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ARCHIVED – College and Community Innovation Program – Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19


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Canadian colleges and polytechnics are already playing a vital role in addressing some of the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding opportunity will further leverage the expertise and infrastructure in these post-secondary institutions to rapidly mobilize support and expertise related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is a special call for proposals that will use some of the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) framework and the CCSIF application form but will otherwise be adjudicated as per the parameters on this page. Guidance on this page takes precedence over other CCSIF descriptions and instructions.

Important information

Note to applicants: The application instructions have been updated to indicate the sections that are mandatory, and specifies the requirements for this call for proposals. For additional questions please contact NSERC at or 613-943-7615.

If your College COVID-19 application is funded, an NSERC-Mitacs partnership is making available additional resources to augment research collaborations. Qualifying partner organizations can add Mitacs-funded internships to a College COVID-19 project at a reduced cost to the organization. To access this opportunity, please contact Noha Gerges, Director of Business Development, at Mitacs ( NSERC will share a copy of the approved project application with Mitacs, who will then confirm program eligibility and the details surrounding the internship opportunity.


To accelerate the transfer and application of applied research and of expertise for local community organizations and partners from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors on COVID-19 related topics. All projects are intended to address topics of immediate relevance to the COVID-19 outbreak. Projects with a longer-term assessment horizon are not eligible for this special call.


Canadian colleges that have been declared eligible to administer grants of at least one of the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, SSHRC, and/or CIHR) within the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program are eligible to apply to this funding opportunity. Colleges must already be eligible at time of application because of the tight timelines for these projects and immediate need for outcomes.

Application requirements

All proposals are required to demonstrate the ability of the college or polytechnic to make immediate use of their existing resources and competencies to provide rapid support for near-term applications directly related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This call requires the utilization of results of research for the benefit of Canada and Canadians.

Applications are required to address at least one of the two competition themes:

  1. Assisting industry with production challenges to address COVID-19 (e.g., prototyping, enhanced production processes, repurposing of existing manufacturing infrastructure for production of new products, data analytics relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, etc.).
  2. Contributing to the solution of community innovation challenges (health, social, policy) of immediate relevance to the COVID 19 outbreak (e.g. impact of social isolation on vulnerable populations, implementation of community social distancing policies, addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19, changing scope of policies and regulations, etc.).

Applicants and the partner organizations must consider the unique present circumstances when planning their work (e.g., access to the institution vs. working remotely, respecting physical distancing, etc.).

Partner eligibility and contributions

Partner organizations are subject to the eligibility requirements specified in the CCSIF program description. There are no cost sharing requirements for partner organizations but all organizations must participate meaningfully in the project and demonstrate their level of involvement.

Award amount

Up to $75,000 per project


Up to one year

Proposal submission

Proposals will be submitted via the NSERC Online system to the CCSIF funding opportunity. Applications will be in a streamlined format, with a five-page proposal including up to one page of explanation of the project budget.

The proposal must address:

  1. proposed project;
  2. relevance and timeliness in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  3. team expertise.

In lieu of letters of support, e-mail confirmation of partner participation in the project can be provided as an attachment to the application.

There is a limit of four applications per college/polytechnic.

Assessment criteria

  • Potential for impact
    • The effectiveness of the proposal to address the needs of partner organizations; and
    • The capability of the partner organization(s) to implement and/or use the project results leading to impact within their organization(s).
  • Excellence of the proposal
    • The extent to which the application responds to the objectives of this special COVID-19 call for proposals;
    • The focus and clarity of the objectives of the proposal;
    • The involvement of the partner organization and other relevant stakeholders in the design and conduct of the research and/or related activities; and
    • The appropriateness of the proposed approach to achieve impacts towards mitigation of COVID-19 in a near-term timeframe.
  • Team expertise
    • The experience and expertise of the team to address the proposed objectives and to complete the project successfully; and
    • The college’s ability to mobilize the necessary resources on timelines appropriate to this project and call for proposals.

*All proposals must clearly demonstrate how the proposed work will lead to near-term advancements that mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Budget, justification and eligible expenses

A detailed budget justification is not required, however an overall description of the proposed use of funds is required. The project budget will be provided in the budget table in Form 103 for the CCSIF program. Eligible expenses will follow guidelines from the CCI Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide. For this competition, there is no limit on materials costs, although equipment purchases are not permitted. As per the CCSIF program description, grant funds can be used to contribute to the participation of key collaborators from community organizations from the not-for-profit sector.

Review process 

Due to the urgent nature of this competition, an expedited review process will be used and results provided to applicants as quickly as possible following the submission of an application.

Expected key dates

Applications will be accepted in the NSERC Online system starting April 9, 2020, and will be accepted until June 1, 2020, 8:00 p.m. (ET), pending availability of funds.

Making Connections: Project Opportunities in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Industry, not-for-profit and public sector organizations

If you are from a Canadian industry, not-for-profit or public sector organization that is addressing a challenge or question related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and could benefit from scientific, technical or research expertise in natural science and engineering, please submit them to NSERC by completing This link will take you to another Web site this survey. NSERC will communicate these publicly to Canada’s post-secondary institutions by posting the information on our website and connect you with interested university and college researchers.

By facilitating these connections, we aim to increase collaborations between organizations and researchers to create partnerships. Together, collaborating teams can apply to NSERC Alliance grants or the NSERC College and Community Innovation Program.

You may also use to find expertise, facilities and intellectual property (IP) at Canada’s post-secondary institutions that can help you address challenges and questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This link will take you to another Web site allows you to enter a search term and quickly see the institutions, researchers, facilities and IP most relevant to your interests.


If you are a researcher from a Canadian college or university who is eligible to apply to an NSERC grant and is interested in helping an organization address a challenge or question related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the list of project opportunities.