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Competition Instructions

2011 Competition - Industrial Research and Development Internship (IRDI) program

 Competition Instructions

The IRDI program is a federal initiative administered by the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Secretariat and overseen by the NCE Steering Committee. The committee is composed of the Deputy Minister of Industry, the Presidents of the three granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), the President of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Deputy Minister of Health. The last two individuals are participant as observers.

Canadian businesses need to increase S&T investments and hire more talented science and technology graduates to successfully compete in the global economy through the application of new technologies and innovative solutions.

The 2011 Competition was launched to select, through a peer-review process,  successful recipient organization(s) who will  deliver the IRDI program, and match graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with for-profit private sector organizations. Projects may be in any of the various disciplines within natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, or health.

These instructions provides details of the new  call for proposals for the 2011 competition. 


Recipient organization:
Canadian not-for-profit corporations are the organizations eligible to receive funds to deliver an IRDI initiative.

Canadian participating institutions: Canadian universities with a mandate for research and their affiliated institutions including hospitals and research institutes that are eligible to receive funds from any of the federal granting agencies and who enrol or otherwise give academic status to eligible Interns.

Private sector host organizations:
Companies operating in Canada who derive revenues from the sale of products and services and include public utilities with most of their revenue deriving from non-governmental sources.

The IRDI Program

Program Goal

The program was announced in Budget 2007 and is part of the Government of Canada’s Science and Technology (S&T) Strategy, This link will take you to another Web site Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage.

The goal of the IRDI program is to introduce graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to practical business problems and provide them with the opportunity to apply their scientific and technical expertise to address the needs of participating businesses, as well as to create a vehicle that will facilitate increased private investment in Research and Development (R&D). The IRDI program is open to all research areas.

Competition Budget and Size of Grants

A total of $34.4 million over five years is available for this competition ($6.88 million per year starting in Fiscal Year 2011-12) to cover the administrative expenses of delivering the IRDI program and the expenses of the stipends paid to interns.  The amount of grant funds provided to each recipient organization will depend on the nature of the proposed initiative.

Expected Results and Outcomes

The IRDI program goal is to create  additional opportunities for skilled graduates by linking them with businesses that can make use of their talents. The overall result of this program will be an increase in the science and technology activities of businesses, with a corresponding  increase in knowledge based jobs for trained graduates. Specific outcomes of this program include:

Immediate Outcomes (during award period)

  • S&T graduates exposed to real world business problems.
  • Private sector exposure to S&T benefits.
  • New S&T solutions developed for business needs.
  • Strengthened linkages between business and universities.
  • Increased number of graduates with research, user-sector skills and know-how.
  • Enhanced use of S&T graduates by the private sector.
  • New positions for S&T graduates.

Intermediate/Long Term Outcomes

  • Increased private sector investment in S&T.
  • Longer term S&T positions created by business, i.e., more job opportunities in Canada for S&T graduates.
  • Change in business culture that will lead to increased and sustainable business S&T activities, and long term university-private sector collaborations.

Delivery Requirements

To ensure alignment with the goals of the IRDI program, recipient organizations must apply the following delivery requirements:

Eligible Recipient Organizations

Not-for-profit corporations are the organizations eligible to receive funds to deliver an IRDI initiative. These organizations include: 

  • Existing Networks of Centres of Excellence.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGO)  (that provide a facilitating and catalytic role among industry and business, universities, and government).
  • Universities, and consortia of firms and universities.

As a condition of eligibility, organizations applying for the delivery of the IRDI program shall have an established independent Board of Directors responsible for the strategic orientation of the corporation, the approval of its annual financial reports and audits. Independent implies that the Board of Directors is autonomous in the selection of the directors and corporate members.

Recipient organization(s) must have the adequate financial and data management controls in place to properly manage IRDI funds.

Successful recipient organization(s) must have the capacity to deliver a minimum of 100 internships per year.
In order to offer coherent services to students and firms, the proposal from a recipient organization must address how the organization will work with other similar student support programs in Canada, in particular with the granting agencies and other federal internship programs. Collaborations are encouraged.

Prior to signing the funding agreement, successful applicants must demonstrate evidence of incorporation in Canada. Federal, provincial and municipal government departments or agencies and crown corporations are not eligible to apply to the IRDI program. 

Collaboration with Other Recipient Organizations

An application to deliver an IRDI initiative may be submitted by one or a group of organizations. Collaborations are encouraged and, in such cases, a lead organization must be identified as the main contact for program delivery and annual reporting purposes.

The successful recipient organizations will be expected to work in collaboration to jointly deliver the IRDI program. These organizations will need to adapt their business models to maximize efficiency based on the strengths and track record of their organizations. This could result in a discipline or regional focus.

