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College and Community Innovation Program - Frequently Asked Questions

General questions

1. What is considered a college?
The term “college” refers to a community college, institute of technology, polytechnic school, postsecondary private college or public college (for example, Cégep).

2. Who is eligible to apply to the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program?
Only colleges declared eligible to administer grants may apply to the CCI program. Colleges must be eligible according to the eligibility requirements for colleges of at least one of the three granting agencies (i.e., Natural Sciences and Engineering Council [NSERC], the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada [SSHRC] or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR]).

It is recommended that colleges initiate the eligibility process well in advance of the competition deadline for which they wish to submit a proposal. For information on eligibility criteria, please see the This link will take you to another Web site Institutional Eligibility Requirements for the Administration of Grants and Awards .

Note: If an award is recommended for a proposal that does not have a natural sciences and engineering component, NSERC will transfer funds to either SSHRC or CIHR to enable the grant to be funded by the appropriate granting agency.

3. Who may submit a CCI application?

  • The person who prepares the application is the “applicant,” and their name must appear on the application. That person must be a senior administrator of the college, as described in College and Community Innovation Program – Important Information. The administrator or a manager must have experience in managing grants of a value equivalent to the amount for which the application is being made.
  • The person who approves the application must be an employee of the college designated by the President or Director of the college or his or her representative. Contact NSERC at least one month before submitting the grant application to obtain information on how to register the person who will approve the submission of the grant application through NSERC’s On-line System. NSERC will provide you with the Registration Form for Authorized Institutional Representatives, which is required to register the person who approves applications.  

4. How can I electronically complete my application for a grant under the College and Community Innovation program?
First-time users must register on NSERC’s On-line System before completing a grant application using the system. Forms are available on the Main Menu page of the On-line System, under Forms management > Forms > Researcher. A college may submit a grant application in either official language.

5. Are all grant types open for proposals in social sciences, humanities and health sciences?
Yes, all grants under the CCI program can be used to fund applied research projects across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and/or health. Applications must be submitted to NSERC, and all grants are funded by NSERC, with the exception of applications whose area of applied research lies exclusively in the social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences, which will be funded by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate.

6. Will NSERC’s regional offices be involved in the evaluation CCI grant proposals?
No. While applicants are welcome to discuss CCI proposals with staff in the regional offices or in Ottawa, the evaluation of CCI grants is managed by staff based at NSERC’s headquarters in Ottawa. However, the staff in the regional offices are responsible for the evaluation of Experience Awards and Connect Grants. These grants are open to colleges but do not fall under the CCI umbrella.  

7. Can a given college receive more than one CCI grant?
Yes. A college can receive multiple CCI grants. The maximum amount payable to an institution is limited to $5 million per year. Some grant types have additional restrictions. The program description for each grant type explains any such restrictions. For instance, a college is eligible for an Entry-Level Innovation Enhancement (IE) grant only once, and only if it has never held a five-year or Build IE, an Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) or a Technology Access Centre (TAC) grant.

8. What is meant by “region” or “local community”?
The region or local community that the program is intended to benefit is the community or region that the college serves. A business located in the same province as the college may also participate in CCI program activities. However, since the objective of the CCI program is to stimulate collaboration between a college and local or regional companies, the majority of CCI-funded activities should focus on collaboration at the local or regional level. In some cases, proposals may relate to a sector for which the planned activities will be national in scope. Proposals must clearly demonstrate that the scope of the project is justified and that the project can indeed be carried out.

9. Who is the authorized institutional representative and what is their role?
The authorized institutional representative (often called a research grants officer or RGO) is the individual authorized by the institution to approve and submit grant and scholarship applications to NSERC, including via our On-line System. For more information, please refer to the NSERC On-line System Overview.

