Use your knowledge and skills to collaborate with ARIS researchers and industry partners, contributing your innovative ideas to the technology development challenges organizations are here to address.

This gives you a leg up in the job market after graduation and provides work experience that sets you apart.

Innovative Student Project Fund

The Innovative Student Projects Fund (ISPF) helps SAIT students get financial support for creative projects. These projects let you use the skills and knowledge you've learned in your program in real-life situations.

We thank the RBC Foundation for generously supporting the Innovative Student Projects Fund. We'd also like to thank our other donors, Advanced Education, Alberta Innovates, Alex Zahavich and NSERC. On average, the fund provides over $20,000 for dozens of projects involving more than 75 students yearly.


Up to $5,000 per project is available.

This does not require a matching contribution. However, between 25 - 50% in matching cash or kind donations is highly recommended.

Funding criteria

To be eligible for funding, you must meet all the funding criteria:

  • You must be enrolled in a SAIT diploma, certificate, degree or apprenticeship program.
  • Projects must be completed while you're enrolled in your SAIT program.
  • Projects approved for funding in the Fall and Winter terms must be completed by May 29, 2023.
  • Projects approved for funding in the Spring/Summer term must be completed by Aug. 31, 2023.
  • You must demonstrate the capacity for innovative thinking within your project.
  • The project must include a component of applied research. For example, the project must address an existing challenge or meet an unsolved need.
  • You must identify a SAIT Faculty Advisor.
  • You must identify a Project Sponsor or Mentor.

How to apply for funding

  1. Review all funding criteria to ensure that your project is eligible.
  2. Ensure your innovative project has a good plan and a well-thought-out budget.
  3. Download and complete the application form. The accompanying project sponsor letter of support is optional but recommended.
  4. Submit an electronic copy of your application form to Ensure it is digitally signed by your group, Industry Sponsor, Faculty Advisor, and Academic Chair.

Be prepared to present your project over a virtual meeting platform about one to two weeks after your application submission.

You will have up to five minutes to present your project proposal and will be able to share your screen and any resources you have prepared with the panel members.

This will be followed by another five-minute question-and-answer period with the panel members. We welcome your industry sponsor to attend your presentation.

Innovative Student Project Fund application form | Sponsor letter template

Application deadlines

  • Fall semester: September 15, September 30, October 15, October 31, November 15, and November 30.
  • Winter semester: January 15, January 30, February 15, and February 28.
  • Spring/Summer semesters: April 15, April 30, May 15, and May 30.

Judging criteria

Top three judging criteria:

  • Level of innovation: projects that contribute to more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas, and outcomes with industrial/commercial/community relevance and/or uptake.
  • The plan: a clear explanation of the project and research question being addressed, a realistic methodology and timeline, and clearly defined outcomes and deliverables.
  • Financials: a clear rationale for budget items, reasonable cost estimates for all items, and demonstration of additional support in addition to ISPF funding.

Judging sub-criteria:

  • Project support: identification of a suitable project sponsor, links made to other programs, schools and departments at SAIT, and links to other external organizations who will support the project.
  • Legacy: the project's educational value, opportunities for a future student to use the project outcomes and resources.
  • The general quality of application: questions are answered appropriately using satisfactory spelling and grammar.

Project sponsors or mentors

Appropriate project sponsors or mentors include:

  • Industry or community partners that have brought forward the challenge to be solved.
  • An industry subject matter expert who can help evaluate and provide feedback on a challenge you have identified.
  • A start-up or business mentor who can support you through key entrepreneurship skills to help bring your solutions to life.

If you are unsure if your project sponsor/mentor is acceptable or if your sponsor/mentor is a SAIT employee, please get in touch with us.

Within one to two weeks following your team's presentation to the ISPF panel, you will receive an email to notify you of the results and — if awarded — the amount of funding your team has received.

ISPF is awarded on a reimbursement process, and only funds used for the project during the specified time will be covered.

Your team will be responsible for remaining under budget as ISPF will only cover the amount your team has been approved. Any unused portion of the awarded budget at the end of the project will expire.

