` NSERC – NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grants
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NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grants

Duration Up to 24 months
Application deadline Until available funding is awarded; Alberta Innovates will close this program once application capacity has been met.
Application forms
  • Form 100A – personal data form
  • Form 101 – application for a grant
Guidance on this page takes precedence over other Alliance descriptions and instructions. Find additional guidance on the PDF forms and instructions page. To create or access an application, log in to the online system.
For more information Contact the Prairies Regional Office or the This link will take you to another Web site Alberta Innovates Advance program manager.

Context and objectives

NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grants invest in projects that, in alignment with Alberta’s innovation and technology strategies, advance discoveries to develop emerging technologies that can generate economic, environmental, health and social benefits for Albertans and Canadians.

The priority emerging technology target areas of this program are information and communications technologies (ICT) and advanced materials and manufacturing technologies (AMM). These areas offer transformational promise for challenges across Alberta’s existing sectors and entry into wider global markets. Their development provides the foundation for job creation and economic diversification in Alberta.

Funding is available to NSERC eligible researchers at  NSERC eligible Alberta-based universities to help those who have made promising discoveries conduct the research needed to advance to the development stage, which could eventually lead to commercialization. Projects must advance the readiness of technologies for future market opportunities in the priority emerging technology target areas of this program. The principal investigator must hold an active peer-reviewed grant from NSERC as primary applicant at the time of application. See the detailed description of the priority emerging technology target areas.

Individual proposals can request up to $150,000 per year and can be for up to two years in duration. A maximum of $100,000 per year will be provided by Alberta Innovates, and NSERC will match the Alberta Innovates contribution at a ratio of 50%, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year.

Project funding is intended to help bridge the gap between academic research and technology validation in technology readiness levels This link will take you to another Web site (TRL) 2 to 4. Projects will advance an idea by developing a technological solution for a future market opportunity. Projects could lead to technology transfer activities and commercialization following the grant period. 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). Projects developing technologies at later TRL stages are not eligible for this program. Partners are not permitted in this program; projects with partners should apply to the main NSERC Alliance program or other AI/NSERC support programs.

Funding can be used to engage and train undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and technicians on projects, as well as for operational and equipment costs. Intellectual property (IP) protection, market assessment and technology transfer activities costs are not eligible expenses in this program. Project funding will support activities such as

  • scientific technology assessment
  • characterization of the invention
  • proof-of-concept experimentation
  • testing potential to work in a laboratory environment
  • data gathering

Key goals of the NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grants are to improve the direction of research efforts that could lead to technology transfer and commercialization in Alberta, to develop emerging technologies with market potential and/or solutions to end-user challenges, and to develop an enhanced skill and knowledge base (highly qualified personnel [HQP]) for Alberta companies.

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 support programs, including This link will take you to another Web site Alberta Innovates Health and Clean Resources Sector or Entrepreneurial Investments programs or federal programs such as NSERC I2I grants. 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.

NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grants project objectives:

  • Gather strong scientific evidence and advance discoveries in emerging technologies within the TRL 2 to 4 range, where a potential local/global market application has been identified
  • Train HQP in emerging technologies responding to identified market needs
  • Move research from idea to proof-of-concept/prototype validation, and encourage HQP to do so as well
  • Explore future commercialization paths by engaging with ILOs

Alberta Innovates will support projects aligned with the priority emerging technology target areas of this program and representing a credible Alberta-developed solution to a future market opportunity, as assessed by Alberta Innovates.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

For more information, see the  Guide for applicants: Considering equity, diversity, and inclusion in your application.

Explaining how you have considered equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan is mandatory. Please consult the Equity, diversity and inclusion in your training plan web page for guidance.


  • As the principal investigator [PI], you must hold an active NSERC peer-reviewed grant when you apply. You must meet NSERC eligibility criteria when you apply and for the duration of the grant.
  • You must be a faculty member from one of the NSERC eligible Alberta-based universities.
  • You may submit only one application as a PI in each fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • You may submit as many applications as you wish as a co-applicant.
  • You may not hold more than one Advance grant simultaneously; hence, current Advance grant holders are ineligible to apply.


Partner organizations that are recognized for cost-sharing with NSERC are not permitted for proposals under this program. However, potential end-users for the technology being proposed should be identified in the proposal. Please ensure that you add Alberta Innovates as a joint funding partner to this application and provide the name and email of the Alberta Innovates Advance program manager as the contact for Alberta Innovates.


To start the application process for an NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grant, applicants must contact the This link will take you to another Web site Alberta Innovates Advance program manager to ensure that the proposed project meets the minimum requirements of alignment to Government of Alberta and Alberta Innovates priorities and the priority emerging technology target areas of this program. After receiving confirmation from Alberta Innovates that the proposed research is aligned with program requirements, the applicant must complete and submit the Post Secondary Investments & Emerging Technologies (PSIET) Intake Form on the Alberta Innovates SmartSimple Application Portal.

