NSERC Idea to Innovation (I2I) Grants




Idea to Innovation (I2I) Grants

For More Information

Program Overview

Frequently Asked Questions (including basic principles for I2I Grants and eligibility for college-based researchers)


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.

Four distinct funding options are proposed (Market Assessment, Phase I, Phase Ib, Phase IIa, Phase IIb), which are 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).

The discoveries must be disclosed by the investigators according to institutional policy and the Catalyst Centre must endorse and work on each new proposal.

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 Catalyst Centre will assist 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 Catalyst Centre.


Eligible researchers must hold a full-time, term, adjunct or emeritus appointment with a Canadian university. 

Eligible research and development activities include (but are not limited to):

  • refining and implementing designs;
  • verifying application;
  • conducting field studies;
  • preparing demonstrations;
  • building prototypes; and
  • performing beta trials.

Eligible technology transfer activities include (but are not limited to):

  • 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; and
  • expenses associated with creating a partnership (such as travel, etc.).

Maximum Project Value

  1. Market Assessment: NSERC will co-support up to 75% of the costs of the project contracted out to a consultant, with the institution providing the balance in cash (a person employed part-time or full-time at Catalyst Centre cannot act as an external consultant on an I2I Market Assessment project). Maximum contribution from NSERC of $15,000, and is non-renewable.

  2. Phase I – Reduction-to-Practice Stage: Maximum contribution from NSERC of $125,000, and is non-renewable. NSERC will assume 100% of the direct costs of research for Phase I projects. NSERC offers an I2I Phase Ib supplement. This funding, up to $60,000 can be made available for successfully completed Phase I projects with high promise to secure an investor or a licensing company. 

  3. Phase II - Technology Enhancement:

    • Phase IIa – Early-stage Investment Partner: Proposals with an early-stage investment entity must be designed with a "go/no-go" decision point. NSERC can support up to 67% (2/3) of the costs of the project with the early-stage investment entity providing the balance in cash. Funding requested from NSERC should not exceed an average of $125,000 per year.

    • Phase IIb – Partnership with a Canadian Company: Most of the requirements for Phase IIa listed above also apply to Phase IIb applications. As well, if the development of the technology was supported by a previous I2I phase, proof that the objectives of the earlier project were achieved must be provided. 

Additional Notes about Eligible Expenditures:

  • 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).
  • The institution must justify technology transfer activities expenses and commit itself to bear at least 50% 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.

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

  • Market Assessment – up to one year
  • Phase I – up to one year
  • Phase IIa – from six to 18 months
  • Phase IIb – up to two years


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

The Catalyst Centre must assist with the preparation of the Technology Transfer Plan and sign off on the application. Then, the researcher can submit the completed and signed OR-5 form and a copy of the application to: Research.Services@uoguelph.ca. The researcher should also submit the application online.

External Deadline

The Office of Research will submit the approved application on behalf of the researcher via the online NSERC system.

How to Apply

Application forms, guidelines and application instructions for the I2I Grants are available.

NSERC staff is willing to review draft proposals submitted sufficiently in advance of the application deadline.

For Questions, please contact


Steve De Brabandere,
Catalyst Centre
519-824-4120 x54916

Office of Research

Carolyn Osborn, Director, Grants & Contracts
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x52935

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