The Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement “CASBE Program” is a pilot funding program at Alberta Innovates to leverage the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council “NSERC” efforts through the Engage program. Alberta Innovates is interested in incentivizing academics and small businesses in Alberta to collaborate more and take advantage of NSERC Engage Grants. The CASBE Program aims to facilitate academics to use their world-class knowledge, facilities and students at colleges and universities within Campus Alberta to assist Small and Medium Enterprises “SME” in Alberta (Micro Nano Technology “MNT” project).
NSERC created the Engage program to foster the development of new research partnerships by supporting short-term research and development projects aimed at addressing a company-specific problem. The mutually beneficial projects are expected to result in economic benefits to the company and to Canada and build impactful longer term collaborations between the applicant and the company. NSERC has been working with Canadian Provinces to build funding opportunities that facilitate industrial-academic collaboration. This program is the first time that Alberta is launching a joint Provincial/Federal initiative to address this goal for Alberta academics and businesses interested in Engage Grants.
This pilot program was launched by Alberta Innovates at the end of October 2016 and it was very successful so the program will continue during 2017-18. Academics will use world-class knowledge, facilities and students within Campus Alberta to help small businesses to close knowledge gaps identified during their technology development. By taking advantage of this program, Alberta SMEs should reduce time to innovate (MNT project).
The Alberta Innovates-NSERC collaboration will allow Alberta small businesses to work collaboratively with academics for one year in a MNT project instead of 6 months originally established by NSERC Engage. Alberta Innovates will contribute $25,000 in addition to the $25,000 originally provided by NSERC Engage making the total investment per project $50,000. Alberta Innovates and NSERC’s grants will flow to the academic institution to cover project expenses.
The CASBE Program’s projects should clearly fall within the MNT domain. A fundamental aspect of the MNT domain is typically seen in manufacturing devices or products at the scale of micro and nano length. As a rule, this involves the ability to control the process on the micro and nanometer scale. More specifically, nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions of the order of 1 to 100 nanometers. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modeling, and manipulating matter at this length scale to enable novel applications. With particular reference to topics at the interface of nanotechnology and the life sciences, studies that use tools and concepts to study biology at the nanoscale; that propose to engineer biological molecules toward functions different from those they have in nature; or that manipulate biological systems by methods other than traditional molecular biological, synthetic chemical, or biochemical approaches, are classified as nanotechnology projects.