Intake forms are reviewed by Alberta Innovates in the order received (first-come, first-serve) to determine whether the applicant will be invited to submit a full application. If invited to apply, the applicant must complete the NSERC application (without submitting it) and generate a PDF version of it with the preview function in NSERC’s online system. The applicant must then complete the Alberta Innovates application form in the Alberta Innovates This link will take you to another Web site SmartSimple portal. The applicant must attach the PDF of the NSERC application as part of the Alberta Innovates application.

Alberta Innovates will complete the partner organization form once it has reviewed and assessed the details submitted through the Alberta Innovates SmartSimple portal. Once Alberta Innovates has completed the partner form, the applicant may submit the application to NSERC through NSERC’s online system.

NSERC application details

To start the NSERC application:

  • Go to the NSERC’s online system and create a new form 101.
  • Select Research partnerships, then Alliance. 
  • For the Proposal type field, select Full proposal.
  • For the Type of call field, select AI Advance from the drop-down menu.

The proposed cost-sharing ratio for this application is 100%.

There are four components to this NSERC Alliance – Alberta Innovates (AI) Advance grants application: proposal, applicant information, partner organization information (Alberta Innovates, in this case), and a Technology Transfer Office Review Form, completed by the technology transfer office of the applicant’s university. All four components need to be completed and submitted. Guidance on this page takes precedence over other NSERC Alliance descriptions and instructions.

  • Proposal: Complete an application for a grant (form 101) using the Proposal template. Provide responses in place of INSERT YOUR TEXT HERE using a maximum of five pages. Figures and tables are welcome. The funding requested in this proposal cannot represent a budgetary or conceptual overlap with any other funding support currently held or applied for. The instructions for completing an Alliance grant application provide additional guidance for questions not addressed on this page.
  • Applicant information: Submit a Personal data form with Common CV attachment for the applicant and all co-applicants.
  • Partner organization information: Please ensure that you add Alberta Innovates as a joint funding partner to this application and provide the name and email of the Alberta Innovates Advance program manager as the contact for Alberta Innovates. Your contact person will be invited through the online system to provide information about the partner organization following the Partner organization instructions.
  • Technology transfer office (TTO) Review Form: The TTO of your university must complete this form. Contact your TTO with as early as possible (at least two weeks before you intend to submit to the program) to allow time for the TTO to review and prepare the form. TTOs can also provide assistance in preparing the overall application. Attach the completed form in the Other documents section in the NSERC online system.

Evaluation criteria

Applications are evaluated using the following four equally weighted criteria. The proposal must address all of the criteria and sub-criteria to be considered for funding. Applications will continue to be reviewed on a first-come, first-serve basis until the annual budget is fully allocated.

Relevance and outcomes

  • Significance of the intended outcomes and of the economic, social and/or environmental benefits for Canada and Alberta
  • Need for original research to address the topic and the potential for developing and advancing new technologies in a priority emerging technology target area
  • How the strategy to apply the research results will achieve the intended outcomes

Quality of the proposal

  • Clarity of the objectives and deliverables; appropriateness of the scope and size of planned activities to achieve the expected outcomes; justification for the planned expenditures
  • Inclusion of how sex, gender and diversity considerations will be addressed in the research design, if applicable
  • Appropriateness of the identified indicators and methods for monitoring progress during the project and for assessing outcomes afterward

Project team and training opportunities

  • Appropriateness of academic researchers’ expertise and, where applicable, expertise of the partner organizations, both for carrying out the planned research activities and for mentoring trainees
  • Opportunities for enriched training experiences for research trainees (undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows) to develop relevant research skills as well as professional skills such as leadership, communication, collaboration and entrepreneurship
  • Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion in the training plan

Future market opportunity

  • Clarity of the proposal presenting the technology solution, who would need it, in what form and how it could be brought to the end-users/market (future product)
  • Positioning of the proposed technology compared to other potential solutions; description of the state of the art in the current research and market; why and how the proposed technology could compete
  • Positioning of the strengths and potential advantages that favour an Alberta-developed solution

Please consult the merit indicators for further details.


All project expenditures are subject to the principles and directives governing the appropriate use of grant funds as outlined in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration. The agreement must be aligned with NSERC’s Policy on intellectual property, which promotes the use and/or exploitation of knowledge and open access to results of research funded by NSERC.

Intellectual property

See the Alliance Award webpage for information on NSERC’s Policy on Intellectual Property, research agreements, and how these pertain to this funding opportunity.


You will be informed of reporting requirements and the corresponding schedule when you are notified of your award. NSERC and Alberta Innovates will strive to streamline their reporting requirements to lessen the burden on participants. Alberta Innovates requires an annual presentation to demonstrate progress.