing this process and reporting on the use of all grant and project funds.
3. Are ARD projects limited to SMEs?
No. While the College and Community Innovation Program is focused on innovation in the local region, companies of all sizes can participate. Consult the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships to assess whether the contributions from a potential partnering company are eligible.
4. Are government labs or organizations like TRLabs, NRC, and INO eligible as partners in ARD proposals?
Organization partnering in ARDs must demonstrate that they have the capacity and motivation to exploit the research results of the projects. Research organizations like those mentioned above are welcome to participate in an ARD project but are not recognized as private-sector partners.
5. Can a not-for-profit organization be a partner in an ARD grant?
A not-for-profit organization is welcome to participate in an ARD project. However, since the focus of the CCI program’s grants is regional innovation, proposals must involve the close participation of one or more private-sector organizations that can realize commercial value from the applied research project’s results. For an ARD grant, only the contributions from private-sector partners will be recognized (leveraged). As long as non-profit organizations can demonstrate that their source of funding is private-sector partner(s), their partnership will likely be accepted as eligible. At the same time, the non-profit organization must demonstrate that it has a clear plan to commercialize the results of the research. This usually requires that the results of the research be made available to the members of the non-profit organization. It also requires that at least one — and preferably more — of the organization’s member companies work closely with the college researchers (usually providing in-kind salary contributions) so that the knowledge and innovations generated are transferred to companies that can commercialize the results.
Yes, but only one application per college per applied research area will be permitted. Multiple applications are eligible only if the college has equipment needs for projects with companies in different applied research areas. Colleges must clearly demonstrate that the applications fall within distinct applied research areas (for example, “polymer chemistry,” “transportation manufacturing” and “information technology”). Applications that overlap within a broad applied research area will be rejected.
No. Maintenance of the equipment is the responsibility of the college. However, extended maintenance contracts for the equipment are an eligible expense for ARTI Grants. Operating costs for the use of equipment can also be included in other types of CCI Grants (i.e., Innovation Enhancement, Applied Research and Development, and/or Technology Access Centre).
No, these are the responsibility of the college.
Yes, but only for the purposes of training on the use of equipment purchased through the ARTI Grant funds. The need for travel outside of Canada must be justified in the application.
As described in the TAC Grant proposal instructions, an application for a TAC Grant should be described like a business plan. The applicants need to identify an important gap or opportunity in the innovation landscape, demonstrate its capabilities from a strong basis for addressing the opportunities, and demonstrate a solid approach and management plan for the proposed centre. The proposal should describe the anticipated impact the centre will have on innovation by companies in the community.
Yes. TACs are intended to build off the existing strengths of the colleges. Thus, a demonstrated track record in successfully providing innovation services to SMEs will be seen as a strength in a proposal. Note that each proposal must demonstrate the incremental benefit to be realized by the TAC funding.
Technology Access Centres are anticipated to build on an area of demonstrated strength for the college. Innovation Enhancement Grants are intended to allow the college to build and/or demonstrate capabilities in an area and may help colleges prepare for a TAC.
No, TAC Grants are aimed at providing innovation and applied research services to companies. They are expected to be focused on, and responsive to, business needs.
Technology Access Centre funds are anticipated to support the core operations of the centre (administrative, management and marketing personnel). Some limited costs can be used to support people and expenses associated with coordinating innovation and applied research with SMEs.
It is up to the TAC to identify the appropriate role, if any, for students and faculty in providing innovation and applied research services to SMEs. In many cases companies prefer their innovation needs are met with the centre’s employees rather than students. One approach to involve students and faculty is as employees of the centre. With this approach the employees have defined and clear roles.
Yes, multiple colleges can participate. The reviewers will be looking to ensure the management structure and implementation plans are enabling for the TAC’s success. However, note that it is not a specific objective of TAC Grants to get colleges to collaborate.
NSERC is working to ensure that TAC Grants are complementary to existing support for college-based centres. For example, Quebec has a network of 49 College Centres for Technology Transfer (CCTTs) that receive up to $300,000 per year in base funding. Rather than offering funding for an additional TAC in Quebec, proposals from Quebec should be for incremental funding to existing CCTTs that address opportunities for increased impact. This might be an additional business development position, a technical project manager or a scientific lead. In these cases, grants of up to $100,000 per year are possible.
No. All CCI Grants (including TACs) can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, humanities and health. NSERC anticipates that the awards will align with priority areas in the regions where they are proposed.
