Competition year : 

Deadline (pre-request) : 
September 1st, 2022 at 16:00 (EST)

Deadline (application) : 
December 1st, 2022 at 16:00 (EST)

Announcement of results : 
March 2023

Amount : 

Duration : 
Maximum of 3 years

Important changes 2022-2023
  • The required minimum number of Cluster co-investigators is now 9
  • Eligibility requirements for co-investigators have been simplified
  • Addition of co-investigators that are Status 4b
  • Addition of an email of interest and simplification of the application contents
  • Addition of a bibliography document that is separate from the project description
  • Addition of a new section in the application form to address EDI criterion
  • Addition of Component 2 – Research project
  • Important changes to the CGR regarding Status 3 (education requirement from doctoral to master’s level)

Program rules

This program refers to the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) Common General Rules (CGR), which govern all of FRQ’s programming. The information below provides guidelines specifically applicable to the Innovation Catalyst (RIC-NT) program, and these rules take precedence over the CGR.

A link to the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio, as well as the forms associated with this competition, may be found by visiting the “Portal Access” section of FRQ’s website. More information is also available in the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio under “Documents.” Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to use the correct application form. In the event that an error is made, the FRQ will not transfer the application from one program to another and the application will be deemed as not eligible.

The FRQ requires that the Canadian Common CV and a list of detailed contributions be included in the Canadian Common CV section of the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio. Applicants must use the FRQ format that corresponds to their research field (i.e., FRQNT, FRQSC or FRQS). The information in these documents should be updated as of June 2021 or later.

For complete instructions, please consult the Instructions for detailed contributions and the Canadian Common CV for the FRQ branch corresponding to your research field, as well as the Presentation standards for PDF attachments to FRQnet forms, which may be found in the “Portal Access” section of the FRQ website and in the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio under “Documents.”


1. Objectives

The general objective of the FRQNT’s Innovation Catalyst RIC-NT program is to boost inter-level interactions by fostering the emergence of centres of excellence in research and skills development for the benefit of user communities and socio-economic partners.

This program has the following objectives:

  • Foster and consolidate the development of sustainable interfaces between research teams from colleges, College Centres for Technology Transfer (CCTT) and universities for the benefit of user communities
  • Strengthen and support emerging or existing of centres of excellence by implementing overarching activities that are in line with provincial, national or international initiatives
  • Contribute to the development of priority research areas for Québec as defined in various government policies or strategies

2. Characteristics

Grants may be awarded for a maximum of three years and up to $300,000 per year. This grant can be renewed once.

Indirect costs of research (ICR) will be paid to managing institutions. The ICR will equal 27% of the grant awarded, and is in addition to the grant amount.

Grants will be distributed as follows:

  • $150,000 to fund the creation and operation of a Cluster directed by a college-level institution
  • $150,000 including FIR ($118,110 for research and $31,890 in FIR) to fund a research project involving co-investigators of the RIC-NT

2.1 Definition

An Innovation Catalyst (RIC-NT) brings together researchers from colleges, CCTTs and universities to address the needs of key knowledge users and accelerate the uptake of research results.

In addition to demonstrating the integration of research expertise, RIC-NTs must be dynamic, creating an inclusive environment for research and innovation in research fields covered by the FRQNT.

2.2 Structure

The RIC-NT must be composed of:

  • Several college-level institutions
  • At least one university institution
  • At least one partner from a user community
  • More college and/or CCTT co-investigators than university co-investigators (including the principal investigator)
  • A minimum of 9 co-investigators
  • Membership that allows for 80% intersectorality (see Section 3.2 for more details)
  • The RIC-NT may also include a government-sector or private-sector researcher

3. Eligibility

All research projects, principal investigators, research teams and participants must comply with the eligibility requirements as per the program rules and CGR that are in effect at the time of the application submission. These rules will also apply throughout the award period covered by the grant. Any project, researcher, research team or participant that does not meet the eligibility requirements listed below will not be eligible. Failure to comply with program rules or failure to provide information needed to establish eligibility or evaluate the project may result in a declaration of ineligibility.

