Become an Investigator

Call for letters of intent

Letters of intent are accepted on continuous basis. They should specifically address challenges listed in Research Themes.

The letter of intent template and terms of funding can be found in Forms Cabinet. More details on the application and review procedures are provided below. Questions can be addressed to the IOSI director Natalia Semagina at

Letter of Intent (LOI) or Proposal Submission

There is no limit on the number of letters of intent or proposals per applicant. Both applied and fundamental research with a clear line-of-sight towards commercialization in oils sands mining operations is supported, including proof-of-concept. The typical project duration is between 1 and 3 years.

Every Fall IOSI opens a call for Letters of Intent and/or Proposals. The call details and deadlines are posted on the IOSI website and also distributed via email to the current and past IOSI investigators, and the University of Alberta research entities. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, please send us a request.

The call for LOI and proposals is open to all researchers in Canada and abroad. Prior to submitting an LOI and/or proposal, please familiarize yourself with the mandatory Terms and Conditions on the Researcher Participation in IOSI Projects, posted in Forms Cabinet.

IOSI eligible expenses follow NSERC guidelines (see the IOSI Budget Template). Salaries of the principal and co-investigators are not covered, only those of the trainees. The equipment cost may be covered up to C$50,000. Note that IOSI houses a laboratory with a no-fee service and training for IOSI researchers.

The letters of intent and full proposals are to be filled out in available templates (Forms Cabinet) and submitted by e-mail as indicated in the respective call.

The applicants will receive feedback on their letters of intent within two months of the submission deadline. Selected LOIs will be invited for a full proposal.


The letters of intent (LOIs) and proposals are evaluated by the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and Executive Management Committee (EMC) composed of the contributing partners of IOSI.  Successful LOIs are invited for a full proposal (the template is available in Forms Cabinet), typically within two months of the application deadline. Along with the invitation, the researchers will receive a template of the full Research Agreement for their review.

The evaluation criteria of the full proposal include scientific merit, the competence of the research team, training opportunities, project work plan, and the potential to support significant advances in technology for oil sands development. Note that the fifth criterion is essential for funding by IOSI. Both fundamental and applied research is supported, including proof-of-concept, however, fundamental research must have a clear line-of-sight towards technology commercialization in oil sands mining operations.

The typical timeline for a successful proposal from the LOI submission deadline and project approval (excluding the NSERC portion, if applicable) is between 3 to 5 months.

After the project’s conditional approval by SAC and EMC, some projects will be asked to apply and receive matching funding from the NSERC Alliance program (in-Canada academic researchers only), with Imperial Oil Limited (and COSIA, if applicable) as contributing partners from IOSI.

Approved Projects

Upon the project approval, the non-UofA investigators will be required to sign the Research Agreement. The UofA investigators and research personnel will be required to sign the Acknowledgement of the Researcher Participation in IOSI Projects.

An industrial steward will be assigned for each project. All projects will be subject to biannual review by IOSI (Fall and Spring) as one-to-one stewardships with industrial stewards, and as workshops. The timelines will be communicated by the IOSI office.

All publications and knowledge sharing activities will have to be approved by IOSI by submitting the Request of Information Release form at least 30 days in advance.

Annual one-page reports are due in January.

A detailed Final Technical Report and a Gate 3 Form have to be submitted within 90 days after the project completion, in addition to NSERC requirements, if applicable.

IOSI researchers are encouraged to use services provided by the IOSI laboratory.

The templates can be found in Forms Cabinet.