10.Who should be informed if an institution’s authorized institutional representative (research grants officer) and/or RGO assistant is replaced?
When an RGO or RGO assistant leaves the position or the institution, and is replaced, the institution must inform the Council’s Helpdesk by sending an email to institution@nserc-crsng.gc.ca. The Helpdesk will then immediately deactivate the individual’s NSERC On-line System privileges. The new RGO or RGO assistant must register on the system and email the completed and signed Registration Form for Authorized Institutional Representatives to the above email address. An email should also be sent to college@nserc-crsng.gc.ca to inform the CCI program of the change. For more information, please refer to the NSERC On-line System Overview.

11. Are colleges required to request the full amount of a grant?
No. Grant types have maximum amounts, but less may be requested. In the case of grant types that require company contributions (such as IE Build and Extend, and Applied Research and Development (ARD) the contributions must remain within the proportions specified for the NSERC amount requested.

Questions about partners

1. What is a company partner?
For information on company partner eligibility, please refer to the NSERC Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships.

2. Are only companies eligible as partners?
No. A wide variety of organizations (businesses, colleges, hospitals, public utilities, and associations) can be partners, but generally, with some exceptions, only private-sector companies are considered eligible partners for leveraging cash and/or in-kind contributions. For further information, please refer to the NSERC Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships.

3. Can a non-for-profit organization be a partner in a CCI grant?
A not-for-profit organization is welcome to participate in a CCI grant project. However, since business innovation is the focus of the CCI program, proposals must involve the close participation of one or more private-sector organizations that can realize commercial value from the applied research project’s results. 

4. Can a supplier to the project be recognized as a partner?
Yes. Suppliers can make valuable contributions to projects supported by a CCI grant and can play an important role in applying and disseminating the project results. However, any contributions to the project from a supplier should be net of any financial advantage that the supplier receives from providing goods or services to the college or in connection with the project. For example, if it is anticipated that the supplier will get a $10,000 contract from the college in connection with the project, $10,000 must be deducted from the cash contribution from the supplier on Form 183A and in the letter of support. Thus, only the net cash contribution made by the supplier to the college for the project should be indicated in the proposal.

5. What constitutes a cash contribution from my college?
Cash contributions are paid by the partner (in this case the college) into an account used for paying eligible expenditures, which must be authorized by the applicant in accordance with the specific terms and conditions of the proposal. Other contributions by the college (services, equipment, facilities and materials) constitute in-kind contributions.

6. What is the definition of “small or medium-sized enterprise” (SME)?
For the purposes of the CCI program, an SME is defined as a business with fewer than 500 employees, a small enterprise being one with fewer than 100 employees and a medium-sized enterprise being one with 100 to 499 employees. Enterprises with 500 or more employees are considered large enterprises.

7. Are collaborations with large enterprises, in addition to SMEs, accepted?
Yes. The program focuses on SMEs, but the proposal may include collaboration with large enterprises as well. The CCI program focusses on SMEs in particular because often they do not have their own R&D facilities and have a greater need for assistance in developing, testing or improving new products or processes. If enterprises of varying sizes- can benefit from increased capacity at the college in the field to which the proposal relates, the college must demonstrate that it is prepared to work with SMEs as well as large enterprises.

Questions about student participation

1. Must the proposal provide for participation of students in the described activities?
Generally, yes. The application must describe how college students enrolled in a program of study at the institution will benefit from the grant, what new skills and knowledge the students will acquire, how this will be achieved and how it will benefit the community or region. The proposals will be evaluated on the quality of, and increase in, the training described in the proposal.

2. May students be paid from the grant?
Yes. College students may be paid a salary from the CCI grant to work on a project supported by the grant—for example, as a research assistant with a local enterprise—even if the project is outside their curriculum. The grant could be used to pay a student doing a co-op term in a participating company if the college regulations permit. Salary top-ups to students can be covered by either college funds and/or a partner’s cash contributions. 

3. Can university students be included in a CCI grant application and budget?
Yes, university students (currently enrolled or recent graduates) may be hired as technical or professional staff. However, they are not considered “students” on the application. In the CCI program, only college students currently enrolled in a program of study at the institution can be considered students.