The following table summarizes the key difference between Innovation Enhancement and TAC Grants.
|Aspect||Innovation Enhancement Grants||Technology Access Centres|
|Focus||Enhanced applied R&D capacity at the college for enhanced training||Provide innovation support services to companies, including small applied research projects.|
|Technical capability level of the applying college (in the area of the proposal)||Developing||Established|
|Level of partner interactions||Developing||Established|
|Key proposal elements||Strategy, projects, budget||Business plan: market, capacity, business approaches, management plan|
|Grant supports (typical expenses)||Projects, equipment, faculty release, students, overhead||Manager, administrator, business development, business operating costs|
|Management oversight||College, midterm review||Board of directors / advisory board, midterm review|
|Faculty and student participation||Yes – expected.||Typically as employees of the centre|
1. What exactly is the matching ratio of company partner contributions?
The matching ratio is a maximum of 1:1 with the college and a maximum of 1:1 with the university, up to a maximum of $125,000 per year for each. For example, if the participating company gives $100,000 (cash and/or in-kind), NSERC will give up to $100,000 for the college and up to $100,000 for the university, for a maximum total of $200,000.
The maximum allowable grant is $250,000 per year for up to three years, but the allocation of funds to the college and university do not need to be equivalent year to year as long as, over the duration of the whole project, the matching of company contributions is not greater than 1:1 or $125,000 per year for either the college or university participants.
2. Can there be multiple colleges, universities and company partners involved?
Yes, multiple colleges, universities and company partners can be involved. The combination of all participating colleges will be considered as “the college partner,” and the combination of all participating universities will be considered as “the university partner.” The funds to be transferred to each of these “partner” groups as a whole cannot exceed the matching ratio based on the contributions from the eligible company partner(s). See Question 1.
3. Does the contribution from the company partner have to include cash, or can it be in-kind only?
The company partner contributions can be a combination of cash and/or in-kind towards the direct costs of research and the contribution can be exclusively in the form of in-kind or exclusively in cash. However, the company partner is expected to be actively involved in all stages of the project.
4. What are some examples of eligible in-kind contributions?
Eligible in-kind contributions are those that are essential to carry out the proposed work and must be thoroughly documented and justified. They could be in the form of cash-equivalent goods or services that represent an incremental expense the company partner would not normally incur and that would have to be purchased by project funds if not donated. In-kind may also include the time of the company partner’s scientific and technical staff providing direction and participating in the project. In some cases the company partner may provide access to special equipment.
Contributions to the indirect costs of research, such as secretarial or accounting services, cost of time attributed to research management, general overhead costs at the company partner, or other indirect costs are not included for match funding. While post-project activity at the company partner may be critical for the ultimate commercial exploitation of the results, these activities would not be essential to carry out the immediate project and would not therefore be recognized by the CCI Program for the purposes of determining a cost-sharing ratio.
For further details, consult the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships.
5. What is the allowable amount for overhead and administrative costs?
The college and university are expected to provide for, or contribute to, the indirect or overhead costs—such as basic utilities, the costs associated with managing and operating facilities, the purchase and repair of office equipment, administration fees, telephones and fax machines. Since the funding received through the CCI Program is not eligible for the Research Support Fund, colleges and universities may request funds for overhead and administration costs attributable to this project, but not for general overhead and administration costs of the college or university as a whole. The maximum allowable percentage for overhead and administrative costs will not exceed 20 per cent of the total award amount for both colleges and universities.
6. What is the evaluation process?
The CU-I2I Grant is a competition with a fixed deadline. The applications will be screened for completeness and fit to program before being sent out for external review by subject matter experts. This process typically takes three months. Once the external reviews have been received, the application and the external reviews are evaluated by the CCI Review Committee. The Committee typically meets twice a year.
7. How long will it be before results are announced?
Results of the competition are communicated to each of the applicants in writing a few weeks following the CCI Review Committee meeting. Regardless of the outcome, each applicant will receive a “Message to Applicant” that contains the Committee’s consensus comments and external referee reports. Formal public announcements of awards vary. Please contact NSERC staff if you would like to know the schedule of public award announcements.
8. Will there be more than one competition per year?
When taking into consideration past year CU-I2I Grant commitments, the budget for new applications is approximately $1 million per year. Depending on demand and the quality of applications submitted, a budget to undertake more than one competition per year may not be available.
