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Technology Access Centre grants – Instructions for completing a letter of intent

Table of contents

General information

About the program

Please read the program description before completing your letter of intent (LOI). Only colleges applying for a new Technology Access Center (TAC) grant must complete an LOI. The review committee will evaluate the LOIs using the merit evaluation criteria and will recommend which colleges be invited to submit an application. Existing TAC grant holders that are hoping to renew for an additional five-year term do not need to submit an LOI.

Who completes the letter of intent?

Information from the following individuals is required to complete the letter of intent in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal.

Primary applicant: Like all grants under the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, TAC grants are awarded to the institution, rather than to an individual. Consequently, the applicant is typically a senior manager in the college administration who is delegated by the college president to create, prepare and complete the letter of intent with all required documentation. The applicant must be distinct from the college's research grants officer.

Contributors (optional): Contributors can edit the sections of the letter of intent and typically help the applicant complete the application and other supporting documents, but they do not contribute to the centre's activities.

Who approves and submits the letter of intent?

The research grants officer (RGO) is the designated institutional liaison officer. They approve and submit the letter of intent to the appropriate agency on behalf of the college.

Whom should I contact if I need help?

Collection and use of personal information

The information you provide in your letter of intent is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act and stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings. Details on the use and disclosure of this information are described on the Use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC section, in the NSERC program literature and below. The information is used in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Letter of intent deadline

Your letter of intent must be received at NSERC by July 12, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Once submitted, the LOI is final and cannot be edited. You may not send material or updates separately before or after the deadline date.

Create your letter of intent

As the primary applicant, you must create, complete and submit your letter of intent using the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. The Portal is supported on the latest versions of Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

Follow the instructions provided in the Convergence Portal to complete your letter of intent. Most of the instructions you will need are provided on the Portal. However, additional details on the information needed to complete a letter of intent are outlined below.


  • Sign in to the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. If you have an account on NSERC's Research Portal, please use your existing account credentials.
  • Select the Funding Opportunities tab.
  • Locate the Technology Access Centres grants, Stage: Letter of Intent in the list of opportunities and click Create Application.
  • Complete steps 1 to 5 and accept the Terms and conditions for applying.

When completing your profile in the Convergence Portal, you do not need to complete the funding or interruptions and personnel circumstances sections, as these sections are not captured in the application and CV details, and they are not used in the assessment of applications.

If you have previously completed your profile in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal or if you have added information to another application in the portal, some fields may be pre-populated. You will be asked to review each page and update information previously provided, if required.

You must complete the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) self-identification form to apply for NSERC funding. However, you may select "Prefer not to answer" for any or all questions. NSERC appreciates your participation, which supports the granting agencies in monitoring the equity of their programs and strengthening equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the research enterprise.

The self-identification information is collected as part of your user profile when you register in the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. It is not part of your application and is not accessible to, or shared with, external reviewers and/or review committee members.

Complete your letter of intent

Once you have completed these steps to create the application, the letter of intent will be accessible from the Application tab. Select Application to edit the LOI.

My information section

You must complete the My information section of the letter of intent, including the CV education, CV affiliation and employment, and CV documents. Once these sections are completed, you may verify and submit your information in the Finalize section.

CV education. If you are completing the My Information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current education, if applicable, by selecting Add New Education. If you have previously completed these sections for another funding opportunity or if you have completed your profile, you may add education by selecting Associate Education.

CV affiliation and employment. If you are completing the My Information section for the first time in the Convergence Portal, add past and current affiliations by selecting Add New Affiliation. If you have previously completed these sections for another funding opportunity or if you have completed your profile, you may add affiliations by selecting Associate Affiliation.

CV documents (PDF attachment): As the applicant, you must attach the CV Contributions document (or university equivalent). This free-form text document is limited to five pages, which should be used to list relevant experience and contributions to applied research and innovation in natural sciences, health and social sciences, including contributions to training.

Shared information sections

Application details

Provide the name of the proposed Technology Access Centre — do not include other organization names or the full name of the college — and the language of the letter of intent. The main body of your letter of intent should be written in either English or French, rather than in a mix of both official languages.


Click on Invite Participant to invite contributors (optional) to access the letter of intent.


