University or college researchers can apply to launch a new research collaboration with an industrial partner through a short-term research and development (R&D) project that applies their expertise to address a company challenge. Partnering companies gain by having the expertise of the academics focused on their R&D issues and by discovering what the researchers and the students working with them have to offer. Read about some of the impacts of Engage Grants in the report on NSERC’s Strategy for Partnerships and Innovation.
|Value||Up to $25,000 for up to six months|
|Application Deadline||No deadline|
|How to Apply||See below|
|Application Forms||For university-based applicants (Engage Grants for universities):
To view instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
Consult the Engage Grants for Universities Application Checklist and Proposal Template and these following sections:
Engage Grants are open to researchers at either universities or colleges. This document outlines information relevant to both kinds of institutions, with discrete requirements indicated in the following sections:
Engage Grants are designed to give innovative companies that operate from a Canadian base access to the unique knowledge, expertise and capabilities available at Canadian universities and colleges (see the List of Eligible Institutions). These grants are intended to foster the development of new research partnerships by supporting short-term research and development projects aimed at addressing a company-specific problem; that is, a problem related to the company’s core competencies or activities. The simplified application and decision processes enable university and college researchers to quickly undertake new research collaborations that extend academic expertise to these problems. The mutually beneficial collaborations are expected to result in economic benefits to the company and to Canada.
Following an Engage Grant, applicants may apply for follow-on support for an additional six months of related research activity through an Engage Plus grant (see Engage Plus section), in order to further developments from an ongoing or recently completed Engage Grant project, or to continue the project while seeking longer-term support (through, for example, a Collaborative Research and Development Grant [CRD] or an Applied Research and Development Grant[ARD]).
Please note that researchers seeking funding for travel and meeting activities to establish contact with new potential industrial partners should apply for a Connect Grant.
Engage Grants support well-defined research projects undertaken by eligible university and college researchers and their industrial partners. A maximum grant of $25,000 over a period not exceeding six months will be awarded to support the project costs.
An Engage project must generate new knowledge or apply existing knowledge in an innovative manner in order to solve a company-specific problem. This problem must relate directly to the goods and services provided by the company, and the company must be capable of further developing the results after the project is completed. The project must be focused on a research challenge with specific short-term objectives. All proposals must provide detailed planning and sound budget justification. The proposal must also clearly spell out the underlying assumptions, intended approaches and methodologies, as well as the key milestones and deliverables. As an Engage Grant aims to develop a new research relationship, the project plan must detail regular interactions between the participants in order to create a strong partnership between the university or college researchers and the company.
As the projects must have a meaningful research component, proposals are not eligible for an Engage Grant if they:
Applicants seeking to combine an internship at the company partner, as part of the approach for addressing the company-specific problem or for transferring the project results into the company’s operations, may include in the Engage Grant application a request for additional support through Mitacs Accelerate. Consult your NSERC Regional Office or Mitacs Business Development Representative for details on how to apply.
The Partner Eligibility Guidelines section of the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships should be consulted to determine the eligibility of the participating company. In general, a company partner must operate from a Canadian base and demonstrate clear intentions and capacity to further develop and apply any technology within Canada so that it will lead to significant economic benefit. Pre-revenue companies may be considered, provided that they meet the requirements outlined in this section. Companies must have a corporate objective to grow through the development, in Canada, of innovative, technology-driven, new or improved products, services or processes. The company’s letter of support must demonstrate that it has detailed plans for realizing this objective. Holding companies and companies that are not able to further develop the technology in-house are not eligible. A company partner must:
Companies that are poised and equipped for exceptional growth but do not explicitly meet these above two requirements should contact NSERC to discuss eligibility before undertaking an application.
In addition, companies must have the capacity to further advance the project’s results for economic benefit in Canada. In this context, the human and financial resources, facilities, technical and commercial capabilities and experience of the company and its staff, and its existing efforts towards addressing the company-specific problem, are all relevant. This information should be explicitly demonstrated in the Form 183A, the letter of support and the company profile. In addition, the company may be asked to elaborate on these aspects as part of NSERC’s evaluation process. Upon request from NSERC, the company representative may be asked to complete the Supplementary Information section of the Engage Grants for Universities Application Checklist and Proposal Template.