Questions about eligible expenses under the CCI program

1. Can CCI grants be used to pay faculty?
No. CCI program funds cannot be used to pay salary or top-ups to full-time faculty. Faculty release costs to allow a faculty member to participate in a CCI-funded project, used to hire a replacement teacher (up to $9,000 per course release/semester/faculty) are an eligible expense, as described in the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

CCI program funds may be used to pay part-time faculty contributing to a CCI-funded project. It is expected that part-time faculty will conduct research in addition to regular responsibilities and that the total salary will not exceed that of full-time faculty.  

2. What is the duration of a paid internship for college students in a project supported by a CCI program grant?
There is no limit on the duration of a paid internship.

3. Training on advanced equipment may be more cost-effective if obtained on the supplier's premises (outside Canada). Are expenses for such training eligible under the CCI program?
Yes. Expenses for international travel to obtain training on significant and specialized equipment or processes are eligible under the CCI program. The need for travel outside of Canada must be justified in the application.

Questions about the Innovation Enhancement (IE) grants

1. What is an IE letter of intent? What is a full application?
Potential applicants for a Build Innovation Enhancement (IE) grant are requested to submit a letter of intent (LOI) to indicate interest in the program. LOIs are typically due in May (please check the IE program description for exact due dates). NSERC includes an LOI stage for IE Build grants because it usually receives many more submissions for IE grants then it is able to fund.

The IE LOI is a succinct version of the full application. In the LOI, colleges must indicate all of the planned expenditures for each year in the budget table but do not need to provide company’s contributions at this stage. NSERC will therefore accept a proposal presenting a budget that exceeds the funding limits, but will need to provide a budget justification that clearly indicates where the additional funds will come from, including expected company cash contributions.

An applicant may submit an LOI without the approval of the institutional representative of the college, since no grant is involved at this stage. The submitted LOIs are peer reviewed, and only the most highly ranked LOIs are invited to submit a full application for a second deadline, typically in the fall (please check the IE program description for exact due dates).

A full IE application involves more detail and information than an LOI, including a final budget and detailed information regarding partner contributions. The details in this application become a commitment on behalf of the applicant, and, should the grant be awarded, NSERC expects the recipients to hold to that budget and planned partner contributions.

The full application must be approved by the institutional representative (see How do I submit a full application for the IE Build grant electronically?).

There is no LOI submission process for Entry-Level or Extend IE grants; these proceed directly to the full application.

2. How do I submit a letter of intent (LOI) for the IE Build grant electronically?
An LOI submission for an IE Build grant requires submission of Form 186. The applicant (see Who may submit a CCI application? under General questions) must be designated to complete Form 186 using NSERC's On-line System. The applicant may submit an LOI directly to NSERC—there is no need for approval by an authorized institutional representative of the college (see Who may submit a CCI application? under General questions) to submit an LOI. The applicant will receive an email from NSERC confirming receipt of the LOI. If no confirming email is received, please contact NSERC program staff immediately to determine whether the LOI was received.

3. How do I submit a full application for the IE Build grant electronically?
A full application must be submitted for Entry-Level, Build or Extend IE grants. A full application for a Build IE grant may be submitted only by invitation following submission of a successful LOI. Each of the three grant types requires a specific form in NSERC’s On-line System:

  • Entry-Level IE grant
  • Build IE grant
  • Extend IE grant

The full application must be submitted by the applicant to the research grants officer (RGO) at the college for institutional approval. This individual must be delegated by the college president to represent the institution in the grant submission (see Who is the authorized institutional representative and what is their role? and Who should be informed if an institution’s authorized institutional representative (research grants officer) and/or RGO assistant is replaced? under General Questions). Once the RGO approves the application, the applicant then submits it to NSERC using NSERC’s On-line System. If this submission has been successful, the applicant will receive an email from NSERC confirming receipt of the application. If no confirming email is received, please contact NSERC program staff immediately to determine whether the application was received.

4. What if I am invited to submit a full application, but I am not successful?
If a college submits a proposal that is unsuccessful at the full application stage, the college must submit a new LOI and be invited again before being permitted to submit another application.