This section lists the contributors who have accepted and signed up in the Convergence Portal. Contributors can edit the LOI but are not expected to contribute to the TAC's activities. If an individual has not accepted your invitation, follow up with them to confirm they have received it. Contributors accept the invitation but are not asked to complete the My information section. Since they do not contribute to the centre's activities, the contributors' name and their information will not be captured in the finalized letter of intent.

Socioeconomic objectives (optional)

Provide the primary This link will take you to another Web site socioeconomic objectives for your initiative.

Fields of research

List at least one primary and one secondary This link will take you to another Web site field of research that best describe the research focus of this proposal. You may list a maximum of five fields of research.


List at least five keywords that best describe this specific proposal. You may list a maximum of 10 keywords.

Summary of proposal

The summary is intended to explain the proposal in language that the public can understand. Using simple terms, briefly describe the nature of the proposal, context, objectives, planned activities, and anticipated results in addition to benefits to local or regional innovation.

The maximum character count is 2500.

Proposed budget

Applications can include a request for up to $350,000 per year over five years. For colleges in Quebec, given the substantial network of centres that support local/regional innovation requirements, proposals are limited to a maximum of $100,000 per year to support an added administrative, research management or client development position (and associated expenses) for an established centre of the college.

Before completing this section, please consult the Tri-agency guide on financial administration and Technology Access Centre grants: Funding to ensure spending included in the budget is eligible for coverage and follows the rules for the use of grant funds. Use the Budget justification section to explain and justify each budget item.

Supporting documents

You are responsible for submitting a complete letter of intent that conforms to the presentation standards established by NSERC. You must review the number of pages and formatting of any attachments uploaded to the This link will take you to another Web site Convergence Portal. If letters of intent are incomplete or do not meet the presentation standards outlined below, they may be rejected, or be at a disadvantage, in comparison with those that are complete and respect the presentation standards. Where page limits are stated, pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed.

Prepare the documents

Prepare your attachments following the requirements below:

  • Any acronyms and abbreviations must be explained.
  • Pages must be 8 ½ inches × 11 inches (216 mm × 279 mm).
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch.
  • All text must be in black, using the 11 pt Arial font; condensed fonts will not be accepted.
  • Margins must be set at a minimum of ¾ inch (1.87 cm).
  • In multi-page attachments, pages must be numbered sequentially.
  • The applicant's name must appear outside the set margins of the page, at the top right corner of every page.
  • The name of each document must appear outside the set margins of the page at the top left corner of every page (e.g., Proposal, Budget justification).

Convert the documents to PDF

All attachments must be converted to portable document format (PDF) before they can be attached to the application. The conversion process varies with the operating system and word processing or spreadsheet software you are using. If you have questions about converting your documents to PDF, contact your institution's technical support staff.

If you do not have a PDF conversion program, you may download a free version of This link will take you to another Web site PrimoPDF. Macintosh users have a PDF conversion option in the Macintosh system's Print function.

The following supporting documents must be attached to the LOI through the supporting documents section:

1. Letter from the president of the college

Provide a letter from the president of the college (one page maximum) outlining the college's support for the proposed new centre and the relationship to the college's strategic plan.

2. Description of the proposed initiative

Using the headings below and in a maximum of 6 pages, describe your proposal. If needed, you may also use one additional page for literature references.

Write the proposal in clear, plain language. Avoid jargon, acronyms and highly technical terms. Refer to the Merit evaluation criteria in the TAC grants description for the criteria that will be considered by a review committee when evaluating your LOI. For each of the criteria and sub-criteria, using the headings below, briefly describe the proposed activities to allow the review committee members to make an informed assessment. Given the limited space at the LOI stage, a brief high-level description of the anticipated activities and preliminary plans for the TAC is enough. if the college is invited to submit a full application, more space will be available to provide more detail on the anticipated direction of the TAC.

The brief instructions below are meant to provide some guidance on the contents of the LOI and are not meant to be exhaustive for all TACs. The activities of this grant can vary greatly among colleges and depend on the specific TAC context. Use your best judgement when determining the information to include. In some cases, similar information can be placed under more than one heading. If that is the case, use the limited space strategically to avoid repetition.

