NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates Advance Program

Back to all Programs

Advancing high-tech discoveries at Alberta’s universities toward commercialization

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

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

Emerging technologies such as Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies (AMM) offer transformational promise. They not only support Alberta’s existing sectors, but they can offer entry into wider global markets.

Our investment into the development of emerging technologies provides the foundation for job creation and economic diversification into nascent industries in Alberta.

Learn more about the areas of priority emerging technology for this program under program resources below.

Grants to bridge the gap between academic research and technology validation

The program provides grants of up to $150,000 per year for up to two years, to support eligible Alberta university researchers with promising discoveries in emerging technologies to begin advancing their research toward the marketplace.

Project funding is available to bridge the gap between academic research and technology validation that could later lead to technology transfer and commercialization.

We will review applications alongside NSERC on a first come first serve basis. We have a program budget limited to up to 25-30 projects and funding will be competitive.

UPDATE January 14, 2021

Due to tremendous interest and number of applicants to this pilot program, no further applicants will be invited to submit applications at this time.

Those who have already discussed with the Advance Program Manager and received an invitation to apply (on a first-come, first-served basis), must submit their application to AI no later than January 22, 2021.

Technology readiness

All submitted projects must advance a technologies’ readiness level (within TRL 2-4) toward an identified technical goal and envisioned future market opportunity, supporting work in post-secondary labs that can begin from the conceptual research stage (beginning from TRL 2), up to testing/validation of laboratory prototypes (TRL 4).

Projects must align with the priority emerging technology target areas detailed under program Resources below.

Technologies successfully developed in this program may be further advanced to market through other supports, including other Alberta Innovates’ programs and business lines like Entrepreneurial Investments or federal programs like NSERC’s Idea to Innovation grant.

Funding details

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 percent up to a maximum of $50,000 per year.

Funding can be used to engage and train undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research associates and technicians on projects, and for operational and equipment costs. These grants can support activities such as:

  • scientific technology assessment;
  • characterization of the invention;
  • proof-of-concept experiment;
  • testing potential to work in a laboratory environment;
  • data gathering;
  • interaction with industry;
  • identification of a “business/market advisor” that could be part of the team in future projects .



Researchers must be from a university on NSERC’s list of Alberta-based universities. The researcher must hold a NSERC peer-reviewed grant when they apply and meet NSERC eligibility criteria when applying and when funding is released.


To qualify for funding, all projects must:

  • Meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria;
  • Align with any of the priority emerging technology target areas of this program;
  • include a critical milestone in the form of a mid-project presentation;
  • be completed within two years or less;
  • comply with other criteria that Alberta Innovates may develop from time to time.

How to apply

  • You must read and familiarize yourself with the program resources below.
  • To start the application process, you must contact the program manager below to get the proposal template, discuss your proposal and confirm alignment to a priority emerging technology target area.

Please note, if you submit an application without consulting the program manager it will be rejected.

You must be a researcher from an Alberta-based university and you must submit your application through the our funding portal.

Pending our review and signing of the partner form, you can submit your application to NSERC.

The Advance program manager listed below will work with applicants through the process.

Program resources