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Technology Access Centre grants – Instructions for completing an application

Table of contents

General information

About the program

Please read the program description before completing your application. Only colleges invited to apply for a new Technology Access Center (TAC) grant (following their letter of intent) or colleges that already have a TAC grant that is up for renewal can submit an application. Existing TACs that are hoping to renew their grant for an additional five-year term must complete a renewal progress report and submit it along with their application (see instructions below).

Who completes the application?

Information from the following individuals is required to complete the application in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal.

Primary applicant: Like all grants under the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, TAC grants are awarded to the institution, rather than to an individual. Consequently, the applicant is typically a senior manager in the college administration who is delegated by the college president to create, prepare and complete the application with all required documentation. The applicant must be distinct from the college's research grants officer.

Participants: Participants are typically faculty or professional/technical staff from the college and/or from another CCI-eligible college who will contribute to the research activities.

Contributors (optional): Contributors can edit the sections of the application and typically help the applicant complete the application and other supporting documents, but they do not contribute to the centre's activities.

Collaborators (optional): Collaborators are members of the research team not affiliated with the college (e.g., partner staff, university faculty) who bring their own resources to the collaboration and do not have access to the grant funds. These collaborators are expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project.

Who approves and submits the application?

The research grants officer (RGO) is the designated institutional liaison officer. They approve and submit the grant application to the appropriate agency on behalf of the college.

Whom should I contact if I need help?

Collection and use of personal information

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act and stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings. Details on the use and disclosure of this information are described on the Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC section, in the NSERC program literature and below. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Application deadline

Your application must be received at NSERC by January 19, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Once submitted, the application is final and cannot be edited. You may not send material or updates separately before or after the deadline date.

Create your application

As the applicant, you must create, prepare and complete your application using the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. The Portal is supported on the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

Follow the instructions provided in the Convergence Portal to complete your application. Most of the instructions you will need are provided on the Portal. However, additional details on the information needed to complete an application are outlined below.

Steps

  • Sign in to the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. If you have an account on NSERC's Research Portal, please use your existing account credentials.
  • Select the Funding Opportunities tab.
  • Locate the Technology Access Centres grants, Application in the list of opportunities and click Create Application.
  • Complete steps 1 to 5, and accept the Terms and conditions for applying.

When completing your profile in the Convergence Portal, you do not need to complete the funding or interruptions and personnel circumstances sections, as these sections are not captured in the application and CV details, and they are not used in the assessment of applications.

If you have previously completed your profile in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal or if you have added information to another application in the portal, some fields may be pre-populated. You will be asked to review each page and update information previously provided, if required.

You must complete the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) self-identification form to apply for NSERC funding. However, you may select "Prefer not to answer" for any or all questions. NSERC appreciates your participation, which supports the granting agencies in monitoring the equity of their programs and strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research enterprise.

The self-identification information is collected as part of your user profile when you register in the This link will take you to another Web site Portal. It is not part of your application and is not accessible to, or shared with, external reviewers and/or review committee members.

Complete your application

Once you have completed these steps, the application will be accessible from the Application tab. Select Application to edit the application.

My information section

You must complete the My information section of the application, including the CV education, CV affiliation and employment, and CV documents. Once these sections are completed, you may verify and submit your information in the Finalize section.

CV education: If you are completing the My Information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current education, if applicable, by selecting Add New Education. If you have previously completed these sections for another funding opportunity or if you have completed your profile, you may add education by selecting Associate Education.

CV affiliation and employment: If you are completing the My Information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current affiliations by selecting Add New Affiliation. If you have previously completed these sections for another funding opportunity or if you have completed your profile, you may add affiliations by selecting Associate Affiliation.

CV documents (PDF attachment): As the applicant, you must attach only the Contributions document. This free-form text document is limited to five pages, which should be used to list relevant experience and contributions to applied research and innovation in natural sciences, health and social sciences, including contributions to training. Ensure your name appears outside the set margins of the page, et the top right corner of each page.

