Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement

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Important note: we are currently preparing a revised version of the CASBE program with the hopes of relaunching in approximately May 2022

We fuel collaboration between Alberta SMEs and Alberta researchers

The CASBE program is a partnership we have with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to fund collaborations between Alberta SMEs and researchers from Alberta post-secondary institutions.

We offer two streams of funding to help Alberta SMEs adopt emerging technologies developed with the support of researchers:

  1. Stream I with a maximum of $25, 000 in available funding from Alberta Innovates and $25,000 from NSERC, and
  2. Stream II with a maximum of $150,000 in available funding from Alberta Innovates leveraging NSERC’s contribution for for a maximum of two years for a total of $300,000.

The Alberta SME acts as the industry partner and the researcher applies to the program.

Program funding details

Stream I: CASBE Engage

NSERC created the Engage Program to foster the development of new research partnerships and has been working with Canadian Provinces to build funding opportunities that facilitate collaboration between Post-Secondary Institutions and Canadian industrial partners.

Our goal at Alberta Innovates is to incentivize Alberta Colleges and Polytechnics and Alberta SMEs to collaborate and take advantage of NSERC Engage Grants.

Stream I supports projects for one year instead of six months as originally established by NSERC Engage. The CASBE Stream I Program extends a NSERC Engage project from six months to up to 12 months in duration with a total $50,000 budget. $25,000 provided by NSERC and $25,000 provided by Alberta Innovates. The SME is expected to provide in-kind contributions.

Stream II: CASBE Long-Term R&D projects

NSERC created the Long-Term R&D projects programs (Applied Research & Development for Colleges and Polytechnics and Alliance Grants for Universities) to support well-defined long-term applied research and development projects undertaken by college, polytechnics, or university researchers with their industrial partners.

Our goal at Alberta Innovates is to incentivize Campus Alberta institutions and Alberta SMEs to collaborate and take advantage of NSERC ARD & Alliance Grants.

The CASBE long-term R&D projects program supports long term R&D projects regardless of the original length of the ARD or Alliance project supported by NSERC. The CASBE long term R&D projects program leverages NSERC’s contribution per project up to $150,000 per year for one year or a maximum of two years depending on the project duration funded by NSERC.

Do you qualify?

To qualify for funding, projects must be aligned to any of our emerging technology priority areas listed below. You’ll find more details on these priority areas in the program resources section below. These areas can help Alberta SMEs diversify their technological products.

Alberta Innovates Emerging Technologies priority areas


CASBE is open to academics from Campus Alberta and they must have at least ONE Alberta SME as an industry partner.

Researchers eligibility follows NSERC eligibility criteria with the addition that the CASBE Program is only available to Alberta academics helping Alberta SMEs developing solutions aligned to priority areas identified above.


To qualify, an applicant:

  • must meet eligibility criteria for NSERC Engage, ARD or Alliance programs,
  • demonstrate the relationship between the applicant and industry partner does not create a conflict of interest, and
  • the industry partner must have a physical presence in Alberta.

Industry partner

To qualify as an industry partner for Stream I and II, at least one SME as industry partner is required. The SME must:

  • be a for-profit, with at least two full-time employees, and fewer than 500 full-time employees,
  • have less than $50,000,000 annual gross revenue,
  • demonstrate the relationship between the applicant and industry partner does not create a conflict of interest,
  • have a physical presence in Alberta,
  • be a legal entity:
    • incorporated in Alberta, or
    • incorporated federally or in another jurisdiction AND extra-provincially registered in Alberta, or
  • a General Partnership, Limited Partnership or Limited Liability Partnership AND registered in Alberta, and
  • be in good financial standing with Alberta Innovates and its subsidiaries InnoTech Alberta and C-Fer Technologies.


To qualify for funding all projects must:

  • meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria,
  • align with any of the emerging technologies priorities listed in this program guide,
  • have at least one Alberta SME as industry partner,
  • be stepped with a critical milestone in the form of a midyear presentation,
  • be completed within the one or two-year term, and
  • submit to other criteria that Alberta Innovates may develop from time to time.

How to apply

Remember: Applicants must be researchers from an Alberta university or academic institution from Colleges & Polytechnics.

  • Familiarize yourself with program documentation below under program resources.
  • Submit your application through the Alberta Innovates funding portal.
  • The application must include the NSERC 101 (NSERC Alliance) or 103 (NSERC Engage or ARD).

If you’re an applicant interested in applying simultaneously during 2021-22 to AI CASBE and NSERC Engage, Alliance or ARD programs, please contact Marlene Huerta, Principal Business Advisor, listed below. We will review your application within a few weeks after we’ve received it. Once approved, we’ll provide you with a signed consensus letter you must then provide to NSERC with your final submission through their online portal.

If you are an applicant with a recently approved NSERC application in any of the categories (Engage, ARD or Alliance) please reach out to the program contact below to identify eligibility.

Program resources


The CASBE Program, launched in October 2016, was the first time that Alberta launched a joint Provincial/Federal initiative to address this goal for Alberta Institutions and SMEs interested in Engage Grants. It has been so successful that the decision made in 2020 was to continue offering CASBE Engage program for Alberta Colleges and Polytechnics and to extend the Program to include a new CASBE Long-Term R&D projects stream for Alberta Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities.