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NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation

Research Admin Offices:

  • MILO

Funding Type:



The winner (principal nominee) in each category will receive a $200,000 NSERC research grant. Industrial partners will each receive a $30,000 voucher valid toward the cash portion of their required contribution in a new Alliance grant. Applications using the voucher must be received within three years of the Synergy Award for Innovation being awarded. The value of the voucher can be divided across multiple years of the Alliance project. The intent is to offer one voucher to every partner organization; however, NSERC reserves the right to limit the number of vouchers in categories where multiple partners are involved. Research grant funds paid to winners of this prize are subject to the Tri-agency financial administration guide.


  • Natural Sciences and Engineering



Internal Deadline:

April 15, 2020

Sponsor Deadline:

June 1, 2020


Innovation paves the road to success in the new global economy. The Synergy Awards for Innovation were launched in 1995 by NSERC to recognize partnerships in natural sciences and engineering research and development (R&D) between universities and Canadian industry. In 2014, a category for colleges was added. Since their inception, the Awards have honoured the most outstanding achievements of these collaborations in the natural sciences and engineering. By working together, award-winning companies and post-secondary institutions have proven that effective partnerships are the foundation of achievement. Their success has enriched the academic and research programs within Canadian post-secondary institutions while providing tangible benefits to Canadians.



The nominated partnership must be in the natural sciences and/or engineering and be between: a Canadian university professor, or group of professors, or a Canadian college, and a Canadian-based company or companies with commercial activities in Canada, such as R&D and/or manufacturing. The Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships should be consulted to determine the eligibility of the industrial partner(s). In order to be eligible, the partnering organization(s) must be at arm’s length from the nominee and co-nominee(s). Refer to the Conflict of Interest Guidelines for Partner Organizations for more details.

An individual, team of individuals or a college may be nominated for the Synergy Awards and other major NSERC prizes in the same year, but can receive only one such prize in a given year. There is no limit to the number of nominations for the Synergy Awards that a university or college can put forward in a given competition.


Nominations can be made in one of four categories:

For universities

  • Small and medium-sized companies: A partnership with a single company with less than 500 employees.
  • Large companies: A partnership with a single company with 500 employees or more.
  • Two or more companies: A partnership with two or more companies, of any size, or a consortium of companies.

For colleges (only nominations in the natural sciences and/or engineering will be considered)

  • An innovative applied R&D partnership with demonstrable impact between a college research team and one or more companies, of any size.

Up to four awards may be presented annually, one in each category.

Application/Nomination Process:

Nomination process

The nomination package must include:

  • the Synergy Awards for Innovation Nomination Form completed and signed (electronic signature possible) by:
    • the nominator, who must be a senior executive from one of the participating organizations, i.e., an executive head from the university or college (the President or Vice-President of Research, or equivalent), or a senior executive from one of the industrial partner organizations (President, Chief Executive Officer, Vice-President of Research and Development, or equivalent);
    • an appropriate representative of all other industrial partner organizations listed on the nomination form.
  • the Terms and Conditions Form for Nominees completed and signed.
    • For universities, it must be signed by the nominee and each co-nominee, if applicable (academic researchers only, one form per person).
    • For colleges, it must be signed by the leader of the innovation project (researcher, faculty member, administrator, as it applies).
  • the Terms and Conditions Form for Nominators completed and signed.
    • For industrial partner organizations, the nominator must be a senior executive of one of the industrial partner organizations (President, Chief Executive Officer, Vice-President of Research and Development, or equivalent).
    • For universities and colleges, the nominator must be an executive head of the university or college (President, Vice-President of Research, or equivalent). Note: For a college, the nominator cannot be the Grants Administrator.
  • signed letters of support (two pages maximum), on letterhead, from:
    • the nominator (a senior executive of one of the industrial partner organizations or an executive head of the university or college);
    • the senior executive or executive head of all other partner organizations, including the university(ies) or college(s), listed on the Synergy Awards for Innovation Nomination Form.
  • a concise company profile (no more than half a page) for each industrial partner.
  • the nomination (free-form, maximum of six pages plus one page of references, and a one-page Appendix, as needed, to present measurable metrics and/or outcomes, as further described below). See the General Presentation Guidelines and the Selection criteria section for details.



For support, please contact, Amber Metham, MILO.