Challenge programs

Breakthroughs take teamwork

When we support new ideas and help researchers, businesses and universities work together, we create conditions for breakthrough technologies that benefit all Canadians.

Through our Challenge programs, the NRC is partnering with private and public sector, academic and other research organizations in Canada and internationally to advance transformative, high-risk, high-reward research that address Canadian priorities.

The Government of Canada has provided $150 million over 5 years, with $30 million per year ongoing to fund NRC researchers and their innovative partners from post-secondary institutions and businesses on multi-party research and development (R&D) programs. An additional $15 million in funding will address R&D needs in the fight against COVID‑19.

The Challenge programs are a component of the new collaborative research and development programs announced in 2019, as part of the Canada Innovation and Skills Plan and commitment to support business innovation.

Mission-oriented programs across industries

These R&D programs bring together researchers and facilities from across the NRC's 14 research centres, with academic and industrial partners.

  • Outcome-focussed

  • Multi-disciplinary

  • Up to 7 years in duration


Grant and contribution funding is provided through the NRC's National Program Office for collaborators who offer complementary expertise, including academic institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Programs are developed in consultation with stakeholders and strengthened through peer review.

Collaborate with us

Learn more about opportunities for collaboration in any of the following areas:

Pandemic Response

To address challenges requiring further R&D for solutions to meet COVID‑19-related needs.

Learn more about pandemic response

Materials for Clean Fuels

To develop new materials for clean and sustainable sources of energy.

Learn more about materials for clean fuels

High-throughput and Secure Networks

To develop high-performance, rapid and secure communication for rural and remote communities.

Learn more about high-throughput and secure networks

Artificial Intelligence for Design

A foundation of AI tools, technologies and capabilities to support the above mission areas.

Learn more about artificial intelligence for design

Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy

To develop disruptive technology solutions for cell and gene therapies to significantly improve health outcomes.

Learn more about disruptive technology solutions for cell and gene therapy

Aging in Place

To improve the quality of life of older adults and their personal caregivers through innovation that will support safe and healthy aging.

Learn more about Aging in Place

Internet of Things: Quantum Sensors

To develop revolutionary sensors that could be engineered and commercialized for applications in the environment, natural resources, health care, and defence.

Learn more about Internet of Things: Quantum Sensors

Arctic and Northern

To address pressing issues impacting the quality of life of northern peoples.

Learn more about Arctic and Northern

Applied Quantum Computing

To support commercial and government innovations in quantum algorithms and applied quantum computing.

Learn more about Applied Quantum Computing

Low Carbon Built Environment

To support the development of low-carbon construction tools, products and services.

Learn more about Low Carbon Built Environment

Construction Sector Digitalization and Productivity

To support further modernization and digitalization of Canadian construction sector practices.

Learn more about Construction Sector Digitalization and Productivity

Critical Battery Materials Initiative

To develop AI-enabled platforms that can discover critical battery materials and processes in a third of the time it takes today, contributing to the growth of the Canadian supply chain.

Learn more about Critical Battery Materials Initiative program

Learn more about Challenge program projects and people

For the latest news and information on our Challenge programs, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and search #NRCChallengeAccepted.