Clean Transportation System – Research and Development Program (CTS-RD): Applicant’s Guide

Technological advancements are expected to play a significant role in de-coupling transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollutant emissions from economic growth, ultimately supporting the sector’s contribution to meeting Canada’s climate change goals.

The Clean Transportation System Research and Development Program (CTS-RD) supports needed research in the aviation, marine, and rail sectors. It gathers the technical information we need to develop evidence-based regulations and measures to reduce emissions, and achieve Canada’s goal of reducing GHG emissions.

Find out if you are eligible to apply, what to submit as part of your application and how we assess applications.

The CTS-RD is now closed for applications.

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Program description

In 2016, the transportation sector was the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It accounted for 25% (173 Mt CO2 eq) of total national emissions. Between 1990 and 2016, GHG emissions from the transportation sector grew by 42%.

Technology has an important role to play in:

As part of this commitment, Transport Canada established the Clean Transportation System – Research and Development Program to fund projects that advance new clean technology innovations, practices or research in the marine, rail and aviation sectors.

Program objectives

The Program’s objective is to fund projects that help improve the environmental performance of Canada’s transportation system, specifically in the rail, marine and aviation sectors.

Eligible recipients

Eligible recipients include:

  • provinces and territories, including provincially and territorially owned entities
  • municipalities, including municipality-owned entities, and local and regional governments
  • Indigenous groups, communities, organizations and development corporations
  • public sector organizations
  • not-for-profit private sector organizations
  • for profit sector organizations
  • Canada airport, port and transit authorities
  • academia
  • international organizations – for example, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) or International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • foreign states and foreign state entities – for example, foreign departments of transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • individuals

Available funding

The total funding for the CTS-RD Program is $1,500,000* over 3 years.

We will provide funding as grants to support projects focused on the following transportation modes: marine, rail and aviation.

The maximum grant per project is $100,000.

Recipients may be reimbursed up to 50% of eligible expenditures.

* We will base the total funding allocated under this call for proposals on the number of eligible projects submitted and their respective funding requirements. Depending on demand, we may reserve a portion of funding to support future call for proposals, or innovative transfer payment programs (e.g., competition/prizes through Impact Canada).

Eligibility assessment criteria

Eligible activities

Eligible activities must contribute to reducing, measuring or reducing the intensity of air pollutants and/or greenhouse gas emissions. Funding will support the following eligible activities:

  • Research and knowledge-sharing related to the development, evaluation, or testing of emission-reducing "clean" transportation technologies or other solutions
  • Development of technologies or methodologies to improve the measurement of transportation-related emissions
  • Development, testing, demonstration, deployment and/or installation of innovative clean technologies in Canada

Note: The eligible activities listed above may include planning, design and evaluation, and preparation, construction, improvement, installation and rehabilitation of assets. It may also include transport of construction materials and equipment (e.g., site preparation, assemblage and construction of lab apparatus, rehabilitation of a vessel for research use, transport/installation of equipment onto a vessel that is required to undertake research).

What you must demonstrate in your proposal

  • The project will directly contribute to the Clean Transportation System – Research and Development Program’s objectives The project’s activities are part of an existing program that supports research and other related activities, as well as support the eligible activities as described in Eligibility assessment criteria
  • The project’s activities are central to the primary mandate of the eligible organization (or in the case of an individual, that the individual is affiliated with an organization whose primary mandate is to do these activities)
  • The project activities will advance knowledge, technology innovation, development or adoption that contributes to reducing or measuring emissions, or reducing emission intensity
  • The project has established a clear methodology, project plan and timeline for reporting, including major milestones, as well as a plan to disseminate the results broadly
  • You have the knowledge, expertise and capacity required to complete the project

Eligible project duration and approvals

  • All projects must be completed by March 31, 2022
  • Single-year (12 month) and multi-year projects are eligible
  • TC does not issue advanced payments, and as a result, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient cash flow available to complete the project
  • You must identify all sources of project funding in your proposal (e.g., in-kind, third party), and attach confirmation of financial support from partner organizations to the proposal.
  • Projects may incur reimbursable eligible expenditures only once Transport Canada approves and confirms this in writing

Eligible expenditures

Eligible expenditures include:

  • staff salaries and benefits
  • professional services (for example, accounting, auditing, consulting, etc.)
  • translation costs
  • expenditures related to the preparation, construction, improvement, installation and rehabilitation of assets (for example, improvements/modifications to vessels, vehicles and facilities)
  • purchase or lease of assets, technology, equipment and supplies
  • licenses and permits
  • rents, leases, leasehold improvements and insurance
  • expenditures for Indigenous consultations, specifically project-related consultation activities pursuant to the Crown’s legal duty to consult, which may include expenditures associated with meetings, travel costs, preparation of consultation materials, honoraria payments for Indigenous person, communication and translation costs
  • administrative expenditures of up to 15% of total project costs (including general administration, expenditures, rent, insurance, office equipment rental and membership fees)
  • travel expenditures (including the cost of accommodations, vehicle rental and kilometric rates, bus train, airplane or taxi fares, allowances for meals and incidentals)
    • Note: Travel and per diem expenses cannot exceed the rates and allowance determined by the National Joint Council
  • other expenditures that are, in our opinion, considered to be direct, reasonable and incremental for the successful implementation of the project and have been approved in writing, before you incur them

The above eligible expenditures may, in certain circumstances, include cash-equivalent expenditures associated with in-kind contributions. These expenditures may take the form of:

  • goods, services or assets consumed by the recipient for which costs are incurred and no cash is exchanged
  • donations of goods, services or assets to the recipient, for which no costs are incurred and no cash is exchanged

Note: In-kind contributions received from a third party are considered donations. They may form part of the applicant’s share toward the total eligible expenditures of the project, but are not eligible for reimbursement.

