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Alliance Advantage

Partner organizations

Your partner organizations can be private, public or not-for-profit. You may involve whichever partner organizations you need to achieve your research goals and successfully mobilize your research results to achieve the desired impact. At least one of these partners must have a demonstrated ability to exploit such research results, while other partners may be chosen for their ability to generate and mobilize knowledge. Your partner organizations must collectively support the project through cash contributions, where applicable (see Funding your research project). Each partner organization must actively play a role in the project and support it through in-kind contributions. Such involvement must be achieved by doing at least one of the following:

  • playing an active role in the project’s research activities
  • using the project’s research results to help achieve its desired outcomes
  • playing an active role in translating or mobilizing knowledge to ensure that the research results have an impact

Active participation in the project and in-kind contributions are not required from funding organizations (e.g., other provincial or federal funding agencies) providing financial support to the project.

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Role of partner organizations

In an R&D project considered for an Alliance Advantage grant, the partner organizations must contribute funding to support the project, either individually or collectively. For Alliance Advantage grants, at least one partner organization must be recognized for cost sharing with NSERC and must make cash contributions. To be recognized for cost sharing, a partner organization must:

  • be listed as a type of organization whose cash contributions can be recognized for cost sharing with NSERC, in section 1 below
  • meet the detailed requirements that apply to the partner organization’s sector (private, Canadian public or Canadian not-for-profit), in section 2 below

If your project is receiving funding from other government agencies, these agencies should be included as partners in the application to show the full scope of the project and its financial support. Funders are not required to participate in the project or provide in-kind contributions, although they may. However, funding from these government agencies may not be included in cost-sharing calculations unless the agency fulfills the criteria for public-sector organizations in the table below and plays an active role in the project.

In reviewing your application for an Alliance Advantage grant, NSERC will assess the relevance of each partner organization, their capacity to translate, mobilize and/or apply the research results to achieve the intended outcomes, and the value of their proposed in-kind contributions. NSERC will prioritize funding to projects that most clearly fulfill the objectives of Alliance Advantage grants.

All partner organizations, including foreign and multinational companies, are responsible for complying with NSERC policies and procedures, and with other Canadian laws, regulations, standards or policies that apply to the collaborative research activities outlined in the proposal. In rare cases, restrictions such as Canadian economic sanctions may apply to partnerships with foreign companies.

The applicant will ask partners to participate in the application by completing a partner organization form (see the instructions). In addition, at NSERC’s request, a partner organization must provide supplemental information that describes the organization and enables NSERC to determine whether the partner organization can be recognized for cost sharing.

Number of participating organizations

If you are applying for an Alliance Advantage grant, you can include just one partner organization or several—whichever you need to support the planned activities (given their size and scope) and produce the desired research results and widest possible benefits. Your application must demonstrate that the contributions and involvement of the partner organization(s) will create the necessary conditions for the project’s success.

Cash contributions from partner organizations

To determine which of your proposed partner organizations can be recognized for cost sharing, follow the three steps below. Alternatively, you may complete the partner organization self-assessment tool.

  1. Check where each partner organization is listed in the following table.
Types of partner organizations whose cash contributions can and cannot be recognized in NSERC cost-sharing calculations
Private sector

Can

Cash contributions can be recognized

Cannot

Cash contributions cannot be recognized

  • Canadian private companies (registered or incorporated)
  • Multinationals with business operations in Canada
  • Foreign companies (only if they are partnering with a Canadian partner organization that is recognized in NSERC’s cost-sharing calculations)
  • Venture capital/angel investors
  • Holding companies
  • Companies with fewer than two full-time employees
Canadian public sector

Can

Cash contributions can be recognized

Cannot

Cash contributions cannot be recognized

  • Municipalities and local or regional governments established by or under provincial or territorial statute
  • Provincial/territorial government departments
  • Federal government departments
  • Indigenous organizations
  • Public utilities
  • Crown corporations
  • Funding organizations (federal, provincial, territorial, international) whose primary mission is to fund R&D
  • Organizations whose primary mission is to perform R&D
  • Foreign governments

 

 

Canadian not-for-profit

Can

Cash contributions can be recognized

Cannot

Cash contributions cannot be recognized

  • Producer groups (typically representing agriculture, aquaculture or viniculture producers)
  • Industrial associations
  • Registered charities
  • Organizations whose primary mission is to maintain collections (e.g., historical, scientific, artistic or cultural) for the public good, such as libraries, museums, zoos or aquariums
  • Community organizations
  • Unions
  • Not-for-profit organizations whose primary mission is to fund R&D and are funded or controlled primarily by government
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Incubators and accelerators
  • Hospitals and medical/clinical research institutes
  • Consortia with the majority of their funding originating from government sources
  • Foreign not-for-profit organizations
  • Individuals
  1. If the partner organization’s type is listed above as being recognized for cost-sharing, then determine whether it meets the following detailed requirements.
Requirements for partner organizations’ cash contributions to be recognized in NSERC cost-sharing calculations

National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships

In the case where your NSERC Alliance application involves one or more partner organization from the private sector, including when they participate alongside other partner organizations from the public and/or not-for-profit sectors, you must complete the National Security Guidelines for Research Partnerships’ risk assessment form and submit it as an integral part of the application.

The requirement to submit the completed risk assessment form applies to industrial associations and producer groups since their member organizations are principally from the private sector. When filling out the form, you must consider the association’s or the group’s private sector member organizations participating in the project (when applicable) and/or those that will exploit the research results.

Conflict of interest guidelines for collaborations with partner organizations

These guidelines changed as of December 5, 2023 to provide flexible access to NSERC Alliance grants while ensuring that funds are used responsibly and all research participants are protected.

NSERC requires applicants, co-applicants and other participants in Alliance grants to report any conflict of interest to their institution before applying for a grant and as a condition of accepting an award. Institutions must assess conflicts of interest and implement mitigation plans to comply with conflict of interest requirements in the Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions. All participants must also adhere to the Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research (2021). Under the agreement and framework, conflict of interest encompasses not only real but also perceived or potential conflicts of interest.

NSERC encourages participants to discuss conflicts of interest at the earliest stages of developing a partnership. Transparency in disclosing affiliations, relationships and sources of funding is also important to ensure that research is conducted in line with best practices for research integrity and research security. The best means to minimize potential impacts of conflicts of interest is to declare such conflicts and develop and implement a mitigation plan.

What is a conflict of interest?

The guiding principles below refer to this broader definition of “conflict of interest.”

When activities or situations place an individual or institution in a conflict between the duties or responsibilities related to research and personal, institutional or other interests, this is considered a conflict of interest. Such interests include national or international business, commercial, financial or other interests of the institution, the individual, their family members, friends, or their former, current or prospective professional associates. Divided loyalties may consciously or unconsciously bias researchers and institutions, adversely affecting research outcomes and the welfare of participants. 

Guiding principles

  • As researchers or institutions, you must assess conflicts of interest when conducting research, as such conflicts may jeopardize the integrity of the research and the protection of participants.
  • As a researcher, you must transparently disclose any conflicts of interest to your institution and all participants in the proposed research activities, including trainees. When necessary, you must take steps to minimize and manage these conflicts according to your institution’s conflict of interest policy and disciplinary standards. All participants should always strive to avoid conflicts of interest. 
  • As a researcher, you must make prospective participants aware of all conflicts of interest at the earliest stage so they can make an informed decision about their participation.
  • As researchers, institutions and research ethics boards, you should identify and address conflicts of interest to discharge professional and institutional obligations, maintain public confidence and trust, and ensure accountability. 

For more information, refer to the:

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