Shared information section

Application details

Depending on whether you are applying for a new TAC grant or are renewing an existing TAC grant, provide the name of the proposed or current Technology Access Centre — do not include other organization names or the full name of the college. The main body of your application should be written in either English or French, rather than in a mix of both official languages.

Invitations

Click on Invite Participant to invite participants and contributors (optional) to access the application. A maximum of 10 participants, excluding the applicant and contributors, can be invited for TAC grants. Collaborators are not invited; they are listed in the Collaborators section.

Participants

This section lists the participants and contributors who have accepted and signed up in the Convergence Portal. If an individual has not accepted your invitation, follow up with them to confirm they have received it. If an invited participant has a status of "Pending Eligibility," they have accepted your invitation but have not yet completed their profile (steps 1 to 4, including the terms and conditions of applying) to access the application. If an invited participant has a status of "Information not finalized," verify that they have completed the My information section (CV documents, CV affiliation and employment, and CV education) by selecting View Information. Once a participant has completed these sections, you must finalize the record by selecting Finalize information from the Actions menu, which changes the status to "Complete."

Note: Contributors accept the invitation and must create an account in the Convergence Portal but do not complete the My information section, as their information will not be captured in the application.

Collaborators

If you have collaborators, add their information in this section and attach their CV or biographical sketch (up to two pages) in the Supporting documents section, under CV collaborators.

Socioeconomic objectives (optional)

You can provide primary This link will take you to another Web site socioeconomic objectives for your initiative.

Fields of research

List at least one primary and one secondary This link will take you to another Web site field of research that best describe the research focus of this proposal. You may list a maximum of five fields of research.

Keywords

List at least five keywords that best describe this specific proposal. You may list a maximum of 10 keywords.

Summary of proposal

The summary is intended to explain the proposal in language that the public can understand. Using simple terms, briefly describe the nature of the proposal, context, objectives, planned activities, and anticipated results and benefits of local or regional innovation. This plain-language summary will be available to the public if your proposal is funded.

The maximum character count is 2500.

Certifications, licenses and permits

Complete the questionnaire in the Certification requirements module. Depending on the answers you provide in the questionnaire, you may be asked to submit an Impact assessment form in the Supporting documents sub-section. For more information on certification requirements, please consult Requirements for certain types of research.

Proposed budget

Applications (both renewal and new) can include a request for up to $350,000 per year over five years. For colleges and CÉGEPs in Quebec, given the substantial network of centres that support local/regional innovation requirements, applications (both renewal and new) are limited to a maximum of $100,000 per year to support an added administrative, research management or business development position (and associated expenses) for an established centre of the college. Quebec applications should report on the centre's full budget and total set of activities (i.e., the application descriptions should not be limited to incremental activities made possible by an increase of $100,000 per year to the overall centre budget).

Before completing this section, please consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration and Technology Access Centre grants: Funding to ensure spending included in the budget is eligible for coverage and follows the rules for the use of grant funds. Use the Budget justification section to explain and justify each budget item.

Supporting documents

You are responsible for submitting a complete application that conforms to the presentation standards established by NSERC. You must review the number of pages and formatting of any attachments uploaded to the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. If applications are incomplete or do not meet the presentation standards outlined below, they may be rejected, or be at a disadvantage, in comparison with those that are complete and respect the presentation standards. Where page limits are stated, pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed.

Prepare the documents

Prepare your attachments following the requirements below:

  • Any acronyms and abbreviations must be explained.
  • Pages must be 8 ½ inches × 11 inches (216 mm × 279 mm).
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch.
  • All text must be in black, using the 11 pt Arial font; condensed fonts will not be accepted.
  • Margins must be set at a minimum of ¾ inch (1.87 cm).
  • In multi-page attachments, pages must be numbered sequentially.
  • The applicant's name must appear outside the set margins of the page, at the top right corner of every page.
  • The name of each document must appear outside the set margins of the page at the top left corner of every page (e.g., Proposal, Budget justification).

