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Idea to Innovation Grants

Instructions to Referees – Form 140

Before Proceeding

Please read the  Instructions to Referees on the Privacy Act, Confidentiality and the Use and Disclosure of Information.

Note: Your signature on the paper version of the review form, or transmission of your final evaluation to NSERC either by mail or by using the electronic evaluation process, means that you have read these instructions and that you consent to these uses and disclosures.

In addition, you may refer to:

Information on the following topics is provided below:

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Conflict of Interest

If you are in a conflict of interest or for any other reason unable to act as a referee, please contact us directly or send us an email at as soon as possible. In order to identify yourself and the application(s) you are unable to review, please indicate your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and the committee and application number in the SUBJECT line of your e-mail message.

Suggested referees should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations for more information. In addition, referees (external reviewers) must sign the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they access the application material.

Allegations of Misconduct

Allegations of misconduct must be treated separately from the peer review process. Should your review reveal concerns of possible misconduct, please report any allegation separately to the Research Ethics Coordinator. Your report should only address the application and selection criteria and make no mention of the misconduct concerns.

How to Evaluate the Proposal


A fundable proposal must satisfy four general conditions:

  1. The project must be based on sound scientific/engineering principles, and exhibit novelty, technical feasibility and the potential for a viable commercial application. Projects should involve the novel implementation of promising technology that has arisen from university research and its eventual transfer to a Canadian company. The basic parameters of the concept must have already been explored, and sufficient testing should have been done to assess the potential of the innovation to work in a "product" environment or for its intended purpose.

  2. The project team under the leadership of the university researcher and the industrial liaison office (and the industrial partner in Phase IIb applications) must collectively possess, or have access to, all the expertise required to execute the project successfully. This expertise should cover the scientific, technical and business aspects of the project. The structures should be in place for effective project management.

  3. In the case of phase IIb applications, the collaborating company must demonstrate both the capability and the willingness to commercialize successful project results. The company must bear at least half of the cost of the project, and be prepared to undertake the subsequent market research, product/process development, engineering, and sales and marketing.

  4. The proposal must demonstrate probability of commercial success, with an identified market opportunity and the potential for a company to benefit from it. There must be strong indication of economic payback. High risk projects are supportable where the potential for economic benefits is commensurate with the cost.

Note: Referees can use Form 101 – Instructions for I2I applicants to see what points the applicants are requested to address in applying to any given phase of the I2I Grants.

Evaluation criteria

In assessing the merits of the proposal, please comment (as appropriate) on the criteria listed below and then clearly state your overall funding recommendation.

All applications (Phase I and Phase II) will be evaluated on the following criteria:

1. Technical merit

  • Scientific basis for the expected commercial application;
  • Clarity and focus of research objectives;
  • Novelty, technical complexity, technical risk and feasibility; and
  • Appropriateness of work plan, milestones, deliverables and decision points.

2. Team expertise and project management

  • Breadth and depth of team expertise in the proposed fields of activity;
  • Adequacy of personnel and material resources allocated for research and technology transfer activities;
  • Quality of project management; and
  • Financial management capabilities.

3. Potential for technology transfer and commercialization

  • Commitment of the university through its technology transfer office;
  • Appropriateness of the technology management and transfer plan;
  • Adequacy of the intellectual property protection; and
  • Justification of the benefits of NSERC financing.

4. Probable commercial benefits

  • Novelty of the end product and potential for success in the identified market;
  • Anticipated benefits for a Canadian company that would result from the successful completion of the work described;
  • Opportunities for education, training, or practical experience for the university or company participants;
  • Probable payback to the Canadian economy; and
  • Any other direct or indirect benefits to the Canadian company involved or to others.

5. Budget

  • Adequacy of the resources available to support the proposed work; and
  • Justification for particular items.

Please comment on other aspects as you wish, such as recommended structuring of the project and appropriate levels of support.


On the balance of its strengths and weaknesses, would you recommend funding this proposal?