5. May a college apply for an Innovation Enhancement grant to support a single project in which one or more faculty members and a local business are participating?
No. The program is intended to support a portfolio of applied research projects in a particular applied research area, as well as technology and knowledge transfer/outreach activities, in order to build the college’s capacity to work with local companies in generating and/or adopting new technologies or improving existing products and processes.

6. What would be an appropriate eligible partner contribution to the total IE grant budget?
Colleges must demonstrate that their partner(s) has committed to the required cash contributions and in-kind support for the planned projects or activities. Full details for required cash and in-kind contributions for the different types of IE grants (Entry-Level, Build and Extend) are available in the program description of the College and Community Innovation Program – Innovation Enhancement Grants.

7. Will the Innovation Enhancement grants support two or more projects with local companies in different applied research areas?
No. Activities and projects described in the proposal must support innovation in one applied research area in which the college has recognized expertise and that meets the business innovation needs of the local community.

8. Are Innovation Enhancement grants renewable after the initial five-year period?
Yes. A five-year Build IE grant can be renewed once, for an additional three years, through an Extend IE grant in the same applied research area. To be eligible for an Extend IE grant, the original five-year IE grant must have been completed in good standing, or, for active IE grants, have received its fifth-year grant instalment. As well, in either case, the Extend IE grant must meet the minimum company commitment requirements. For details on minimum company commitment levels, please see Funding Level and Duration in the program description College and Community Innovation Program – Innovation Enhancement Grants.

It is anticipated that, after the completion of a five-year Build IE grant, colleges will have increased their applied research capacities, have developed strong partnerships with their regional company partners and be well positioned to sustain parts of their applied research activities. Colleges can also apply for multi-year funding through an Extend IE, ARD, Innovation Links grants, TAC or Industrial Research Chairs for Colleges (IRCC) grant in order to maintain their applied research programs.

9. Does an Extend grant have to be in the same applied research area as the prior Build Grant?
Yes. It is expected that an Extend IE grant will require similar expertise and/or serve the same industrial sector as the original Build IE grant.

10. Are five-year and Build IE grants the same?
As of the 2017 competition year, the five-year IE grants were renamed “Build” IE grants. The program description was changed to require increasing minimum levels of company contributions each year.

11. Can a college apply for an Extend IE Grant only directly after finishing the five-year Build IE Grant?
No. A college may apply for an Extend IE grant if it has received its fifth-year instalment of a five-year or Build IE grant, or if it has completed a five-year or Build IE grant in good standing. There is no time limit on the amount of time that may pass before applying for an Extend IE grant.

Questions about the Entry-Level Innovation Enhancement (IE) grant

1. What is the Entry-Level IE grant?

The Entry-Level IE grant is designed to enable colleges that have little applied research capability to build their capacity to work with local companies. The maximum value of the grant is $100,000 per year, and the maximum duration is two years. A college is eligible for an Entry-Level IE grant only once, and only if the college has never held a five-year or Build IE, Technology Access Centre, or Industrial Research Chair for Colleges grant.

For details on the Entry-Level IE grants, please see the program description, College and Community Innovation Program – Innovation Enhancement Grants.

2. How does the Entry-Level IE grant differ from the five-year Build IE grant?
Unlike the five-year Build IE grant, the Entry-Level IE grant does not require as much initial capacity for innovation support. It also requires lower company contributions than a Build IE grant, and it is only for a duration of two years. Please contact NSERC to ascertain which grant is most appropriate for your college.

3. How do I go about submitting an application for an Entry-Level IE grant electronically?
Colleges wishing to submit an application for an Entry-Level IE grant must complete Form 103, which is on the Main Menu page of the On-line System, under "Forms management > Forms > Researcher."

4. Is a college with an IE grant in one research field allowed to submit an applicationfor an Entry-Level IE grant in another research field?
No, only colleges that have never held an Innovation Enhancement, a Technology Access Centre, or an Industrial Research Chair for Colleges grant may submit an application for an Entry-Level IE grant.

5. Must a college that wishes to submit an application for an Entry-Level IE grant have been declared eligible to administer CCI funds?
Yes, see Who is eligible to apply to the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program?under General questions for more information.