3.1 Principal investigator (PI)

The PI of the application will be the leader of the RIC-NT. The PI is a researcher who:

  • Meets the Status 3 definition as defined in the CGR
  • Does not simultaneously hold two research statuses, as defined in the CGR
  • Works primarily areas covered by the mission and research fields of the FRQNT

3.2 Co-investigator (CI)

A CI is a researcher that meets Status 1, 3, 4b or 4c as defined in the CGR.

In addition, CIs may:

  • Work in fields that are not covered by the FRQNT, provided that 80% of the Cluster’s members, including the PI, are researchers working in disciplinary fields supported by the FRQNT.
  • Increase in number throughout the grant period, provided that college and/or CCTT researchers continue to outnumber Status 1 co-investigators.

3.3 Research project

Please note that funding applications that correspond to the research fields covered by the FRQNTT as listed on our website will be eligible. Should there be any doubt as to the compliance of their research topic with the domains and sub-domains of the FRQNT, researchers may contact the program officer to ensure that their project falls within the domains covered by the FRQNT.

Research projects cannot be funded by another granting agency while being funded by the FRQNT.

3.4 Participation limits

The PI of the RIC-NT may only submit one application under this competition. His/her managing institution may be part of up to two funding applications within this competition.

Any combination of managing institutions and partner institutions that submits an application to create a RIC-NT that is essentially the same as a Strategic Cluster will be refused.

Membership in more than one Cluster funded by the FRQNT

The PI and CIs of the RIC-NT may take part in a Strategic Cluster, another RIC-NT, a RIC-ZI and/or a network already funded by the FRQNT, but only in the role of CI.

To encourage intersectoral collaboration, there is no limit to researcher membership in research bodies funded by the other branches of FRQ, such as FRQS research centres and institutes, FRQSC Strategic Clusters (see the multiple membership requirements of the other branches of the FRQ). In addition, co-investigators may also work as collaborators with other university institutes, affiliated university centres or strategic clusters funded by the FRQ.

3.5 Managing institution, partner institutions, practitioners and government or private-sector researchers

Managing institution

The institution of the PI submitting the application is designated as the managing institution.

At the time of submitting a RIC-NT application, the managing institution must formally indicate its commitment to the Cluster.

Partner institutions

All other postsecondary institutions involved in the RIC-NT will be considered as partner institutions. The members representing partner institutions will all have the role of CI.

Status 4b. Government-sector or private-sector researcher

Government-sector or private-sector researchers assume the role of CI. They may, if they wish, contribute in cash or in kind.

Status 4c. Practitioners from user communities

Members representing user communities are identified as practitioners and will assume the role of CI. They will receive no remuneration or reimbursement of eligible expenses under the grant for their participation.

3.6 Financial contributions

The RIC-NT must receive support from postsecondary institutions AND the user communities that will use the research knowledge.

A minimum additional contribution equal to $37,500 per year is required, broken down as follows: $15,000 in cash and $22,500 in kind in the form of human and/or material resources.

This cash contribution cannot come entirely from the managing institution. It must be made up of a sum of contributions from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners.

Grant amount
Contribution from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners


Contribution from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners

In kind

Grant amount

Per year:


Contribution from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners


Contribution from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners


Grant amount

Over three years:


Contribution from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners


Contribution from the managing institution and all partner institutions and practitioners


The financial contribution may be spread unevenly between years, as long as the total contribution required for the duration of the grant is respected.

Financial and in-kind contributions must be entered in the section Contributions from project partners and not added to the grant amount in the budget section of the form.

4. Application

Applicants will not be notified if any elements are missing from their application. Any documents received after the application deadline will not be accepted and files will not be updated. In addition, any excess pages will be removed from submitted applications. These rules will be rigorously applied and incomplete applications will not be eligible. Please refer to Section 3 of the CGR for more details regarding application procedures. For applications written in English, the title and abstract must be provided in both French and English.

A Word template formatted to the presentation standards is available in the Program Toolbox.

4.1 Email of interest (Optional)

Sending an email of interest is OPTIONAL and allows the FRQNT to provide personalized support to RIC-NT that wish to apply for funding and to make direct contact with the managing institution regarding its role and actions to be taken.