Convert the documents to PDF

All attachments must be converted to portable document format (PDF) before they can be attached to the application. The conversion process varies with the operating system and word processing or spreadsheet software you are using. If you have questions about converting your documents to PDF, contact your institution's technical support staff.

If you do not have a PDF conversion program, you may download a free version of This link will take you to another Web site PrimoPDF. Macintosh users have a PDF conversion option in the Macintosh system's Print function.

The following supporting documents must be attached to the LOI through the supporting documents section:

1. Impact assessment (appendix A)

If an Impact assessment (appendix A) is required, download the form, complete it and upload it. For more information, consult NSERC's Guidelines on impact assessment.

2. Letter from the president of the college

Provide a letter from the president of the college (one page maximum) outlining the college's support for the proposed new centre or the renewal of the existing centre and the relationship to the college's strategic plan.

3. Description of the proposed or renewal initiative

For applicants invited to apply for an award up to $1.75 million over five years, the description should be a maximum of 15 pages. For applicants invited to apply for an award up to $500,000 over five years, the description should be a maximum of 12 pages.

Write the proposal in clear, plain language. Avoid jargon, acronyms and highly technical terms. Refer to the Merit evaluation criteria in the TAC grants description for the criteria that will be considered by a review committee when evaluating your application. Using the criterion as headings (i.e., Value Added, Training, etc.), describe the proposed activities in sufficient detail to allow the review committee members to make an informed assessment. Address each criterion and sub-criterion. Ensure that the information provided in the metrics table is consistent with the description of the proposed initiatives.

The brief instructions below are meant to provide some guidance on the contents of the application and are not meant to be exhaustive for all TACs. The stated centre activities can vary greatly among colleges and will depend on the specific TAC context. Use your best judgement when determining the information to include. In some cases, similar information can be placed under more than one heading. If that is the case, use the limited space strategically to avoid repetition.

For TACs that are renewing for an additional five-year term, include under the appropriate heading any significant changes to the activities of the TAC planned in the new five-year term. What factors, such as recent emerging opportunities or challenges, led to a change in direction and planned strategy? Minimize any repetition of information that can be found in the renewal progress report by referring to the relevant section of that report.

If the application is requesting funds to expand the activities of an existing centre(s), focus on demonstrating the additional activities that the application will create (while providing context about the existing TAC and activities).

Value added

  • Describe the targeted community organizations, the major innovation needs of the organizations and how this initiative will help resolve these needs. Explain how the TAC's offerings are unique (not offered by other organizations) in the college's local/regional area. Describe significant and lasting economic, social and/or health benefits that will result from this initiative.
  • For colleges that have an existing research centre(s) that already receive other government or college support for the centre's core operations, describe the incremental value that the additional support from the TAC grant will bring to the college's current activities in this area.
  • Describe potential synergistic collaborations with other innovation support providers within your community.

Training

  • Describe the centre's plan to incorporate student training as an integral component of the TAC's innovation support and research service activities and how this will lead to enriched student experiences in applied research and problem-solving skills and in professional skills that will align with the needs of future employers.
  • Identify and describe planned measures to promote the participation of a diverse group of students and other trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, as well as to promote an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment. Applicants are expected to consider challenges or barriers in their college, community or field of study that prevent the full participation of diverse students and trainees in the applied research and propose EDI measures, which include a set of equitable and inclusive actions to achieve EDI objectives. Do not provide personal information on team members or information about the composition of your research team in a way that can identify any of your team members (see Guide to addressing EDI in CCI grant applications).

