Learn more about the Chairholders who are funded by these and other NSERC Chairholder grants by visiting the NSERC Chairholders Database.
|Duration||5 years, renewable|
|Application Deadline||No deadline|
|How to Apply||See below|
|Application Forms||Pre-application (optional)
|Contact||View the Contact Directory|
Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) are intended to:
NSERC offers three types of Industrial Research Chairs:
An IRC grant provides funding for the salary of the Chairholder, infrastructure, research tools and instruments, and general expenses related to the Chair’s program of research.
Chairholders are expected to focus their activities on conducting research and training highly qualified personnel, while carrying a reduced administrative and teaching load.
IRCs are funded jointly by NSERC and industry. Provincial or federal government departments and agencies may also co-sponsor/support an IRC, but only the industrial contributions are taken into account when NSERC determines its funding level (see Partner Eligibility Guidelines in the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs).
The total eligible industrial cash commitment in any five-year term should be at least equal to NSERC’s commitment during the same period. Only in exceptional cases, such as a small business in an emerging industrial sector without a well-established business community, will NSERC consider leveraging “cash equivalent” in-kind contributions. Such support must be deemed essential to the project. This contribution, in the form of goods or services, must represent an incremental expense that the industrial supporting organization would not incur outside of the Chair program and, therefore, would have to be purchased with program funds if not donated. Please consult NSERC staff to determine whether “cash equivalent” in-kind contributions by an industrial partner may be considered for NSERC leveraging.
NSERC will not be responsible for any salary increments provided to the Chairholder over the course of the award due to merit, progression through the ranks, or inflation.
Chairholders are eligible to compete for other NSERC grants, such as Discovery Grants and other Research Partnerships Projects grants, while they hold an IRC.
Universities may nominate more than one Chair candidate jointly in one application if their fields of research are related, complementary, and part of the same proposed program of research. However, each Chair candidate in a joint application will be assessed to the same standards of excellence and self-reliance as if nominated individually.
NSERC staff must be informed as soon as possible if the nature of the Chairholder's faculty appointment is about to change, for example, as a result of pending retirement or the approval of a concurrent Canada Research Chair award. Such changes will have implications for the IRC award. Chair candidates or incumbents who hold or expect to hold a Canada Research Chair under the Canada Research Chairs Program should refer to the Concurrent Chair Awards section below.
A researcher can hold IRC and Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) Grants concurrently. A CRD application and an IRC application may be evaluated simultaneously if the two are thematically related and have a strong overlap in supporting organizations and research teams, and are submitted to NSERC at the same time. Each application will be evaluated on its own merits and a funding decision for each will be reached independently.
The IRC proposal must be in an area of high priority for both the university and the industrial partner(s). The minimum university commitment to the establishment of an IRC includes tenured (Senior Industrial Research Chair), tenure-track (Associate Industrial Research Chair), or five-year, non-tenured term (Executive Industrial Research Chair) appointments and adequate laboratory, office space and administrative support (particularly important for IRCs with large research teams or numerous industrial partners), as required, for the research group. If the proposed candidate is currently on staff, the university must establish at least one incremental tenured or tenure-track faculty position (see the Incrementality section below). A university financial contribution to the cost of the research program or infrastructure will strengthen the case for support.
Similarly, the industrial partner(s) must demonstrate a strong commitment to a field of research relevant to industrial activity that is important to the Canadian economy.
Candidates for Senior Chair positions must be researchers of international stature who can bring an innovative perspective to the university in carrying out and managing research, and training researchers. They must be recognized as international leaders in their field and must be considered to be exceptional in comparison to their research peers. Furthermore, candidates are expected to have extensive research experience and all the qualifications for a tenured appointment at the rank of full professor. Appointments are for an initial five-year term, which may be renewed every five years.
Note: Tier 2 Canada Research Chairholders are not eligible for a Senior IRC, but can apply for an Associate IRC.
Associate Chair candidates should be researchers in the early stages of their careers who have demonstrated exceptional promise relative to their peers in their field of research and who are qualified for academic appointment as assistant or associate professors. Appointments must be confirmed as tenured or tenure-track. Candidates must have demonstrated the capacity to conduct a significant independent research activity. Appointments are for an initial five-year term, which may be renewed once. At the renewal stage, current Associate Chairholders may be nominated as Senior Chair candidates if the criteria for that status are met.