This notice should be sent to the FRQNT at with “EMAIL OF INTEREST – RIC-NT” in the subject line, and should contain the following:

  • A working title for the Cluster
  • A 500-word summary describing the Cluster’s scientific program
  • A title for the research project
  • A 500-word summary describing the research project
  • A list of ten keywords describing the targeted themes

No prior notification of interest is required to apply for funding. No eligibility verification will be carried out at this stage.

4.2 Funding application

The funding application form (FRQnet Electronic Portfolio) includes the following sections:

  • Identification of the principal investigator

The PI must identify the managing college institution with which he/she has an employment relationship.

Principal investigator — CCTT

All college research centres and CCTTs must be affiliated with a managing college institution recognized by the FRQ to manage funding (see Definitions section of the CGR). Applicants from a CCTT must enter the name of the CCTT in the appropriate box.

Principal investigator — Constituent college

Applicants from a constituent college must indicate their home campus in the appropriate box.

  • Composition of the RIC-NT team (CIs)

The PI of the RIC-NT must add a list of the Cluster’s CIs to the application. The CIs will have to consent to membership in the Cluster in their FRQnet Electronic Portfolio. CIs may refer to the documents Procedure – Status 3 and 1 co-investigators and Procedure – Status 4b and 4c co-investigators for more information. Both documents are available in the Program Toolbox.

  • Abridged CV (2 pages) for members with Status 4b and 4c to be included in the Co-investigators section. The mandatory form to be used for the abridged CV summarizes the following information as it pertains to the Cluster’s research program, in this order: 1) education, 2) experience and 3) publications, knowledge mobilization activities or other scientific achievements, if applicable. This form is available in the Program Toolbox.
  • Pre-eligibility: The PI must meet all eligibility requirements listed in Section 3 of the program rules and in the CGR.

The managing institution must be able to confirm the accuracy of the information provided.

  • Cluster name: The name of the Cluster must mention the area of innovation and its affiliation with the FRQNT.
  • Component 1: Description of the RIC-NT proposal (10 pages)

Maximum of 10 pages (including figures and tables). The description must address evaluation criteria 1 to 4 as described in Section 5.2 – Evaluation.

  • Component 2: Description of the research project (5 pages)

Maximum of 5 pages (including figures and tables). The description must address evaluation criterion 6 as described in Section 5.2 – Evaluation.

  • Bibliography (2 pages): Attach the references associated with the descriptions of the RIC-NT proposal and research project.
  • Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion (500 words): Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion must be explained in this section of the form. Refer to evaluation criterion 5 for details on what this section should contain.
  • Budget: List of eligible expenses under the grant (Component 1 AND Component 2).
  • Description of planned expenditures for the operating grant (4 pages): Separate the justifications of expenditures for Component 1: Cluster (2 pages) from those of Component 2: Research project (2 pages). Include a text explaining the eligible expenses (Section 8 of the CGR and Section 7 of the program rules) including the use of the teaching release or salary support for the PI of the RIC-NT as well as for Status 3 CIs, in each component of the grant.
  • Contributions of the managing and/or partner institutions: List of the financial and in-kind contributions of all partners on the application that completed a contribution agreement form.

A contribution agreement form from the managing institution, each partner institution and each individual with Status 4.

Each form must be signed by an executive director or authorized manager of the institution, or by the practitioner or any person with the authority to financially commit his or her institution (company, NPO, cooperative, private, etc.).

The form is available in the Program Toolbox. A consolidated PDF document containing all the forms must be included in this section.

  • List of experts: The PI must suggest 5 experts who will be able to assess the scientific merit of the project (see the FAQ for details). The experts must have no current or recent (five years or less) collaborative relationship with the PI and, where applicable, the other CIs (see Section 4.2 of the CGR for examples).

Canadian Common CV and list of detailed contributions (FRQnet Electronic Portfolio):

The Canadian Common CV of the PI, including a list of detailed contributions, must be attached as a PDF in the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio for the PI AND CIs holding Status 3 and 1.

