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Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program

The RTI Grants Program provides the primary avenue for university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering to obtain up to $150,000 in support for research tools and instruments with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000 (before taxes, customs and importation fees, transportation and shipping charges, and assembly and installation costs). Net cost represents the cost of the equipment after any discount from the vendor. Vendor discount must be free of conditions, restrictions, or limitations (e.g., cannot be offered in exchange for services from users benefiting the vendor company).

*NEW* - Researchers can submit one RTI application per competition, either as an applicant or a co‑applicant, but not as both. This requirement does not apply to Subatomic Physics applicants as their grant applications are reviewed and supported through a different multi-program envelope.

Duration 1 year
Value Up to $150,000
Awards Available For information relating to Research Tools and Instruments Grants specific to Subatomic Physics please refer to the Subatomic Physics Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program.
Application Deadline October 25
How to Apply
  • Application
  • Canadian Common CV
To create an Application, select Research Portal.

To create a Canadian Common CV, select This link will take you to another Web site Canadian Common CV.

To view instructions, select Instructions.
For More Information Consult the Contact list.

Note: This program is intended for university researchers. College researchers should apply to the College and Community Innovation Program Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grants.

Important Information

Research Tools and Instruments


Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) grants foster and enhance the discovery, innovation and training capability of university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering by supporting the purchase of research equipment.


RTI Grants are one-year awards of up to $150,000 that assist in the purchase or fabrication of research equipment with a net cost between $7,001 and $250,000 (before taxes, customs and importation fees, transportation and shipping charges, assembly and installation costs). The research community is also encouraged to explore other avenues for funding research tools and instruments, including NSERC's other programs that include the purchase of equipment as eligible expenses, such as Discovery Grants.

NSERC will only accept requests:

  • For tools and instruments that form a comprehensive system intended to support NSERC funded research in the natural sciences and engineering (bundling of unrelated tools and instruments, will not be accepted).
  • For the purchase of new, used or refurbished equipment, or for the repair or upgrade of equipment, or for the fabrication of equipment that is not readily available off the shelf.
  • For equipment that is purchased after the application deadline.

Note that equipment and items that are part of laboratory infrastructure or intended to render other equipment compliant with health and safety standards are not eligible for RTI support.

For more information on eligible expenses under the RTI program, see the instructions on how to complete an RTI application.

RTI awards must be used to purchase only 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 Finance prior to its purchase. Grantees may, however, buy a model different from that requested in the application without prior NSERC approval.

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.

In the event the applicant is not successful in obtaining a Discovery Grant while concurrently applying to the RTI Program, each case will be reviewed to determine if there are ample funds from other NSERC research grants to conduct the research linked to the RTI request.

Application Procedures

Researchers can submit one RTI application per competition, either as an applicant or a co‑applicant, but not as both.

To apply, applicants must submit an Application for Research Tools and Instruments by the deadline date. Each applicant and co-applicant must also submit a Canadian Common CV (CCV).

If a cash contribution towards the purchase of the equipment is provided by an organization (other than the applicant's and/or co-applicants' institution[s]), a letter from the organization confirming this commitment is required. Such letters must clearly explain the financial contribution that the organization will provide to the purchase of the equipment.

Cash contributions from the applicant’s or co-applicant’s NSERC Discovery Grant do not require written authorization from NSERC. However, evidence that authorization was obtained from NSERC to use funds from other types of NSERC grants (e.g. Strategic, Collaborative Research and Development, or other Partnership grants) is required.

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.

Review Procedures and Selection Criteria

Applications for RTI grants submitted to NSERC are reviewed by experts on a competitive basis. Experts on NSERC RTI Selection Committees follow the guidelines in the Research Tools and Instruments Peer Review Manual.

Applications to the RTI Program are assessed on the basis of the five following selection criteria. The onus is on the applicant to thoroughly address each criterion in the application and to provide detailed information.

  • The excellence of the applicant(s);
    • scientific or engineering calibre of the applicant(s) and
    • extent to which the applicant(s) has relevant experience and demonstrated ability to fully use the equipment.
  • The merit of the proposed research program(s);
    • overall quality of the research program(s);
    • feasibility of the research program(s); and
    • potential for major advances in the discipline. 
  • The need and urgency for the equipment, including availability of, and access to, similar equipment;1
    • The impact of a delay in acquisition of equipment;
    • Potential for the new equipment to move the research forward or help to launch new research directions;
    • Impact of the new equipment on the pace of progress for existing or proposed research;
    • Availability of other equipment/facilities/services in the vicinity;
    • Impact of limited or lack of access to existing equipment;
    • The need to upgrade or replace obsolete or failed equipment.
  • The suitability of the requested item(s) for the proposed research program(s); 
    • For multi-user applications, demonstration that the proposed equipment is suitable for a multi-user facility and for the desired applications;
    • Demonstration that the equipment is essential to do the work, and that there are no other more cost-effective ways of obtaining the results;
    • Probable degree of utilization by, or accessibility for, the applicant(s) and other users;
    • Capability of applicant(s) to fully utilize the equipment;
    • Accessibility of the equipment, in terms of both location and availability of technical support to assist in operations.
  • The importance of the equipment for the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP).
    • The quality and extent of training;
    • The opportunity for hands-on training; and
    • The potential to provide marketable skills for students trained on the equipment.

1If you anticipate use by or benefit to other sectors, describe the support secured from these sources or demonstrate the efforts made to obtain such support.