Executive Chairs are designed for candidates from industry with non-academic research backgrounds who:
Candidates must demonstrate an understanding of the university milieu and be qualified to supervise graduate students. Appointments are for a five-year term with no requirement for tenure. The appointment is not renewable; however, an Executive Chair may be converted to a Senior Chair, if the criteria for Senior Chairs are met.
The following table will help determine the stature of potential candidates for each Chair type:
|Chair Type||Must Have||May||Should Not|
The establishment of an Associate or Senior IRC must increase the research capacity of the university in the proposed area of research by creating new tenured or tenure-track faculty position(s). The establishment of an Executive Chair does not include this requirement. In the case of an external candidate, the Chairholder is considered to be the incremental position. In the case of an internal candidate who already holds a faculty appointment, the university must agree to create a new tenured or tenure-track faculty position(s) in the research area of the Chair program, or in one closely related and complementary to it. The new faculty position(s) must be appointed following the approval of the Chair.
Candidates nominated for an Executive Chair position must be external. Candidates nominated for Senior Chair or Associate Chair positions can be internal (currently on staff at the host university) or external.
In addition to contributing significantly to the direct costs of a Chair (see the Partner Eligibility Guidelines in the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs), the industrial partner(s) must demonstrate a willingness and ability to collaborate with the university researchers to a degree that would provide industrially relevant training opportunities for the students and that would lead to the exploitation of the research results in Canada.
Industrial cash contributed toward an IRC is eligible regardless of when it was actually provided, as long as the money has not been spent prior to the application being submitted to NSERC. If the supporting organizations choose to contribute to an endowment as a means of supporting the Chair, the recognized contribution will be limited to the amount attributed to industrial sources that are directly allocated to the cost of the Chair over the term of the award.
Note: The Canada Revenue Agency will recognize cash contributions to NSERC IRCs as Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) expenditures under the Income Tax Act. For details, see SR&ED forms and publications available from the Canada Revenue Agency.
The person submitting an IRC proposal (the “applicant” on Form 101) must hold a senior administrative position in the university, such as department head, dean, vice-president or president, with direct or ultimate management responsibility for the proposed Chairholder. The applicant cannot be the candidate for the Chair.
Applications may be submitted at any time. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NSERC staff before submitting a proposal, and may request comments on drafts. Full applications must identify a candidate for a Senior, Executive or Associate Chair.
Use Forms 100, 101 and 183A and follow the instructions for preparing an IRC submission. Three letters of reference for each Chair candidate should be sent directly to NSERC.
NSERC has implemented an optional pre-application procedure for universities seeking to have the stature of the proposed Chairholder assessed prior to submitting a full application. Historically, the majority of unsuccessful IRC applications have been attributable to the proposed Chairholder not meeting the expected stature requirements. Carefully review the Stature Assessment Table above as a first step.
For this assessment, the university must submit a summary (approximately two pages) of the proposed research program, the proposed Chairholder’s Form 100 (or alternatively a résumé for industry-based candidates or candidates from outside Canada), a signed consent form (to allow NSERC to externally review the submitted information), a completed Form 101 Appendix C (to provide a list of suggested external reviewers), and a minimum of three reference letters (not from the potential supporting organization[s] or the host university) sent directly to NSERC. For additional details on reference letters, consult the IRC application instructions. The university should clearly indicate the type of Chair (i.e., Senior, Associate, Executive) they wish to appoint. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NSERC staff prior to submitting the pre-application.
The Chair candidate’s research stature will be evaluated by external peer reviewers in the area of, or complementary to, the proposed research program. The reviewer evaluations, in addition to NSERC’s internal assessment of the evaluations, will be provided to the university. In the event that a full application is submitted, the results of the pre-application evaluation will not be made available to subsequent committees (i.e., site visit committee and the Advisory Committee on University-Industry Grants) that will be involved in the evaluation of the full application.