The detailed contributions should cover the last 5 years (as of December 2017) in the format of the FRQ branch corresponding to your research field. The Canadian Common CV and detailed contributions must have been updated since at least June 2021.

The CIs must consent to being part of the team, otherwise the PI will not be able to submit the application to the institution for institutional approval.


Please note that institutional approval is required before the application is submitted to the FRQNT. It is therefore likely that your institution has established an internal deadline that is earlier than that of the competition. It is your responsibility to be informed of this in order to ensure that your application is submitted to the FRQNT before the competition deadline.

Submitting the funding application via the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio

The PI must submit all required documents into his/her FRQnet Portfolio before the internal deadline of the managing institution to allow the institution to verify the application and transmit it to the FRQNT before the competition deadline.

Approval and submission to the FRQNT by the managing institution

The managing institution must approve the funding application in the FRQnet Institutions portal before submitting it to the FRQNT.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are available in the Program Toolbox.

5. Evaluation

Applications are evaluated by multidisciplinary evaluation committees (MEC), which may call on other experts to complement the committee’s expertise.

The internal evaluation process, including funding decisions, is explained in Section 4 of the CGR.

Funding applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

Component 1: Cluster

1- Composition of the RIC-NT (20 points)

  • Scientific leadership of the principal investigator in the target research area
  • Relevance of skills and degree of involvement of the co-investigators in relation to the RIC-NT program in the target research area
  • Inclusion of highly qualified personnel (HQP) from colleges and universities

2- Program of the RIC-NT (20 points)

  • Vision of the RIC-NT in relation to the research, socioeconomic and environmental priority areas for Québec
  • Networking and research objectives of the RIC-NT
  • Leveraging effect of the RIC-NT on research development and on the emerging generation of researchers within the Cluster
  • Potential contribution to the achievement of one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

3- Research environment (10 points)

  • Original contribution of the RIC-NT to Québec’s research and innovation ecosystem
  • Cohesion of existing or emerging research infrastructures and networks within the Cluster

4- Democratization of knowledge (20 points)

  • Establishment of effective mechanisms to foster the development of partnerships between colleges CCTTs, universities and user communities
  • Networking and knowledge sharing activities within the RIC-NT
  • Anticipated benefits for user communities including practice partners and HQP
  • Anticipated impacts of the Cluster in the target research area at the provincial, national or international level

5- Consideration of equity, diversity and inclusion (5 points)

This criterion will be assessed by focusing on the PI’s efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and not on the composition of the research team1.

  • Implementation of concrete actions to promote EDI within the Cluster
  • Contribution to the awareness and training of the Cluster’s experts on EDI issues
  • Consideration of EDI in the development and implementation of the democratization of knowledge to a diverse public

1The PI should not provide any information as to whether he or she, or members of the team, belong to marginalized or underrepresented groups.

For more information, please refer to the document Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in the evaluation of FRQNT grant applications in the Documents section of the FRQnet Electronic Portfolio.

Component 2: Research project

6- Quality of the research project (25 pts)

  • Originality, potential for interdisciplinary disruption, scientific scope and uptake by user communities
  • Methodology and strengthening of research capacity
  • Democratization of knowledge and dissemination of results to user communities, the research community and the general public.
Applications must receive an evaluation score of 80% or higher to be recommended for funding.

6. Expenses

The grant must be used exclusively for funding operating expenses directly related to the creation and governance of the RIC-NT and the realization of the research project(s).

All budget items listed in the CGR (Section 8) are eligible. Specific details for this program are described below.

Terms and conditions for persons whose salaries are paid out of the regular budget of a government-funded institution or any other government agency

Except for the specific case of college researchers (Status 3), FRQ grants must not be used to pay salaries or salary supplements to the PI, CIs or persons whose salaries are paid out of the regular budget of a government-funded institution such as a university, a government department or its institutions, or any other government agency. See the CGR for more details.

Component 1: Cluster

The grant must be used to finance the operation and contribute to the vitality and profile of the Cluster. This consists primarily of the resources needed to ensure coordination and sound governance, provide services to all CIs in the Cluster, and ensure visibility and the democratization of knowledge to the research community and society.

