Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is Natural Resources Canada launching the Oil Spill Response Challenge?

    The Government of Canada has made a commitment to the rapid development and deployment of new oil recovery technologies. Natural Resources Canada is launching the Oil Spill Response Challenge to attract problem-solvers and innovators that can provide new technology solutions as well as increase the pace of innovation for oil spill response.

  • What is the goal of the Oil Spill Response Challenge?

    The Challenge will advance innovative and rapidly deployable solutions that effectively detect oil spills and improve response time or that increase the oil spill recovery rate in diverse Canadian aquatic environments, when compared against conventional tools. The Challenge is important to expand the suite of available oil spill response technologies for use in Canadian marine and freshwater environments, which supports Canada Energy Regulator recommendations.

    It is mobilising innovators to spur the rapid development and deployment of new oil spill response technologies.

  • How will project applications be assessed by the Challenge?

    Natural Resources Canada is calling on innovators to submit applications for technology solutions that:

    • Can improve oil spill response effectiveness – by reducing time lapsed to detect oil spilt in water and/or by increasing the recovery of oil spilt in water;
    • Are innovative and disruptive to status quo - the design offers impactful solutions to oil spill detection and recovery compared to conventional approaches;
    • Are applicable to the Canadian context - solutions that can be applied within the environments and conditions present across Canada, such as operating environment, oil type, challenging conditions, scalability;
    • Improve our environment and community safety - reducing adverse environmental impacts and improving marine safety is a priority;
    • Are ready to use – operational effectiveness and practicality of solution for end-users, including logistics and resource requirements. The deployment of the solution is safe, realistic and feasible; and
    • Have a strong plan to scale to market – innovators understand their market and have the partnerships and plan to scale their technology for deployment.
  • Can I include links to external resources (e.g., YouTube videos) in my application?

    No, the Oil Spill Response Challenge Review Committee will not review or assess links to external content as part of the initial application. The Committee will evaluate any written content submitted as part of the official application form. This includes written answers to each of the questions on the form (with character limits provided), as well as the mandatory and optional PDF uploads (with page limits provided).

  • What benefits are there to participating in this Challenge?

    There are several financial incentives for projects selected to participate in the Challenge. Based on the concept application, 10 semi-finalists will be awarded up to $300,000 in funding to support the development of a prototype during Stage 2. Based on prototype development, the top five finalists will be awarded up to an additional $1 Million during Stage 3 of the Challenge to support the scaling up of solutions. After the successful demonstration in stage 3, one Challenge winner will receive a $2 Million grand prize.

    Participation in the Challenge not only presents the possibility of receiving new funding for your solution, it also provides opportunities to gain visibility and profile your innovation in Canada and more broadly. It is a chance to have your solution evaluated on its technical and non-technical merits (e.g. business value) by a range of experts. It will also be a chance to connect with Canadian purchasers, distributors, and end users of oil spill technology, presenting a valuable opportunity to grow your market.

  • Who can apply to this Challenge?

    Eligibility criteria for the challenge prize are kept broad in order to open up the problem solving space to new players and create the conditions for solutions to be generated from non-traditional actors.

    The Oil Spill Response Challenge is open to businesses and for-profit organizations of any size; not-for-profit organizations; Indigenous organizations and groups; post-secondary/academic institutions; as well as individuals or groups of individuals; and international individuals and entities. In order to receive funding, your organization must be recognised as a legal entity in Canada.

    For more details on eligibility criteria, please consult the Applicant Guide.

  • I am a non-Canadian individual/entity, am I eligible to apply?

    Yes, international applicants are eligible to apply to the Challenge. However, if your idea is selected to advance to a prize, in order to receive funding, you will have to incorporate in Canada. Ideas and concepts can originate from anywhere globally, but applicants will be required to demonstrate the ability to deploy their solutions in Canada. The outcomes/results need to be of benefit to Canadians.

    For information on federal incorporation in Canada, please check the following link.

  • Can I apply as part of a team?

