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College-Industry Innovation Fund

Proposal characteristics

The College-Industry Innovation Fund seeks to enhance the capacity of colleges to support business innovation1 in Canada by providing them with state-of-the-art, industry-relevant research infrastructure to foster partnerships with the private sector in a specific area of strategic priority to the institution.

Proposals should:

  • Stimulate competitive college-industry applied research and technology development partnerships that lead to business innovation by:
    • encouraging interactions between the college and its industrial partners;
    • enabling the college to respond to specific technological challenges of their industrial partners;
    • allowing the college to undertake large-scale collaborative projects with industrial partners.
  • Enhance applied research and technology development capacity at the college in an area of institutional strategic priority;
  • Provide highly qualified personnel with opportunities to participate and gain know-how in applied research and technology transfer activities through direct hands-on experience with state-of-the-art instrumentation;
  • Generate regional and national socio-economic benefits through partnerships with the private sector and other relevant stakeholders.

The applicant needs to clearly demonstrate how the requested infrastructure will fulfill the above-mentioned objectives.

The fund is intended to support significant research infrastructure — made up of a single item or a collection of items — and should add to the existing applied research capacity of the college. It should also provide tools and capabilities to a group of college researchers to expand their network of partners and increase the number of collaborative projects with the private sector.

Participation from the private and other sectors

The purpose of the fund is to support partnerships between colleges and a range of private sector partners involved in any area of economic activity. Participation from enterprises, regardless of their size, is essential to the infrastructure project described in the proposal.

The level of involvement of industrial partners is a key consideration when making funding decisions. Close collaboration between the college and private sector partners is considered essential to enabling business innovation. The CFI expects private sector partners to be actively engaged throughout the life of the research infrastructure project, including the application stage. The CFI requires letters of commitment from private sector partners and ultimate beneficiaries or end users (if applicable) that demonstrate their tangible involvement in, and contributions to, the project and anticipated benefits.

The fund aims to support partnerships between colleges and the private sector. Nevertheless, participation from other sectors (e.g. public and non-profit), where appropriate, is encouraged as it broadens the impact of the proposal at the local, regional and national scale.

Funding streams

The CFI offers two competition streams under the College-Industry Innovation Fund.

Stream 1: Research infrastructure
The CFI accepts infrastructure requests for enhancing existing applied research and technology development capacity in colleges. Colleges with an established capacity are encouraged to apply to this stream. For example, those who have received a Five-Year College and Community Innovation (CCI)2 Innovation Enhancement (IE) grant or research and development funding from provincial, industrial or other sources are encouraged to apply to this stream.

Stream 2: Research infrastructure associated with a Five-Year CCI-IE grant application
The CFI accepts research infrastructure requests associated with a Five-Year CCI-IE grant application submitted to NSERC. This joint initiative allows colleges to apply for a comprehensive funding package supporting both research costs (through a CCI-IE grant) and research infrastructure (through CFI’s College-Industry Innovation Fund-stream 2).

Competition timeline


Notice of intent



Stream 1: Research infrastructure

2015 competition

January 16, 2015

May 15, 2015

November 2015

Stream 2: Research infrastructure associated with a Five-Year CCI-IE grant application

CCI-IE Grants competition 13

May 29, 2015

October 30, 2015

March 2016


Application process

Colleges can submit one proposal per competition for each stream requesting up to $1.0 million from the CFI.

While the overall objectives of both streams are identical, the application forms and review processes are different. Please consult College-Industry Innovation Fund: Stream 1: Call for proposals and College-Industry Innovation Fund: Stream 2 Call for proposals for further details.

1 Business innovation is broadly defined as the creation, adoption or adaptation of knowledge and technology to develop or improve a product, process or service, with the goal of improving the productivity and competitiveness of a company or a sector.

2 The College and Community Innovation Program is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).