Nanotechnology Initiative – Frequently asked questions


Program information

What is the Nanotechnology Initiative?

The Nanotechnology Initiative (NI) is a formal, bilateral research collaboration between the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the University of Alberta, with the goal of mutual benefits gained through cooperation in the area of nanotechnology research.

How does the funding for NI projects work?

There is no new funding associated with this initiative. Funds are provided in-kind by both parties, with agreements on students and post-doctoral fellows, as well as other facility and operating costs.

What is the value in participating in the NI?

The NI provides a mechanism to formalize nanotechnology research collaboration between the NRC and the University of Alberta. The arrangements can include:

  • sharing of expertise, facilities, and equipment,
  • opportunities for students and post-doctoral fellows,
  • highly qualified personnel development,
  • leveraging of in-kind contributions to access other sources of funding, and
  • joint development of Intellectual Property (IP) (e.g., patents and publications).

Who owns the Intellectual Property (IP) generated during a NI project?

The NI Master Agreement between the NRC and the University of Alberta details the management of solely and jointly created IP arising from the collaboration. Arrangements are confirmed by mutual consent on a case-by-case basis.

Whom should I contact if I have a question about the NI?

Questions regarding the NI can be directed to Nano Initiative / Initiative de Nano (NRC/CNRC).


How frequently is there a call for proposals?

The first NI call for proposals was in 2017 with projects initiated in 2018. The second NI call for proposals will be in mid-2020 with project initiation in 2021.

How can I submit a proposal?

There will be a 2-stage proposal process with a call for notices of intent in the summer of 2020 followed by a request for full proposals in the fall of 2020. You can sign up for notifications regarding the call for the NI notice of intent.

How long do projects last?

In the first round of the NI (2018 to 2021), projects were 1 to 3 years in duration. For the second round of the NI (2021-2024), all projects are expected to be 3 years in duration.

Will extensions for existing projects be considered?

Extensions to round 1 projects will not be considered. However, the NI round 1 project teams can submit new project proposals with new deliverables and timelines for round 2.


Who is eligible to submit a proposal?

Each proposal is a joint submission, which requires both a University of Alberta lead and an NRC lead. Other project participants can be representatives from either the University of Alberta or the NRC.

Can students be involved in NI projects?

Yes, students and post-doctoral fellows can be included in NI projects as NRC or university participants.

Can third parties (i.e., those outside of the University of Alberta and the National Research Council of Canada) get involved in the NI?

The NI is a formal bilateral collaboration between the NRC and the University of Alberta. Third parties can be involved in NI projects, but only through separate legal agreements with the University of Alberta or the NRC.


What is the research focus of the NI round 2 call for proposals?

The broad thematic areas for the NI round 2 are:

  • biomedical nanotechnologies,
  • detection and automation (especially nanosensors), and
  • developmental and analytical microscopy.

More details of these areas will be provided in the call for notices of intent.

How are projects selected for the NI?

The NI project selection process is defined in the NI Memorandum of Understanding between the NRC and the University of Alberta. There is a project selection committee made up of representatives from the NRC, the university, and external peers. The project selection criteria includes:

  • alignment with the strategic mandate,
  • scientific excellence of the proposal and project team,
  • project management, and
  • highly qualified personnel training.

How and when will results be communicated to applicants?

Results from each stage of the NI round 2 proposal process (i.e., notice of intent and full proposal stages) will be communicated to the University of Alberta and the NRC project submission leads approximately 6 weeks following the deadlines. A joint announcement by the NRC and the University of Alberta of the successful projects is planned for May 2021.

What are the timelines for the NI round 2?

Tentative Schedule Activity
August 19, 2020 Call for Notices of Intent (NOIs)
October 1, 2020 at 4 pm Mountain Time Deadline for NOI submission
November 18, 2020 Request for full proposal from selected NOIs
January 11, 2021 at 4 pm Mountain Time Deadline for full proposal submission
February 24, 2021 Communication of decisions to project leads
March to May 2021 Finalize project agreements
May 2021 Announcement of successful NI round 2 projects
October 1, 2021 Launch NI round 2 projects