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A planned outage affecting this website and several other NSERC and SSHRC (including TIPS) websites and granting portals will take place from Friday, June 28, 2024, at 4 p.m., until Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 8 a.m. (ET). For more details, visit NSERC or SSHRC/TIPS dedicated webpages.

On January 16, 2024, the Government of Canada published its Policy on Sensitive Technology Research and Affiliations of Concern. This new policy does not apply to the current competition of this funding opportunity; the policy will apply to I2I grant applications that are submitted for the September 16, 2024, deadline. According to the policy, grant applications that involve conducting research that aims to advance a sensitive technology research area will not be funded if any of the researchers involved in activities supported by the grant are currently affiliated with, or in receipt of funding or in-kind support from, a named research organization. Please read the Tri-agency guidance on the STRAC Policy to understand how this policy may impact your future grant applications.

Idea to Innovation grants

Duration Market assessment: up to one year
Phase I: up to one year
Phase IIa: from 6 to 18 months
Phase IIb: up to two years
Application deadlines January 8, 2024
April 2, 2024
June 25, 2024 (cancelled)
September 16, 2024
How to apply See below
Application forms Form 100 – Personal data form
Form 101 – Application for a grant
Form 183A – Information required from organizations
participating in research partnerships programs (phase II only)

To create or access online applications, log in to the This link will take you to another Web site online system. To view instructions, see the PDF forms and instructions web page.
For more information Consult the contact list.


The objective of Idea to Innovation (I2I) grants is to accelerate the pre-competitive development of promising technology originating from the university and college sector, and to promote its transfer to a new or established Canadian company. I2I grants provide funding to college and university faculty members to support research and development projects with recognized technology transfer potential. This is achieved through defined phases by providing crucial assistance in the early stages of technology validation and market connection.


There are four distinct funding options, characterized by the maturity of the technology or the involvement of an early stage investment entity or industrial partner (see Partner eligibility for definitions). In the market assessment, NSERC will share costs of an independent and professional market study with the institutions (including the industry liaison office [ILO] or its equivalent). In phase I, the direct costs of research will be entirely supported by NSERC; in phase II, they will be shared with a private-sector partner (company). The technology development may begin with a phase I project (reduction-to-practice stage), followed by a phase II project (technology enhancement); or, if the development is at a later stage, it can start directly with a phase II project. In any case, the combination of phase I and phase II will be limited to a maximum of three years of funding for any given project, and to one grant per phase for the same technology or intellectual property (IP).

Eligible research and development activities include:

  • refining and implementing designs
  • verifying application
  • conducting field studies
  • preparing demonstrations
  • building prototypes
  • performing beta trials

Certain expenditures related to project management are eligible as a direct cost of research in phase IIb projects, up to a maximum of 10% of the total direct costs (see the Guidelines for research partnerships programs project management expenses for more details).

I2I grants can cover the salary of replacement faculty hired to backfill a college faculty member's1 involvement in an applied research project, as well as expenditures for recruitment-related activities.

Discoveries must be disclosed by the investigators according to institution policy, and the IP must be managed by the ILO or its equivalent. The ILO must work on each new proposal (see below). To comply with I2I program requirements, which include matching cash contributions, IP protection, market promotion, etc., IP rights should be assigned to the institution/ILO. The ILO will be in a position to fulfill its commercialization mandate. If you have difficulties finding the ILO at your institution, please contact the I2I staff.

For all phases except the market assessment, the projects must describe the strategy to protect the commercial value of the technology and relate it to the commercialization strategy. Projects should demonstrate how the IP strategy and execution will contribute to the technology transfer or future business the technology may support. For more information on developing an IP strategy, consider the following resources:

  • The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) massive open online course, This link will take you to another Web site Foundations of IP Strategy outlines the basic principles relating to the protection and strategic uses of intellectual property for competitive advantage.
  • The Canadian Intellectual Patent Office (CIPO) offers This link will take you to another Web site IP for Business advice via its IP Advisors.
  • The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), in partnership with CIPO offers a free This link will take you to another Web site IP assessment tool
  • The This link will take you to another Web site IP Handbook offers several detailed chapters and sub-chapters on topics that may be relevant to your IP strategy.
  • The This link will take you to another Web site Innovation Asset Collective (IAC), Canada’s first patent collective program, is focused on assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises in data-driven cleantech to better leverage IP as they grow and scale; IAC is committed to Canadian innovation and supported by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

All proposals must include a technology transfer plan, appropriate to the maturity of the technology, that describes how the work will proceed through the next stages in the validation process up to eventual market entry. The ILO or its equivalent works with the applicant(s) in evaluating and protecting the new technology, service or process; developing proposals; preparing a technology transfer approach; making business contacts; and negotiating licensing or other such arrangements with potential partners. A portion of the award may be used to  co-support  some of the activities undertaken by the ILO or its equivalent.

