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Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges Grants

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Learn more about the Chairholders who are funded by this and other NSERC Chairholder grants by visiting the NSERC Chairholders Database.

Note: NSERC will not be accepting new applications at this time, as there will be no competition for this grant in 2016.

Duration Five years, renewable
Application Deadline There will be no competition for this grant in 2016.
How to Apply See below
Application Forms
  • 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 Programs
To complete Form 103CV or to view its instructions, select the links above.

To create or access an application, select On-line System Login. To view forms and instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.

For More Information Consult the Contact List

Important Information

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. Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges (IRCC) Grants support Chair programs across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and/or health sciences fields. Grants are given by NSERC, with the exception of funded proposals exclusively in the social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences, which will be given by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate.


IRCC Grants support applied research leaders and their development of business-focused applied research programs at colleges. It is expected that the establishment of applied research leaders will enable the realization of the following objectives:

  • Increased delivery of innovative applied research solutions to local companies at the community and/or regional level;
  • Enhanced teaching and curricula;
  • Increased participation of faculty and other college staff in applied research activities;
  • Increased opportunities for students to gain industrial problem-solving experience; and
  • Increased knowledge and technology transfer between colleges and companies, with the objective of increasing the productivity and competitiveness of local companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


IRCC Grants assist colleges to develop new or significantly enhance existing applied research efforts and capacity in areas that meet local or regional socio-economic needs. Chairholders are expected to conduct a program of applied research with partner companies. Candidates should therefore have a strong track record in conducting and managing industry-focused applied research projects. The applied research projects will provide an enhanced training environment for students and college personnel by giving them the opportunity to address applied research challenges with the private sector and to participate in significant ongoing interactions with business partners.

The Chair candidate can be an existing faculty or other college staff member, or an external individual—such as an applied research leader in business whom the college intends to bring on staff following the awarding of an IRCC Grant.

Grants are awarded on the basis of the proposal and Chairholder’s track record. Therefore, if the Chairholder withdraws from his/her position during the term of the grant, the college may not replace the Chairholder under the existing grant. Rather, a new grant application proposing another candidate should be submitted in a future IRCC competition.

In order to focus on applied research activities, it is expected that Chairholders will devote their time to Chair activities. Chairholders are also expected to be well integrated in the teaching environment of the college to help advance the skills development of students; teaching-related duties are considered complementary to Chair activities; it is expected that Chairholders would have either no teaching duties or a reduced teaching load. IRCC Grants provide funding to cover the salary of the Chairholder, technology transfer and knowledge dissemination activities, and support for applied research projects through the purchase of equipment, training activities and other direct costs of applied research related to the Chair activities.

IRCC Grants range from $100,000 to $200,000 annually, are offered in five-year terms, and are renewable. Private-sector partnerships and contributions are required. For the initial five-year term, a combination of cash and/or in-kind contributions from private-sector organizations is required. Company partner cash contributions are not mandatory in the first term but are in subsequent terms (see Company Participation). Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges are funded jointly by the CCI Program and the private sector. Provincial or federal government departments and agencies may also co-sponsor/support a Chair, but only the private-sector contributions are matched when determining the amount of the IRCC Grant.

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 (see Company Participation section below for more information). NSERC considers the applied research disciplines, as well as the targeted industry sectors, when assessing potential overlaps.

Example 1: The applied research areas of oil refinery, environmental land remediation of former oil sites, and oil site worker safety would be considered overlapping (although in distinct applied research disciplines), because they are targeted towards a common industry sector. 

Example 2: The applied research areas of polymers and coatings, biomaterials, and concrete would be considered overlapping (although targeting distinct industry sectors), because they are in the same applied research discipline (materials science).

NSERC will take into consideration the recommendations of the CCI Review Committee in making final decisions on whether new IRCC applications overlap with an existing or prior IRCC Grant.

Company Participation

The Partner Eligibility Guidelines section of the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs should be consulted to determine the eligibility of the company partner and its contributions.

Company partners can provide ongoing support through the full term of the Chair or can participate in particular projects within the activities of the Chair for any period up to the full five-year commitment. In addition to making cash and/or in-kind contributions, participating partners must, at a minimum, have credible plans for exploiting the applied research results for the social, environmental or economic benefit of Canada. Company partners must demonstrate that they have the expertise and resources to put the plan into effect or the means and intention to acquire this capacity.

At the time of application, eligible company partners must make firm commitments for contributions representing at least 40% of the total IRCC Grant amount (see Table below for initial cash commitments), with the remainder to be secured during the term of the Chair. Colleges must also have a credible plan to secure these remaining contributions from existing or future eligible company partners. Continued IRCC Grant funding support for the full five-year term depends on the Chair securing sufficient eligible company partner contributions.

Company partners are expected to actively participate in and contribute to the applied research program of the Chair and/or its associated projects that depend on the term of the Chair, as follows:

Chair term Eligible company commitments over the full term Confirmed minimum eligible company commitments at the time of the application
First term Chairs At least equal to the total IRCC grant amount in cash and/or in-kind contributions Cash and/or in-kind contributions representing at least 40% of the total IRCC grant amount
Second term Chairs At least equal to the total IRCC grant amount, with at least 50% cash and the remainder in-kind contributions Cash and/or in-kind contributions representing at least 40% of the total IRCC grant amount, of which at least half must be cash
Third and subsequent term Chairs Cash at least equal to the total IRCC grant amount Cash representing at least 40% of the total IRCC grant amount

The CCI Program will recognize only those in-kind contributions that are fully documented and considered essential to carry out the program of the Chair. These contributions must be documented annually. For a full discussion on the eligibility and value of in-kind contributions, refer to the Guidelines on Eligibility and Value of In-Kind Contributions section of the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs.

