In Alberta access to skilled labour continues to be a challenge for many employers. An alarming finding in a 2017 Government of Alberta report concluded that the province’s job vacancy rate is one of the highest in Canada. To address this challenge, the Government of Alberta has introduced funding programs, such as the Alberta Innovates Industry R&D Associates Program, to help businesses hire top talent.
Alberta Innovates’ Industry R&D Associates Program provides hiring grants to help employers attract and retain researchers; a critical component for developing innovative technologies. Research associates may accelerate technology development projects and assist companies to overcome technical challenges.
Hiring grants may cover a portion of salary and research fees for up to 1-2 years.
To receive these grants, interested businesses must submit an application package demonstrating how their project addresses a technology gap or market need. Associates may be a new employee (in their first 12 months of employment) or a new hire.
Industry R&D Associates Program for Technology Development
The Alberta Innovates Industry R&D Associates Program provides businesses access to research assistance at reduced cost. Ideal research projects should be in the mid-to-late development stage (demonstrating a Technology Readiness Level of 4-6) and have a clear need for additional research talent.
Eligible businesses can leverage the program to offset the cost of employing either a Level 1 or Level 2 full-time research associate:
- Level 1 R&D Associates: Possess an education, skills, and/or experience as a research assistant, junior researcher, engineer, or technician.
- Level 2 R&D Associates: Possess specialized training and experience as a lab supervisor, senior researcher, engineer, or software developer.
The program provides up to $52,500 in grants to hire a Level 1 associate and up to $67,500 in Alberta government funding to accommodate a Level 2 associate.
Alberta hiring grants must be used to offset a research associate’s salary throughout the project term. Contributions will be provided to the applicant as a monthly stipend, in addition to an annual expense allowance of up to $7,000 to cover non-salary related expenses.
To be considered eligible for the Industry R&D Associates Program applicants must:
- Be a small and medium-sized for-profit businesses in Alberta;
- Be considered a legal entity incorporated or registered in Alberta;
- Demonstrate the innovation’s viability and market value;
- Specialize in advanced technologies, products, and solutions;
- Explain how the program’s support is necessary for the project’s success;
- Possess the required operational capital and financial resources to develop and commercialize the technology or innovative solution; and
- Hire the research associate as a full-time employee for the duration of the project.
Eligible R&D Associates
Eligible Level 1 and 2 research associates must:
- Be prepared to be hired on as a full-time employee and possess the necessary qualifications to fulfil the role;
- Be legally entitled to work in Canada and is prepared to live in Alberta for the duration of the project;
- Not own or possess the right to purchase more than 15% of the issued and outstanding shares of the applicant;
- Not have been previously employed by the applicant (except in the case of a reapplication);
- May be classified as a current full-time employee (if they’ve only been employed by the applicant for less than 12 months); and
- May not have an outstanding balance with any Alberta Innovates organization, subsidiary, or partner.
The program supports Alberta-based projects focused on:
- Conducting pre-competitive research focusing on a targeted or applied research question leading to the Proof-of-Concept of an inventive idea;
- Developing a prototype to demonstrate a product for technology validation, market capture and new investment opportunities; and/or
- Validation and feasibility studies of innovative technologies leading to new or improved products and processes that meet current market demands.
How to Apply to the Industry R&D Associates Program
To get started with the Industry R&D Associates Program, applicants must provide a detailed project proposal explaining the business’ current opportunity. The applicant doesn’t need to specify a research associate at this stage unless they are already on payroll.
A second application phase, the full application, requires a more detailed description of the business, the research associate, financial statements, and project work plans.
On average, application packages are approved 6-8 weeks after the date of submission.
Contact Mentor Works to determine whether your business is eligible for the Industry R&D Associates Program. Our team can also assist you throughout the application process.