Value added

  • Describe the targeted community organizations, the major innovation needs of the organizations and how this initiative will help resolve these needs. Explain how the TAC's offerings are unique (not offered by other organizations) in the college's local/regional area. Describe significant and lasting economic, social and/or health benefits that will result from this initiative.
  • For colleges that have an existing research centre(s) that already receives other government or college support for the centre's core operations, describe the incremental value that the additional support from the TAC grant will bring to the college's current activities in this area.
  • Describe potential synergistic collaborations with other innovation support providers within your community.


  • Describe the centre's plan to incorporate student training as an integral component of the TAC's innovation support and research service activities and how this will lead to enriched student experiences in applied research and problem-solving skills and in professional skills that will align with the needs of future employers.
  • Identify and describe planned measures to promote the participation of a diverse group of students and other trainees, including those from underrepresented groups, as well as to promote an equitable, inclusive and accessible training environment.

Organization structure and delivery plan

  • Describe the organizational structure of the centre, its key personnel, and explain how this structure is designed to maximize student training and the delivery of innovation support and research services to the TAC's clientele.
  • Describe the envisioned accountability framework and explain why it will result in effective leadership and sound financial decision-making.
  • Describe the support from the college and the TAC's alignment with the strategic plan of the college.
  • Describe the types of client innovation support and research services to be offered by the centre. Explain how these services will be delivered by outlining the major components of the innovation support and research service delivery plan, from initial client contact to final delivery of the agreed-upon services. Identify the processes in place to assure both the quality and timeliness of the delivered services.

Market opportunity

  • Describe the activities the TAC will undertake to attract client organizations and develop consistent sources of client revenue for rendered innovation support and research services in alignment with the metrics table projections. Explain the proportion of revenue received from clients for standalone innovation support and research services (i.e., innovation support and research services not supported by other sources of grant funding such as a CCI Program Applied Research & Development (ARD) or College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) grant.
  • Describe other expected sources of revenue from other innovation support organizations. These can be granting agencies as well as other organizations that will support the centre.

Applied research competence

  • Describe the current level of college expertise and research infrastructure available within the TAC's innovation support and research services focus.
  • Describe the anticipated quality of expertise and support capabilities to be offered by the centre to quickly launch, manage and successfully complete innovation support and research services that will lead to impactful results for the community organizations.
  • Identify and describe planned measures to ensure that EDI is being intentionally and proactively considered in selecting, recruiting or integrating research personnel into the research team.

3. Budget justification

Provide a brief explanation and justification for each budget item in the budget table in a maximum of one page. If applicable, describe any expected cash support from the college. For the letter of intent stage, the budget should be limited to the NSERC grant and cash support from the college and thus should predominantly cover only the core expenditures (e.g., fixed costs) of the centre. As a result, for the LOI stage, many of the budget line items, below, may not be applicable at this time. If the college is invited to submit an application, the budget should be augmented with estimates from other sources of revenue and should cover expenditures beyond the core activities (e.g., variable costs). Provide information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate. This page should contain only information pertinent to the budget. Refer to Technology Access Centre grants: Funding in the TAC grants description for a list of eligible expenditures not covered under the 2019 Tri-agency guide on financial administration.

Note: Since TAC grants are designed to support the core activities of the centre, including administration and overhead expenditures, these expenditures should be detailed in their appropriate budget categories and not placed under the generic overhead and administration category, as is the common practice in most CCI grants.

Salaries and benefits

For each of the following positions, give the names (if known), categories of employment, and proposed salaries (including non-discretionary benefits explicitly). Briefly describe the responsibilities for each position and indicate the amount of time they will spend on the centre's activities in support of clients' innovation needs over the term of this initiative.

  • College students: Salaries for college students contributing to the centre's activities. Former college students within one year of graduation can also be included here.
  • Professional and technical services: Salaries for research and technical services team members contributing to the centre's activities. Salaries associated with training students for specific research activities can be included here. Salaries for technology and knowledge transfer activities can also be included. Researchers from other CCI program-eligible colleges, and university students contracted by the college, should be included here. Salaries for full-time college faculty are not an eligible expense.
  • Faculty release: Salaries for replacement faculty hired to backfill a faculty member's involvement in the centre's activities.
  • Part-time faculty: Salaries for part-time college faculty contributing to the centre's activities.
  • Research administrators: Salaries for administrative personnel, including managerial staff and project managers, needed to conduct the centre's activities.
  • Business development personnel: Personnel salaries dedicated to developing and strengthening collaborations with client organizations and other regional innovation support providers. Include marketing/advertising personnel here.
  • Other: If applicable, other salary types, such as consultant costs, not listed above should be included in this category.

