NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates Advance Program

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Advancing high-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 will advance a research idea toward developing a technological solution with an envisioned future market opportunity. Funding supports eligible researchers at Alberta Universities who have made promising discoveries in emerging technologies priority areas to conduct the research needed to advance to the development stage, which could eventually lead to commercialization.

The emerging technologies of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies (AMM) targeted in this program offer transformational promise for challenges across Alberta’s existing sectors and entry into wider global markets.

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

UPDATE August 31, 2021

Alberta Innovates is currently accepting intake forms from researchers interested in applying for a 2021/22 Advance grant in the SmartSimple application portal.

Review the detailed intake and application process in the program guide (see program resources below). Researchers should begin by contacting the Advance program manager with a project description to assess alignment to the program requirements before submitting an Intake Form. Intake Forms will be reviewed in the order received (first-come-first-serve).

Applications to the program will continue to be reviewed by Alberta Innovates and NSERC until the 21/22 budget is allocated. Budget is currently limited to ~20 projects and funding will be competitive.

Grants to bridge the gap between academic research and technology validation

Eligible technology development within this program can begin as early as the conceptual research stage (beginning from TRL 2), up to testing/validation of ad-hoc component integration in a laboratory setting (TRL 4), to begin advancing and validating researchers ideas. Projects must align within the priority emerging technology target areas detailed under Program Resources below.

Technologies that successfully demonstrate a proof of concept and the potential to work in a laboratory environment in this Program may be further advanced to market through other supports, including Alberta Innovates’ Health, Clean Resources Sector or Entrepreneurial Investments programs or federal programs like NSERC I2I. Researchers are encouraged to discuss their project with the Industry Liaison Office (ILO) at their institution early in the project to begin interactions with industry and identify potential partners and business advisors.

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. IP protection, market assessment and technology transfer costs are not eligible expenses in this program. 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


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 for the duration of the grant. Applicants cannot hold more than one Advance grant simultaneously and only one application per Primary Applicant (PI) is permitted per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).

How to apply

  • Please read and familiarize yourself with the program resources below.
  • Contact the AI Advance program manager with a project description to assess alignment to the program requirements
  • Complete and submit the Post Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) Intake Form within the Funding Opportunities tab on the SmartSimple Application Portal Intake Forms are reviewed in the order received to determine if the proposed project will be invited to submit a detailed proposal.
  • Pending Alberta Innovates’ review of the detailed proposal and signing of the partner organization form, the application can be submitted to NSERC.

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

Program resources