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Engage Grants

Grants to Canada IHEs and Industry Partners for
Science and Engineering Research and Development

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Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

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Grants of up to $25,000 to Canada colleges and universities to partner with innovative companies for short-term research and development projects. Funding will support the project costs of science and engineering developments that address a company-specific problem.


Engage Grants are designed to give innovative companies that operate from a Canadian base access to the unique knowledge, expertise and capabilities available at Canadian universities and colleges. These grants are intended to foster the development of new research partnerships by supporting short-term research and development projects aimed at addressing a company-specific problem.

The simplified application and decision processes enable university and college researchers to quickly undertake new research collaborations that extend academic expertise to these problems. The mutually beneficial projects are expected to result in economic benefits to the company and to Canada and build impactful longer term collaborations between the applicant and the company.

Following an Engage Grant, applicants may apply for follow-on support for an additional six months of related research activity through an Engage Plus grant, in order to further developments from an ongoing or recently completed Engage Grant project, or to continue the project while seeking longer-term support (through, for example, a Collaborative Research and Development Grant [CRD] or an Applied Research and Development Grant[ARD]).


Engage Grants support well-defined research projects undertaken by eligible university and college researchers and their industrial partners.

An Engage project must generate new knowledge or apply existing knowledge in an innovative manner in order to solve a company-specific problem. This problem must relate directly to the goods and services provided by the company, and the company must be capable of further developing the results after the project is completed. The project must be focused on a research challenge with specific short-term objectives. All proposals must provide detailed planning and sound budget justification. The proposal must also clearly spell out the underlying assumptions, intended approaches and methodologies, as well as the key milestones and deliverables.

Industrial Participation:

The company is expected to collaborate with the researchers at all stages of the research project (i.e., assist in developing the proposal and, as the project unfolds, interact regularly with the university (specifically the principal investigator) or college research team and other research personnel and provide input on the project). As the project focuses on a company-specific problem, there should be only one company partner involved in university-based Engage Grant applications. The participation of an additional, supporting company may be considered, but should be discussed with the NSERC Regional Office in your area before starting an application.

Engage Plus:

To further developments from an ongoing or recently completed Engage Grant project, or to continue the project while seeking longer-term support, applicants may apply for a subsequent Engage Plus Grant to support a project for an additional six months.

Only one Engage Plus Grant can be awarded as a follow-on to an Engage Grant.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 155668

Estimated Size of Grant:

Up to $25,000

Term of Contract:

Projects will be funded for up to six months.

Projects are expected to start within a few weeks from the date of the award letter. Grant funds are normally available within 30 days of an award decision.

To further developments from an ongoing or recently completed Engage Grant project, or to continue the project while seeking longer-term support, applicants may apply for a subsequent Engage Plus Grant to support a project for an additional six months.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Engage Grants are open to researchers at either universities or colleges.

Industrial Participation:

The Partner Eligibility Guidelines section of the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships (in the Pre-application section below) should be consulted to determine the eligibility of the participating company. At a minimum, the partner must have a credible plan for exploiting the research results to provide economic, social or environmental benefits for Canada and Canadians.

Requirements for University-Based Applicants:

All projects must address a research challenge that lies within the natural sciences and engineering fields.

As the purpose of an Engage Grant is to foster a new collaborative relationship between one company and one university researcher, there can be no existing or past relationship between the researcher applying for funding and the company with a problem to be addressed through the project.

For examples of an established relationship between the company and university researcher see the RFP below.

Please consult your NSERC regional office for further information.

Proposals submitted by university-based applicants must also demonstrate the principal investigator’s research competence. The applicant must have the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully. Academic expertise may be complemented by the know-how residing in the company.

Important considerations relating to research competence are:
-The applicant must be an NSERC-eligible researcher and must have been granted an individual or small team (principal investigator and up to two co-applicants) peer-reviewed grant from NSERC within the past six years.
-Applicants who have received a rating of “Strong” or higher for the criterion “Excellence of the Researcher” in their most recent Discovery Grant competition within the past six years are considered to have met the requirement for peer-reviewed research support.
-Researchers with a principal appointment in a health-oriented university faculty (e.g., medicine, pharmacology, dentistry) are eligible for an Engage Grant only if they have been awarded an NSERC Discovery Grant within the past six years.

Engage Grant projects must involve only one university researcher (the applicant) and any research personnel (e.g., students, research technicians), if applicable. As Engage Grants are intended to foster a new research relationship between an applicant and a company, projects requiring the participation of a co-applicant or collaborating professor will be rejected. Fees paid outside the university for completion of specific project tasks will be limited to a maximum of 20% of the amount requested and will be approved only with strong demonstration of need.

Requirements for College-Based Applicants:

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. As CCI funding is used to support Engage Grants for college-based applicants, proposed projects can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities or health. Grants are given by NSERC, with the exception of funded proposals exclusively in the social sciences, humanities or health sciences, which will be given by SSHRC or CIHR, as appropriate.

As the purpose of an Engage Grant is to foster the development of a new collaborative relationship, the proposal must involve an eligible company that has not previously partnered with the college on applied research; that is, the college should have no existing relationship with the company. A previous research collaboration with a company or any of its divisions, a consulting contract in excess of a few days, or involvement on the part of a member(s) of the college research team with the company is considered an existing relationship.

Proposals submitted by college-based applicants must also demonstrate the research team’s 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 research project of comparable scale with partners in the past. Academic expertise may be complemented by the know-how residing in the partnering company.

Certain expenditures related to project management are eligible as a direct cost of research (up to a maximum of 10% of the total direct costs). The college must provide for any additional indirect or overhead costs.

For ineligible proposals and limitations, see RFP below.

View this list of eligible Canadian universities and colleges here:

Pre-Application Information:

NSERC will accept applications for Engage and Engage Plus grants for Universities until May 31, 2019.

At minimum, an in-kind contribution from the company reflecting its active involvement in the project is required.

For an Engage Plus Grant, to demonstrate its commitment to furthering the project, the industrial partner must contribute cash to the direct project costs in an amount at least equal to the amount requested from NSERC. NSERC will match the cash contribution of the partner up to a maximum of $12,500. Any portion of the cash contribution that the university or college requests as overhead will not be matched. In-kind contributions are also required to reflect the company’s ongoing involvement in the project, but will not be matched by NSERC. The company’s cash contribution is normally required within 30 days of an award decision. Company cash contributed before the proposal is submitted may be used to start the project. Only funds available as of the date the application was received at NSERC can be leveraged. NSERC funds cannot be applied to expenses incurred before a project was approved.

Proposals can be submitted at any time using the appropriate application forms for university- or college-based applicants.

Industrial partners will be limited to participating in up to two new Engage Grants per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31). However, industrial partners providing cash contributions to ongoing, NSERC-funded projects (e.g., CRD Grants, ARD Grants, Engage Plus or Industrial Research Chairs), will be allowed to participate in up to two additional Engage Grants per year, for a total of four continuing Engage projects.

Decisions on funding Engage Grants are usually made within approximately six weeks.

Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships:

College and Community Innovation Program Important Information; and

College and Community Innovation Program – Frequently Asked Questions.

PDF forms and instructions may be found here:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

For university-based applicants (Engage Grants for universities), contact the NSERC regional office in your area:

For college-based applicants (Engage Grants for colleges), contact 613-944-5802,, or the NSERC regional office in your area.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

Canada: Alberta   British Columbia   Manitoba   New Brunswick   Newfoundland and Labrador   Northwest Territories   Nova Scotia   Ontario   Prince Edward Island   Quebec   Saskatchewan   Yukon