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NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates Advance grants

Overview
Duration Up to 24 months
Application deadline NSERC-Alberta Innovates Stream I: No new inquiries will be accepted under Stream I at this time.
NSERC Alliance Advantage – Alberta Innovates Stream II: Until all available funding is awarded.
Alberta Innovates will close this program once application capacity has been reached.
Application forms
  • Form 100A – personal data form
  • Form 101 – application for a grant
Guidance on this page takes precedence over other Alliance descriptions and instructions. Find additional guidance on the PDF forms and instructions page. To create or access an application, log in to the online system.
For more information Contact the Prairies Regional Office or the This link will take you to another Web site Alberta Innovates Advance program manager.

Context and objectives

NSERC Alliance Advantage – Alberta Innovates Advance grants invest in projects that, in alignment with Alberta’s innovation and technology strategies, advance discoveries to develop emerging technologies that can generate economic, environmental, health and social benefits for Albertans and Canadians.

Please check Appendix A (for Stream I) and Appendix B (for Stream II) of the Advance program guide available on the Alberta Innovates Advance program website for the eligible emerging technology areas/topics. These areas offer transformational promise for challenges across Alberta’s existing sectors and entry into wider global markets. Their development provides the foundation for job creation and economic diversification in Alberta.

The NSERC– Alberta Innovates Advance program has two grant award streams:

Stream I: Alberta Innovates offered this special call, pilot initiative in 2022 to provide supplemental funding to researchers in Alberta who hold active NSERC Discovery grants (individual) awarded in Competition Years 2020, 2021 and 2022 and have R&D activities focusing on targeted emerging technology subject areas/topics. The stream was closed at the end of September 2022. Since then, Alberta Innovates has been processing inquiries/applications for this pilot stream. In 2023-24, Alberta Innovates will continue to process the remaining inquiries in the queue for the 2022-23 pilot stream.

Successful applicants will receive 2/3 of NSERC’s annual Discovery grants (individual) award value from Alberta Innovates to a maximum of $20,000 per year per award for a maximum of two years.

Please note that Alberta Innovates will not accept any new inquiries under Stream I at this time.

Funding is available to NSERC eligible researchers at NSERC eligible Alberta-based universities to help those who have made promising discoveries conduct the research needed to advance to the development stage, which could eventually lead to commercialization.

Stream II: This is the general stream of the NSERC Alliance Advantage - Alberta Innovates Advance Program.

Projects must advance the readiness of technologies for future market opportunities in the emerging technology areas/topics (see Appendix B for Stream II in the program guide available on the Alberta Innovates Advance program website). As the primary applicant, the principal investigator must hold an active peer-reviewed grant from NSERC at the time of application.

Stream II: Individual proposals can request a maximum of $150,000 per year for a maximum of two years. Alberta Innovates will provide up to $100,000 per year, and NSERC will match their contribution at a ratio of 50%, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year.

For Stream II, project funding is intended to help bridge the gap between academic research and technology validation in technology readiness levels This link will take you to another Web site (TRL) 2 to 4. Projects will advance an idea by developing a technological solution for a future market opportunity. Projects could lead to technology transfer activities and commercialization following the grant period. Eligible technology development within this program can begin as early as the conceptual research stage (beginning from TRL 2), up to testing/validation of ad hoc component integration in a laboratory setting (TRL 4). Projects developing technologies at later TRL stages are not eligible for this program. Partners are not permitted in this program; projects with partners should apply to the main NSERC Alliance Advantage program or other Alberta Innovates/NSERC support programs.

Funding can be used to engage and train undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and technicians on projects, as well as for operational and equipment costs. Intellectual property (IP) protection, market assessment and technology transfer activities costs are not eligible expenses in this program. Project funding will support activities such as

  • scientific technology assessment
  • characterization of the invention
  • proof-of-concept experimentation
  • testing potential to work in a laboratory environment
  • data gathering

Key goals of the NSERC Alliance Advantage – Alberta Innovates Advance grants are to improve the direction of research efforts that could lead to technology transfer and commercialization in Alberta, to develop emerging technologies with market potential and/or solutions to end-user challenges, and to develop an enhanced skill and knowledge base (highly qualified personnel [HQP]) for Alberta companies.