How to get reimbursed for project expenses

  1. Check your award letter to confirm the awarded amount and any requested budget changes or spending restrictions.
  2. Then, determine who on the project team will make the purchase*. Save your receipts for all purchases, as these will be required to be reimbursed. Remember to consider the added costs of shipping, taxes or currency conversions, if applicable.
  3. Document all your purchases on the Student Expense Claim Form and Staff Expense Claim Form and attach the appropriate receipt to each line item. Each team or faculty member who makes a purchase with their own money must do their own expense claim form.
  4. Work with all team members and faculty to ensure the final budget table and requested reimbursement amount match all expense claim sheets and report the results of your project by answering all the questions on the Outcome Report. Get team members, the project sponsor, the faculty advisor, and the academic chair to sign the report.
*Mechanical Engineering Technology students must make purchases through their Faculty Advisor.

Approximately one month after you submit your outcome report and expense claims, you should expect to be reimbursed for your purchases. Please consider this timeline when making purchases, as ISPF will not cover interest payments.

ISPF will not reimburse any teams or members that have not submitted a completed Outcome report or proper expense forms and receipts.

Student expense claim form | Staff expense claim form | Outcome report

How detailed should my budget be?

Your budget should be detailed enough that it is clear to the judges that some research and quotes have been completed and your team has an educated estimate.

For large-budget items, it is recommended to be specific and specify exact items rather than using general categories.

Please take advantage of the open explanation section of the budget to detail what larger budget items will be used for and where your estimates came from.

Smaller budget items like screws or fasteners require less detail and often no explanation.

What type of expenses are allowed?

We recognize innovative projects may require unique resources. Use the following lists to determine what may be eligible and non-eligible expenses.

Please note these are not all-inclusive lists. 

Eligible expenses:

  • Fabrication materials 
  • Fabrication services (machining, welding, etc.)
  • Electronics hardware (development boards, wires, sensors, etc.)
  • Taxes, duties, and shipping associated with obtaining fabrication materials
  • Software (licenses that extend beyond the life of the project must be installed on a SAIT computer unless permission is given otherwise)
  • Equipment (student should confirm with a faculty advisor if the equipment is already available at SAIT)
  • Consumables (sandpaper, adhesives, etc.)

Non-eligible expenses:

  • Design or consultation fees
  • Courses
  • Credit card interest payments
  • Late payments
  • Competitions fees
  • Purchases without receipts

How do I report purchases with foreign currencies?

Please provide a copy of the receipt and your credit card statement with the relevant line item and the CAD cost charged. Be sure to black out any personal information or purchases irrelevant to ISPF.

Does ISPF retain any intellectual property?

ISPF does not retain any intellectual property, and following SAIT Policy AC.3.10 Ownership of Student-Produced Work, students retain ownership of the IP they create. 

In the cases of teams and when industry partners are involved, you should have an IP agreement in place before the start of the project.

Who owns the material purchased by ISPF?

SAIT reserves the right to retain physical possession of items acquired with ISPF funding and work resulting from the project.

If SAIT approves the retention by ‘you’ of any items resulting from the project (the “Retained Items”), then you waive and release SAIT, its governors, officers, employees, consultants and agents from all claims, liabilities, losses and costs resulting from or related to the Retained Items.

Innovative Student Project Fund contact

Should you have questions about the ISPF program, please reach out to:

Ehsan Aminfar
Manager, Innovation and Business Development
Applied Research and Innovation Services 

Student Innovation Award

The Student Innovation Award recognizes students who have achieved a high standard of excellence on a project within their program of study.

Up to $500 is available for each student within a project group, up to a maximum of $2500 per group. For any winning group larger than five students, they will divide the maximum award evenly between members.

🚨 Applications for the Student Innovation Award are currently closed.

Selection criteria

To be eligible for the Student Innovation Award, you and your project team must meet the following criteria:

  • All project members are full-time students (enrolled in nine or more course credits each semester), graduating from either a diploma, certificate, degree or apprenticeship program.
  • You have completed a project that demonstrates creativity and/or innovative thinking.
  • Your project addresses an existing industry problem and/or meets an unsolved need.
  • Your project has the potential for future commercial or social applications.

Submitting your award application

  1. Find a SAIT staff member (for example, a faculty advisor, academic chair, or ARIS researcher) who supports your application and confirms you meet all selection criteria. They will need to sign your application form.
  2. Complete and submit the application form with signatures from all students in the group and the SAIT staff member supporting the application.
  3. Create a three-minute video showing how your project meets all the award criteria.
  4. Submit your application form to Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Contact us

Applied Research and Innovation Services
a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

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