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Subatomic Physics Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program

The Subatomic Physics Research Tools and Instruments (SAP-RTI) Program is intended for researchers undertaking research in the field of subatomic physics at a Canadian university.

Type of Awards Subatomic Physics - Research Tools and Instruments – Category 1
Subatomic Physics - Research Tools and Instruments – Category 2
Subatomic Physics - Research Tools and Instruments – Category 3
Application Deadline August 1 (Notification of Intent to Apply – Categories 2 and 3)
October 1 (Application – Categories 2 and 3)
October 25 (Application – Category 1)
Application Procedure See below
How to Apply
  • Canadian Common CV
  • Notification of Intent to Apply
  • Application
To create a Canadian Common CV, select This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV.
To create or access a Notification of Intent to Apply or an application, select Research Portal.
To view instructions, select Instructions.
For More Information Consult the Contact list.

Important Information


SAP-RTI grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of researchers in the field of subatomic physics at a Canadian university by supporting the purchase of research equipment and installations.


SAP-RTI grants are awards that assist buying or developing research equipment that costs more than $7,000.

SAP-RTI grants are divided into three categories, according to the total net cost of the equipment, i.e., excluding taxes, shipping and handling. These categories are:

  • SAP-RTI grants – Category 1: $7,001 to $150,000;
  • SAP-RTI grants – Category 2: $150,001 to $325,000;
  • SAP-RTI grants – Category 3: more than $325,000.

Under Category 1, SAP-RTI grants are one-year awards. In exceptional cases, multi-year requests will be accepted. The onus is on the applicant to clearly explain the rationale. Under Categories 2 and 3, SAP-RTI grants are typically multi-year awards.

Regardless of the category, if the applicant is able to secure funding from other sources to complement the requested support from NSERC, this funding must be in place and confirmed at the time the application is submitted. Other sources may include contributions from NSERC Discovery Grants held by the applicant or co-applicants. The use of other types of NSERC grants is permitted, provided that prior written authorization is obtained from NSERC.

If requested, NSERC will pay all of applicable taxes, as well as all of the shipping and handling expenses.

SAP-RTI grants must be used only to purchase the specific type of equipment for which the grant was awarded. Grantees who wish to purchase equipment different from that specified in the application must obtain written permission from NSERC prior to its purchase. Grantees may, however, buy a model different from that requested in the application without prior NSERC approval.

NSERC will only accept applications for equipment that is purchased after the application deadline. All applications are reviewed on a competitive basis. Researchers should explore all possible avenues with the institution to cover the cost of equipment that is purchased before the application deadline (refer to the Residual Balances section in the Administrative Matters page of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide).

Applicants are encouraged to increase the inclusion and advancement of women and other under-represented groups in the natural sciences and engineering, as one means to enhance excellence in research and training. Applicants should strive for diversity and increased gender equity when developing their group of co-applicants, collaborators and trainees.

Eligible Costs

Type of Expenditures

Category 1

Categories 2 and 3

Salaries and Benefits Not eligible Salaries and training costs of technical support personnel for the initial phase-in period of operations (up to two years)
Equipment or Facility Purchase or rental Purchase or rental
Travel Not eligible Travel costs to visit manufacturers to select equipment
(transportation costs for purchased equipment, extended warranty, brokerage and customs charges for the importation of equipment and supplies)
Eligible Eligible

Costs that are not eligible for all categories of SAP-RTI include:

  • Insurance costs for equipment and research vehicles;
  • Costs of the construction, renovation or rental of laboratories or supporting facilities;
  • Software licensing or upgrades for subsequent years.

More information on eligibility of costs can be found in the Use of Grant Funds page of the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

Selection Criteria

Any application to the SAP-RTI Program is assessed on the basis of the five selection criteria listed below. Each criterion lists factors that will be considered. It is very important to keep in mind that all criteria are taken into account in the assessment of any SAP-RTI grant application. The onus is on the applicants to thoroughly address each criterion in their applications and provide detailed information to the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section. In particular, the criterion “Importance of the equipment for the training of highly qualified personnel” must be addressed.

  • The excellence of the applicant(s)
    • Scientific or engineering calibre of the applicant(s) and major users.
    • Extent to which the applicant or the group have relevant experience and demonstrated ability to fully use the equipment.
  • The merit of the proposed research program(s)
    • Overall quality of the research programs of the proposed users.
    • Recent track record. 
    • Potential for major advances in the discipline. 
  • The need for and urgency of the equipment, including availability of, and access to, similar equipment
    • What is the impact of a delay in the acquisition of the equipment?
    • Is new equipment moving the research forward or helping to launch new research directions?
    • Will the progress of the research be slowed by a lack of access to the new equipment?
    • Are there difficulties in accessing existing equipment (e.g., is the increased number of users slowing research progress)?
    • Are there other available facilities/services in the vicinity?
    • Is there a need to upgrade or replace obsolete or failed equipment?
  • The suitability of the requested item(s) for the proposed research program(s)
    • Is the equipment essential to do the work, or are there other more cost-effective ways of obtaining the results (e.g., send samples for analysis, use other techniques)?
    • What is the capability of applicant(s) to fully utilize the equipment?
    • How accessible will the equipment be, in terms of both location and availability of technical support to assist in operations?
    • For multi-user applications, is the proposed equipment suitable for a multi-user facility and for the desired applications?
  • The importance of the requested item(s) for the training of highly qualified personnel
    • The importance of the equipment for training, as well as the value of the training.
    • The quality and extent of training.
    • The opportunity for hands-on training.
    • Will the training enable the highly qualified personnel to gain useful technical and scientific skills?

