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ARCHIVED – College and Community Innovation program Applied Research and Development grants


This information has been archived. Visit the new Applied Research and Development grants page for current information.

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NSERC/Mitacs joint funding opportunity

NSERC and Mitacs have developed an opportunity for applicants who are seeking support for applied research projects from both a College and Community Innovation (CCI) Applied Research and Development (ARD) grant and Mitacs Accelerate, through a single application submission and review process. Applicants are invited to include in their ARD application a request for additional support through Mitacs Accelerate internships as a component of the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP). Please read the program description below for more information.

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Duration Up to three years
Application deadline No deadline
How to apply See below.
Application forms
  • F103CV (fillable) – CCI personal data form and instructions
  • Form 103 – Application for the CCI program
  • Form 183A –Information required from organizations participating in research partnerships
To complete form 103CV or to view its instructions, select the link above.
To view instructions, select PDF forms and instructions.
To create or access on-line applications, select Online system login.
For more information

Consult the contact list

Important information

The College and Community Innovation (CCI) program is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). All applications must be submitted to NSERC. Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities and/or health. Grants are given by NSERC, with the exception of funded proposals exclusively in the social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences, which will be given by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

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.

Applicants are encouraged to consider sex, gender and diversity in the project’s research design. Diversity and gender equity should also be considered when developing the research team and considering how to promote and support a variety of forms of mentoring to ensure trainees’ equitable participation and growth. Applicants should refer to the Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application for more information.


The ARD grants are intended to provide companies that operate from a Canadian base access to the unique knowledge, expertise and capabilities available at Canadian colleges and to train students in essential technical skills required by companies. The mutually beneficial collaborations are expected to result in economic benefits to the company and/or Canada.


ARD grants support well-defined applied research and development projects undertaken by college researchers with their private-sector partners. Direct project costs are shared by the company partner(s) and the CCI program. Projects may range from one year to three years in duration.

ARD projects can be at any point in the research and development (R&D) spectrum that is consistent with the college’s applied research, training and technology transfer mandate. All proposals require evidence of strong partnerships with firms, detailed planning and sound budget justification, and must clearly spell out the underlying assumptions, intended approaches, milestones and deliverables.

Projects that provide routine analysis, routine training, professional practice or consulting services, or routine use of college equipment, or that collect data without interpreting underlying mechanisms, are not eligible. Similarly, proposals that involve the set-up and operational management of an institute or a formal or informal group of researchers, or that are principally associated with the acquisition and maintenance of equipment in support of applied research, will not be accepted.

Company participation

The Guidelines for organizations participating in research partnerships should be consulted to determine the eligibility of the participating company partner(s).

The company partner(s) must participate in the project and contribute to the direct costs of the applied research and development project. The expected company contributions vary with the grant size:

For grants up to $75,000 per year: The eligible company partner(s) must actively participate and contribute at least half of the amount requested in CCI support, in cash and/or in kind—of which at least half (i.e., 25% of the requested grant amount) must be in cash. For example, if the application requests $75,000 per year, the company contribution must be at least $37,500 per year, of which a minimum of $18,750 must be in cash.

For grants between $75,000 and $150,000 per year: The eligible company partner(s)’s contribution(s) must be at least equal to the amount requested in CCI support, in cash and/or in kind—of which at least 40% must be in cash.

Note: To be eligible, a company partner must operate from a Canadian base and must be able to fully exploit the results of the applied research so that it will lead to significant economic benefit either to the company or to Canada. A sufficient maturity or capability must be demonstrated by at least one of the contributing company partners.

The CCI program will recognize only those in-kind contributions that are fully documented and considered essential to carry out the work outlined in the proposal. For a full discussion of the eligibility and value of in-kind contributions, refer to the Guidelines on eligibility and value of in-kind contributions section of the Guidelines for organizations participating in research partnerships.

Cash contributed by the partner before the proposal is submitted may be used to start the project, but company funds spent more than three months prior to the date of application submission will not be recognized. ARD grant funds cannot be applied to expenses incurred before a project was approved.

Intellectual property

NSERC makes no claim to the ownership of any intellectual property (IP) generated from the research it funds. As a general principle, NSERC recommends that colleges develop and sign an agreement with each company partner on the ownership and disposition of IP arising from ARD-funded applied research before initiating any ARD activities. Any agreements made regarding the ownership of the IP resulting from ARD-funded research must take into account the ARD objective of creating partnerships. This implies a sharing of eventual benefits between the partners commensurate with their respective contributions.
Given the purpose of the projects and the fact that they are company-driven, the college must have the right to use the new knowledge or technology in future teaching and research; and faculty and students must have the right to describe the project on their curriculum vitae (CV). Effective April 1, 2018, NSERC no longer reviews research agreements for ARD projects, although the projects still must conform to the IP requirements of the CCI program.


Canadian colleges that have been declared eligible to administer grants according to the eligibility requirements for colleges of at least one of the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, CIHR and/or SSHRC) may submit an application.

If the proposed research and knowledge/technology transfer activities lie entirely within the mandate of a single agency (NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC) the college must be declared eligible to receive funding from that granting agency.

