Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Engage Grants

Overview
Value Up to $25,000 for up to six months
Application Deadline No deadline
How to Apply See below
Application Forms
  • Form 100 – Personal Data Form
  • Form 101 – Application for a Grant
  • Form 183A – Information Required from Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs
To create or access on-line applications, select On-line System Login.
To view forms and instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
Contact See below

Important Information

Objectives

Engage Grants are designed to give companies that operate from a Canadian base access to the unique knowledge and expertise available at Canadian universities (see the List of Eligible Institutions). These grants are intended to foster the development of new research partnerships between an academic researcher and a company that have never collaborated before, by supporting short-term research and development projects aimed at addressing a company-specific problem in the natural sciences or engineering fields.

Please note that applicants seeking funding for travel and meeting activities to establish contact with new potential industrial partners should apply for an Interaction Grant.

Description

Engage Grants support well-defined projects undertaken by eligible university researchers and their private-sector partners. A maximum grant of $25,000 over a period not exceeding six months will be awarded to the academic researcher to cover the direct project costs associated with the research activities needed to address the identified problem. Please refer to the guidelines for the Use of Grant Funds.

An Engage project must be aimed at solving a company-specific problem through the generation of new knowledge or the application of existing knowledge in an innovative manner. It must be focused on specific short-term objectives and address a research challenge that lies within the natural sciences and engineering fields (see Guidelines for Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency). It can be at any point in the R&D spectrum that is consistent with the university's research, training and technology transfer mandate. All proposals require evidence of planning and sound budget justification and must clearly spell out the underlying assumptions, intended approaches, milestones and deliverables. The project must be scientifically sound and technically feasible. As an Engage Grant aims to develop a research relationship between one applicant and one company, the project plan must detail interactions between the applicant and the company representative(s).

Proposals are not eligible for an Engage Grant if they:

  • focus on the commercialization of a university invention;
  • focus on the application of existing technology or tools to the industry partner’s operations;
  • provide routine analysis or routine use of university equipment;
  • collect data without interpreting underlying mechanisms;
  • seek to certify, validate or performance test an existing product, process or material (unless accompanied by significant efforts to improve or better understand the product, process or material);
  • include activities aimed at market research, sales promotion, or excessive (more than two weeks) literature review and/or patent searches;
  • relate to the set-up and operational management of an institute or a formal or informal group of researchers; or
  • are principally associated with the acquisition and maintenance of scientific equipment.

Industrial Participation

As the purpose of an Engage Grant is to foster the development of a new relationship between one company and one academic researcher, there can be no existing or past relationship between the person applying for funding and the company whose problem is being investigated through the project. Examples of an already established relationship include a previous research collaboration with the company or any of its divisions, involvement on the part of the academic researcher in the company, joint participation in a network-based research grant, or other evidence that an Engage Grant is not needed to foster a new research collaboration. Please consult your NSERC regional office for further information.

The company must operate from a Canadian base and demonstrate clear intentions and capacity to further develop and apply any technology for the benefit of the Canadian economy. Start-up companies may be considered, provided that they have been in operation for a minimum of 12 months. Holding companies and companies that are not able to further develop the technology in-house are not eligible. At minimum, an in-kind contribution from the company reflecting its involvement in the project is required and must be in keeping with the guidelines for eligibility and value of the contributions, including the maximum hourly rate for salary costs (see Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs). NSERC may limit the number of Engage Grants that a company is involved in at any given time if its ability to implement the project results and sustain the collaboration appears to be limited. Please consult your NSERC regional office for further information.

Due to the focus on a problem specific to the chosen company and the short duration of this grant, any intellectual property arising from the project will belong to the company. While NSERC does not require that a research agreement be concluded between the host institution and the company, NSERC's Policy on Intellectual Property should be consulted to ensure that all parties, including any students involved, are aware of their obligations (refer also to “Graduate student involvement” below).

Application Procedures

Proposals can be submitted at any time using an Application for a Grant form (Form 101), an Information Required from Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs form (Form 183A) and a Personal Data Form (Form 100). The Form 100 must demonstrate that the applicant has been granted peer-reviewed research support in the natural sciences and/or engineering fields from a recognized federal or provincial granting agency within the past six years.

A letter of support from the company involved in the project must be provided outlining:

  • the nature of the company-specific problem;
  • the reasons for being involved in the proposed collaboration;
  • how the organization expects to integrate the results into its operations;
  • what benefits the anticipated outcomes will bring to the organization;
  • the further effort to exploit the results in Canada;
  • the potential for benefit to the Canadian economy and the relevant timeframe;
  • the anticipated interaction of the organization's personnel with the principal investigator; and
  • the organization's support for, contribution to, and agreement with the proposal submitted to NSERC.

Projects are expected to start within a few weeks from the date of the award letter. Any expenses related to the project that are incurred prior to the award date will not be covered by the grant. Applicants will normally be limited to two new Engage Grants awarded in each fiscal year.

Full instructions for the applicant and the industrial sponsor on completing the forms and on the on-line submission process are found on NSERC's On-line Services page. The Application Checklist summarizes the information that needs to be addressed in a completed application. All proposals are reviewed by an evaluation committee, which meets every other week. Decisions on funding Engage Grants are usually made within four to six weeks.

