Grant and contribution funding for collaborators

The NRC delivers non-repayable grant and contribution funding through the Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program. Funded projects may span the R&D spectrum from disruptive or foundational research to knowledge mobilization and pre-commercialization. The program also provides incremental operational funds for NRC researchers to work on collaborative R&D programs with external innovators from universities, businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

The Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program was created to encourage and support collaborative research and stimulate early and creative R&D ideas. It brings together the best minds from academia, industry and government to deliver game-changing scientific discoveries and breakthrough technologies across the innovation continuum that are of importance to Canadians.

The funding program supports the NRC's ability to conduct strategic research to meet Canada's current and future industrial and societal needs. Through R&D that draws on the NRC's people, equipment and facilities, NRC researchers and external partners can work on collaborative R&D projects to achieve targeted outcomes. Grant and contribution funding under the program helps cover external collaborator's R&D costs and supports the NRC's Challenge programs, Cluster Support programs and the Ideation Fund.

What are some of the benefits of the Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program?

This funding program provides wide-ranging benefits:

  • Helps subject matter experts, academics and government develop new and potentially disruptive technologies
  • Strengthens collaborations between industry, academia and various levels of government to address issues of national importance to the Canadian economy and for the quality of life of Canadians
  • Provides a vehicle for finding collaborative solutions to some of the most serious public policy challenges
  • Creates stronger innovation ecosystems in specific sectors by bringing together subject matter experts, academics and government labs to fill gaps in roles
What are the types of funding available?

The Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program offers non-repayable grant and contribution funding.

The share of contribution funding from the NRC is non-repayable and based on the nature of the project and related expenditures. Overall, the NRC will support up to 75% of eligible project expenditures. At the NRC's discretion, it will also consider contribution funding above 75% under exceptional circumstances.

  • Stacking limits: Recipients can receive additional funding from Canadian federal, provincial, territorial or municipal governments, up to a maximum of 100% of eligible costs.
How does the NRC determine the type of funding?

The type of funding is risk-based.

  • Formal calls for proposals: The type of funding is determined in advance and indicated in the call for proposals.
  • Projects or initiatives not part of a formal call for proposals: The NRC determines the type of funding from the risk assessment completed as part of the application process.
How do collaborators access funding?

Ideation Fund initiatives: New Beginnings and Small Teams

The Ideation Fund supports exploratory research through the New Beginnings and Small Teams initiatives. NRC researchers apply for funding directly to the NRC's National Program Office. Any external collaborators interested in working with the NRC on projects under these 2 initiatives can contact the NRC research centres directly or contact the NRC's National Program Office by email at

Collaborators for selected projects then access funding through an agreement with the NRC's National Program Office.

Challenge and Cluster Support programs

Collaborators interested in working with NRC researchers on projects under these 2 programs can deal directly with NRC program teams through workshops and engagement sessions. For contact information, consult the individual Challenge program or Cluster Support program web pages.

Often, Challenge and Cluster Support programs release open calls for specific research capabilities and collaborative project proposals to seek external expertise that may not reside within the NRC. These opportunities are also published on the program web pages.

From time to time, the Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program also engages with other funding programs to collaborate on joint calls for proposals. Under these joint calls, specific details regarding the NRC's funding are made available on program web pages.

Who is eligible to receive funding?

Eligible recipients:

  • Academic institutions
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (those with fewer than 500 employees)
  • Provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments and agencies
  • Indigenous groups, governments and representative organizations

Companies with 500 employees or more are generally not eligible to receive grant and contribution funding but may still collaborate under other NRC programs and initiatives.

International collaborators are eligible if the project will result in a benefit for Canada and Canadians.

What project activities are eligible for funding?

The following activities are eligible:

  • National and international collaborative R&D and prototype development intended to support the adoption or adaptation in Canada of new or improved innovative or technology-driven products, services or processes.
  • Acquisition and commissioning of equipment necessary to conduct collaborative R&D projects, including purchase of major equipment
  • Projects involving recapitalization and strengthening of research facilities as platforms for collaboration
  • Pre-project activities and initiatives, including support for business plans and capacity building where limited capacity currently exists or further work is required to define and finalize requirements
What project expenditures can the funding be used for?