6. May a college submit both an application for an Entry-Level IE grant and an application for a Build in the same competition?
Colleges are not eligible to submit an application for an Entry-Level IE grant in the same competition in which they are submitting a Build IE grant application.

7. May a college submit more than one application for an Entry-Level IE grant in the same competition?
NSERC accepts only one application for an Entry-Level IE grant per college, per competition.

8. What kind of expenses are covered by an Entry-Level IE grant?
An Entry-Level IE grant allows colleges to:

  • hire a research coordinator,
  • undertake several smaller projects with partners (minimum of three projects),
  • release faculty from teaching to participate in projects, and/or
  • engage students to participate in these projects.

For more information on eligible expenses, consult the IE grants web page and the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

Questions about Engage grants for colleges (EG for colleges)

1. What is considered an existing relationship between the college and the company partner?
An existing relationship includes:

  • a previous research collaboration with the company or any of its divisions,
  • a consulting contract in excess of $5,000 or up to three months in duration,
  • involvement on the part of a member or members of the college research team with the company, or
  • a company employee sitting on the college’s board of directors or equivalent.

2. Are recently established or small companies eligible for participation as partner?

To be considered eligible, companies need to have been in business for a minimum of two years and have a minimum of two full time employees when the application is submitted. If in doubt, colleges are encouraged to contact NSERC to verify company eligibility before submitting a proposal.

Questions about Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants

1. Can a university researcher participate in an Applied Research and Development (ARD) grant?
While university researchers are welcome to participate in the activities of an ARD-funded project, they cannot receive funds from the grant to support their participation.

2. Can colleges collaborating on an ARD project share funding?
Yes. NSERC grants are awarded to an applicant (lead college). However, participants from the other colleges can share in the project activities and use project resources. The applicant from the lead college is responsible for managing this process and reporting on the use of all grants and project funds.

3. Are ARD projects limited to SMEs?
No. While the College and Community Innovation program is focused on innovation in the local region, companies of all sizes can participate.

4. Are government labs or organizations like TRLabs, NRC and INO eligible as partners in ARD proposals?
Organization partnering in ARDs must demonstrate that they have the capacity and motivation to exploit the research results of the projects. Research organizations like those mentioned above are welcome to participate in an ARD project but are not recognized as private-sector partners.

5. Can a not-for-profit organization be an eligible partner in an ARD grant?
A not-for-profit organization is welcome to participate in an ARD project as long as it meets NSERC’s Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships. However, since the focus of the CCI program’s grants is regional innovation, proposals must involve the close participation of one or more private-sector organizations that can realize commercial value from the applied research project’s results. For an ARD grant, only the contributions from private-sector partners will be recognized (leveraged). As long as non-profit organizations can demonstrate that their source of funding is private-sector partner(s), their partnership will likely be accepted as eligible. At the same time, the non-profit organization must demonstrate that it has a clear plan to commercialize the results of the research. This usually requires that the results of the research be made available to the members of the non-profit organization. It also requires that at least one–and preferably more–of  the organization’s member companies work closely with the college researchers (usually providing in-kind salary contributions) so that the knowledge and innovations generated are transferred to companies that can commercialize the results.

6. Is there a minimum level for the amount of project funds dedicated to college student support?
Yes. For ARD grants of up to $75,000 per year, a minimum average of $4,500 in student salaries is mandatory for each year of the grant. This requirement increases to $9,000 annually for ARD grants in excess of $75,000 per year.

7. What happens after an application is approved for funding?
Following the evaluation, successful applicants will receive a communication letting them know that their project was approved for funding and a start date will be requested. Once a project start date is provided, a letter of award will be produced and communicated to the college, and grant payments will begin. Effective April 2018, new applications will no longer be required to submit a copy of the signed research agreement(s) to NSERC for review. Colleges are strongly encouraged to develop and sign an agreement with each private-sector partner on the ownership and disposition of IP arising from the funded applied research before initiating any activities. Projects funded through the CCI program remain subject to the CCI IP policy.