Cash contributed by an eligible company partner toward a Chair is counted regardless of when it is actually given, provided the money is not spent prior to the application being submitted. Cash contributed by a company towards another grant (such as Engage or Applied Research and Development grants) cannot be applied toward the IRCC grant. If the supporting organizations choose to contribute to an endowment as a means of supporting the Chair, the recognized contribution will be limited to the amount attributed to private-sector sources that are directly allocated to the cost of the Chair over the term of the grant.

Intellectual Property

The granting agencies make no claim to the ownership of any intellectual property (IP) generated from the research they fund. As a general principle, colleges need to develop and sign an agreement with each company partner on the ownership and disposition of IP arising from IRCC Grant-funded applied research before initiating any Chair activities. Any agreements made regarding the ownership of the IP resulting from IRCC Grant-funded research must take into account the objective of the IRCC Grants—creating partnerships. This implies a sharing of eventual benefits between the partners commensurate with their respective contributions and the sharing of the costs to protect the IP.


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

  • The college must offer programs in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences;
  • The college’s Chairholder involved in the IRCC Grant must be permitted to engage in applied research in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences; and
  • The college must provide the basic facilities and services (including space) to enable its natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences faculty members, technical experts, entrepreneurial innovators and students to conduct applied research.

Colleges must offer programs in line with the research area proposed in the IRCC Grant application. If the proposed research and knowledge/technology transfer activities lie entirely within the mandate of one granting agency (CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC), the college must be declared eligible to receive funding from that granting agency.

Application Procedures

Instructions for applicants, company partner(s), and supporting organizations for completing the forms and on-line submission are found on NSERC's On-line Services. All proposals are reviewed by the College and Community Innovation Review Committee.

A Chair candidate must be identified at the time the application is submitted. Use Forms 103, 103CV and 183A and follow the instructions for preparing an IRCC Grant submission. Up to three letters of reference in support of first-time Chair candidates are encouraged at the time of submission. The letters of reference should be sent directly by the referees to NSERC and must arrive by the application deadline.

Review Procedures

All applications undergo peer review. Each IRCC Grant application is reviewed by external referees. The evaluation reports of external referees are taken under consideration by the multidisciplinary College and Community Innovation (CCI) Review Committee during its deliberations. This committee provides feedback on each application and recommends to NSERC the applications to receive IRCC Grants.

Selection Criteria

IRCC Grant applications are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Suitability of the Candidate: the applied research experience and competence; potential to create a business-relevant applied research program; potential to create collaborative links with the local business community and company partners, and experience in this area; and the experience and record of accomplishments of the proposed candidate;
  • Benefits to the College: the potential for the Chair to connect local and regional industry with college research infrastructure, students, faculty and other college staff and to build a sustainable applied research program;
  • Institutional Support: the commitment of the college to the Chair’s activities as demonstrated through the involvement of faculty and other college staff in the applied research area of the Chair, administrative support, and facilities for research activities;
  • Quality of the proposal: the merit, technical feasibility, innovation, and regional business relevance of the proposed applied research activities;
  • Private-sector support: the demonstration of an appropriate level of contributions from company partner(s) to the applied research program as a whole, or to one or more projects in the Chair; and
  • Contribution to education and development: the demonstration of training and development opportunities for students and staff (including company personnel), and enhancement of future training programs.


Renewal of an IRCC Grant provides continued support for the Chair's applied research program for an additional five-year period and requires demonstration of:

  • a strong commitment from the private sector in the form of increased cash contributions;
  • strong impact on the local business sector; and
  • growth in the quality and relevance of interactions with company partners.

The application review will be based on an up-to-date college progress report, one to three company partner progress reports (submitted directly by the company partner), a new detailed research proposal for the subsequent term, demonstration of continued commitment from the private sector, and the support of the college. Applications are assessed by peer review conducted in the last year of each five-year term and involve a competitive process that takes into consideration the available funding (budget) for IRCC grants. The CCI Review Committee makes the final funding recommendation for all renewals.

Eligible Expenses

The Chairholder’s salary and direct benefits are eligible expenditures. All other eligible expenditures are detailed in the CCI Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.


A statement of account (i.e., a Grants in Aid of Research, Statement of Account [Form 301]) is required on an annual basis for the IRCC Grant account and any partner contributions. In-kind contributions from partners must also be reported annually. The college and the company partner(s) must submit progress reports after 18 and 36 months of the five-year term. Continued funding support for the duration of the term is dependent on favourable reviews of the progress of the Chair’s contributions to applied research at the college and continued support from company partner(s). For Chairs that are ending, the final progress report is due within three months of the end date. For those Chairs intending to renew for an additional term, an up-to-date college progress report and one to three company partner progress reports must be submitted as part of the renewal application during the final year of the term.

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