Alliance grants

Role of partner organizations

In an R&D project considered for an Alliance grant, the partner organizations must contribute funding to support the project, where applicable (see tables of cost-sharing options), either individually or collectively. Each partner organization must play an active role in the project and make in-kind contributions through at least one of the following roles*:

  • Active participation in project research activities
  • Application of project research results to help achieve the desired outcomes
  • Active participation in translating or mobilizing the knowledge produced by the project to generate the greatest possible economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada and Canadians

At least one partner organization must be recognized for cost-sharing with NSERC and must make cash contributions commensurate with the applicable cost-sharing ratio (see tables of cost-sharing options). To be recognized for cost-sharing, a partner organization must

  • be listed as a type of organization whose cash contributions can be recognized for cost-sharing with NSERC in the table presented in section 1 below
  • meet the detailed requirements that apply to the partner organization’s sector (private, Canadian public or Canadian not-for-profit), which are presented in section 2 below

In reviewing your application for an Alliance grant, NSERC will assess the relevance and potential impact of each partner organization and their proposed in-kind contributions. We will give priority to funding projects that demonstrate clear relevance to the partner organizations and potential to provide economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada and Canadians.

All partner organizations, including foreign and multinational companies, are responsible for complying with NSERC policies and procedures, and with other Canadian laws, regulations, standards or policies that apply to the collaborative research activities outlined in the proposal. In rare cases, restrictions such as Canadian economic sanctions may apply to partnerships with foreign companies.

Partners will be asked by the applicant to participate in the application by completing a partner organization form (see the instructions). In addition, at NSERC’s request, a partner organization must provide supplemental information that describes the organization and enables NSERC to determine if the partner organization can be considered in NSERC’s cost-sharing calculations.

*Active participation in the project and in-kind contributions are not required from funding organizations (e.g., other provincial or federal funding agencies) providing financial support to the project.

Number of participating organizations

If you are applying for an Alliance grant for an R&D project, you can include just one partner organization or several—whichever you need to support the planned activities (given their size and scope) and produce the desired research results and widest possible benefits. Your application must demonstrate that the contributions and involvement of the partner organization or organizations will create the necessary conditions for the project’s success.

Cash contributions from partner organizations

To determine which of your proposed partner organizations can be recognized for cost-sharing and how much funding you can request from NSERC to support your project, follow the three steps below. Alternatively, you may complete the partner organization self-assessment tool.

  1. Check where each partner organization is listed in the following table.
Types of partner organizations whose cash contributions can and cannot be recognized in NSERC cost-sharing calculations
Private sector


Cash contributions can be recognized (if NSERC cost-sharing requirements are met)


Cash contributions cannot be recognized

  • Canadian private companies
  • Multinationals with business operations in Canada
  • Foreign companies (only if they are partnering with a Canadian partner organization that is recognized in NSERC’s cost-sharing calculations)
  • Venture capital/angel investors
  • Holding companies
  • Companies with fewer than two full-time employees
Canadian public sector


Cash contributions can be recognized (if NSERC cost-sharing requirements are met)


Cash contributions cannot be recognized

  • Municipalities and local or regional governments established by or under provincial or territorial statute
  • Provincial/territorial government departments
  • Federal government departments
  • Indigenous organizations
  • Public utilities
  • Crown corporations
  • Funding organizations (federal, provincial, territorial, international) whose primary mission is to fund R&D
  • Organizations whose primary mission is to perform R&D
  • Foreign governments



Canadian not-for-profit


Cash contributions can be recognized (if NSERC cost-sharing requirements are met)


Cash contributions cannot be recognized

  • Producer groups
  • Industrial associations
  • Registered charities that have a mandate to carry out and apply research (within natural sciences and engineering)
  • Organizations whose primary mission is to maintain collections (e.g., historical, scientific, artistic or cultural) for the public good, such as libraries, museums, zoos or aquariums
  • Community organizations
  • Not-for-profit organizations whose primary mission is to fund R&D and are funded or controlled primarily by government
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Incubators and accelerators
  • Other registered charities
  • Hospitals and medical/clinical research institutes
  • Philanthropic organizations
  • Consortia with the majority of their funding originating from government sources
  • Foreign not-for-profit organizations
  • Individuals
  1. If the partner organization’s type is listed above as being recognized for cost-sharing, then determine whether it meets the following detailed requirements.
Requirements for partner organizations’ cash contributions to be recognized in NSERC cost-sharing calculations
  1. On the Alliance grants web page, refer to the cost-sharing options tables to determine the amount of NSERC’s potential cash contribution as a percentage of the project cost based on the size of the partner organization and the type of partnership. For option 2 applications, partner organizations must include at least one organization whose contributions would be recognized for NSERC cost-sharing in the project, even if the partner is not providing funding in this particular application.

National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships

In the case where your NSERC Alliance application involves one or more partner organization from the private sector, including when they participate alongside other partner organizations from the public and/or not-for-profit sectors, you must complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ risk assessment form and submit it as an integral part of the application.

The requirement to submit the completed risk assessment form applies to industrial associations and producer groups since their member organizations are principally from the private sector. When filling out the form, you must consider the association’s or the group’s private sector member organizations participating in the project (when applicable) and/or those that will exploit the research results.

Conflict of interest guidelines for partner organizations

You must ensure that each and every partner organization is at arm’s length (independent) from the academic institution, you, as the applicant, and your co-applicants and any other participants in the academic research team. A partner organization is not at arm’s length if you, as the applicant, or your co-applicants or any other participants in the academic research team

  • have an ownership position in the partner organization
  • are employed by the partner organization in any role, whether salaried or not
  • are a member of a governing board of the partner organization
  • are related (i.e., are connected by blood relationship, marriage or common-law partnership or adoption) to a person who controls, or who is a member of a governing board that controls, the partner organization

Each and every partner organization must be under the effective day-to-day management control of someone other than the university, applicant, co-applicant(s) or other participant with financial authority on the grant (in a private-sector organization, this precludes these individuals from holding key executive positions such as president, CEO, chief scientific officer, vice-president R&D, etc.).

A researcher’s own company is not normally able to participate as a partner organization in a project in which the researcher is the applicant, co-applicant or other participant with financial authority on the grant. However, such a researcher-owned partner organization may be able to participate if these individuals and the academic institution can be demonstrated to be sufficiently independent from the partner organization’s management and operations, and if they and their relatives (if applicable) do not have a combined controlling interest in the partner organization (i.e., combined or sole ownership must be less than 30%). You must discuss the specific situation with NSERC before applying.

Note: You, the university, your co-applicants or a participant with financial authority on the grant must comply with conflict of interest requirements in the Tri-agency framework: Responsible conduct of research, university policies and the Agreement on the administration of agency grants and awards by research institutions. You, the university, your co-applicants and your partner organizations must comply with NSERC’s Policy on intellectual property.

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