Intern Recruitment

Eligible interns are full-time graduate students enrolled in, or postdoctoral fellows working in, a Canadian participating institution. The institution must be eligible to receive and manage funds under the guidelines of the granting agencies in any area of research, including natural science, engineering, economy, social science, health, environment and ethic, provided that their skills are sought by the participating firm to support its innovation process. Interns are paid by stipends through the financial systems of their respective institutions. 

In exceptional circumstances, the IRDI program could be extended to part-time students. The burden of demonstrating in their proposal the specific needs, defining  the eligible conditions and the maximum number of internships would fall on the applicants proposing such extension in their proposed.
A maximum of two IRDI internships are allowed for any individual over the course of their entire academic and post academic career. A minimum of 30 percent of the annual interns enlisted by a recipient organization must be new interns who have not previously received a stipend from the IRDI program

Internship Delivery

An internship is defined as the period, between four to six months, where an intern will work full-time on a research project jointly developed by a for-profit private sector host organization, the academic supervisor and the intern. At least 50 percent of the intern’s time must be spent at the private sector host organization.  

Internships will be scheduled in such a way that they will not delay or interfere with students’ ability to complete their degree requirements.

It is expected that recipient organizations will collectively deliver approximately 1,000 internships per year, including a total of 300 new interns, representing 30 percent of the total internships delivered. 

Engagement of Private Sector Host Organizations and Canadian Participating Institutions

Canadian participating institutions are Canadian universities with a mandate for research and their affiliated institutions,  including hospitals and research institutes,  that are eligible to receive funds from any of the federal granting agencies, and who enrol or otherwise give academic status to eligible interns. These institutions respect the requirements of the This link will take you to another Web site Memorandum of Understanding on the Roles and Responsibilities in the Management of Federal Grants and Awards.

Private sector host organizations are companies operating in Canada who derive revenues from the sale of products and services, and include public utilities with most of their revenue deriving from non-governmental sources.

Each internship represents a collaboration between Canadian participating institutions and private sector host organizations.  Recipient Organizations must diligently work to develop new collaborations and facilitate the delivery of internships.  It is expected that, annually, at least 25 percent of the internships be placed with “New” Private Sector Host Organizations, i.e. companies that have not benefited from the IRDI program within the last two years, totalling  collectively a minimum of 250 new firms. In the case of large corporations, major branches in different locations can be counted as separate Private Sector Host Organizations for the purpose of this target.

Eligible Expenses

The successful recipient organizations will be provided with a grant to cover expenses related to the implementation of  their IRDI proposed initiative.

The rules of the granting agencies apply to the IRDI grant (see Tri-Agency Financial Guide). Some specific expenses to the IRDI program are also eligible as follows:

Stipends to Interns

The total value of the internship stipend must be a minimum of $10,000 for a period of four to six months. The federal contribution can not exceed 50 percent of the total eligible cost of these activities.

Administration Costs

Eligible administrative expenses include the following operating costs, where these are attributable to the specific initiatives undertaken under the IRDI grant:

  • General administration and project management costs incurred by the recipient organization, including costs associated with student selection committees;
  • Salary of managers and other staff to promote internship opportunities to potential students, partner organizations and academic supervisors;
  • Contribution towards total annual remuneration (fixed or variable) for each position is limited to a maximum of $120,000 per year plus non-discretionary benefits, as defined in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide. This maximum applies to all positions (including contracts) and shall be pro-rated on the basis of the proportion of time worked relative to the full-time equivalent; and
  • Travel and accommodation costs for interns.

Eligible administrative costs may not exceed 25 percent of the total amount of the IRDI grant held by the Recipient Organization.  This percentage reflects the fact that Recipient Organizations will be managing many small awards, each one requiring significant field work to develop internship opportunities. The federal contribution may be up to 100 percent of the total eligible administrative costs.

Note that private sector host organizations and academic supervisors are not entitled to claim administration expenses from the IRDI grant.

Stacking provisions

The maximum level (stacking limit) of Total Government Assistance (federal, provincial and municipal assistance for the same eligible expenditures) for this program will not exceed 75 percent of eligible expenditures.

Guidelines for Completing an Application

Expression of Interest letter

An expression of interest letter will be submitted electronically to the NCE Secretariat.  This expression of interest should be no longer than one page and include the following:

  • Title of the IRDI Initiative;
  • Name of the applicant organization;
  • Total funding requested;
  • Contact information;
  • Estimated number of internships to be delivered per year;
  • Provinces and territories, as well as disciplines and sectors, where internships are proposed; and
  • If applicants are a group, the current and potential members.