Eligible technology transfer activities include:

  • consulting fees to develop the strategy to protect the technology’s commercial value
  • market investigations
  • consulting fees for business plan, market survey, etc.
  • business mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs
  • sharing of patenting expenses
  • expenses associated with creating a partnership (such as travel, etc.)

The institution must justify these expenses for technology transfer activities and commit to covering at least half of their cost.  NSERC may provide support up to a maximum of 10% of the total requested amount (i.e., the NSERC contribution will be no more than $12,500 for a $125,000 requested budget). Staff activities are not considered an eligible expense and cannot be used to leverage NSERC funds. Technology transfer expenses related to the proposed technology and incurred previously will not be considered in the cost-sharing of proposed activities.

Market assessment

Market assessment projects are designed to enable institutions to conduct a market study for a product, process or technology they plan to develop. Understanding market potential is crucial when developing a new technology. The market assessment funding option is a tool to help gain impartial market opportunity information and validate important business elements before embarking on the development process for a technology. It can be used to better position a proposed technology in an I2I application (providing the reviewers with a better understanding of the market for a given technology) or to identify the appropriate NSERC program.

The market assessment should precede a phase I proposal, if the applicant and ILO or its equivalent have not yet developed an understanding of the potential market. In certain instances, such as the development of a platform technology, requests for a market assessment can be submitted as a stand-alone proposal at the same time as a phase I application.

The market assessment should objectively establish the size of addressable market segments and present a clear portrait of the competitive landscape.

The market assessment should focus on This link will take you to another Web site primary research used to enter into a discussion with potential customers and/or partners (identified with the researcher and ILO) to flesh out their thoughts about the new technology.  Essential questions such as the following can be addressed:

  • What would be the specific features a potential customer would need?
  • How is the technology substantially different and better than existing solutions?
  • What do potential customers currently pay to meet the same need?
  • Would they buy the technology?
  • What is the approximate number they might need?
  • What is the estimated value of the technology for the customers?
  • What barriers exists?
  • Why will customers choose the proposed solutions?

Applicants may wish to consider other relevant questions and outline these in the proposal.

The application should demonstrate what approach, activities and tools (i.e., interviews, surveys, SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats] analysis, PEST [political, economic, social and technological]) are planned to address these questions. These studies are to be conducted by an experienced professional such as an outside consulting firm. An offer of service from the consultant listing the scope, deliverables and other relevant elements is required. NSERC will co-support up to 75% of the costs of the project contracted out to a consultant, with the institution providing the balance in cash. (Note that a person employed part-time or full-time at an ILO or its equivalent cannot act as an external consultant on an I2I market assessment project). Funding is available for up to 12 months, with a maximum contribution from NSERC of $15,000.

In a pilot opportunity, NSERC is partnering with the This link will take you to another Web site Lab2Market program to offer teams (researcher and student, supported by their ILO) the chance to assess the commercial potential for their technology. The program is based on successful initiatives elsewhere in the world and consists of a 16-week program to help researchers validate their ideas with the purpose of finding business/commercial value. Funding is available for up to 12 months, with a maximum contribution from NSERC of $20,000, of which $5,000 will be used to pay the Lab2Market consultants, $10,000 will be paid to the Entrepreneurial Lead (student) as a stipend, and $5,000 will be held by the principal investigator for program-related expenses (e.g., travel, mentoring, consultation, etc.). NSERC will assume 100% of the costs of the program, and the grant is non-renewable.

A round of L2M-NSERC grants will be offered for applications submitted to the January 8, 2024 deadline. Note that the L2M in-take deadline will be December 1, 2023. Contact your local ILO (mandatory) and consult the Lab2Market application guide to prepare an application. Should your application be selected, you will be advised to proceed with the I2I application using the NSERC online system.

