NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates Advance Program

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Important notice, September 30:

Stream I NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) Alberta Innovates supplemental funding and the Stream II Advance General funding opportunities are currently subscribed to capacity.  As a result, we are no longer accepting any new inquiries under both streams (Stream I and Stream II).

We will respond to questions as we receive them. Any changes to this status will be posted here.

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

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

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

During the 2022-23 call, the Advance program will offer two different streams:

Stream I, special call stream: NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual)

This stream is a new pilot initiative through which supplementary funding is available only for researchers who hold active NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) currently in Alberta and were awarded in NSERC competition years 2020, 2021 or 2022.

The R&D activities must need to be focused in at least one of the following emerging technology subject areas:

Advanced Manufacturing Internet of Things (IOT)
Advanced Materials Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence Materials Informatics
Autonomous Vehicle Geomatic or Geospatial
Automation Nanotechnology or Nanomaterial
Blockchain Quantum
Cyber Security Robotics
Data Analytics Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
Interactive Digital Media or Augmented, Virtual, Extended or Mixed Reality Communication Network or Communication Service

Stream II: general stream

Stream II is the general stream of the program. Funding is available to NSERC eligible researchers at Alberta-based universities.  This stream targets the emerging technologies of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies (AMM).

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: Alberta Innovates funding will supplement active NSERC Discovery Grants (Individual) currently held in Alberta for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 competition years. Eligible applicants will receive two-thirds 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.


Stream I: The applicants in this stream 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 in one emerging technology subject area as presented above.

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

Project eligibility criteria

To qualify for funding all projects must:

  • meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria;
  • be completed within the two-year term;
  • align with the objectives of the Advance Program;
  • be developing technology within TRL levels 2 to 4 (Stream II);
  • comply with other criteria that Alberta Innovates may develop from time to time, and
  • align with any of the emerging technology subject areas (Stream I) or emerging technology priorities (Stream II).

How to apply

  1. Read and familiarize yourself with the program resources below.
  2. Contact the  program manager with NSERC approved Discovery Grants (Individual) project description (for Stream I), or proposed project description (for Stream II) to assess alignment to the program requirements.
  3. Once aligned, visit our application portal and complete and submit the Post-Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) intake form under the Funding Opportunities tab.
    • Stream I:
      1. Select “Advance Stream I (Discovery Grants)” on the intake form.
      2. Ensure to include the additional activities that will be covered by the Alberta Innovates supplemental funding in the ‘project overview’ tab of the intake form.
    • Stream II:
      1. Select “Advance Stream II (General stream)” on the intake form.

Please note, intake forms are reviewed in the order of receipt.

  • If the intake form is approved,
    • Stream I: A link to full proposal will be sent to the applicant to complete and submit.
      • Please attach the following:
        1. NSERC’s approved Discovery Grants (Individual) project proposal,
        2. NSERC’s Notice of Decision (NOD) and Terms & Conditions (T&C), and
        3. Message from the evaluation group.
      • After a decision on the application has been made, we’ll notify the applicant through the application portal. Successful applicants will execute an Investment Agreement with Alberta Innovates to proceed with the activities of the project.
    • Stream II: The applicant is invited to submit a full proposal.
      • Complete the Alberta Innovates application form in the application portal. You must attach a PDF of the NSERC application as part of this application.
      • After we review the full proposal and sign the joint call funding partner form, you can submit the application to NSERC for review.
      • Applications that are approved by both NSERC and Alberta Innovates will receive the 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.

Program resources