Organization structure and delivery plan

  • Describe the organizational structure of the centre, its key personnel, and explain how this structure is designed to maximize student training and the delivery of innovation support and research services to the TAC's clientele.
  • Describe the envisioned accountability framework and explain why it will result in effective leadership and sound financial decision-making.
  • Describe the support from the college and the TAC's alignment with the strategic plan of the college.
  • Describe the types of client innovation support and research services to be offered by the centre. Explain how these services will be delivered by outlining the major components of the innovation support and research service delivery plan from initial client contact to final delivery of the agreed upon services. Identify the processes in place to assure both the quality and timeliness of the delivered services.

Market opportunity

  • Describe the activities the TAC will undertake to attract client organizations and develop consistent sources of client revenue for rendered innovation support and research services in alignment with the metrics table projections. Explain the proportion of revenue received from clients for standalone innovation/research services (i.e., innovation support and research services not supported by other sources of grant funding such as a CCI Program Applied Research & Development (ARD) or College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) grant.
  • Describe other expected sources of revenue procured from other innovation support organizations. These can be granting agencies as well as other organizations that will support the centre.

Applied research competence

  • Describe the current level of college expertise and research infrastructure available within the TAC's innovation support and research services focus.
  • Describe the anticipated quality of expertise and support capabilities to be offered by the centre to quickly launch, manage and successfully complete innovation support and research services that will lead to impactful results for the community organizations.
  • Identify and describe planned measures to ensure that EDI is being intentionally and proactively considered in selecting, recruiting or integrating research personnel into the research team. Applicants are expected to consider challenges or barriers in their college, community or field of study that prevent the full participation of diverse team members in the applied research and propose EDI measures, which include a set of equitable and inclusive actions to achieve EDI objectives. Do not provide personal information on team members or information about the composition of your research team in a way that can identify any of our team members (see Guide to addressing EDI in CCI grant applications).

4. Budget justification

Provide an explanation and justification for each budget item in the budget table in a maximum of five pages. If applicable, describe any expected cash support from the college and supporting organizations. Indicate also cash anticipated to be received from clients and public funders. Provide information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate. These pages should contain only information pertinent to the budget. Refer to the Technology Access Centre grants: Funding in the TAC grants description for a list of eligible expenditures not covered under the Tri-agency guide on financial administration.

Note: Since TAC grants are designed to support the core activities of the centre, including administration and overhead expenditures, these expenditures should be detailed in their appropriate budget categories, and not placed under the generic overhead and administration category, as is common practice in most CCI grants.

Salaries and benefits

For each of the following positions, give the names (if known), categories of employment, and proposed salaries (including non-discretionary benefits explicitly). Briefly describe the responsibilities for each position and indicate the amount of time they will spend on the center's activities in support of clients' innovation needs over the term of this initiative.

  • College students: Salaries for college students contributing to the centre's activities. Former college students within one year of graduation can also be included here.
  • Professional and technical services: Salaries for research and technical services team members contributing to the centre's activities. Salaries associated with training students for specific research activities can be included here. Salaries for technology and knowledge transfer activities can also be included. Researchers from other CCI program-eligible colleges, and university students contracted by the college, should be included here. Salaries for full-time college faculty are not an eligible expense.
  • Faculty release: Salaries for replacement faculty hired to backfill a faculty member's involvement in the centre's activities.
  • Part-time faculty: Salaries for part-time college faculty contributing the centre's activities.
  • Research administrators: Salaries for administrative personnel, including managerial staff and project managers, needed to conduct the centre's activities.
  • Business development personnel: Personnel salaries dedicated to developing and strengthening collaborations with client organizations and other regional innovation support providers. Include marketing/advertising personnel here.
  • Other: If applicable, other salary types, such as consultant costs, not listed above should be included in this category.

Operating expenses and supplies

  • Material, supplies and operating costs: Provide an overview of the expenses required to operate the TAC facilities, including administrative, utility and other typical office-related expenses. Also describe the type and quantity of materials, supplies and other consumables necessary to conduct the centre's activities.
  • Equipment: Provide an overview of expenditures related to the purchase, rental, and use (including maintenance) of equipment. If applicable, provide rental of facility costs here. Rental of facilities owned by the college are not an eligible expense.
  • Other: If applicable, other operating and equipment expenditure types not listed above should be placed in this category.