Operating expenses and supplies

  • Material, supplies and operating costs: Provide an overview of the expenses required to operate the TAC facilities, including administrative, utility and other typical office-related expenses. Also describe the type and quantity of materials, supplies and other consumables necessary to conduct the centre's activities.
  • Equipment: Provide an overview of expenditures related to the purchase, rental and use (including maintenance) of equipment. If applicable, provide rental of facility costs here. Rental of facilities owned by the college are not an eligible expense.
  • Other: If applicable, other operating and equipment expenditure types not listed above should be placed in this category.

Note: Operating, equipment and rental of facility costs must not exceed 20% of the total TAC grant amount.


You may include other expenses attributable to specific projects or activities, as follows.

  • Travel: Give an overview of the planned travel of the college personnel and explain briefly how it relates to the proposed initiative.
  • Research and technology transfer support services: Provide details on and explain major items for research and technology transfer support services (administration of agreements and partnerships, meetings with clients, technology support, writing proposals, workshops, etc.).
  • Knowledge dissemination and networking: Provide details on outreach activities (communications, networking, workshops, trade shows, etc.) and other major items that support collaboration and knowledge mobilization with the college's community, including students. Describe expenses related to client development, advertising, and costs of hospitality and promotional material.
  • EDI-related expenses: Provide details on the costs of specific activities supporting EDI in the research and training environment (such as EDI training or workshops, outreach to underrepresented groups, hiring EDI-specific support, support for accessible facilities and equipment, childcare support, etc).
  • Other: If there are other miscellaneous expenses, add headings to describe and identify these expenses.

Other expenditures

If applicable, add any other expenditures not listed above in this section. You may add headings to indicate the type of expenditure.

Cash support from the college for the operations of the proposed centre

Indicate the amount the college will directly invest to fund the operational requirements of the TAC. The cash must go into an account that the college uses for the purposes of the grant, as set out in the budget in the grant application. Use of the cash contribution should be carefully accounted and recorded, as NSERC may request that the college complete a Form 301 to confirm that the cash was provided and that the funds were used for the purposes of the grant.

4. Letters of support

Include two letters of support (one-page maximum each) from a senior representative of a regional, provincial and/or local organization.

Each letter should include the following information:

  • the need for innovation support services in the area of the proposal
  • the anticipated impacts on the type of organizations targeted
  • the current or past associations of the organization with the college

If you have identified several organizations who wish to provide a letter of support, consider providing a letter from one organization that summarizes the input anticipated from the other organizations.

5. Launching an additional TAC

Colleges that have already been awarded one or two TAC grant(s) but wish to launch a new TAC in a different applied research area may apply for another TAC grant. In a maximum of one page for each previously awarded NSERC TAC, provide a detailed explanation demonstrating that the targeted applied research area is distinct from the previous TAC(s). Explain how the new TAC will require different expertise and facilities and will support a different and significant client sector from previous TAC(s). Describe how the TAC will add significant incremental value to the region's innovation capacity.

Submit your LOI

Review the LOI to ensure that it is complete.

In the Finalize and submit section of the Convergence Portal, follow the prompts to submit your LOI to your research grants officer.

After you accept the terms and conditions, the status of your submission will change to Received by Administrator, indicating that the research grants officer has received the LOI. If you want to make any changes at this point, you must request that your research grants officer return the LOI to you.

Once your research grants officer has approved and submitted your LOI, the status will change to Received by Agency. No changes can be made after that point.

Submitting the LOI as the research grants officer

When you, as a research grants officer, receive an LOI submitted by an applicant at your institution, you will be asked to approve the LOI and submit it. By submitting it, you are confirming that the proposed centre activities meet the grant eligibility requirements (review the TAC grants description for more details).

By submitting the LOI, you, on behalf of your institution, are also certifying that the applicant

  • is affiliated with the institution
  • has the necessary time and resources to carry out the activities