9. Is a research agreement required?
A signed research agreement between the supporting organization(s), the college(s) and the university(ies) must be submitted to NSERC and reviewed for conformance to NSERC’s CCI treatment of intellectual property.
1. Must the proposed Chair be based on a new initiative?
No. The proposed Chair may be in an area where a significant amount of expertise and experience has already been developed at the college. In all cases, the application must describe how the proposed activities will augment current activities at the college and the benefit to regional companies.
Note: Colleges are limited to one IRCC Grant not requiring company cash contributions per distinct applied research area. Applications that overlap with the broad applied research area of an existing or prior IRCC Grant will require the same cash contributions as a second term Chair from their supporting company partners.
2. Does the Chairholder have to be completely committed to the Chair?
It is expected that Chairholders will be fully committed to the activities of the Chair. Since Chairholders are also expected to have an impact on the training of students, teaching-related duties are considered complementary to Chair activities. In exceptional cases, where it is believed that a Chairholder’s other activities may benefit the college or local community in some way, the applicant may make a case for a reduced commitment to the Chair. In such cases, the Chair candidate’s other responsibilities and the time to be devoted to them must be clearly described in the application.
In all cases, Chairholders are expected to devote as much time as indicated in the original application to the activities of the Chair. If a Chairholder wishes to take up additional responsibilities, this must be discussed with the CCI Program team in advance. Note that a grant may be withdrawn in cases where the Chairholder cannot meet the commitments of the Chair.
3. Does the Chairholder have to be an employee of the college?
A proposed Chair candidate does not have to be an employee of the college at the time of application. To hold a Chair, the Chairholder must be hired as an employee of the college. If the application is successful, the institution has three months to confirm that the proposed Chair candidate has accepted the position of Chairholder; the Chairholder must take up the position within six months of the award date.
4. If the Chairholder chooses to vacate the position, can a different individual be named Chairholder in his/her place?
The IRCC Grant is non-transferable. If a Chairholder gives up the position for any reason, the award will be withdrawn. The institution will not be given an opportunity to propose a replacement Chairholder.
5. If the Chairholder moves to another institution, will the Chair move with him/her?
The IRCC Grant is non-transferable. If a Chairholder moves to another institution, the award will be withdrawn.
6. Are cash contributions from partners required?
IRCC Grants are leveraged, meaning that partner contributions equal to the IRCC Grant must be secured over the term of the grant. For the first five-year term, cash contributions are not required. However, during evaluation the CCI Review Committee considers whether partner contributions committed are reasonable, taking into consideration the company’s size and worth, and what they will gain from the partnership. Cash contributions are required for the second and subsequent terms.
For a second term (chair renewal), cash contributions are required to be half of the total IRCC grant amount.
7. Can institutions such as universities, colleges, and government agencies be partners?
No. Post-secondary institutions, government agencies, and technology transfer centres associated with them are not considered eligible partners. They are eligible as collaborators and their participation may be invaluable to the activities of the Chair. However, their contributions (whether cash or in-kind) do not count towards the leveraged contributions from eligible partners that must be secured during the term of the grant.
8. What are some examples of eligible in-kind contributions?
For a description of eligible in-kind contributions and their value, consult the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships. Note that there is a maximum value placed on certain contributions.
Eligible in-kind contributions are those that are essential to carry-out the proposed work and must be thoroughly documented and justified. They could be in the form of cash-equivalent goods or services that represent an incremental expense the company partner would not normally incur and that would have to be purchased by project funds if not donated. In-kind may also include the time of the company partner’s scientific and technical staff providing direction and participating in the project. In some cases the company partner may provide access to special equipment.
Contributions to the indirect costs of research—such as secretarial or accounting services, cost of time attributed to research management, general overhead costs at the company partner, or other indirect costs—are not eligible leveraged contributions.
9. What expenses are covered by IRCC Grants?
For a full description of eligible expenses for CCI Program Grants, consult the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide – Use of Grant Funds. The following exceptions apply to IRCC Grants:
10. Can a college hold more than one IRCC ?
Yes, but colleges are limited to one first-term IRCC Grant per distinct applied research area. A first-term application must clearly demonstrate that it does not fall within the broad applied research area of a prior IRCC grant. Applications that overlap with the broad applied research area of an existing or prior IRCC Grant will require the same cash contributions as a second term Chair from their supporting company partners.
11. Is it possible to renew my IRCC?
IRCC chairs are renewable. Please consult the program description and instructions on the steps required to renew the Chair.