Technologies that successfully demonstrate a proof of concept and the potential to work in a laboratory environment in this program may be further advanced to market through other support programs, including This link will take you to another Web site Alberta Innovates Health and Clean Resources Sector or Entrepreneurial Investments programs or federal programs such as NSERC I2I grants. Researchers are encouraged to discuss their project with the industry liaison office (ILO) at their institution early in the project to begin interactions with industry and identify potential partners and business advisors.

NSERC Alliance Advantage – Alberta Innovates Advance grants project objectives:

  • Gather strong scientific evidence and advance discoveries in emerging technologies within the TRL 2 to 4 range (Stream II), where a potential local/global market application has been identified
  • Train HQP in emerging technologies responding to identified market needs
  • Move research from idea to proof-of-concept/prototype validation, and encourage HQP to do so as well
  • Explore future commercialization paths by engaging with ILOs

Alberta Innovates will support projects aligned with this program’s emerging technology areas/topics (see Appendix A and Appendix B for Stream I and Stream II in the program guide available on the Alberta Innovates Advance program website). Projects must represent a credible Alberta-developed solution to advance the readiness of technologies for future market opportunities.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI action plan.

Excellent research considers EDI both in the research environment (forming a research team, student training) and in the research process. For Alliance grants, EDI considerations are currently evaluated in the training, mentorship and professional development opportunities for students and trainees. The aim is to remove barriers to the recruitment and promote full participation of individuals from underrepresented groups, including women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minority/racialized groups and members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities. Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of underrepresented groups as one way to enhance the excellence in research and training.

For more information, see the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research.

Explaining how you have considered equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan is mandatory. Please consult the Equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan web page for guidance.

Applicants

  • As the principal investigator [PI], you must hold an active NSERC peer-reviewed grant when you apply. You must meet NSERC eligibility criteria when you apply and for the duration of the grant.
  • You must be a faculty member from one of the NSERC eligible Alberta-based universities.
  • You may submit only one application as a PI in each fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • You may submit as many applications as you wish as a co-applicant.
  • You may not hold more than one Advance Stream II (General stream) grant simultaneously. However, current Advance Stream II (General stream) grant holders may be eligible to apply for Stream I funding if they meet eligibility requirements.

Partners

Partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing with NSERC are not permitted for proposals under this program. However, potential end-users for the technology being proposed should be identified in the proposal. Please ensure that you add Alberta Innovates as a joint funding partner to this application and provide the name and email of the Alberta Innovates Advance program manager as the contact for Alberta Innovates.

Apply

Stream I: Alberta Innovates will notify researchers currently in the queue for the 2022-23 pilot stream (i.e., Alberta Innovates NSERC Discovery grants (individual) supplemental funding pilot stream) to submit the Post-Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) Intake Form on the Alberta Innovates SmartSimple Application Portal. If the PSIET Intake Form is approved, the applicant will be invited to submit a full application. Please note that Alberta Innovates will not accept any new inquiries under Stream I at this time.

Stream II: To start the application process for an NSERC Alliance Advantage – Alberta Innovates Advance grant, applicants must contact the This link will take you to another Web site Alberta Innovates Advance program manager to ensure that the proposed project meets the requirements of alignment of the program including the priority emerging technology targeted research topics. After receiving confirmation from Alberta Innovates that the proposed research is aligned with program requirements, the applicant must complete and submit the Post Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) Intake Form on the Alberta Innovates SmartSimple Application Portal.

Alberta Innovates will review intake forms to determine whether the applicant will be invited to submit a full application. If invited to apply, the applicant must complete the NSERC application (without submitting it) and generate a PDF version of it with the preview function in NSERC’s online system. The applicant must then complete the Alberta Innovates application form in the Alberta Innovates This link will take you to another Web site SmartSimple portal. The applicant must attach the PDF of the NSERC application as part of the Alberta Innovates application.

Alberta Innovates will complete the partner organization form once it has reviewed and assessed the details submitted through the Alberta Innovates SmartSimple portal. Once Alberta Innovates has completed the partner form, the applicant may submit the application to NSERC through NSERC’s online system.