Questions about Applied Research Tools and Instruments (ARTI) grants

1. Can an ARTI grant include costs for the technical staff to maintain and/or operate the equipment?
No. Maintenance of the equipment is the responsibility of the college. However, extended maintenance contracts and an extended warranty purchased with the equipment are an eligible expense for ARTI grants. Operating costs for the use of equipment can also be included in other types of CCI grants.

2. Are the costs of modifying laboratories and/or buildings to accommodate equipment eligible for ARTI grants?
No. The costs of the construction, renovation or rental of laboratories or supporting facilities (furniture and consumables) are not eligible unless such changes are required to meet regulatory requirements. These are the responsibility of the college. The installation costs of the equipment itself, not the construction or renovation of the space, are an eligible expense.

3. Are staff training costs eligible?
Yes, but only for the purposes of training staff on the use of equipment purchased through the ARTI grant funds.

4. Are staff travel costs eligible?
Travel costs are eligible only in certain cases when provided with strong justification in the application. Travel costs may be eligible if it is required by college personnel to commission the equipment. Travel for training on the equipment purchased through the ARTI grant is also eligible. The need for travel outside of Canada must be justified in the application.

5. Is the applicant’s CV required?
No, for the ARTI grant, the applicant’s College Personal Data Form (F103CV) is not required. Only major (frequent) users should be listed as participants up to a maximum of five. Additional faculty and researchers who will be key users of the proposed equipment can be described within the grant text. Note that additional Form 103CVs, in excess of the five permitted, and biographies for non-participants will be removed from the application and not provided to the evaluation committee.

Participants are invited to provide a complete College Personal Data Form (Form 103CV part I and part II) including a current signed copy of the Consent to Disclosure of Personal Information Form to the applicant. For more information on the F103CV, consult the instructions.

6. What are contingency fees?
Additional funds in the budget set aside to cover price fluctuations of the proposed equipment or changes in exchange rate. These are not an eligible expense for ARTI grants.

7. What information should be included in the letter(s) of support?
The letter(s) of support should clearly describe how having access to this equipment will help the company with their innovation goals, and lead to increased competitiveness and profitability. The letter(s) must be on company letterhead, signed, and should be original, compelling, and specific to the company, demonstrating the need for the equipment as well as its impact on current or potential projects. The letter(s) must also confirm the cash contributions towards the purchase of the equipment, if applicable.

Questions about Technology Access Centre (TAC) grants

1. How should a college present a TAC grant proposal?
As described in the TAC grant proposal instructions, an application for a TAC grant should be described like a business plan. The applicants need to identify an important gap or opportunity in the innovation landscape, demonstrate its capabilities for addressing the opportunities, and demonstrate a solid approach and management plan for the proposed centre. The proposal should describe the anticipated impact the centre will have on innovation by companies in the community.

2. Can an existing capability form the basis of a TAC grant proposal?
Yes. TACs are intended to build off the existing strengths of the colleges. Thus, a demonstrated track record in successfully providing innovation services to SMEs will be seen as a strength in a proposal. Note that each proposal must demonstrate the incremental benefit to be realized by the TAC funding.

3. If a college already holds an Innovation Enhancement grant, is it a good idea to submit a TAC grant proposal in the same area?
Technology Access Centres are anticipated to build on an area of demonstrated strength for the college. Innovation Enhancement grants are intended to allow the college to build and/or demonstrate capabilities in an area and may help colleges prepare for a TAC.

4. Our college has developed some very promising technology. Would a TAC grant be an appropriate vehicle for commercializing this technology?
No. TAC grants are aimed at providing innovation and applied research services to companies. They are expected to be focused on, and responsive to, business needs.

5. Can TAC grant funds be used to pay project costs?
TAC grant funds are anticipated to support the core operations of the centre (administrative, management and marketing personnel). Some limited costs can be used to support people and expenses associated with coordinating innovation and applied research with SMEs.

