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Guidelines for research partnerships programs project management expenses

Effective project management demands that the components of a project be constantly monitored and revised with new information. While the principal investigator is responsible for overall delivery of research results in partnered grants, certain university-industry projects may require additional project management resources to ensure integrated coordination of research activities and timely delivery of research results to partners.

Research and development is by nature uncertain. Meeting project milestones in university-industry projects can be a challenge. The use of suitable project management resources can help realize project milestones and deliver research results. The appropriate resource will depend on the type of research being performed and the objectives sought in addition to the number of stakeholders collaborating and scope of work. A project of applied nature may be amenable to well defined milestones whereas an exploratory research project may require a more flexible approach to work through unpredictable results. The university researcher(s) and partner(s) should work together to ensure that the project management resources align with the goals and deliverables of the research project when considering the subject matter and project length.

Supportable expenditures and activities

The goal is to enable researchers to make use of dedicated project management resources for improved realization of university-industry projects in Idea to Innovation (I2I) Phase IIb and Alliance grants. 

Supportable activities and expenditures for this line item include:

  • Project manager salary
  • Project management software
  • Project management training for scientific and technical staff working on a project for which project management expenses are requested
  • Staff training is for project management only and training for other types of activities will not be accepted

Project management activities may include: setting schedules and scopes of work, ensuring management and delivery on all activities taking place in the project, liaising with industrial partners, organizing data collection and/or field surveys, drafting results, dissemination and preparing reports. The project management resource may be a professional project manager or a member of the scientific team (for example a research associate or a post-doctoral fellow). As a general rule graduate students are not expected to provide project management support to the eligible partnered grants. A fraction of the project manager’s time will be directly attributable to the project management expenses.

Individuals eligible to apply for NSERC funding cannot receive any compensation related to this project management line item. Project funds cannot be used to fund part of the salary of an administrative assistant. Other types of expenses (i.e., administrative and secretarial expenses) are not eligible as project management expenses.

Level of financial support

The maximum level of support for all expenditures related to project management will be up to 10% of the total cash contributions to the project from all sources.

In some cases, the industry partner may be in the best position to provide the project management support to the activities conducted at the university by academic faculty, staff, and students. Such project management expenses provided by partners will be recognized as an eligible in-kind contribution to the project to a maximum amount of 10% of the total cash contributions from all sources.  This in-kind contribution should be described in the Contributions from supporting organizations section of the application form (i.e., Form 101) and the partner’s letter of support, where applicable.

Identification of project management expenses

In the Budget justification section of the application:

  • Project management salary expenses must be listed under salaries and benefits
  • Project management software requests must appear under materials and supplies
  • Project management training costs should appear under other expenses

As with all proposed budget expenses, the applicants must justify their proposed budget to allow reviewers to assess whether the project management resource(s) requested are appropriate. The amount and percent time of the project manager salary request must be commensurate with the scope and scale of the project. Project management expenses for other grants cannot be provided from these expenses.