NSERC application details

To start the NSERC application for Stream II (General stream):

  • Go to the NSERC’s online system and create a new form 101.
  • Select Research partnerships, then Alliance.  
  • For the  Proposal type  field, select  Full proposal.
  • For the Type of call field, select Alberta Innovates - Advance from the drop-down menu.

The proposed cost-sharing ratio for this application is 100%.

There are four components to this NSERC Alliance Advantage – Alberta Innovates Advance grants application: proposal, applicant information, partner organization information (Alberta Innovates, in this case), and a Technology Transfer Office Review Form, completed by the technology transfer office of the applicant’s university. All four components need to be completed and submitted. Guidance on this page takes precedence over other NSERC Alliance descriptions and instructions.

  • Proposal: Complete an application for a grant (form 101) using the Proposal template. Provide responses in place of INSERT YOUR TEXT HERE using a maximum of  five  pages. Figures and tables are welcome. The funding requested in this proposal cannot represent a budgetary or conceptual overlap with any other funding support currently held or applied for. The instructions for completing an Alliance grant application provide additional guidance for questions not addressed on this page.
  • Applicant information: Submit a Personal data form with Common CV attachment for the applicant and all co-applicants.
  • Partner organization information: Please ensure that you add Alberta Innovates as a joint funding partner to this application and provide the name and email of the Alberta Innovates Advance program manager as the contact for Alberta Innovates. Your contact person will be invited through the online system to provide information about the partner organization following the Partner organization instructions.
  • Technology transfer office (TTO) Review Form: The TTO of your university must complete this form. Contact your TTO with as early as possible (at least two weeks before you intend to submit to the program) to allow time for the TTO to review and prepare the form. TTOs can also provide assistance in preparing the overall application. Attach the completed form in the Other documents section in the NSERC online system.

Evaluation criteria

Applications are evaluated using the following four equally weighted criteria. The proposal must address all of the criteria and sub-criteria to be considered for funding. Applications will continue to be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis until the annual budget is fully allocated.

Relevance and outcomes

  • Significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada and Alberta
  • Need for original research to address the topic and the potential for developing and advancing new technologies in a priority emerging technology target area
  • How the strategy to apply the research results will achieve the intended outcomes

Quality of the proposal

  • Clarity of the objectives and deliverables; appropriateness of the scope and size of planned activities to achieve the expected outcomes; justification for the planned expenditures
  • Incorporation of equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and/or dissemination of findings
  • Appropriateness of the identified indicators and methods for monitoring progress during the project and for assessing outcomes afterward

Project team and training opportunities

  • Appropriateness of academic researchers’ expertise and, where applicable, expertise of the partner organizations, both for carrying out the planned research activities, and for mentoring trainees and collaborating with fellow researchers.
  • Opportunities for enriched training experiences for research trainees (undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows) to develop relevant research skills as well as professional skills such as leadership, communication, collaboration and entrepreneurship
  • Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan

Future market opportunity

  • Clarity of the proposal presenting the technology solution, who would need it, in what form and how it could be brought to the end-users/market (future product)
  • Positioning of the proposed technology compared to other potential solutions; description of the state of the art in the current research and market; why and how the proposed technology could compete
  • Positioning of the strengths and potential advantages that favour an Alberta-developed solution

Please consult the merit indicators for further details.

Funding

All project expenditures are subject to the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of grant funds as outlined in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration. The agreement must be aligned with NSERC’s Policy on intellectual property, which promotes the use and/or exploitation of knowledge and open access to results of research funded by NSERC.

Extension of grants

NSERC automatically provides an extension period of one year for using the grant funds. This extension period allows you to complete your planned research activities within the specified term of your grant. The extension is applicable for the NSERC portion of the grant only. To benefit from an extension towards the portion of funding from Alberta Innovates, you must seek their approval before the end date of the project.

Intellectual property

See the Alliance Advantage Award  webpage for information on NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property, research agreements, and how these pertain to this funding opportunity.

Reporting

You will be informed of reporting requirements and the corresponding schedule when you are notified of your award. NSERC and Alberta Innovates will strive to streamline their reporting requirements to lessen the burden on participants. Alberta Innovates requires an annual presentation to demonstrate progress.