Note: Equipment and rental of facility costs must not exceed 20% of the total TAC grant amount.

Miscellaneous

You may include other expenses attributable to specific projects or activities, as follows.

  • Travel: Give an overview of the planned travel of the college personnel and explain briefly how it relates to the proposed initiative.
  • Research and technology transfer support services: Provide details on and explain major items for research and technology transfer support services (administration of agreements and partnerships, meetings with clients, technology support, writing proposals, workshops, etc.).
  • Knowledge dissemination and networking: Provide details on outreach activities (communications, networking, workshops, trade shows, etc.) and other major items that support collaboration and knowledge mobilization with the college's community, including students. Describe expenses related to client development, advertising, and costs of hospitality and promotional material.
  • EDI-related expenses: Provide details on the costs of specific activities supporting EDI in the research and training environment (such as EDI training or workshops, outreach to underrepresented groups, hiring EDI-specific support, support for accessible facilities and equipment, childcare support, etc).
  • Other: If there are other miscellaneous expenses, add headings to describe and identify these expenses.

Other expenditures

If applicable, add any other expenditures not listed above in this section. You may add headings to indicate the type of expenditure.

Cash support from the college for the operations of the centre

Indicate the amount the college will directly invest to fund the operational requirements of the TAC. The cash must go into an account that the college uses for the purposes of the grant, as set out in the budget in the grant application. Use of the cash contribution should be carefully accounted and recorded, as NSERC may request that the college complete a Form 301 to confirm that the cash was provided and that the funds were used for the purposes of the grant.

Cash contributions from supporting organizations for the operations of the centre

Indicate the amount of cash committed by key local/regional organizations (e.g., municipal, regional, provincial and/or federal organizations, as well as key business associations and companies) to fund the operational requirements of the TAC. These organizations are not considered clients and therefore will not receive innovation support and research services in exchange for their contributions toward the operations of the TAC.

Cash received from clients for delivered innovation support and research services

Indicate the amount of cash paid by client organizations for innovation support and research services provided by the centre.

Cash received from public funders (granting agencies)

Indicate the amount of grants and contributions received from NSERC and other granting organizations (include only grants and contributions that fall fully under the responsibility and control of the TAC management).

Note: If the contributions provided to the TAC are derived from multiple sources of funding, the funding must be separated and placed into the correct budget category, above. As an example, if an NSERC Applied Research and Development (ARD) grant were provided to the TAC to complete a $75,000 project, with NSERC contributing $50,000 and the client organization contributing $25,000, then the $50,000 would be placed under "Cash received from public funders" and the $25,000 would be placed under "Cash received from clients for delivered innovation support and research services."

5. Letters of support

Include two letters of support (one-page maximum each) from a senior representative of a regional, provincial and/or local organization.

Note: If the organization is making contributions and receiving services in return, then this organization should be considered a client, rather than a supporting organization; see the Letters from clients section, below.

Each letter should include the following information:

  • the need for innovation support services in the area of the proposal;
  • the anticipated impacts on the type of organizations targeted;
  • the current or past associations of the organization with the college.

If you have identified several organizations who wish to provide a letter of support, consider providing a letter from one organization that summarizes the input anticipated from the other organizations.

6. Letters from clients

Include three letters of support (one page maximum each) from a senior representative of a past, present or future client.

Each letter should:

  • describe the general sector the client organization operates in;
  • how the centre is relevant to their success;
  • provide a brief overview of any innovation support provided by the college to date;
  • indicate current or past associations with the college.

7. Metrics table

This section collects information on specific TAC metrics. Read the metrics table guidelines below carefully before completing the table. The application also allows you to add a metric description attachment (two-page maximum) to explain any assumptions and provide context for the metrics.

