NSERC Funding for Collaborative Research and Development Projects

Please Note: NSERC CRD is closed. Access NSERC funding through the Engage (applied research) and Alliance (academic research) programs.

Knowledge mobilization is a term that often refers to bridging gaps between industry and post-secondary researchers. While there is a significant amount of knowledge generated by colleges and universities in Canada, this research often does not reach industry where it can be used to support growth and innovation. Companies often perform internal research to overcome internal technical challenges, however, there are also considerable benefits to collaborating with post-secondary institutions.

One of these benefits is that collaborative research projects can access government funding incentives such as the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) program. Provided through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the CRD program supports collaborative research where a professor and their team of students provide research and development services over a period of one to five years.

NSERC CRD funding offers companies up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum of $200,000 per year in Canadian research grants.

Companies interested in the NSERC CRD program should first initiate the process of working with a post-secondary institution. Prior to applying, research partnerships should have a well-defined project and proposal that outlines objectives, milestones, the budget, and partner responsibilities. Applications are accepted year-round and take approximately three months to be reviewed by NSERC.

What is the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Program?

NSERC is a government agency that offers several research and development funding programs to Canadian businesses. Among their suite of funding for innovation are NSERC Engage, which companies can access for short-term projects, and NSERC CRD for longer-term projects spanning a year or more in duration.

Through the NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) program, companies can break through innovation challenges and generate new products, processes, and services with the help of post-secondary researchers. Companies should consider this program if they have considerable barriers to overcome before an innovation is ready for market and needs the support of external researchers.

NSERC funding can provide eligible projects with up to $200,000 in research grants per year for five years to a project maximum of $1 million.

Due to the nature of the collaborative research process, NSERC grants are awarded after a formalized research partnership has been established between a business and a post-secondary organization. These partnerships can be contingent on the reception of funding so that if funding is not received, companies can explore other options of completing the research project.

To become ready for NSERC funding, companies must complete the process of finding a suitable research partner and developing a proposal to gain their interest. Once both parties have reached an agreement, then a joint funding application can be submitted.

Canadian Business Eligibility for NSERC Funding

To qualify for the NSERC CRD funding program, companies must:

  • Be an established business, startup, or industry association;
  • Collaborate on all stages of the project, from proposal to project completion, and regularly interact with academic researchers, students, and other personnel;
  • Demonstrate a clear intention for completing the project; and
  • Contribute at least 50% of research project costs.

NSERC CRD: Types of Projects Eligible for Funding

Projects that are a good fit for NSERC CRD research and development grants include those that:

  • Solve a natural sciences or engineering challenge;
  • Are at any stage of the research and development cycle;
  • Have specific short- to medium-term objectives that can be measured over time; and
  • Have a detailed budget and project plan.

How to Apply: NSERC Funding for Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Projects

NSERC CRD grant applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and can be submitted online by the research partners at any time. The program’s two-stage application process requires a Letter of Intent (LOI) and, if approved, a full application. Both stages of the application process require the business and research partner to have a solid plan for the work to be completed. Application approvals are made within three to five months of the full proposal being submitted.

How Applications are Reviewed

Project proposals are evaluated based on:

  • Scientific Merit: How the project will generate new knowledge or apply existing knowledge in an innovative way.
  • Research Competence: How the business and research institution will be able to work together to create new knowledge. Will the collaboration be able to accomplish the project’s objectives?
  • Industrial Relevance: How the industry partner will be able to exploit newly gained knowledge or abilities to grow revenues and provide new opportunities.
  • Budget: How the project’s budget will be allocated to accomplish objectives. A significant amount of the budget should be provided for the salaries of student researchers.
  • Training Highly Qualified Personnel: How the project will train students or company employees. The number of personnel that should be trained is dependent upon the size of the project.
  • Benefits to Canada: Social, economic, and environmental benefits associated with the project.

Optimize the NSERC CRD Application Process

The collaborative research process can be difficult for many Canadian businesses to navigate independently. There are several government funding programs to consider, and depending on your research project’s budget, timelines, and intended results, the best program to use might or might not be NSERC CRD.

To learn more about your eligibility for research grants and discover how to optimize the application process, please contact Mentor Works.

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Jeff holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

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