Phase I: reduction-to-practice stage

Phase I reduction-to-practice projects are designed to advance promising technologies in order to attract early stage investment and/or to build valuable intellectual property (e.g., strengthening the commercial value of the technology, broadening patent claims or strengthening licensing opportunities) in anticipation of transferring the technology to a new or established company.

One of the main reasons why phase I proposals are rejected is that the technology is at too early a stage to be eligible for the I2I grants. Phase I proposals must be based on strong scientific evidence and present the following elements:

  • The technology must be sufficiently mature. 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. This represents at least technology readiness level (TRL) 4.
  • There must be a clearly identified and well-described potential market. Meaningful letters of support from potential receptors, end-users/clients and industrial value-chain players may be very useful.
  • The content of the technology transfer section should address the essential questions asked through the market assessment portion.
  • Involvement of experienced business mentors is recommended when the team is planning to spin off a new company.

A company may be involved as a testbed for the technology (i.e., potential client). However, when a collaborating company is the intended receptor for the technology (i.e., the company that will market the end-product), the cost of the project should be shared with this partner and the application submitted as a phase IIb proposal.

Funding is available for up to 12 months, to a maximum of $125,000, and is non-renewable. NSERC will assume 100% of the direct costs of research for phase I projects.

Each project is expected to have “go/no-go” decision points, representing the achievement of predefined scientific or engineering milestones through out the project and at the end of the phase I, when either seed funding will be provided by an early stage investment entity or the technology will be further developed with an established or start-up company.

All phase I proposals require a plan describing how a partnership will be established with a Canadian company that has the capacity to commercialize the research results. Although a business partner is not required for phase I applications, a demonstration of interest may strengthen the proposal. Technologies implicitly or explicitly committed to a specific receptor organization or industrial partner have to be submitted as phase II applications. This may not apply if the intention is to create a spin-off company.

NSERC offers an I2I phase Ib supplement. This funding of up to $60,000 for six months can be made available for successfully completed phase I projects with high promise to secure an investor or a licensing company. ILOs or their equivalent should contact NSERC staff for more information .

NSERC is partnering with the Lab2Market program to offer a new business mentoring opportunity to the researchers and their team as part of the I2I Phase I funding option. The main objective of this opportunity is to fill some of the gaps experienced by the research teams in their technology transfer journey. Through structured and unstructured programming, the teams will have the chance to experience what reduction to practice really means when it comes to commercialization (details on the programming can be found on the This link will take you to another Web site Lab2Market Build program page). The interested teams (represented by at least one member and supported by their ILO) are invited to include the This link will take you to another Web site Lab2Market Build program in their technology transfer budget items (matching not required) and budget justification. This twelve-month “deep tech commercialization mentoring” program will supplement the technology development part of the Phase I project with activities such as: product development plan coaching and workshops on "having the right commercialization mindset", market learnings, funds raising preparation, and integration with local ecosystem.

Funding is available to support up to 10 teams for 12 months, with a supplement from NSERC of $30,000; from this supplement, $18,000 will be used to pay the This link will take you to another Web site Lab2Market Build program participation, and $12,000 will be held by the principal investigator for program-related travel expenses.

Teams need to apply by September 18, 2023. Support from your local ILO is mandatory. You can consult the This link will take you to another Web site L2M Build description and information package to learn more about the content. Required information on how to apply is included in the I2I instructions.

Phase II: technology enhancement

Phase II projects are designed to provide scientific or engineering evidence that establishes the technical feasibility and market definition of the technology, process or product. Phase II projects require an early stage investment entity (phase IIa) or a company (phase IIb) to share the costs of the project. The supporting organization is expected to participate actively in planning the project. The proposals fall into two categories according to the partner involved, as described below.

Phase IIa: early stage investment partner

Proposals with an early stage investment entity must be designed with a “go/no-go” decision point after 6 to 18 months, which represents the achievement of a predefined scientific or engineering milestone that justifies moving forward by further developing the technology either through a new (i.e., start-up) or established company. NSERC can support up to two-thirds of the costs of the project, with the early stage investment entity providing the balance in cash. Funding requested from NSERC should not exceed an average of $125,000 per year.