Direct costs

Expenditures that fall under the categories below, typically used for budget development, are eligible for grant and contribution funding.

Note: Some calls for proposals may have limited eligible costs that do not include all the items listed below. Please refer to the call for proposal and proposal submission documents for information about eligible costs for individual projects.


  • Gross wages or salaries and non-discretionary benefits
    • Excludes salaries of Canadian academic principal investigators (not eligible)

Research support costs

  • Expenditures for implementing the project, such as for research materials or information technology, as well as expenditures to collaborate externally, for example, to work on reports, studies, seminars, conferences and workshops

Travel and accommodation costs

  • Expenditures for transportation, accommodations and meals incurred by the recipient to carry out the project

Fees for professional services

  • Amounts invoiced to the recipient by a contractor for services rendered that are directly related to the project

Equipment costs

  • Expenditures for acquiring new equipment, including reasonable amounts for delivery, installation or commissioning of the equipment
    • The NRC may consider equipment expenditure amounts over $350,000 under a long-term platform if acquiring the equipment will help advance the objectives of NRC's collaborative R&D programs or could help develop further mission-orientation projects throughout or beyond the NRC's program

Indirect costs

  • Necessary expenditures incurred during the project in order to conduct the recipient's general business but that cannot be identified and measured as directly applicable to carrying out the project
  • Indirect costs of up to 10% of eligible project costs are generally eligible

At its discretion, the NRC may approve requests for a higher percentage of indirect costs from Indigenous, not-for-profit organizations and international collaborators when indirect costs could be a barrier to participation (percentage predetermined on the basis of proof of expected overhead expenditures provided by the collaborator at the time of application)

How are projects evaluated?

The National Program Office evaluates funding applications and takes into consideration a variety of factors including:

  • Potential for the project to advance the objectives of the collaborative R&D program
  • Strength of the project team and capacity to achieve expected results
  • Technical aspects, including science plan and budget
  • Risks and associated mitigations
  • Anticipated benefits to organizations and Canada
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in the team and training component as well as in the research proposal
Can the same project expenditures be funded by both grant and contribution funding?

No, the NRC provides only either grant funding or contribution funding for the same eligible expenditures.

The NRC research centres and collaborators must disclose all funding from Canadian federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments for the proposed project. If other funding has or will be received, the recipients must explain how the work being funded under the Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program is different from the work receiving other government funding. The total funding from Canadian government sources cannot exceed 100% of total eligible project costs.

Who owns intellectual property created through collaborative projects?

For all collaborative projects, ownership of IP must be considered on the basis of the specific research needs. In most cases, the collaborative grant and contribution agreements contain standard terms for the different types of IP:

  • Arising IP created solely by a recipient organization: The recipient organization owns the arising IP. The NRC may also use arising IP created solely by the recipient organization for the project and for government purposes, while maintaining confidentiality of the IP.
  • Arising IP created solely by the NRC: The NRC owns the arising IP. The recipient organization may also use the arising for the project and for teaching and training purposes, alone or with third parties while maintaining the confidentiality of the IP.
  • Arising IP created jointly by the NRC and the recipient organization: The NRC and the recipient organization have full and undivided ownership. The parties agree to negotiate an agreement for the management, protection and commercialization or licensing of the IP, typically within 90 days of the project conclusion. The NRC may also use jointly created arising IP for the project and for government purposes, while maintaining confidentiality of the IP.
  • Background IP (BIP): The NRC and the recipient organization may use each other's BIP to carry out the project. All background IP of a party shall remain the property of that party.
Is grant and contribution funding available for all collaborations with the NRC?

No. The NRC conducts many collaborative research projects without funding them; grant and contribution funding is available only to help cover expenditures by NRC collaborators for Ideation Fund initiatives and projects under Challenge programs and Cluster Support programs.

Who administers the funding?

The Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation program funding is administered through the NRC's National Program Office, an independent office that oversees funded collaborative R&D programs and has a variety of roles:

  • Provides strategic advice, leveraging its technical and business experts
  • Develops and implements innovative funding tools and processes for collaborative projects
  • Delivers funding in alignment with Government of Canada policies governing transfer payments (grant and contribution)

For additional questions on grant and contribution funding, contact the NRC's National Program Office by email at