Alliance Grants

Role of partner organizations

For more information on Alliance grants, see the Alliance grants page.

In R&D projects funded by Alliance grants, all of the following contributions must be present for a successful project, whether by a single partner organization or a combination of partner organizations:

  • Funding and/or in-kind resources to support the projects (see Table of cost-sharing options)
  • Significant 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

To participate in such projects, partner organizations must:

  • have a demonstrated ability either to perform R&D in the natural sciences and engineering domain or to utilize R&D results; and
  • have a clearly defined role in the proposed project.

In reviewing your application for an Alliance grant, NSERC will assess the relevance and potential impact of each partner organization that you propose. 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 (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.

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 produce the desired research results and benefits.

Your application must:

  • Include at least one partner organization that can demonstrate its ability either to perform R&D relevant to this project or to apply its results directly
  • Include all of the partner organizations that you need to support the planned activities (given their size and scope) and to generate the widest possible benefits
  • Demonstrate that the contributions of the partner organization or organizations will create the necessary conditions for the project’s success

Cash contributions from partner organizations

In preparing your budget, proceed as follows to determine which of your proposed partner organizations can be recognized for cost-sharing and therefore how much funding you can request from NSERC to support your project:

  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 less 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 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 table 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.
  2. If you are unsure if your partner organization can be recognized in NSERC’s cost-sharing calculations, complete the following partner organization self-assessment tool.

In reviewing your application, NSERC will also assess the relevance and appropriateness of the partner organizations’ proposed in-kind contributions to your project.

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, by definition, 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 to a person who controls, or who is a member of a governing board that controls, the partner organization (i.e., are connected by blood relationship, marriage or common-law partnership, or adoption).

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, the applicant, must discuss the specific situation with NSERC before applying.

Note: You, the university and your co-applicants must adhere to and 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. Comply with NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property, which includes the following requirements:

  • The commercial activity of any partner organization from the private sector must conform to the university established policies on the disclosure of commercial interest and conflict of interest.
  • The university is prepared to ensure that the academic interests of students and postdoctoral fellows are protected.

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