  • The partnering firm must lead the preparation of the technology transfer plan and contribute at least a third of the funds required for the project.
  • The collaborator should have the financial strength to carry the project into phase IIb or directly to market. If this seed funding will support a spinoff or entrepreneurial start-up, the financial standing of the firm will be closely scrutinized in the evaluation.
  • The technology transfer terms must be disclosed.
  • The science must be substantiated to the point that its end-product is easily identifiable.
  • Thorough market research is required, and potential buyers/markets must be specified. Meaningful letters of support from potential receptors, end users/clients and industrial value-chain players are very useful.
  • Well-justified budgets are required, and indications of future financial requirements, as well as the plan to secure these funds, should be provided.
  • Involvement of experienced business mentors is required when the team is planning to spin off a new company.

Projects that achieve critical milestones may be pursued for another 6- to 24-month period with either the newly created company or an established Canadian company, provided the cost-sharing arrangements for phase IIb projects are met.

Phase IIb: partnership with a Canadian company

Most of the requirements for phase IIa listed above also apply to phase IIb applications. As well, if the development of the technology was supported by a previous I2I phase, proof that the objectives of the earlier project were achieved must be provided, specifically

  • the “prototype” must already be in existence
  • a strong business plan is required
  • involvement of experienced business mentors is required when the team is planning to spin off a new company
  • the receptor capacity to manufacture, distribute, license, etc. must be substantiated
  • adequate budgets are required to show that the product will be at the marketing/manufacturing stage at the end of the phase IIb grant
  • the “in-kind” contributions should be fully justified, as they will be carefully scrutinized

Phase IIb proposals with a Canadian company are expected to be completed within two years, and funding requested should not exceed $350,000 for the duration of the project. NSERC may fund up to half the cost of the project, with the company providing the other half through a combination of cash and in-kind contributions. Each case will be evaluated on its merits; however, the cash component should equal at least 40% of the amount requested from NSERC.

The industrial partner must have, or be able to acquire by the end of the project, the technical capability to undertake any further development necessary to take the product or process to market. The company receiving the technology should be prepared to carry out a market study, product/process development, engineering, and sales and marketing planning required to establish that a technology is viable, and to enter the market successfully.

The ILO or its equivalent is expected to work with the applicant(s) and the partner in developing proposals and negotiating licensing or other such arrangements.

Summary of application requirements by phase
  Market assessment Phase I Phase Ib Phase IIa Phase IIb
Form 100 required Principal applicant only Principal applicant and co-applicants
Duration (non-renewable) Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 6 months 6 to 18 months Up to 24 months
Maximum amount requested from NSERC (% of project costs) $15,000
Technology transfer activities: additional funds needed from ILO or its equivalent $5,000
Half the cost supported by NSERC up to a maximum of 10% of the award. Institution or partner must cover the other half.
Additional funds needed from partner (cost/risk sharing) N/A N/A N/A $62,500
50% of direct costs through in-kind and at least 40% cash

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion .

For more information, consult the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research .

How to apply

See the application instructions for I2I grants for more information about application forms and guidelines.

Applications are submitted by a college or university researcher (or research group) and, for phase II projects, in association with an eligible partner. In the latter case, the institution and early stage investment partner or company should have in place, before applying, a licensing (or similar) agreement on the right to exploit the invention or discovery. All new proposals are expected to be developed in close collaboration with the institution's ILO or its equivalent. The ILO or its equivalent involved in the application must be identified at the beginning of the technology transfer section of the proposal .

NSERC staff is willing to review draft proposals submitted sufficiently in advance of the application deadline.


Since I2I projects are focused on the rapid realization of well-defined objectives, all budget items must be for costs directly related to achieving these objectives. Therefore, any request for expenses such as publications, attendance or travel to conferences are not expected in the budget. If some activities are deemed necessary, they must be justified according to the objectives.


Since projects submitted for I2I grants are clearly time-limited and for applied work, they may not be appropriate for graduate students. Personnel should be chosen in view of their ability to deliver on the objectives.

Review procedures

Market assessment applications are reviewed by NSERC staff. For the Lab2Market pilot program, a two-step assessment will be used to select the teams; it will include an evaluation against the selection criteria (below) and an interview by the Lab2Market program staff. If you submit a proposal under the Lab2Market pilot, you agree that information contained in your proposal may be shared between NSERC and Lab2Market.

All phase I and II proposals are reviewed by the I2I selection committee with input from external reviewers, as required. The selection committee is composed of individuals with expertise in business areas such as academic and industrial project management, early stage investing, marketing, and technology transfer. External reviewers are chosen for their scientific/technical knowledge or practical experience in the research field.

