Synergy Awards for Innovation


Opportunity type:



Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Award amount and duration:

A $200,000 NSERC research grant, plus a $50,000 voucher to partner organizations



For University partnerships:

The nominated partnership must be for research in the natural sciences or engineering. It must have also been supported, in whole or in part, by at least one NSERC Research Partnerships grant, i.e., Engage, Collaborative Research and Development, Strategic Partnerships (Projects or Networks), Industrial Research Chair, Idea to Innovation, Alliance or Calls for Collaborative Research Projects.

In addition, the partnership must be between at least one Canadian university professor, or group of professors, and one or more partnering organizations from the private, public (non-academic) or not-for-profit sectors. One member of the academic team must be designated as the nominee and all others, as applicable, as co-nominees. All academic team members must meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria for faculty (at the time of the nomination). Partnering organizations must be recognized for cost-sharing based on the guidelines established for Alliance grants. Refer to the Role of partner organizations page for more details. Partnering organizations must also be at arm’s length from the nominee, co-nominee(s), and academic institution(s). Refer to the Conflict of interest guidelines for partner organizations for more details.

Partnerships may be nominated by any individual or group; however, the nominators must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Self-nominations (either by a nominee, co-nominee or one of the partnering organizations) will not be accepted.

NSERC strongly encourages nominators and university officials to consider equity, diversity and inclusion in their nomination processes.

Since nominations are reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee, the nomination material should be written for non-specialists.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI Action Plan.


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 recognition of an evolving research environment, the Synergy Awards for Innovation now also reward research partnerships taking place with colleges and research partnerships beyond those with industrial partners. Since their inception, the Synergy Awards for Innovation have honoured the most outstanding achievements of these collaborations. By working together, award-winning partner organizations and post-secondary institutions have proven that effective partnerships and innovation are the foundation of achievement. Their success has enriched the academic and research programs within Canadian post-secondary institutions while providing concrete benefits to Canadians.

Award categories

The Synergy Awards for Innovation are intended to showcase innovation and the benefits of uniting strengths to make the most of Canadian ingenuity. Synergy Awards for Innovation are offered in two categories:

  • University partnerships

    A partnership between an eligible Canadian university and one or more partner organizations. The highlighted research partnership must primarily focus on the natural sciences or engineering.
  • College partnerships

    A partnership between an eligible Canadian college and one or more partner organizations. The highlighted research partnership can be across the spectrum of natural and social sciences, engineering, humanities or health.


Application deadlines

Program application deadline

December 14, 2023 - 6:00 PM

Additional Information

Institutional Nominations (Optional)

Candidates may be nominated by any individual or group (Canadian citizens or permanent residents). Candidates may also be nominated by the President of the University of Calgary. Candidates seeking an institutional nomination must submit a request for consideration by the Vice-President (Research) and President that includes:

  • a 1-page abstract of the nomination letter that describes how the research meets the criteria for the (see below, Nominations - item 4); and
  • the candidate's CV (NSERC Common CV or Form 100).

The Faculty's lead for awards (e.g., chair of awards committee) or Associate Dean (Research) must submit both documents to the Research Services Office ( by October 2, 2023.

SUPPORT: Research Awards Committee

The SUPPORT: Research Awards Committee is now available to review and provide feedback to strengthen nominations for major research prizes and awards and advise on the suitability of award nominations. SUPPORT will also review the CV of a potential nominee and advise on their suitability for nomination at this time.

If you wish for the SUPPORT: Research Awards committee to review and provide feedback on a nomination package, please include all relevant draft materials.

If additional components of the nomination package are available by the SUPPORT deadline, the committee would be pleased to review all available materials.

Submit a draft of the 6-page nomination form, plus any available support letters and other documents.

The Faculty's lead for awards (e.g., chair of awards committee) or Associate Dean (Research) must submit the required documents to the Research Services Office ( by October 2, 2023.

SUPPORT Candidate Review: anytime
Submit 1-page abstract of the proposed nomination, demonstrating how the partnership meets the criteria for the Synergy Award, and the principal investigator's CV.

Nomination package:

  1. The Synergy Awards for Innovation form, completed and signed by the nominator (electronic signature accepted).
  2. The Terms and conditions form for nominees, completed and signed.
    1. For universities, it must be signed by the nominee and each co-nominee, if applicable (academic researchers only, one form per person).
    2. For colleges, it must be signed by the nominee only.
  3. The Terms and conditions form for nominators, completed and signed by the nominator.

    Note: For a college, the nominator cannot be the college’s research grants officer.
  4. A letter of nomination (max. one page), signed by the nominator. The letter should describe why the proposed partnership is being nominated for a Synergy Award for Innovation.
  5. The Nomination template. See the template for instructions.
  6. Letter(s) from the partnering organization(s)† (max. two pages per letter). If there is more than one partner, all letters combined must not exceed 20 pages. The letter(s) must be signed by the most relevant person designated as their authorized contact person. Letters must not duplicate the exact same information that is contained in the nomination and should describe:
    1. how and why the partner organization was involved
    2. the resources (human, equipment, facilities, etc.) provided
    3. how the organization benefited from the outcomes of the partnership

† Academic institutions are not considered partnering organizations.

  1. A concise profile for each partnering organization (max. one page each) that contains a description of the organization, its mandate and the nature of its operations in Canada. A reference to the partner organization’s website is not acceptable in lieu of the profile.

*You may use this checklist to ensure the nomination package is complete.

Nominators are responsible for assembling the required documentation, which must adhere to the General presentation guidelines. Documents must be assembled in a single portable document format (PDF) in the order outlined above. Documents that do not meet the presentation standards may be rejected or at a disadvantage in comparison with those that meet the presentation standards. Only the requested documents will be made available to the selection committee; any additional material will be removed.

Nominations must be submitted electronically via the Secure Submission for NSERC’s Synergy Awards for Innovation site before 8:00 pm (EDT) on the deadline date. Only submit a single PDF document (do not upload PDF portfolios). Late nominations will not be accepted. Once you have submitted your nomination, you will not be able to update it.

For institutional nominations, the Research Services Office will complete the submission of the award nomination once all required documentation has been received.

Contact Details


Synergy Awards for Innovation