NSERC: Idea to Innovation (I2I) Grants - 2022




Idea to Innovation Grants


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, 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). In the market assessment, NSERC will share costs of an independent and professional market study with the institutions (including the industry liaison office [ILO] or its equivalent). In phase I, the direct costs of research will be entirely supported by NSERC; in phase II, they will be shared with a private partner. The technology development may begin with a phase I project (reduction-to-practice stage), followed by a phase II project (technology enhancement) or, if the development is at a later stage, it can start directly with a phase II project. In any case, the combination of phase I and phase II will be limited to a maximum of three years of funding for any given project.

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 to apply for and hold funds:

  • Applicant: Principal investigator on an application (i.e., university faculty). Eligible researchers must hold a full-time, term, adjunct or emeritus appointment with a Canadian university.
  • Co-applicant: Member of a research group applying for a team grant (i.e., university faculty or college faculty).

Eligible to participate in a research team:

  • Collaborator: A research scientist or engineer from any sector, e.g., government scientist, academic researcher, company staff member, can be  formally associated with a research team that is applying for a team grant, but will not have access to grant funds. A collaborator must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project, or program of research, and bring his/her own resources to the collaboration.
  • Participant: Faculty or professional/technical staff involved with the CCI Program. A participant must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project, or program of research. A participant will not have access to grant funds.

Note: To participate in a grant or grant application in any of the roles described above:

  • you must not be currently ineligible to hold and/or apply for funding, as an applicant or co-applicant; or to participate on a grant application or grant as a collaborator, partner or in any other capacity, from NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR or any other research funding organization worldwide, for reasons of breach of responsible conduct of research policies, such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies; and
  • you must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid or returned all money owing to NSERC. The determination of whether or not an account is in good standing shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of NSERC.

For more information on eligibility criteria please see NSERC's website on Eligibility Criteria for Faculty.

Maximum Project Value

  1. Market Assessment- NSERC will co-support up to three-quarters 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 an Industry Liaison Office (ILO) or its equivalent cannot act as an external consultant on an I2I market assessment project). Funding is available for up to 12 months, with a maximum contribution from NSERC of $15,000.
  2. Phase I- Reduction-to-Practice Stage- Funding is available for up to 12 months, at a maximum of $125,000, and is non-renewable. NSERC will assume 100 percent of the direct costs of research for phase I projects. NSERC offers an I2I phase Ib supplement. This funding, up to $60,000 for six months, 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. 

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

  • Market Assessment – up to one year
  • Phase I – up to one year
  • Phase Ib – up to six months
  • Phase IIa – six to eighteen months
  • Phase IIb- Up to twenty-four months

Special Notes

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen the scientific and engineering communities and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Increasing diversity and gender equity in the research enterprise are key priorities in our current strategic plan, NSERC 2020, and are highlighted in the strategic goal, “Build a Diversified and Competitive Research Base.”

Information Session

The Lab2Market team is holding information sessions for this program. Registration is through EventBrite's website.


Please note that research activities carried out in the context of COVID-19 need to adhere to the University of Guelph COVID-19 research principles, policies, guidelines and processes as they may be updated from time to time and communicated on the Office of Research web-page.


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

Internal Deadline

Winter 2022 Call - The Research Innovation Office 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, a minimum of one-week prior to the deadline set by NSERC. The researcher must also submit the application online through the NSERC portal. 

External Deadline

Winter 2022 Call - 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 are willing to review draft proposals submitted sufficiently in advance of the application deadline.

For Questions, please contact


University of Guelph - Research Innovation Office
Steve De Brabandere,
519-824-4120 x54916

Office of Research

Devon Staaf, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Research Services Office

Alert Classifications
Funding Opportunities and Sponsor News

Health and Life Sciences
Information and Communications Technology
Physical Sciences and Engineering