Ineligible expenditures

Certain expenditures are not eligible for funding and therefore we will not consider them in the calculation of the total eligible expenditures of the proposed project. These include:

  • costs incurred before the funding approval date or after the final claim date
  • expenditures for provincial sales tax and GST, or the HST where applicable, for which you are eligible for a rebate, or any other costs eligible for rebates
  • the cost of purchasing of land and/or buildings including associated real estate and other fees
  • financing charges and interest payments on loans
  • expenditures that have been reimbursed from other federal statutes or funding programs

Merit selection criteria

Transport Canada will assess all grant and contribution applications to see if they meet the eligible assessment criteria. If eligible, we will assess the proposed project against the merit selection criteria described below.

Application templates are attached to the call for proposal and must be used to apply for funding.

Additional information you must provide

Relevance of the project

How closely the proposed project relates to the Clean Transportation System – Research and Development Program objectives.

Applicant’s relevant experience and capacity

Relevant experience and capacity relates to how well you are able to complete the proposed project in terms of resources, personnel and expertise. More specifically, Transport Canada will consider your:

  • mandate and/or experience and expertise
  • demonstrated commitment based on past or current projects
  • institutional, management or organizational structures, financial controls and other support available to successfully deliver the proposed project

Quality of the proposal

The quality of the proposal refers to the degree in which the planned activities, schedule, budget, targeted results and roles and responsibilities are clear, realistic and consistent with the proposed project’s objectives. Transport Canada will assess whether the proposed project has:

  • clearly stated goals, objectives and outcomes
  • a realizable project plan, concrete deliverables, budget and timelines
  • a detailed risk analysis and mitigation strategy
  • an experienced and qualified project delivery team with roles and responsibilities clearly established

Value for money

Your proposal should demonstrate an efficient use of resources, including funding, to achieve the expected outcomes.

For each sector, please indicate the project category (PC) that applies.

Note: Projects may identify more than one project category. We will consider proposals that address more than one category.

Marine projects must include one or more of the following project categories (PC):

  • PC 1: Vessel retrofits: including hull or propeller retrofits to improve vessel efficiency (i.e., material and/or coating, structural changes)
  • PC 2: Infrastructure: including the use of new materials, light-weighting and durability
  • PC 3: Emission reductions: including projects focusing on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria air contaminant (CAC) emissions, such as CO2, SOx and NOx
  • PC 4: Autonomous vessels: including all proof of concepts regarding the technology and various applications
  • PC 5: Alternate propulsion methods and fuels: including mechanical changes to existing diesel- electric technology, as well as alternative approaches to powering vessels, and improvements to existing fuels (LNG, biofuels, electrification, fuel cells, etc.)
  • PC 6: Energy recovery: capture, transformation and reutilization of energy losses (i.e., noise, vibration, heat) to reduce overall vessel energy requirements

All projects must keep in mind cost consideration and marine applicability. You are to include secondary effects on socio- economy, safety, environment and life at sea. We accept model development related to topics mentioned above.

Rail projects must include one or more of the following project categories (PC):

  • PC 1: Locomotive systems: including mechanical changes to existing diesel-electric technology, as well as alternative approaches to powering locomotives
  • PC 2: Network management: including the use of network communications and monitoring systems to decrease stops and wait times
  • PC 3: Infrastructure: including the use of new materials in rail and tie applications and improvements to switching controls
  • PC 4: Rail cars: including projects focused on reducing friction losses at the wheel-rail interface and using advanced material to lighten cars
  • PC 5: Fuels: including improvements to existing and alternative fuels and propulsion technologies
  • PC 6: Optimizing railway operations: including operator behavior, use of long trains, and rail yard efficiencies

Aviation projects must include one or more of the following project categories (PC):

  • PC 1: Emissions reduction: contribute to reduction, measurement or improvement of the intensity of GHG and/or air pollutant emissions from the aviation sector
  • PC 2: Technical improvements in aircraft or aircraft engine design: contribute to the improvement of design and/or function that leads to reduction in GHGs and/or critical air contaminants
  • PC 3: Infrastructure or operational improvements: contribute to improvement in aviation infrastructure or operations that lead to reduced emissions from the sector
  • PC 4: Development of aviation biofuels: advance the development and deployment of alternative aviation fuels within the Canadian context
  • PC 5: Improved scientific understanding: of aviation emissions and impacts (environmental and human health)