Eligible Expenses

Due to the short-term nature of this grant and its orientation towards solving a company specific problem with limited funds, resources should be concentrated exclusively on the resolution of the problem and should be used in accordance with the directives listed in the Use of Grant Funds. The following additional limitations apply to this grant:

  • Expenses for publications and conferences are eligible in exceptional cases only, where evidence is provided that they are industry-oriented and they represent the only appropriate media to ensure the technology is transferred to industry.
  • Office supply expenses are limited to $250.
  • Acquisition of any equipment must be carefully detailed and justified.
  • Consulting fees paid for additional expertise or completion of specific project tasks will be limited to a maximum of 10% of the amount requested.
  • The required company in-kind contribution must be clearly detailed (e.g., indicate the role of company personnel, the number of hours to be devoted to the project, and the hourly rate of compensation used to assess the value of the in-kind contribution), demonstrating that it is essential to the project and indicative of the company involvement in the project. This contribution must also respect the maximum amounts outlined in the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs.
  • Graduate student involvement is not a requirement of an Engage Grant. If graduate students are included, their prorated stipend for the six-month term should be indicated. Their right to publish and their right to no delay of their thesis defence must be protected (see NSERC's Policy on Intellectual Property).

Budgets that request ineligible expenses will be reduced without opportunity to redirect the funds to other expenditures.

Selection Criteria

Applications are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Creation of a new collaborative relationship: The proposal must involve an academic researcher and a company that have never collaborated before. Past or current supervision of a graduate student while supported by an industrial scholarship or internship with the proposed partner is considered a prior relationship.
  • Research competence: The applicant must have all the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully. Academic expertise may be complemented with the know-how residing in the company. Important considerations relating to research competence are:
    • The applicant must be an NSERC-eligible academic researcher and must have been granted peer-reviewed research support in the natural sciences and/or engineering fields from a recognized federal or provincial granting agency within the past six years.
    • In absence of currently holding a peer-reviewed research grant, applicants who have received a rating of "Strong" or higher for the criterion ‘Excellence of the Researcher’ in their most recent Discovery Grant competition within the past six years will be considered to have met the requirement for demonstrated peer-reviewed research support.
    • Researchers belonging to a health-oriented university faculty (e.g., medicine, pharmacology, dentistry) are only eligible for an Engage Grant if they have been awarded an NSERC Discovery Grant within the past six years.
    • A collaborating researcher may participate in the application only if he or she contributes distinct expertise essential to achieve the objectives of the project. This researcher must also demonstrate having been granted recent peer-reviewed research support and have no prior research partnership with the company. As a result of participating in the project, a collaborating researcher will be deemed to have established a research relationship with the industry partner and will not be able to subsequently receive or participate in an Engage Grant with this company. As the grant is awarded only to the applicant, the collaborating researcher should not list this grant in a Personal Data Form (Form 100).
  • Industrial relevance: The proposal must clearly identify and describe the company-specific problem and outline the tasks that will be undertaken, the research challenges, the involvement of the company, the benefit to the company, and how the company will exploit the results within a reasonable timeframe. These considerations must also be clearly reflected in the company’s support letter.
  • Contribution to technology transfer: The proposal must identify how the university research team (primarily the applicant) and the company's scientific/technical staff will work together to ensure that the knowledge/technology will be transferred effectively to the company.
  • Benefit to Canada: As well as the economic benefit to the company described under the Industrial Relevance criterion above, the proposal must outline, if applicable, any additional economic, social and environmental benefits that could be realized in Canada.

Reporting

A project report from the grantee is required within one month following the end of the grant. The company will be asked to provide comments on the project's outcome. Please note that subsequent Engage Grant applications from either of the participants will not be evaluated until outstanding project reports or company comments are provided to NSERC. NSERC may also contact the participants for further information on the impacts of the grant.

Engage Plus

To further developments from an ongoing or recently completed Engage Grant project, or to continue the project while seeking longer-term support, applicants may apply for a subsequent Engage Plus Grant to support a project for an additional six months. As was the case with the initial Engage Grant, the intellectual property will belong to the company. The project must involve the same academic researcher and the same industrial partner and only one Engage Plus Grant can be awarded as a follow-on to an Engage Grant.

To demonstrate its commitment to furthering the project, the industrial partner must contribute cash to the direct project costs in an amount at least equal to the amount requested from NSERC. NSERC will match the cash contribution of the partner up to a maximum of $12,500. (Any portion of the cash contribution that the university requests as overhead will not be matched.) In-kind contributions are also required to reflect the company’s ongoing involvement in the project, but will not be matched by NSERC.

The application procedures are the same as described above, but must also include a summary of the progress achieved within the original Engage project as well as a clear explanation of the goals of the Engage Plus Grant and their relationship with the results obtained to date. Accordingly, applications for an Engage Plus Grant will be accepted only within the final month of the Engage Grant or within the six-month period following the end of the grant. The industrial partner must provide an updated letter of support that addresses the points listed in the Application Procedures (above), as well as outlining assessment of progress to date, and the industrial partner’s expectations for the Engage Plus project.

Engage Plus applications will be reviewed by the Engage evaluation committee, which meets every other week. Decisions will be communicated within four to six weeks.

Contacts

NSERC Regional Offices
Contact the NSERC regional office in your area.

NSERC
Tel.: 613-995-1111
E-mail: rpp@nserc-crsng.gc.ca

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