    Yes. However, grant and contribution agreements will be negotiated with the Lead Applicant only. Any arrangements between the Lead Applicant and Team members are strictly the responsibility of the Lead Applicant. NRCan is not liable for any outcome from those arrangements.

  • I received (or currently receive) funding from another government program already. Can I apply to the Oil Spill Response Challenge?

    Yes, provided you meet the requirements of both programs and the terms and conditions of your funding agreements. Under the Challenge, there are no stacking limits (i.e. maximum level of total Canadian government funding that is to be permitted for any activity, project, or initiative of a recipient), but applicants would be subject to any applicable stacking limits imposed by other federal, provincial, or municipal funding programs and/or partners. If you have additional questions about funding terms and conditions, please contact us.

  • My solution fits both streams, am I still eligible to apply?

    While applications that address both oil spill detection and recovery are encouraged, applicants will be required to select the most applicable stream for their solution at the time of application. Please review the assessment criteria as described in section 4.2 of the Applicant Guide to determine which stream is most suitable for your solution.

  • Can I apply to both streams with different solutions?

    Yes, an applicant can have multiple solutions and should apply accordingly to challenge streams. Duplicate applications for the same idea/solution should not be submitted; however, each unique solution will require a separate application.

    If you have a technical issue with your application, please contact us.

  • I have already started work on my solution. Can I still apply?

    Yes, in fact we expect most applicants to have already begun work on their solution and be at a minimum of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 upon application. In the initial application, teams must explain a clear R&D trajectory towards a prototype of TRL 4 (or above) by 2023. Furthermore, the Challenge finalists must be prepared to accelerate their solution to a pilot demonstration of TRL 6 (or above) by 2024.

  • Can I apply directly to Stage 2 of the Challenge?

    No, all applicants have to submit their application at Stage 1 of the Challenge. Only semi-finalists selected at the end of Stage 1 will be competing for Stage 2 funding.

  • How will winners be selected?

    The Applicant Guide contains descriptions of each of the assessment criteria that will be used to assess the quality and viability of submissions to the Challenge.

    At each stage of the Challenge, a review committee composed of subject matter experts (e.g., representatives from private sector, stakeholder groups, oil spill response regime experts) will review applications based on the challenge assessment criteria and provide recommendations to support Natural Resources Canada in determining the semi-finalists, finalists, and winners. Additional expertise from Natural Resources Canada and federal government expertise will support the review process.

    Natural Resources Canada will ensure that any real or perceived conflict of interest for external review committee members or others involved in the assessment process is disclosed and mitigated, and will execute non-disclosure agreements for external reviewers to protect the confidential information of applicants.

  • How will my IP be protected?

    Any intellectual property created by a Challenge participant will remain the property of the participant.

    NRCan will not disclose information that the participant identifies and consistently treats as being confidential information except where required by law or with the participant’s consent. Should the information provided by the participant be subject to an access to information request, NRCan will treat the participant’s information (such as trade secrets; information of a financial, commercial, scientific or technical nature; or information for which disclosure could prevent the securing, patenting or publishing of intellectual property) in accordance with the provisions of the Access to Information Act, which includes provisions exempting the disclosure of confidential business information.

    NRCan will enter into non-disclosure agreements with any external review committee members or others involved in the assessment process to protect the applicants’ confidential business information.

  • What criteria, testing, and assessment will be required for Stages 2 and 3 of the Challenge?

    The Applicant Guide provides a comprehensive overview of the evaluation criteria that will be applied in Stage 1 of the Challenge. As part of the challenge, activities implemented by participants could include, but are not limited to: development, prototyping, piloting and demonstrating solutions that support oil spill response. The Oil Spill Response Challenge Team is committed to supporting semi-finalists and finalists who progress to Stages 2 and 3, and details around evaluation criteria, testing, and assessment will be communicated to teams competing at subsequent stages.

  • If I have other questions, who can I contact?

    If you have additional questions, please contact us at