NSERC Idea to Innovation (I2I) Grants (2022)
Academic Unit: Inquire within your unit
Memorial Deadline: Wednesday 30th, March 2022
External Deadline: Monday 4th, April 2022
Please contact Paula Mendonca, TTCO: firstname.lastname@example.org, 709-864-2674 IIC 3010 when developing your application for the sponsor’s requirement of engaging with the ILO.
The objective of the Idea to Innovation (I2I) grants is to accelerate the pre-competitive development of promising technology originating from the university and college sector and promote its transfer to a new or established Canadian company. The I2I grants provide funding to college and university faculty members to support research and development projects with recognized technology transfer potential. This is achieved through defined phases by providing crucial assistance in the early stages of technology validation and market connection.
There are four distinct funding options, characterized by the maturity of the technology or the involvement of an early-stage investment entity or an industrial partner (see Partner eligibility for definitions). In the market assessment, NSERC will share costs of an independent and professional market study with the institutions (including the industry liaison office [ILO] or its equivalent). In phase I, the direct costs of research will be entirely supported by NSERC; in phase II, they will be shared with a private-sector partner (company). The technology development may begin with a phase I project (reduction-to-practice stage), followed by a phase II project (technology enhancement) or, if the development is at a later stage, it can start directly with a phase II project. In any case, the combination of phase I and phase II will be limited to a maximum of three years of funding for any given project, and to one grant per phase for the same technology or intellectual property (IP).
Eligible research and development activities include:
- refining and implementing designs
- verifying application
- conducting field studies
- preparing demonstrations
- building prototypes
- performing beta trials
Certain expenditures related to project management are now eligible as a direct cost of research in phase IIb projects, up to a maximum of 10% of the total direct costs (see the Guidelines for research partnerships programs project management expenses).
Discoveries must be disclosed by the investigators according to institution policy, and the IP must be managed by the ILO or its equivalent. The ILO must work on each new proposal (see below). To comply with the I2I program requirements, which include matching cash contributions, IP protection, market promotion, etc., IP rights should be assigned to the institution/ILO. The ILO will be in a position to fulfill its commercialization mandate.
For all phases except the market assessment, the projects must describe the strategy to protect the commercial value of the technology and relate it to the commercialization strategy. Projects should demonstrate how the IP strategy and execution will contribute to the technology transfer or future business the technology may support. For more information on developing an IP strategy, consider the following resources:
- The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) massive open online course, Foundations of IP Strategy outlines the basic principles relating to the protection and strategic uses of intellectual property for competitive advantage.
- The Canadian Intellectual Patent Office (CIPO) offers; IP for Business advice, via its IP Advisors
- The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), in partnership with CIPO, offers a free IP assessment tool
- The IP Handbook offers several detailed chapters and sub-chapters on topics that may be relevant to your IP strategy
- The Innovation Asset Collective (IAC), Canada’s first patent collective program, is focused on assisting small and medium-sized enterprises in data-driven cleantech to better leverage IP as they grow and scale; IAC is committed to Canadian innovation and supported by the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development
All proposals must include a technology transfer plan, appropriate to the maturity of the technology, that describes how the work will proceed through the next stages in the validation process up to eventual market entry. The ILO or its equivalent works with the applicant(s) in evaluating and protecting the new technology, service or process; developing proposals; preparing a technology transfer approach; making business contacts; and negotiating licensing or other such arrangements with potential partners. A portion of the award may be used to co-support some of the activities undertaken by the ILO or its equivalent.
Eligible technology transfer activities include
- consulting fees to develop the strategy to protect the technology’s commercial value
- market investigations
- consulting fees for business plan, market survey, etc.
- business mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs
- sharing of patenting expenses
- expenses associated with creating a partnership (such as travel, etc.)
The institution must justify these expenses for technology transfer activities and commit to covering at least half of their cost. NSERC may provide support up to a maximum of 10% of the total requested amount (i.e., the NSERC contribution will be no more than $12,500 for a $125,000 requested budget). Staff activities are not considered an eligible expense and cannot be used to leverage NSERC funds. Technology transfer expenses related to the proposed technology and incurred previously will not be considered in the cost-sharing of proposed activities.
Full program details can be found here.