Additional mandatory criteria

We may give priority to projects that:

  • Contribute to the overall improvement of the Canadian transportation system by advancing innovative clean technologies, knowledge or practices that other modes of transportation can use
  • Can reasonably be expected to contribute to reducing, measuring or reducing the intensity of GHGs and/or air pollutant emissions from the transportation sector, at a reasonable cost
  • Establish technology, knowledge or practices that others can use
  • Leverage participation of other public and private entities
  • Will provide other associated benefits, including:
    • other environmental benefits
    • time saving and operating cost reductions
    • enhanced integration, systems efficiency and/or system capacity management
    • productivity or innovation improvements within the transportation system
    • improved transportation system safety
  • Include a plan to disseminate research findings to industry and academia
  • Appropriately identify potential risks


Once Transport Canada has evaluated your project proposal, we will inform you if you are selected for funding or not. We reserve the right to accept or reject any project proposal.

Service standards

In an effort to continually improve our level of service and maintain a transparent process, Transport Canada has the following service standards:

  • Our goal is to provide applicants with written acknowledgement of receipt of their application and/or project proposal within 10 business days of the application deadline date
  • Our goal is to issue payments within 20 business days following notification to the recipient that the requirements related to payment, as outlined in the funding agreement, have been fulfilled

Note: If we cannot meet the above standards, we will advise you in a timely manner.

Funding agreements

Grant agreements

A funding agreement signed by both the recipient and Transport Canada is required to receive the CTS-RD Program funding. The following highlights key areas of the grant agreement under this program.

Letter of funding approval for eligible activities

Eligible applicants will receive a letter of funding approval. This letter will indicate when the eligible expenditures may be reimbursed under the program.

Project scope and agreement

Only eligible expenditures you incur after the date indicated in the letter of funding approval will be eligible for reimbursement. The exception for grants is outlined in Eligibility assessment criteria.

Transport Canada will make payments as established in the grant agreement.

The maximum amount of total government funding cannot exceed 50% of total eligible expenditures.

Note: We will reimburse the applicant as a lump sum payment and only on costs incurred. We will not provide funding in advance. Funding is conditional on the availability of funding under the program.

Annual reports

For multi-year projects, the recipient will be required to provide an annual report. Recipients must report on the results they achieve, to ensure they continue to align with the objectives of the Clean Transportation System – Research and Development Program. This will also help Transport Canada determine continued eligibility where a grant is paid by instalments.

Final reports

When the project is complete, recipients will be required to submit a final report. The final report includes a summary of project results achieved. Under the funding agreement, Transport Canada must receive the final report before we provide final payment.

Other funding agreement clauses

Official languages

All recipients must respect the Official Languages Act when delivering a project funded under the program. Linguistic requirements may apply to projects depending on their scope (national, regional or local), or on the specificity of the regions and a project’s targeted audiences. Transport Canada will work with successful recipients to determine how this applies to their projects.

How to apply

The following sections detail the documents you will need to submit a proposal.

Application templates are available upon request and must be used to apply for funding.

Applicants must submit a completed project proposal which includes:

  1. Title of project and executive summary
  2. Applicant information:
    • legal name of the organization
    • name and position of the primary contact for applicant organization
    • mailing address for all correspondence
    • contact information such as office phone, email, website
  3. Organizational profile:
    • type of organization
    • organizational structure and governance
    • history of the organization
    • mandate of the organization
    • organizational activities
  4. Personnel information for a dedicated project manager
    • Include the project manager’s contact information (if different from the applicant’s organization)
  5. Declarations:
    • conflict of interest questionnaire
    • declaration by applicant attesting to the accuracy of the project proposal and the commitment of the organization to carry out the project, signed by an authorized agent
  6. Project description:
    • project eligibility information
    • location of project delivery
    • proposed start and completion dates
    • major activities for the project
    • project work plan
    • project budget
    • partners and contributions
    • risk assessment and mitigation measures
  7. Communications plan, if applicable
  8. Letters of support, including financial support
  9. Legal documentation of applicant organization
  10. Budget information – to be added as an annex; see the budget template

Submitting your application

Application deadline

Transport Canada must receive project proposals no later than May 8, 2019.

Project proposals we receive after this date will not be considered for funding.

Note: All project proposals must be signed, complete, accurate, comprehensive and presented using the templates Transport Canada provides. All applicants must provide legal documentation confirming their organization is a legal entity (for example, using letters of patent, certificates of incorporation or other such legal documents). Missing or incomplete information will slow the processing of the application and may result in its rejection.

You may submit your application by either email or mail.


All electronic applications must be in MS Word, MS Excel or PDF format and must include original signatures. Send the application to:


A signed hard copy may be sent by mail, and must be received in this office by the application deadline.

To maintain the transparency and fairness of the selection process, we cannot grant extensions.

Mail applications to:

Clean Transportation System (R&D)
Transfer Payments Program
Transport Canada
330 Sparks St., Place de Ville – Tower C (AHSB)
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N5

Transport Canada will confirm receipt of application packages.