• This program is currently closed.



Type of Program:



The College and Community Innovation Program - Innovation Enhancement Grants stimulate applied research that brings together necessary expertise from diverse fields such as natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, and/or health sciences to address business-driven challenges and opportunities.

The objective of the IE grants is to increase innovation at the community and/or regional level by enabling Canadian colleges to increase their capacity to work with local companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).There are 3 levels of the Innovation Enhancement Grants: Entry-Level, Build and Extend.  

Comments on Funding:

Funding for Build and Extend Innovation Enhancement Grants is up to $400,000 per year. Cash and in-kind contributions from companies are required.
Funding for Extend Innovation Enhancement Grants is up to $300,000 per year. Cash and in-kind contributions from companies are required.

When It Ends:



May 21, 2020


The applicant must:

  • Work at a Canadian college that has been declared eligible to administer grants by NSERC, CIHR and/or SSHRC,
  • Propose a project across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities or health.

Eligible companies must:

  • be local companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Proposals may be anchored by a single (large) company, but they must include other company partners to demonstrate that the grant is effectively building the capacity needed to significantly benefit a broader group of companies within the industry sector. 
  • be engaged at the application stage, as well as throughout the grant period. For the Build IE grants, there is a requirement for progressively increasing company cash and in-kind contributions as the college builds its applied research capacity over the course of the grant.
  • at the time of the application, confirm a commitment of cash and/or in-kind contributions totalling a minimum of:
  • $300,000, of which at least $75,000 must be in cash over the five years of the grant for Build IE grants; 
  • $600,000, of which at least $300,000 must be in cash over the three years of the grant for Extend IE grants. 

Other organizations

The active participation and contributions (cash and in-kind) from governments (provincial, municipal, federal) and other organizations are encouraged, as they strengthen the application by broadening the impact of the applied research activities on the local or regional community. Please note that cash and in-kind contributions from such public-sector sources will strengthen the proposal but will not count toward the minimum company contribution levels.

Eligible partners are:

  • Canadian public or private for-profit companies, including start-up companies,
  • Multinationals with significant business operations in Canada,
  • Industrial associations, producer groups or formal consortiums in Canada,
  • Public utilities in Canada. 

Application Steps


Colleges must submit Letters of intent (for Build IE grants only) that will be evaluated by the CCI review committee, consisting of members who understand the role of colleges in economic development and their link with SMEs and who have experience in the private sector and with innovation activities at the community level. This committee will recommend to NSERC the colleges to be invited to submit applications.


Colleges must submit an Application (for Build IE LOIs invited to Stage II and Extend IE grants).

Documentation Needed:

Applicants must submit:

  • a description of the proposed initiative, including information on the involvement of students, faculty, local businesses and other relevant organizations
  • a work plan for the duration of the proposed initiative including performance measures,
  • a summary of the college’s overall strategy and research strategy,
  • A budget
  • letters of support from all supporting organizations, from the college president and from local companies and other relevant stakeholders,
  • F103CV (form-fillable) – CCI Personal Data Form and instructions from the applicant and key personnel involved in the project (up to five, including the applicant),
  • Form 103 – Application for the CCI Program,
  • Form 183A – Information Required from Organizations participating in Research Partnerships Programs for each company making a cash and/or in-kind contributions to the projects,
  • a list of five possible external reviewers to be suggested by the college from different sectors (e.g. academia, industry, government). These suggested reviewers must not be in a Conflict of Interest.

Other Things to Note:

The CCI program will no longer be accepting Innovation Enhancement (IE) grant applications.
The CCI program is currently being redesigned to simplify, streamline and address the changing dynamics of applied research in colleges and communities across Canada. The current suite of CCI program opportunities will be transitioned to the new grant types over the current year. These new grant types are expected to be made available in the fall of 2021.
NSERC will honor commitments to previously awarded IE grants.

About the author 


Maurice (Moe) Muise learned the ins-and-outs of government while an employee of the Government of Canada in Ottawa for 10 years. His current focus is helping small businesses in Ontario to identify and maximize government grants to grow their business.
Click here to learn more about Moe's background and how he can help your business.


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