The PI of the RIC-NT may receive salary support (Status 3 with no teaching duties) or a teaching release (Status 3 with teaching duties) of up to $27,000 per year to carry out coordination activities. This amount is within the maximum amounts allowed for the grant.

Status 3 CIs belonging to the RIC-NT may receive salary support (Status 3 with no teaching duties) or a teaching release (Status 3 with teaching duties) of up to $10,000 per year activities. This amount is within the maximum amounts allowed for the grant.

Component 2: Research project

This portion of the grant covers the costs of the proposed research project. Status 3 CIs belonging to the RIC-NT may receive salary support or a teaching release. Salary support may cover a maximum of 50% of the salary, and the teaching release cannot cover all of the CI’s teaching duties.

For CIs with Status 4b, only the expenses listed in Sections 8.6 and 8.9 of the CGR are eligible. The total of these billable expenses may not exceed 5% of the portion of the grant dedicated to Component 2: Research project.

Teaching release for Status 3 researchers

The amount may be used as a teaching release for researchers with teaching duties, as compensation for the portion of the researcher’s salary dedicated to a release from teaching duties. This amount, which is paid directly to the managing college institution, may be used as compensation for the salary of a Status 3 researcher or to ensure that the researcher’s teaching duties are performed by another college faculty member.

SUPPLEMENT – student maternity leave

This student maternity leave supplement aims to encourage the retention of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, where they have historically been underrepresented.

A female student enrolled in a Québec postsecondary institution who receives a scholarship (not in the form of a salary) funded by a grant under this program may receive a maternity bonus paid by the FRQNT for a period of up to eight months for the birth or adoption of a child. To be eligible, the student must have been receiving her scholarship under the FRQNT grant for at least six months. In addition, she may not hold an award from another granting agency and may not receive benefits from the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.

To obtain the maternity leave supplement, students must make the request by email to the program officer and provide a copy of a medical certificate attesting to the pregnancy. Also, when the time comes, copies of the birth certificate or proof of the adoption of the child, as well as proof of suspension of enrolment at the Québec postsecondary institution, should be sent to the FRQNT program officer. In addition, a copy of the student’s scholarship contract must be provided. The maternity supplement may begin up to eight months before the birth or adoption of the child. The FRQNT will transfer the student’s maternity supplement to the postsecondary institution upon receipt of the required documents.

The FRQNT authorizes the maternity leave supplement on the condition that the student’s post-secondary institution allows the time to be taken off. In addition, the PI of the grant must agree to resume supervision of the student after the absence. The FRQNT reserves the right to reject any application that does not provide adequate explanation.

Restrictions on the use of the grant

Amounts from the grant dedicated to HQP training may not be used to contribute to the Partner portion of a MITACS Accelerate grant or any other grant offered by the FRQ.

Financial contributions from partners

Eligible expenses under the RIC-NT that are incurred using the financial contributions of partners are not subject to the restrictions indicated in this section.

7. Management and follow-up

See Sections 5 to 7 of the CGR.

Grants are awarded for a maximum of 3 years. Grants are paid annually for the period from April 1 to March 31 of each year.

Funds that are not spent by the end of the grant may be carried forward by one additional year and will be subject to the conditions stated in Section 6.10 of the CGR.

Final report

The final report is administrative in nature and allows the FRQNT to document the impact of the grants it offers. The PI must complete and submit the final report, which is available in his/her FRQnet Electronic Portfolio, no later than 6 months after the submission of the last financial report.

If the final report is not submitted within the timeframe specified by the FRQNT, or if the report is not to the satisfaction of the FRQNT, the funding holder will not be eligible to receive further financial assistance from any of the three branches of the FRQNT and may have payments suspended until this condition is met.

8. Open access policy

Peer-reviewed publications resulting from the research made possible by this grant must be released as immediate open access (without embargo), under an open license, in accordance with the FRQ Open Access Policy (revised in 2022).

9. Effective date

These rules will apply for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

10. Contact person

Leira Retamal Covarrubias Ph.D.
Program Officer
Innovation Catalyst Program – RIC-NT
Phone: 418 643-8560, ext. 3355