Download the metrics table template from the Portal and provide metrics based on the TAC's future activities. The data provided should support the future goals of the college as described in the Research Proposal section of the application. NSERC recognizes that the future metrics provided in the table are best estimates based on the anticipated future direction of the TAC.

The Current Year column is intended to collect baseline performance information for the metrics prior to the funding of the TAC and should represent the realistically anticipated performance information in the year prior to the commencement of the TAC grant.

Do not alter the template (font type and size, etc.). Sign at the bottom, save the completed table and upload it. Once it is signed, the completed Metrics table will be locked and cannot be changed. If you wish to make additional changes, remove the signature, edit the table and add the signature again when the table is finalized.

Metrics table guidelines

Sources of revenue, student training, faculty release

Please read the metrics table term definitions below carefully prior to completing the table.

  • Client innovation support and research services: Innovation support and research services refer to the set of applied research or research support activities undertaken by the Centre to meet a client organization's innovation requirements. These activities can include applied research projects, knowledge mobilization, technical services, policy development, access to equipment, and specialized training, among others.
  • Client applied research services: Client applied research services is a subset of client innovation support and research services. It is limited to activities that are essential to meet the actual applied research objectives. For example, do not include stand-alone (i.e., independent of larger research goals) technical services, specialized training, and access to equipment.
  • College cash contributions: Amount the college directly invested to fund the operational requirements of the TAC. The cash must go into an account that the college uses for the purposes of the grant, as set out in the budget in the grant application. Use of the cash contribution should be carefully accounted and recorded, as NSERC may request that the college complete a Form 301 to confirm that the cash was provided and that the funds were used for the purposes of the grant.
  • Faculty/teachers: College's teaching staff, full-time and part-time, who conduct client-focused innovation support and research services.
  • Paid students: Students who are paid by the TAC to conduct client-focused innovation support and research services (as research assistants or technicians through part-time or summer employment, or through internships). If any student had more than one paid job during this period, count each student multiple times for each respective job. Former college students within one year of graduation can be included. Do not include university students.

Metrics description

Use up to two pages to explain important assumptions or factors associated with any metrics reported in the Metrics table. Please include the following information, as well as any other information that you feel is relevant and that the review committee should consider when assessing your application.

  • Explain how you arrived at your "Future Year Estimates" and what assumptions were made.
  • Explain any risks that may prevent your "Future Year Estimates" from being realized.
  • If you are working with clients that are unable to make adequate cash and/or in-kind contributions to fully cover the centre's incremental costs, please explain the challenges they are facing and why providing them with innovation help is critical to Canada's business, health care, public and/or not-for-profit sectors.

8. For TAC renewals only: renewal progress report

Once a TAC application is created on the Convergence Portal, the applicant will be asked if this application is for a new TAC or a renewal TAC. If it is for a renewal TAC, NSERC will send the applicant an email containing a link and instructions to access and complete an online renewal progress report. When it is completed, the renewal progress report must be saved as a PDF document and attached to the application by uploading onto the Convergence Portal.

Submit your application

Review the application to ensure that it is complete.

In the Finalize and submit section of the Convergence Portal, follow the prompts to submit your application to your research grants officer.

After you accept the terms and conditions, the status of your submission will change to Received by Administrator, indicating that the research grants officer has received the application. If you want to make any changes at this point, ask your research grants officer to return the application to you.

Once your research grants officer has approved and submitted your application, the status will change to Received by Agency. No changes can be made after that point.

Submitting the application as the research grants officer

When you, as a research grants officer, receive an application submitted by an applicant at your institution, you will be asked to approve the application and submit it. By submitting it, you are confirming that the proposed centre activities meet the grant eligibility requirements (review the TAC grants description for more details).

By submitting the application, you, on behalf of your institution, are also certifying that the applicant

  • is affiliated with the institution
  • has the necessary time and resources to carry out the activities