Because this process is optional and involves disclosing personal information to NSERC without the use of the on-line submission system, the institution must ensure that Chair candidates have consented to such disclosures for stature assessment purposes. NSERC will manage the personal information collected and generated in these assessments in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, and the Use and Disclosure of Personal statement.
The pre-application procedure is meant to provide a preliminary assessment of a candidate’s stature and does not guarantee that the committees undertaking a more in-depth evaluation of the full application will concur. An unfavourable pre-application evaluation will not preclude the university from making a full application, should they still wish to do so.
All IRC proposals are reviewed by a visiting committee. Applicants will be contacted by NSERC staff regarding the timing of and agenda for site visits. The final recommendation for funding is made by the Advisory Committee on University-Industry Grants; this committee normally meets four times per year: in March, June, September and December. After receiving the final version of the application, NSERC takes approximately four to seven months to complete its evaluation when no significant issues are raised during the review process. For an optimal turnaround time, NSERC must receive the final version of an application, considered ready for review by NSERC staff, at least four months prior to the Advisory Committee on University-Industry Grants’ quarterly meeting.
IRC applications are evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:
Awards of Chairs are contingent upon the submission of a research agreement between the university and the company (see the Policy on Intellectual Property).
Refer to the General Guidelines for the Public Announcement of Major NSERC Awards in planning a public announcement of an IRC award. NSERC will approve a public announcement only after the Chairholder has formally accepted the position and after all conditions of the award have been addressed to NSERC's satisfaction.
NSERC will not consider requests for equipment and maintenance expenditures that are greater than $400,000 over the five-year term of the Chair and that would be solely funded by the NSERC/industrial support. In such cases, an alternative source of funding should be pursued, such as the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI’s) Leaders Opportunity Fund (LOF). NSERC and CFI have developed a joint application and review procedure for these cases. Applicants wishing to use this procedure should consult NSERC staff for more details.
Certain expenditures related to project management are now eligible as a direct cost of research up to a maximum of 10 percent of the total direct costs (see the Guidelines for Research Partnerships Programs Project Management Expenses).
The Chairholder, the university and the industrial partner(s) must submit progress reports after 18 and 36 months of the first and any subsequent five-year term. If the Chair is in its final term, the final report is due within three months of the end date of the Chair. For those Chairs intending to renew, an up-to-date progress report must be submitted as part of the renewal application during the final year of the term. Continued NSERC support for the duration of the term is dependent on favourable reviews of the progress of the Chair research program and the continued contribution of the industrial supporting partner(s), which must be confirmed annually.
Renewal of an IRC provides continued support for the Chair's research program. In the second term only, the maximum combined contributions to salary from NSERC and the industrial partner(s) is decreased in each successive year to allow the university to gradually assume the cost of the Chair salary. The remainder of the NSERC grant is contributed to the research program. In third and subsequent terms, there is no longer a salary component to the Chair grant and all funds are earmarked for the research program. Refer to the Form 101 instructions for details on salary and project budgeting. Overall, the industrial partner(s) must contribute an amount equal to or greater than NSERC’s grant. The industrial partner(s) must continue to demonstrate a willingness and an ability to collaborate closely with the Chair and to exploit results of the proposed research in Canada.
Renewal of an IRC for the second and each subsequent term is determined by a peer review conducted in the last year of each five-year term. In the case of particularly complex or large proposals, this review may be by site visit. The evaluation will be based on the up-to-date progress report, a new detailed research proposal for the next term (use Forms 100, 101 and 183A), a continued commitment from industry and the support of the university. The Advisory Committee on University-Industry Grants will make the final funding recommendation for those applications requesting $150,000 or more per year from NSERC.
IRC awards and Canada Research Chairs Program awards may be held concurrently at any point in an IRC award, as long as the IRC grant objectives are respected and the industrial partner(s) and the Chairholder are in agreement to do so. Concurrent Chair awards are subject to the following conditions:
The university must confirm that these conditions have been met before NSERC will consider a request for an IRC renewal for an additional term; specifically, the university must demonstrate that the replacement position or positions will be maintained. Should the start of the Canada Research Chairs Program award not correspond to the start of an IRC or a renewal review, an interim review of the proposed expansion of the Chair research program will be required.