6. What about provinces that already have established centres?
NSERC is working to ensure that TAC grants are complementary to existing support for college-based centres. For example, Quebec has a network of College Centres for Technology Transfer (CCTTs) that receive base funding from the province. Rather than offering funding for an additional TAC in Quebec, proposals from Quebec should be for incremental funding to existing CCTTs that address opportunities for increased impact. This might be an additional business development position, a technical project manager or a scientific lead. In these cases, grants of up to $100,000 per year are possible.

7. Will NSERC look at the sectorial representation of the funded projects?
No. All CCI grants (including TACs) can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, humanities and health. NSERC anticipates that the awards will align with priority areas in the regions where they are proposed.

8. How are TAC grants different than Innovation Enhancement grants?
The following table summarizes the key difference between Innovation Enhancement and TAC grants.

Aspect Innovation Enhancement grants Technology Access Centres
Focus Enhance applied R&D capacity at the college for enhanced training Provide innovation support services to companies, including small applied research projects
Technical capability level of the applying college (in the area of the proposal) Developing Established
Level of partner interactions Developing Established
Key proposal elements Strategy, projects, budget Business plan: market, capacity, business approaches, management plan
Grant supports (typical expenses) Projects, equipment, faculty release, students, overhead Manager, administrator, business development, business operating costs
Management oversight College, mid-term review Board of directors / advisory board, mid-term review
Renewable Yes once as an Extend IE grant Yes
Faculty and student participation Yes expected. Typically as employees of the centre

 

Questions about Innovation Links (formerly the College-University Idea to Innovation (CU-I2I)) grants

1. What is the matching ratio of company partner contributions?
The eligible company partner(s) contribution(s) must be at least equal to the amount requested from NSERC, in cash and/or in-kind—of which at least one third must be in cash. For example, for a request of $120,000 from the college participants and $120,000 from the university participants the company partner(s) total contribution(s) must be at least $240,000, of which a minimum of $80,000 must be in cash. The award amounts to the institutions do not have to be equal and the distribution of funds may vary from year to year. The maximum grant for each participant, college or university, is each $125,000 per year.

2. Can there be multiple colleges, universities and company partners involved?
Yes, multiple colleges, universities and company partners can be involved. The combination of all participating colleges will be considered “the college partner,” and the combination of all participating universities will be considered “the university partner.” The funds to be transferred to each of these “partner” groups as a whole cannot exceed the matching ratio based on the contributions from the eligible company partner(s).

3. Does the contribution from the company partner have to include cash, or can it be in-kind only?
The company partner contributions must include cash. The contributions can be a combination of cash and/or in-kind towards the direct costs of research where, at least one third of the contributions must be in cash.

4. What are eligible in-kind contributions?
For a description of eligible in-kind contributions and their value, consult the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships. Note that there is a maximum value placed on certain contribution categories (e.g., hourly salary rates).

5. What is the allowable amount for overhead and administrative costs?
The college and university are expected to provide for, or contribute to, the indirect or overhead costs, such as basic utilities, the costs associated with managing and operating facilities, the purchase and repair of office equipment, administration fees and telephones. Since the funding received through the CCI program is not eligible for the research support fund, colleges and universities may request funds for overhead and administration costs attributable to the project, but not for general overhead and administration costs of the college or university as a whole. The maximum allowable percentage for overhead and administrative costs will not exceed 20% of the total grant amount for both colleges and universities.

6. What is the evaluation process?
The Innovation Links grant is an open competition, i.e., colleges and universities are invited to submit their applications at any time throughout the year. The applications will be screened for completeness and fit to program before being sent out for evaluation to external subject matter experts. Once the external evaluations have been received, a recommendation to the Director is prepared by NSERC staff. Following the Director approval of the recommendation, results are communicated to the college and university. The process typically takes three to five months.

7. Is a research agreement required?
Effective April 2018, colleges and universities will no longer be required to submit a copy of a signed research agreement(s) to NSERC for review. Colleges and universities are strongly encouraged to develop and sign an agreement with each private-sector partner on the ownership and disposition of IP arising from the funded applied research before initiating any activities. Projects funded through the CCI program remain subject to the NSERC IP policy.

