NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates Advance Program

Through this program, we offer funding to support Alberta university researchers in advancing discoveries to develop emerging technologies.

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Program at a Glance

Program Status: Active
Priority Area(s): Advancing emerging-tech discoveries at Alberta’s universities toward commercialization

Eligibility

Program Status: Active
Alberta-based: Yes
Organization Type: Academic Institutions & Researchers
Post-Secondary Students

Overview

The Advance 2023-24 program is now open.

NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates Advance (Advance) is a partnership program between Alberta Innovates and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). View their website here.

Through this program, we invest in projects that, in alignment with Alberta’s technology and innovation strategies, advance discoveries to develop emerging technologies that can generate economic, environmental, health and social benefits for Albertans and Canadians.

The Advance Program has two streams:

Stream I (Special Call stream: NSERC Discovery Grants [Individual]):

This stream was launched in 2022-23. It was a special call, pilot initiative offered by Alberta Innovates to provide supplemental funding to NSERC Discovery grant (individual) researchers who hold active NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) in Alberta awarded in Competition Years (CY) 2020, 2021 and 2022, and have R&D activities focusing on emerging technology subject area(s) listed in the Advance Program Guide (Appendix A).

Alberta Innovates accepted inquiries for the 2022-23 pilot stream until the stream was closed at the end of September 2022. Since then, Alberta Innovates has been processing inquiries/applications of the pilot stream.

In 2023-24, Alberta Innovates will continue to address the inquiries that remain in the queue of the 2022-23 pilot stream through Stream I. Please note no new inquiries will be accepted under Stream I at this time.

Stream II (General stream):

Stream II is the general stream of the program. Funding is available to NSERC eligible researchers at Alberta-based universities.

In 2023-24, Stream II targets the following four emerging technology research topics under the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) category:

  • Internet of Things (IoT)/Machine-to-machine systems,
  • Advanced data management and analytics,
  • Cybersecurity, and
  • Quantum computing.

Please see Appendix B of the Program Guide for detailed description of the four research topics.

The targeted emerging technologies in this program offer transformational promise for challenges across Alberta’s existing sectors and entry into wider global markets. Our investment will augment the Alberta academic researcher’s capacity to accelerate, advance research excellence and create additional HQPs in Alberta’s emerging technology areas. The development of emerging technologies will provide the foundation for economic diversification and job creation into nascent industries in Alberta.

Funding Details

Stream I: Successful applicants will receive 2/3rd of NSERC’s annual Discovery Grants (Individual) award value from Alberta Innovates to a maximum of $20,000 per year per award for a maximum of two (2) years.

Stream II: Individual proposals can request up to $150,000 per year and can be for up to two years in duration. A maximum to $100,000 per year will be provided by Alberta Innovates and NSERC will match the Alberta Innovates contribution at a ratio of 50% up to a maximum of $50,000 per year.

Eligibility

To qualify for funding all Projects must:

  • Align with the objectives of the Advance Program;
  • Meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria;
  • Align with at least one of the emerging technology subject areas as outlined in Appendix A (for Stream I); or one of the four emerging technology research topics as outlined in Appendix B (for Stream II) in the Program Guide;
  • Be completed within the two-year term;
  • Technology being developed by the Stream II Project must be within TRL levels 2 to 4; and
  • Comply with other criteria that Alberta Innovates may develop from time to time.

Stream I: No new inquiries will be accepted under Stream I at this time. Currently Stream I is only open to researchers who remain in the queue under the 2022-23 pilot stream (i.e., Alberta Innovates NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) supplemental funding pilot stream) and must have made their inquiries to Alberta Innovates prior to closing of the pilot call at the end of September 2022. Also the applicants must currently hold active NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) at a post-secondary institution in Alberta for Competition Years 2020, 2021 and 2022 with research focusing on at least one or more of the emerging technology subject area(s) as outlined in the Advance Program Guide (Appendix A).

Stream II: Researchers submitting an application must be from a university on NSERC’s list of Alberta-based universities. To view this list of eligible universities, click here. The researcher must hold an NSERC peer-reviewed grant when they apply and meet NSERC eligibility criteria when applying and when funding is released.

Applicants cannot hold more than one Advance (General stream) grant simultaneously, and only one application per Primary Applicant (PI) per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31) is permitted. Current Advance (General stream) grant holders, however, may be eligible to apply for Stream I funding, meeting the eligibility requirements of Stream I.

How To Apply

Stream I:

Alberta Innovates will notify the researchers who currently remain in queue under the 2022-23 pilot stream (i.e., Alberta Innovates NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) supplemental funding pilot stream), to submit the Post-Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) Intake Form within the Funding Opportunities tab on the AI application portal (SmartSimple).

  1. Complete and submit the PSIET Intake Form.
  2. If the PSIET Intake Form is approved, complete and submit the full proposal in SmartSimple.
  3. Wait for the full proposal to be reviewed by Alberta Innovates. Applications that are approved by Alberta Innovates will receive the Alberta Innovates funding.
  4. If successful, execute an Investment Agreement with Alberta Innovates to proceed with the activities of the Project.

Stream II:

  1. Contact the Alberta Innovates Advance program manager to assess alignment to the program requirements including one of the four targeted emerging technology research topics. See Appendix B in the Program Guide.
  2. Upon alignment met, complete and submit the Post-Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) Intake Form within the Funding Opportunities tab on SmartSimple, the online application portal.
  3. If the PSIET Intake Form is approved, submit a full proposal in SmartSimple. The applicant must attach a PDF version of the NSERC application as part of the Alberta Innovates application.
  4. Wait for Alberta Innovates to review your full proposal.
  5. Complete the ‘joint call funding partner’ form.
  6. Submit your application to NSERC for review.
  7. Applications approved by both NSERC and Alberta Innovates will receive Alberta Innovates funding. NSERC and Alberta Innovates will execute separate agreements with the successful applicants. Successful Applicants will execute an Investment Agreement with Alberta Innovates to proceed with the activities of the Project.

Evaluation Process

Stream I: We review all applications internally in the order we receive them. During this process the NSERC evaluation group’s comments will be considered. We’ll notify applicants after a decision has been made. Applications we approve will receive the Alberta Innovates funding.

Stream II: We review all applications first and then recommend whether they go to NSERC for review. Meeting all evaluation criteria is not a guarantee that an application will be funded as funding will be awarded on a competitive basis. If we recommend that an application goes to NSERC for review, NSERC will review and evaluate using its own review process. Applications that are approved by both NSERC and Alberta Innovates will receive the Alberta Innovates funding. For both streams, the applicants are strongly recommended to demonstrate the practice of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) adequately in their proposed project.

Shabbir Mustafiz, PhD, MBA

Senior Business Partner, Post Secondary Investments and Emerging Technologies


Closed Intakes

NSERC Alliance

Through this program, we offer funding to support Alberta university researchers in advancing discoveries to develop emerging technologies.

Closed

Registration closed: August 4, 2023 12:00 am