The company is expected to collaborate with the researchers at all stages of the research project (i.e., assist in developing the proposal and, as the project unfolds, interact regularly with the university (specifically the principal investigator) or college research team and other research personnel and provide input on the project). As the project focuses on a company-specific problem, there should be only one company partner involved in university-based Engage Grant applications. The participation of an additional, supporting company may be considered, but should be discussed with the NSERC Regional Office in your area before starting an application.
At minimum, an in-kind contribution from the company reflecting its active involvement in the project is required. A detailed description 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) must be provided and must indicate how the total value of each contribution item was determined.
Industrial partners will be limited to participating in up to two new Engage Grants per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31). However, industrial partners providing cash contributions to ongoing, NSERC-funded projects (e.g., CRD Grants, ARD Grants, Engage Plus or Industrial Research Chairs), will be allowed to participate in up to two additional Engage Grants per year, for a total of four continuing Engage projects. This will allow companies that currently demonstrate a commitment to industrial–academic research collaboration greater opportunity to make use of Engage Grants to expand their collaborative network and to continue collaborations established through Engage Grants.
NSERC may limit the number of Engage Grants that a company is involved in at any given time if its ability to sustain its current collaborations and implement the results of additional projects appears to be inadequate. Please consult NSERC for further information.
NSERC makes no claim to the ownership of any intellectual property (IP) generated from the research it funds. Due to the focus on a problem specific to the company and the short duration of this grant, any intellectual property arising from the project will belong to the company. The university or college researchers must have the right to use the new knowledge or technology in future teaching and research, including publication and student theses, subject to the stipulations described in NSERC's Policy on Intellectual Property (IP Policy). When involved in an Engage Grant project, students must maintain their right to publish and to defend their thesis without delays or impediments. Faculty and students must also have the right to describe the project on their curricula vitae. While NSERC does not require that a research agreement be concluded between the host institution and the company, NSERC’s IP Policy should be consulted to ensure that all parties, including any students involved, are aware of their obligations.
Proposals can be submitted at any time using the appropriate application forms for university- or college-based applicants.
A letter of support from the company involved in the project must be provided and must outline:
Letters of support that do not adequately address these points will be considered insufficient, and the application will be rejected.
Full instructions for the applicant and the participating company on completing the forms and on the on-line submission process are found on NSERC's On-line Services page. Form 101 (for universities) and Form 103 (for colleges) should be created before creating Form 183A. Please see the On-line Services instructions for more information.
Consult the Engage Grants for Universities Application Checklist and Proposal Template and the Engage Grants for Colleges Application Checklist for a summary of information that needs to be addressed in a completed application.
Decisions on funding Engage Grants are usually made within approximately six weeks. Projects are expected to start within a few weeks from the date of the award letter. Grant funds are normally available within 30 days of an award decision. Terms and Conditions of Award detailing the responsibilities of participants in the collaboration and regulations concerning the grant will be provided at that time. Any expenses related to the project incurred before the notice of award decision has been issued will not be covered by the grant. Due to the short-term nature of this grant and its orientation towards solving a company-specific problem with limited funds, resources should be used exclusively on the resolution of the problem and must be used in accordance with the directives listed in the Use of Grant Funds section of the Tri-Agency Financial Administrative Guide or the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide. The following additional limitations apply to this grant:
Budgets that request ineligible expenses will be reduced without opportunity to redirect the funds to other expenditures. Based on the results obtained or problems encountered after the project commences, grantees may propose amendments to the project budget. In this context, requests to change the allocation of project funds by more than 20% per budget line-item require prior approval by NSERC and must be supported by a revised budget, a rationale for the proposed change and documentation from the partners supporting the request.
Applications are evaluated on the following criteria, with additional requirements specific to university- and college-based applicants provided in later sections:
A project report on the project’s outcomes is required from the grantee and company representative within one month following the end of the grant. Near the end of the grant, the grantee and company representative will be contacted by NSERC and asked to complete separate reports on the project. A message with instructions for completing the reports will be sent to the email addresses indicated in the application. 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.