  • The college must offer programs in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences, and they must be in line with the applied research areas proposed
  • The college’s faculty members involved in ARD grants must be engaged in applied research in the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences
  • The college must provide the space, facilities and services to enable its natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and/or health sciences faculty members to conduct applied research

NSERC/Mitacs joint funding opportunity

Applicants may include in their ARD grant application a request for additional support through Mitacs Accelerate internships as a component of the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP). Note that Mitacs internships cannot be the only mechanism for HQP training, and Mitacs internships require an eligible partner cash contribution.

Applicants who wish to include Mitacs Accelerate internships in their ARD application should contact their local Mitacs business development representative to obtain the NSERC/Mitacs joint application form. Applicants must submit the Mitacs-NSERC joint application form to NSERC with their ARD proposal.

NSERC/Mitacs ARD applications require the following information when outlining the training of highly qualified personnel:

  • A description of the role of the Mitacs interns in the research project and an explanation of the quality of the research-based training experiences provided to the interns
  • A description of how the internship partnership organization is committed to providing supervision and mentorship to the interns
  • An explanation of how the number of Mitacs interns and the number of internship units are appropriate to the scope of the project

Applications will be peer reviewed, and funding decisions will be communicated jointly to the applicants.

Application procedures

Proposals can be submitted at any time, using form 103 (Application for a College and Community Innovation grant) and form 183A (Information required from organizations participating in research partnerships programs). Instructions for applicants and their company sponsor(s) to complete the forms and the on line submission are found on NSERC’s online services page.

Decisions on funding ARD grants are anticipated to be made (after receiving a complete application) within three to five months.

Selection criteria

Applications are evaluated on the following criteria.

Technical merit: The project must be scientifically sound and technically feasible and promise either to apply knowledge in an innovative manner and/or to lead to new knowledge. The project plan must be appropriate, sufficiently detailed and reasonable. For complex proposals, the proposal must demonstrate adequate college support for the project by detailing the specific commitments of the college regarding the provision of financial support, equipment and/or access to facilities.

Applied research competence: The research team must have all the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully. For example, the project lead is expected to have conducted a comparable-scale research project with partners in the past. Academic expertise may be complemented with the know-how residing in the partnering company.

Potential for innovation impact: The proposal must identify how the work will lead to improved products, processes, policies, procedures or service delivery that benefits the company partner(s) and demonstrates that exploitation of the project results will benefit the Canadian economy within a reasonable time frame. Timelines for realizing innovation impact should be included in the application.

Private-sector support: Consistent with the risks and rewards involved, and the size of the request to NSERC for funding, the company partner must contribute an appropriate amount from its own resources to the project and be in a position to exploit successful research results.

Contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel: The proposal must include a student training component and should indicate how the knowledge and experience gained by students, research assistants or others, including company personnel, are relevant to developing practical applications of knowledge or to strengthening the private-sector and college innovation and applied research base. The proposal should explain how the number of students trained in the project is appropriate.

Benefit to Canada: As well as the economic benefit to Canada described under the potential for innovation impact criterion above, the proposal should outline any additional economic, social and environmental benefits that could be realized in Canada.

Specific rules for the use of grant funds

The CCI program will use the 2017 College and Community Innovation program tri-agency financial administration guide as its general guideline for the acceptable use of grant funds until March 31, 2022. On April 1, 2022 the CCI program will transition to the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration. However, colleges that are ready may optionally begin using the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration as of April 1, 2021.

Exceptions to the Use of grant funds section of the 2017 College and Community Innovation program tri-agency financial administration guide and the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration are listed below.

The following expenditures are eligible:

  • Overhead and administration costs up to 20% of the annual grant amount
  • Course load reduction costs to cover the salary of a replacement faculty hired to backfill a faculty member’s involvement in an applied research project and expenditures associated with recruitment related activities
  • Salaries and non-discretionary benefits for non-faculty researchers and part-time faculty
  • Salaries associated with project management activities leading to the optimal use of project resources to meet the objectives of the research in a timely and budget efficient manner
  • Equipment, operating, supplies, and consultant fees up to 20% of project costs


The reporting requirements vary with the project duration.

For projects up to 12 months’ duration, grantees must send to NSERC a final report and form 301 (Grant in aid of research – statement of account). The company partner(s) will be asked to submit comments on the project’s success directly to NSERC.

For projects longer than one year, an annual statement of account (form 301) is required, and companies are required to confirm their continued participation in the project and indicate their level of satisfaction with the progress to date. Where the company satisfaction with the project’s progress is not clear, NSERC will request a progress report and appoint a technical liaison officer to assist in monitoring progress.

Final reports providing the impacts of the research and development are required for all projects. In cases where the partner is a large consortium of private-sector companies, and/or when a formal administrative structure exists within the consortium, one company or the consortium administrator may provide this report on behalf of the group if appropriate.
Based on the results obtained or problems encountered, grantees may propose amendments to the project objectives, milestones or budget. Grantees proposing to change the allocation of project resources by more than 20% per budget line item require prior approval by NSERC and must provide NSERC with a revised budget, a rationale for the proposed change and documentation from the partners supporting the proposed change(s).

For projects of duration longer than one year, the amounts of second and subsequent instalments are contingent on a demonstrated need for NSERC funds. The next instalment will not be released until the company partner(s) has made its previous year’s contribution(s), reconfirmed its commitment to contribute in the next year and commented on the project’s progress.

Grantees or companies that have failed to provide the requested feedback on projects may be declared ineligible to apply for or sponsor new proposals.