This expression of interest letter will not be used for peer review purposes. It will be used to aid with recruitment of review committee members and administrative purposes.


Recipient organizations will receive IRDI program funding to manage an internship initiative through which they will facilitate the co-funding of interns to undertake research on site with a for-profit private sector partner. The following sections provides details on the information required to submit a complete application.

General Presentation

An original, unbound copy plus twenty double-sided copies of the complete package must be submitted.  An electronic copy should also be sent to the NCE Secretariat. Each package must be arranged in the order outlined below, with tab separators between each section.  Details on these sections follow below.  Any extra material will be removed.

When preparing your application, supporting materials, and attachments, follow these guidelines:

  • Print must be in black ink and of letter quality;
  • Text must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines per inch;
  • The accepted font is Times New Roman, regular 12 pts, or any comparable font – nothing smaller. Condensed font, and applications completed strictly in italics, are not acceptable;
  • Use white paper, 8 ½ x 11 inches (21.5 cm x 28 cm), with margins of ¾ of an inch (1.905 cm) (minimum) all around; and
  • Enter the name of the Recipient Organization, and the title of the IRDI Initiative at the top of every page, and number the pages consecutively.

Application Package

An application form is available at the following link:  The application form is in Excel format and has a series of tabs equivalent to the required sections to be completed.
Section A: General information and Covering Letter (total of two pages maximum)

Section A includes a table (provided in the Excel form) containing general information on the proposal and the applicant.

This section should also include a covering letter signed by the designated signatory and the Chair of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the applicant organization, and which will specify:

  • The name of the recipient organization, along with the title of the proposed IRDI initiative;
  • The total amount in dollars requested from the IRDI program;
  • Confirmation that the application to manage the IRDI initiative is approved by the BOD and is in accordance with the applicant’s goals; and
  • Confirmation that the Board of Directors is committed to managing and monitoring all activities under this initiative.

Section B:  Executive Summary (one page maximum)

The table provided in the forms will clearly summarize the proposed IRDI initiative, including the proposed number of interns by geographical region and by research discipline/industrial sector for the funded five fiscal years separately.

Section C: IRDI Detailed Plan(10 pages maximum)

Section C of the application will present the details of the planned initiative.  Ensure to cover all the points listed under the “Evaluation Criteria” section (which includes Benefit to Canada and Strength of the Business Plan). You may also consider the points covered under the section “Expected Results and Outcomes”.

The plan should include six subsections:

  1. delivery model description;
  2. internship placement objectives;
  3. governance structure;
  4. partnerships;
  5. private sector partner funding; and
  6. track record of the applicant.
  1. The delivery model description  subsection should provide a description of a strong delivery model (i.e. good process for the management of the program; the process to recruit staff and/or the credentials of existing staff; a articulated intern selection process; and a clear description of the matchmaking process for interns and the private sector.

  2. Internship placement objectives per year for five years, partnership milestones, and mechanisms used to measure internship success. It is important to note that the minimum number of internships per year cannot be less than 100.

  3. Governance structure of the recipient organization and description of the cost-effective governance structure that is accountable for the process and monitoring of the initiative.

  4. The partnerships subsection provides a description of the new linkages sought by the applicant and/or how the applicant will build on established partnerships with the private sector, the mechanism used in the handling of intellectual property that respects the policies of the partners, and a description of the process used to ensure that the private sector partners  are engaged with universities.

  5. The private sector partner funding description will outline plans for attracting additional funding partners including a strategy for ongoing engagement of the private sector in the program.

  6. The last subsection will describe track record of the applicant organization in: delivering similar program(s); managing federal grants through generally accepted accounting principles; and matching private sector interests with university know-how.

Section D: Budget Justification

Section D of the application form contains four tabs providing projected budget and justification for the IRDI proposed initiative, including the contributions and/or support that the partner(s) will commit towards the initiative.

Section E: Letters of Support for the Application

Provide a maximum of 25 letters of support, indicating expectations of collaboration and financial support from key partners and stakeholders.

Letters of support will:

  • Come from a senior executive;
  • Indicate current and past associations with the proponents and key partners;
  • Indicate how the IRDI Initiative will help their organization;
  • Indicate specifically how they will contribute (detailed in-kind and cash contributions)  to the proposed IRDI Initiative;
  • Not be template formatted by the applicant; and
  • Be dated and signed no earlier then six months prior to the submission deadline.

In addition, please fill in the corresponding form for this section (summary of the letters of support).

Section F: Acronyms (no page limit)

Provide an alphabetized list of all acronyms used in the application.

