Innovation Links Grants


Innovation Links Grants are intended to develop and strengthen research links between colleges, universities and businesses to accelerate the development of promising technologies and promote their commercialization into the Canadian marketplace.


Innovation Links Grants support college-university collaborations working with the business sector to realize successful commercialization. Direct project costs are shared by the company partner(s) and the CCI Program. Projects may span up to three years in duration.

All proposals require evidence of strong partnerships with firms, close collaboration between academic institutions, detailed planning, sound budget justification, and a clarity and focus of research objectives, and must clearly spell out the underlying assumptions, intended approaches, milestones and deliverables.

Innovation Links Grants are intended to support college and university participation in the improvement or extension of existing company technology or commercial products, processes and/or services. Commercialization projects that seek to deliver new products, processes or services based on intellectual property developed in academia should seek support from NSERC’s Idea to Innovation Grants or CIHR’s Proof of Principle program.

Innovation Links Grants can be up to $250,000 per year for both the college and university participants combined. The maximum grant for either participant is $125,000 per year. The eligible company partner(s) contribution(s) must be at least equal to the amount requested from NSERC, in cash and/or in-kind – of which at least one third must be in cash (e.g., for a maximum request of $125,000 for the college participants and $125,000 for the university participants the company partner(s) total contribution(s) must be at least $250,000, of which a minimum of $83,333 must be in cash). The award amounts to the institutions do not have to be equal and the distribution of funds may vary from year to year. See the Form 103 Innovation Links Application Instructions for more details.

Partnership arrangement

Innovation Links Grants capitalize on the broad spectrum of capacities available in Canadian colleges and universities. Either the college or university applicant can be the project lead.  The project lead must be eligible to administer federal granting agency funds according to the eligibility requirements for colleges or universities (as appropriate) of at least one of the three federal granting agencies (NSERC, CIHR and/or SSHRC). Grants will be given to and administered by the project lead’s institution  Once the grant funds have been transmitted to the lead institution by NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC, the project lead’s institution will transfer funds to the other institution in accordance with the application’s approved budget.

The company partner(s) must participate in the project and contribute to the direct costs of research with the required cash and in-kind contributions. The proposal must state to which academic institution the company partner’s contributions will be directed, particularly any cash contribution, if applicable.

Year-to-year funding profiles may change due to the progress of the project and the associated activities in which each of the institutions engages. For example, one institution may receive the majority of funding in early years for technology development, while the other institution may receive greater amounts in later years for technology transfer activities.

NSERC 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 for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs.

Cash contributed by the partner(s) before the proposal is submitted may be used to start the project, but NSERC will not recognize company funds spent more than three months prior to the submission date of the application. Innovation Links Grant funds cannot be applied to expenses incurred prior to the project’s approval.

Last Modified: February 26, 2021