All projects must address a research challenge that lies within the natural sciences and engineering fields (read the guidelines for Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency).
As the purpose of an Engage Grant is to foster a new collaborative relationship between one company and one university researcher, there can be no existing or past relationship between the researcher applying for funding and the company with a problem to be addressed through the project. Examples of an established relationship between the company and university researcher include:
Please consult your NSERC regional office for further information.
Proposals submitted by university-based applicants must also demonstrate the principal investigator’s research competence. The applicant must have the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully. Academic expertise may be complemented by the know-how residing in the company. Important considerations relating to research competence are:
Engage Grant projects must involve only one university researcher (the applicant) and any research personnel (e.g., students, research technicians), if applicable. As Engage Grants are intended to foster a new research relationship between an applicant and a company, projects requiring the participation of a co-applicant or collaborating professor will be rejected.
Applicants are limited to one new Engage Grant awarded in each fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
The College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). All applications must be submitted to NSERC. As CCI funding is used to support Engage Grants for college-based applicants, proposed projects can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities or health. Grants are given by NSERC, with the exception of funded proposals exclusively in the social sciences, humanities or health sciences, which will be given by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate. For other relevant information, read the:
As the purpose of an Engage Grant is to foster the development of a new collaborative relationship, the proposal must involve an eligible company that has not previously partnered with the college on applied research; that is, the college should have no existing relationship with the company. A previous research collaboration with a company or any of its divisions, a consulting contract in excess of a few days, or involvement on the part of a member(s) of the college research team with the company is considered an existing relationship.
Proposals submitted by college-based applicants must also demonstrate the research team’s applied research competence. The research team must have all the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully. For example, the project lead is expected to have conducted a research project of comparable scale with partners in the past. Academic expertise may be complemented by the know-how residing in the partnering company.
In addition to the information about expenses described above, some limited funds may be used for operating and equipment costs (up to 20% of the total expenditures), as well as for overhead and administration costs (a further 20% of the total grant amount). Certain expenditures related to project management are eligible as a direct cost of research (up to a maximum of 10% of the total direct costs). The college must provide for any additional indirect or overhead costs.
|Eligible expenses for Engage Grants held by college-based researchers|
|Type of Expenditure||Eligibility of Costs|
|Salaries and benefits for students||Eligible|
|Salaries and benefits for technical/professional staff||Eligible|
|Operating, equipment, material and supply costs||Purchase or rental, up to 20% of project costs|
|Travel||Travel required by college personnel to conduct the project is supported. This does not include international conferences to present research results.|
|Faculty release costs||Eligible|
|Networking and technology-transfer costs||Eligible|
|Overhead and administration||Up to 20% of the grant amount can be requested for eligible overhead costs.|
|Consulting fees||Consulting fees paid for additional expertise or completion of specific project tasks will be limited to a maximum of 20% of the project costs and will be approved only with strong demonstration of need.|
For further information on use of grant funds, consult the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide. College-based applicants must also submit a completed Grants in Aid of Research – Statement of Account (Form 301) at the end of the project.
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. Additional academic and industrial participants can be included in the Engage Plus project, provided that the original Engage Grant team remains in place and continues to participate in the Engage Plus project. Any new university participants added to the Engage Plus project must establish their research competence, as described in the Requirements for university-based applicants section. Any new companies added to the Engage Plus project must address their participation, rationale and ability to exploit the results in their letter of support (as outlined in the Industrial Participation section).
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 or college 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 company’s cash contribution is normally required within 30 days of an award decision. Company cash contributed before the proposal is submitted may be used to start the project. Only funds available as of the date the application was received at NSERC can be leveraged. NSERC funds cannot be applied to expenses incurred before a project was approved. The limitations described in the Eligible Expenses section apply to Engage Plus Grants as well.
The application procedures are the same as described, 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 section, as well as outlining an assessment of progress to date, and the industrial partner’s expectations for the Engage Plus project. Decisions will be communicated within approximately six weeks.
An Engage Plus Grant does not count towards the limit of one Engage Grant awarded per fiscal year for a researcher or a company.
For university-based applicants (Engage Grants for universities), contact the NSERC regional office in your area.