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Engage Grants

  • Effective April 1, 2015, the opportunity previously available to colleges through Level 1 Applied Research and Development Grants is now available through Engage Grants for colleges.
  • Effective January 15, 2016, company partners must have at least two full-time employees and must have been in operation for at least two years, in addition to meeting other requirements outlined in the Industrial Participation section. There is also a new limit on the number of Engage Grants for a company partner per fiscal year, effective April 1, 2016.
  • Effective January 15, 2016, University applicants must have received an individual or small team peer-reviewed grant from NSERC within the past six years, as explained in the Requirements for university-based applicants section. Effective April 1, 2016, university researchers will be limited to one Engage Grant per fiscal year.

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. These projects serve as the first step to establishing a longer-term, impactful collaboration. 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):
  • Form 100 – Personal Data Form
  • Form 101 – Application for a Grant
  • Form 183A – Information Required from Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships
For college-based applicants (Engage Grants for colleges):
  • Form 103CV (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
To create or access on-line applications, select On-line System Login.
To view instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
Contact See below

Important Information

Consult the Engage Grants for Universities Application Checklist and Proposal Template, the Engage Grants for Colleges 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 projects are expected to result in economic benefits to the company and to Canada and build impactful longer term collaborations between the applicant and the company.

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:

  • focus on the commercialization of a university or college invention;
  • focus on the routine application of existing technology or tools to the industry partner’s operations;
  • provide routine analysis or routine use of equipment at the university or college;
  • collect data without interpreting underlying mechanisms;
  • seek to certify, endorse, validate or performance test an existing product, process or material (unless accompanied by significant efforts to investigate the underlying scientific or engineering question or to improve or better understand the product, process or material);
  • include 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;
  • aim to develop an industry standard (unless the partner is an industry association);
  • provide professional practice or consulting services; or
  • are principally associated with the acquisition or maintenance of scientific equipment.

Applications that aim to solve an industry-wide problem affecting a number of companies should be addressed by industry associations or a group of companies. These projects are likely to be more suitable for CRD or ARD grants. Please contact NSERC to discuss the appropriate grant type for the project.

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 This link will take you to another Web site Mitacs Business Development Representative for details on how to apply.

Industrial Participation

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:

  • have a minimum of two full-time employees; and
  • be in operation for a minimum of two years.

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.

Intellectual Property

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.

Application Procedures

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:

  • evidence of a corporate objective to grow through the development, in Canada, of innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes;
  • the nature of the company-specific problem;
  • the efforts to date that the company has invested towards addressing this problem;
  • the activities that led to the proposed collaboration;
  • the business opportunity for the company;
  • how the company expects to integrate the research results into its operations;
  • the further effort the company will invest to advance the results in Canada;
  • what benefits the anticipated outcomes will bring to the company and to the Canadian economy, as well as the relevant timeframe for achieving those benefits;
  • the anticipated interaction of the company’s personnel with the applicant during the project;
  • the plans for longer term, continued collaboration; and
  • the company's support for, contribution to, and agreement with the proposal submitted to NSERC.

In order to adequately address the above points, a typical letter of support is two pages. 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 and Proposal Template for a summary of information that needs to be addressed in a completed application.

Award Information and Eligible Expenses

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:

  • Expenses for publications and conferences are eligible in exceptional cases only, where evidence is provided that these are industry-oriented and represent the only appropriate mechanism for ensuring that the technology is transferred to the industrial partner.
  • Office supply expenses are limited to $250.
  • Acquisition of any equipment must be carefully detailed and justified.
  • 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, the hourly rate of compensation used to assess the value of the in-kind contribution, and how the total value was calculated). It must be clear that each element of the in-kind contribution is essential to the project and indicative of the company involvement. The calculation of contribution values must also respect the maximum amounts outlined in the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships.
  • For personnel such as students or technicians receiving an annual salary, the prorated stipend for the six-month term should be indicated.

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.

Selection Criteria

    Applications are evaluated on the following criteria, with additional requirements specific to university- and college-based applicants provided in later sections:

  • Technical merit: The proposal must describe the research challenge to be addressed through the project. The project must be scientifically sound, technically feasible and promise either to apply knowledge in an innovative manner or to lead to new knowledge. The project plan must be appropriate and sufficiently detailed. It must outline the tasks that will be undertaken and the associated research challenges.
  • Industrial relevance and potential for innovation impact: The proposal must clearly identify and describe the company-specific problem. It must also identify how the company will be involved; how the work will lead to improved products, processes, procedures or service delivery that benefits the company; and how the company will exploit the project results within a reasonable timeframe. Timelines for realizing innovation impact should be specified in the application. These considerations must also be clearly reflected in the company’s support letter, as indicated in the Application Procedures section, above.
  • Industrial participation and plan for technology transfer: The proposal must identify how the company will be involved and how the university (specifically the principal investigator) or college research team and the company's scientific/technical staff will work together to ensure that the knowledge/technology will be transferred effectively to the company. Any plans for longer term, continued collaboration must also be outlined in the proposal.
  • Benefit to Canada: As well as the economic benefit to the company described under the Industrial Relevance criterion above, the proposal must briefly outline any additional economic, social and environmental benefits that could be realized in Canada.


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 applications from either of the participants will not be evaluated until outstanding project reports or company comments are provided to NSERC for previous Engage Grants or other grant types. NSERC may also contact the participants for further information on the impacts of the grant.

Requirements for university-based applicants
(Engage Grants for universities)

All projects must address a research challenge that lies within the natural sciences and engineering fields (read the guidelines for This link will take you to another Web site 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:

  • a previous research collaboration between the researcher and the company or any of its divisions or parent;
  • researcher’s current or past involvement in the company;
  • joint participation in a research network;
  • researcher’s existing association with the company or its principals, including (1) whether the company principals or staff serve as a professor, adjunct professor or other colleague in the same university department as the applicant, or (2) in the case of a small company, whether a former trainee of the applicant now holds a key position in the company);
  • past or current supervision of a graduate student who is supported by an industrial scholarship or internship with the proposed partner; and
  • other evidence that an Engage Grant is not needed to foster a new research collaboration.

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:

  • The applicant must be an NSERC-eligible researcher and must have been granted an individual or small team (principal investigator and up to two co-applicants) peer-reviewed grant from NSERC within the past six years.
  • 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 are considered to have met the requirement for peer-reviewed research support.
  • Researchers with a principal appointment in a health-oriented university faculty (e.g., medicine, pharmacology, dentistry) are eligible for an Engage Grant only if they have been awarded an NSERC Discovery Grant within the past six years.

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. Fees paid outside the university for completion of specific project tasks will be limited to a maximum of 20% of the amount requested and will be approved only with strong demonstration of need.

Applicants are limited to one new Engage Grant awarded in each fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).

Requirements for college-based applicants
(Engage Grants for colleges)

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.

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, and consulting fees A maximum of 20% of the project costs can be used for the purchase or rental of equipment, materials, supplies and/or for consulting fees paid for additional expertise or completion of specific project tasks (approved only with strong demonstration of need).
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.

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.

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. 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 once some progress has been reached within 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.

For college-based applicants (Engage Grants for colleges), contact 613-944-5802,, or the NSERC regional office in your area.