Submission Procedures


An expression of interest letter, submitted electronically to the NCE Secretariat, would be appreciated by midnight EDT on September 1, 2010. Send it by email to

Complete applications must be post marked by no later then October 13, 2010. Send one original double-sided unbound copy and 20 copies of the application, as well as an electronic copy by mail to the NCE Secretariat:

NCE Secretariat
16th Floor Mailroom
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 1H5

More information on the IRDI program, can be obtained at For more information, please contact the
NCE Secretariat at:
Telephone: 613-995-6010
Fax: 613-992-7356

Competition Process

The 2011 IRDI Competition uses a peer-review process to select recipient organizations who will take on the responsibility of delivering an IRDI initiative to match graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with for-profit private sector organizations.

Dates Milestone
May 2010 Competition Announced
September 1, 2010 Expression of Interest Deadline
October 13, 2010 Application Deadline
November 2010 Selection Committee Review
February 2011 Decision by the NCE Steering Committee
March 2011 Funding Decision announced to applicants
April 2011 Release of funds

Evaluation Criteria

To ensure that the program objectives are met, proposals will be assessed against the two overarching selection criteria outlined below.

1. Benefits to Canada

  • Likelihood for greater and more productive involvement of graduates in research and innovation conducted by the private sector;
  • The extent to which there will be an increased number of graduates with both research and business skills and know how; and
  • The potential for strengthened linkages between university and the private sector, beyond the term of the internship.

The applicant will need to demonstrate that their proposal generates benefits for Canadians through the presentation of their initiative, in particular in the business plan section of their application.

2. Strength of the Business Plan

  • Track record of the applicant organization in delivering similar programs;
  • Evidence of innovative university-private sector  collaborative research program management and  strong partnership experiences (between the organization managing the internships and the private sector partner(s));
  • Strong delivery model that should include the following:
  • robust recruitment strategy for private sector partners and interns;

    • efficient process for the management of the initiative;
    • experienced professionals identified to ensure strong  management  and leadership; 
    • description of an effective match-making process;
    • well articulated selection process;
    • process to ensure that private sector partners are engaged;
    • plan to collaborate with other organizations and granting agencies to offer a coherent portfolio of services and programs;
    • description of a governance structure that is accountable for the progress and monitoring of the initiative;
    • duration of the internship (should be a minimum of four months);
    • well-defined process for handling intellectual property that respects the policy of the university with which the intern is affiliated with; and
    • evidence of a sound financial management and accounting framework in line with generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Clear and attainable objectives and milestones;
  • Cost-effective management of the internship initiative;
  • Demonstrated capacity to deliver a minimum of 100 internships per year;
  • Ability to attract new private sector funding partners; and
  • Demonstrated readiness to collaborate with other potential IRDI delivery organizations.

Review and Decision Process

Proposals will undergo a review by an interdisciplinary selection committee established by the NCE Secretariat, comprised of Canadian and international experts. They will evaluate the proposed initiatives against the program selection criteria, recommend to the NCE Steering Committee priority proposals for approval and produce written assessments of the evaluated proposals.

Reporting and Evaluation

Recipients who manage an IRDI grant will be asked to provide annual progress reports to the NCE Steering Committee  that will include :

  • Annual statistical and qualitative reporting with information such as number of interns placed, location, partnerships and disciplines;
  • Annual financial report;
  • Final performance report, summarizing the results and value added of the IRDI  to the organization and to Canada within six months after the end of the initiative’s term; and
  • Methodology, templates and analysis of annual satisfaction surveys of all parties involved (i.e. interns, academic supervisor, private sector host organization supervisor) to assess the longer term benefits and impact of the IRDI initiative.

Privacy Act Statement

The information you provide is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. Details on the use of this information are provided in  the IRDI Program Guide.

On-line Resources

NCE Website

Information Regarding the Meaning of Signatures

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Information Regarding In-kind Eligibility

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Tri-Agency Use of Grant Funds

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IRDI Program Guide


A complete application package consists of the following sections:

Cover letter

Cover letter

2 pages

Covering Letter signed by the applicant organization designed representative and the Chair of Board of Directors

Section A

Section A

1 page

Section A of the application form

Section B

Section B

1 page
(+ table)

Section B of the application form
Executive Summary and table of internships per year (by discipline and geographic area)

Section C

Section C

10 pages

Section C of the application form
IRDI Detailed Plan

Section D

Section D

4 templates

Section D (four tabs) of the application form
Budget Justification

Section E

Section E

2 pages per letter

Section E of the application form is to provide the list of the letters.  The actual Letters of Support  (maximum 25) are to be added after the list

NOTE: Tables, graphs and figures should be included within the page limits noted above.

Any extra material will be removed.