NSERC Engage Research and Development Grants

Please Note: This page is an archived and may contain outdated program information. For current details of the Canada Media Fund Experimental Stream, please visit Mentor Works’ NSERC Engage Program Page.

Canadian businesses have excellent access to state-of-the-art research facilities, equipment, and talent. However, since 2001 Canadian research and development investments have displayed a downward trend. To help businesses access these resources, the Government of Canada offers research grants to offset a portion of R&D costs.

NSERC Engage is one of these grants; it provides businesses with government funding to accelerate projects by collaborating with college researchers. Businesses can use these research grants to partner with colleges across the country for 4-6 months.

The program provides up to $25,000 in Canadian government grants to support short-term research and development projects.

Application packages can be submitted at any time; however, all applications should be submitted in correspondence with an upcoming research and development project. At the time of application, businesses must have a solidified project and be ready to begin the process of working with a Canadian college.

NSERC Engage Grants for Research and Development

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is a federal agency providing resources, partnership opportunities, and research grants to support the development of new technologies and innovations.

One of the agency’s programs, NSERC Engage, fosters new collaborations between businesses and Canadian college professors. These partnerships leverage research talent and laboratories to solve a company-specific challenge within the natural sciences and/or engineering sectors. Through 4- to 6-month research projects, businesses will be able to break through their innovation barriers and help Canadian youth generate new skills.

Applicants may receive up to $25,000 in Canadian government funding to support industry-lead research and development collaboration projects.

To participate, businesses must demonstrate how a professor and their students will significantly impact the outcome of the project. Highly competitive projects should be interesting to a college professor, since they are responsible for choosing business’ projects for the coming semester.

Please Note: Research grants are provided to the college partner to offset project costs. Businesses do not receive direct payment.

Applicants Eligible to Receive NSERC Engage Research Grants

NSERC Engage grants support new research collaborations between Canadian businesses and college researchers. To be considered eligible for the program, industry partners (businesses) and academic partners must meet the following requirements:

Business Eligibility

To be eligible for NSERC Engage grants, Canadian businesses must:

  • Have a minimum of two full-time employees;
  • Be incorporated for a minimum of two years prior to applying;
  • Demonstrate grow through the development of new or improved technology-driven products, processes, or services;
  • Apply the project’s research results for the economic benefit of Canada; and
  • Not partner with another business to execute the research project.

Please Note: Business applicants can access the program twice per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).

Eligible College Partners

Canadian colleges provide the knowledge and expertise to support innovative research projects. To meet the program’s eligibility requirements, Canadian colleges must:

  • Demonstrate the expertise and necessary resources to support the project;
  • Meet expectations defined by the industry partner; and
  • Not partner with a business that they have collaborated with in the past.

Types of Projects Supported by NSERC Engage

NSERC Engage supports short-term (4-6 month) research projects focused on solving a specific challenge faced by the applicant business. Projects must focus on advancing the technology readiness level (TRL) of product or process.

To be considered eligible for Canadian government funding, research projects must:

  • Focus on solving a company-specific problem through the generation of new knowledge, or the application of existing knowledge in an innovative manner; and
  • Advance and/or develop new technologies that benefit the Canadian economy.

How to Extend NSERC Engage Projects Beyond 6 Months

The NSERC Engage program only supports research collaborations that last between 4-6 months; however, additional NSERC government grants can be used to extend an active Engage project.

To maximize the impact on an Engage project, applicants may also apply for NSERC Engage Plus. This extends a project with the same professor for up to six months while providing an additional $12,500 in research grants.

Successful NSERC Engage Collaborative Research Projects

Over the years, NSERC Engage has supported a range of innovative research and development projects. Some of the program’s recent success stories include:

Apply for NSERC Engage Research and Development Grants

To get started with the program, applicants must submit a detailed project proposal including timelines, objectives, as well as company and laboratory requirements. Applications should be submitted by the college (the lead applicant) but will require significant information about the industry partner to be approved.

College-based applicants may apply at any time; on average, application packages will be reviewed and approved within 4-6 weeks.

Contact Mentor Works to discuss your eligibility for NSERC Engage and receive assistance throughout the application process.

Apply for Canadian Government Funding

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Written by

Katlynd Poulton holds an Honours Bachelor of Public Relations with Distinction at Conestoga College. She believes in the power of communication and how it can fuel business success. As Mentor Works' Online Marketing Intern, Katlynd engages with business owners and executives through social platforms. ​​​​​​

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