Selection criteria

Phase I and phase II applications will be evaluated against the following criteria. Note that the selection committee will use a subset of the selection criteria, plus additional ones specifically related to market assessment, to review the market assessment applications.

  • Scientific/technical merit
    • Scientific basis for the expected commercial application
    • Clarity and focus of research objectives
    • Novelty, technical complexity, technical risk and feasibility
    • Appropriateness of work plan, milestones, deliverables and decision points
  • Team expertise and project management
    • Breadth and depth of team expertise in the proposed fields of activity
    • Business experience or available support
    • Adequacy of personnel and material resources allocated for research and technology transfer activities
    • Quality of project management
  • Potential for technology transfer and commercial benefits
    • Commitment of the institution through its technology transfer office (or equivalent)
    • Appropriateness of the technology management and transfer plan
    • Anticipated benefits for a Canadian company
    • Justification of the benefits of NSERC financing
  • Market assessment
    • Signs of market interest
    • Relevant essential questions have been incorporated into the market analysis
    • Appropriateness of the consultant and statement of work
    • Suitability of the proposed primary research

Criteria specific to each phase are detailed further in the Instructions for completing an application – form 101 .

Partner eligibility

NSERC will evaluate the eligibility of sponsors before accepting proposals for review. The following organizations may be considered as eligible partners:

Early stage investment group: This term refers to either venture capital, a seed capital funding entity, angel investors, university technology transfer corporations, incubators, or other similar funding or technology transfer organizations. Organizations that have received public funds as seed funding, but are functioning in a competitive environment and are required to achieve self-sufficiency within a pre-determined time period, may be considered as equivalent to industry.

Companies: Normally, participating companies must be Canadian. Companies outside Canada may also be considered as partners provided they can demonstrate that there will be clear and direct benefits to the Canadian economy as a result of their participation. As partners, companies must demonstrate that they have, or have the potential to acquire, the capability to commercialize the technology under development.

Researcher-owned companies: Situations in which the researcher is a part owner are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the company’s stage of development will be taken into consideration in determining eligibility. The commercial activity must conform to the institution’s established policies relating to the disclosure of commercial interest and conflict of interest.


A report to assess the practical and financial outcomes of funded projects will be required at the end of all projects. The report requires the input of the technology transfer office. For market assessment projects, NSERC will request a copy of the market assessment prepared by the consultant or as part of the Lab2Market program. NSERC is aware that market studies may contain proprietary and confidential information. Documents submitted to NSERC become subject to the  Access to Information Act . If an Access to Information request for a market assessment is received, the applicant/institution will be consulted and given the opportunity to make representations, in accordance with section 20(1) of the Act. Financial, commercial, scientific and technical information that is supplied to NSERC by a third party (consultant) on a confidential basis and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party can be protected.

For phase II projects, the amount of the second instalment is negotiable. Consequently, the applicant(s) must provide an interim report as well as statements of actual expenditures and of anticipated future costs. Based on the results obtained or problems encountered, grantees may propose amendments to the project objectives, milestones or budget. The next instalment will not be released until the partner has confirmed that it has met its current year’s commitment and that it intends to support the project in the next year.


An applicant wishing to resubmit a project that was previously rejected must contact NSERC staff to discuss the matter. The final recommendation is made to NSERC by the selection committee. Since the selection committee considers not only the technical merit of a project, but also its soundness from a business perspective, the committee’s recommendations may not be consistent with the opinions expressed by external reviewers. The main reasons for rejection of a project are provided in the decision letter and must be adequately addressed before a project is sent to the selection committee for re-evaluation. If a project is considered to be at a stage that is too early, a resubmission is not possible unless significant technical progress has been achieved. A cover letter documenting improvements to the application will be required.


1: To promote and increase collaborations between universities and colleges, funds for course load reduction are necessary for college professors to be able to allocate time for research, which is not currently possible due to mandated emphasis on teaching. Those funds would cover the salary of replacement faculty members hired to backfill a college faculty member’s involvement in a research project. As such, these funds make space for and allows colleges to contribute to university-level Canadian research, by offering their diverse and substantive knowledge when appropriate and necessary. This will strengthen the links between colleges and universities and will maximize the contributions of multidisciplinary and multisectoral research across the ecosystem.