Questions about Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) grants

1. Must the proposed Chair be based on a new initiative?
No. The proposed Chair may be in an area where a significant amount of expertise and experience has already been developed at the college. In all cases, the application must describe how the proposed activities will augment current activities at the college and the benefit to regional companies.

Note: Colleges are limited to one IRCC grant not requiring company cash contributions per distinct applied research area. Applications that overlap with the broad applied research area of an existing or prior IRCC grant will require the same cash contributions as a second term Chair from their supporting company partners.

2. Does the Chairholder’s time have to be fully committed to the activities of the Chair?
The percentage of time spent by the Chairholder on Chair-related activities must be 80%, at a minimum. NSERC will only cover the Chairholder’s salary up to the percentage of time spent on Chair-related activities, which means that the salary for any time spent on non-Chair-related activities (such as teaching time) will not be covered by the IRCC grant. Note that a grant may be withdrawn in cases where the Chairholder cannot meet the commitments of the Chair.

3. Does the Chairholder have to be an employee of the college?
A proposed Chair candidate does not have to be an employee of the college at the time of application. To hold a Chair, the Chairholder must be hired as an employee of the college. If the application is successful, the institution has three months to confirm that the proposed Chair candidate has accepted the position of Chairholder; the Chairholder must take up the position within six months of the award date.

4. If the Chairholder chooses to vacate the position, can a different individual be named Chairholder in his/her place?
The IRCC grant is non-transferable. If a Chairholder gives up the position for any reason, the award will be withdrawn. The institution will not be given an opportunity to propose a replacement Chairholder.

5. If the Chairholder moves to another institution, will the Chair move with him/her?
The IRCC grant is non-transferable. If a Chairholder moves to another institution, the award will be withdrawn.

6. Are cash contributions from partners required?
IRCC grants are leveraged, meaning that partner contributions equal to the IRCC grant must be secured over the term of the grant. For the first five-year term, cash contributions are not required. However, during evaluation the CCI Review Committee considers whether partner contributions committed are reasonable, taking into consideration the company’s size and worth, and what they will gain from the partnership. Cash contributions are required for the second and subsequent terms.

For a second term (Chair renewal), cash contributions are required to be half of the total IRCC grant amount.

For subsequent terms, cash contributions are required to be equal to the total IRCC grant amount.

7. Can institutions such as universities, colleges and government agencies be partners?
No. Post-secondary institutions, government agencies and technology transfer centres associated with them are not considered eligible partners. They are eligible as collaborators, and their participation may be invaluable to the activities of the Chair. However, their contributions (whether cash or in-kind) do not count towards the leveraged contributions from eligible partners that must be secured during the term of the grant.

8. What are eligible in-kind contributions?
For a description of eligible in-kind contributions and their value, consult the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships. Note that there is a maximum value placed on certain contributions.

9. What expenses are covered by IRCC grants?
For a full description of eligible expenses for CCI program grants, consult the College and Community Innovation Program Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide – Use of Grant Funds. The following exceptions apply to IRCC grants:

  • The Chairholder’s salary and direct benefits are eligible expenses. Note that any increases in the Chairholder salary cannot be paid with the IRCC grant but must be paid by the college.
  • Certain expenditures related to project management are eligible as a direct cost of research up to a maximum of 10% of the total direct costs.

10. Can a college hold more than one IRCC?
Yes, but colleges are limited to one first-term IRCC grant per distinct applied research area. A first-term application must clearly demonstrate that it does not fall within the broad applied research area or targeted industry sectors of a prior IRCC grant. Applications that overlap with the broad applied research area or the targeted industry sectors of an existing or prior IRCC grant will require the same cash contributions as a second term Chair from their supporting company partners.

11. Is it possible to renew my IRCC?
IRCC Chairs are renewable. Please consult the program description and instructions on the steps required to renew the Chair.

12. Is it possible to have a co-Chair?
IRCC co-Chairing is not permitted for either new or renewal IRCC grant applications.