For SAP-RTI – Category 2 and Category 3 grant applications, the following selection criterion is also taken into account:

  • Organizational structure, accessibility and synergy
    The applicant(s) must clearly demonstrate a clearly defined organizational structure to ensure that the equipment can be operated and maintained efficiently and effectively, as well as providing access for other users. Examples of elements to be addressed include:
    • Suitability and effectiveness of the oversight/management structure and the users’ representative body.
    • Plans for an effective operation and the maintenance of the equipment.
    • Accessibility for other users. Is there a transparent and fair process to grant access?
    • Synergy of the proposed equipment or installation with existing ones. Synergy, in this case, is considered to be the extent to which a grouping of equipment enhances the value and capability of each piece of equipment and enables researchers to obtain results or carry out studies that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible.

Eligibility to Apply

In addition to NSERC’s Eligibility Criteria for faculty, applicants and co-applicants must each currently hold or be applying for one of the following NSERC research grants at the time of application: Discovery Grant, Discovery Development Grant, Strategic Partnerships Grants, Collaborative Research and Development Grants, Canada Research Chairs, or Canada Excellence Research Chairs.

Application Procedures

Subatomic Physics – Research Tools and Instruments – Categories 1, 2 and 3

Only applications in the field of subatomic physics from applicants and co-applicants who currently hold or are applying for an NSERC research grant at the time of application will be accepted.

For all SAP-RTI grant applications, if a cash contribution towards the purchase of the equipment is provided by an organization (other than the applicant's institution), a letter is required from the organization confirming this commitment.

Letters from supporting organizations, if submitted, should clearly explain the support that the organizations will provide, such as their involvement in the research, their contribution (cash or in-kind) to the purchase and installation of the equipment, etc.

Applicants and co-applicants are required to complete and submit the NSERC version of the This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV (CCV) as part of the required application stages for this program. In the case of SAP-RTI Category 2 or Category 3 applications, the CCV can be updated between the time it is submitted with the NOI and the application deadline.

Subatomic Physics – Research Tools and Instruments – Category 1

To apply for a SAP-RTI – Category 1 grant, you must submit an application for a SAP-RTI – Category 1 grant by the deadline date.

Subatomic Physics – Research Tools and Instruments – Categories 2 and 3

The first step in applying to the SAP-RTI Program is to submit to NSERC a Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI) for a SAP-RTI grant – Category 2 or Category 3 by the deadline date. The NOI is a mandatory step in the application process for Categories 2 and 3. It allows NSERC to determine the most appropriate review mechanism for the grant application. Researchers who do not submit an NOI will not be allowed to submit a full application.

You must then submit the application by the deadline date, through NSERC’s Research Portal.

A letter of support from the applicant’s head of department must accompany every SAP-RTI – Category 2 or Category 3 grant application. The letter must indicate the importance and priority that the department places on the proposed equipment and the extent to which the department proposes to provide support.

Applications for SAP-RTI – Category 3 grants must be accompanied by a letter of support from the university president or delegated representative indicating the importance and priority placed on the proposed equipment or facilities. The letter should explain the extent to which the university will provide support, such as the provision of space, financial contributions to the purchase and installation, the purchase of ancillary equipment, funding of technical support staff, etc.

Review Procedures

All applications for SAP-RTI grants (Categories 1, 2, and 3) are reviewed by the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section. No external input is usually sought. The Section may request, however, expert input from individual referees, if necessary. Moreover, for SAP-RTI – Category 3 applications, the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section may also receive input from an expert ad hoc committee that would perform an on-site evaluation and review. Furthermore, according to the internal procedures of the Subatomic Physics Evaluation Section, applicants submitting SAP-RTI – Category 3 applications may be invited to make oral presentations during the Large Project Day held every year by this Committee.

Duration and Conditions

SAP-RTI – Category 3 grants are typically multiyear awards. For grants whose amount is of $500,000 per year or higher (over the requested duration), the payment of the second and any subsequent yearly instalment is conditional on the submission of an annual activity report to NSERC. The submission deadline for this report is February 1. NSERC reserves the right to request an activity report for any SAP-RTI – Category 3, even for grants that are less than an average of $500,000 per year (over the requested duration).