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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 (excluding 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).

Universities are provided with a quota for the number of RTI applications that they can submit to NSERC. This quota is based on the number of NSERC-funded researchers at the university. The university decides which applications to submit to NSERC.1 NSERC encourages universities to inform their faculties of their internal selection process.

Overview
Type of Awards
  • Research Tools and Instruments
  • Operations and Maintenance Support For Research Equipment
Duration Research Tools and Instruments Grants Program:
1 year
Operations and Maintenance Support For Research
Equipment: 1 or 2 years
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

Note: Your institution will have an earlier deadline for submission of the application to the research grants office. Contact your research grants office for that deadline.
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

Application Requirements

Research Tools and Instruments

Objectives

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.

Description

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 (excluding 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, or of duplicate tools and instruments intended for different uses, 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, Strategic Partnerships Grants, Collaborative Research and Development Grants, Canada Research Chairs, and/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

To apply, complete and submit an Application for Research Tools and Instruments. Each applicant and co-applicant must also submit a Canadian Common CV (CCV). The application and CCV(s) must be submitted to your institution's research grants office by the internal deadline date (contact your research grants office for that deadline). The institution will then consider which applications to submit to NSERC on the basis of its own internal selection process.

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. CRD grant) is required.

Incomplete applications will be rejected from the competition.

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(s) to thoroughly address each criterion in their application and to provide detailed information.

Criteria for review are as follows:

  1. excellence of the applicant(s);
  2. merit of the proposed research program(s);
  3. need and urgency for the equipment—including availability of, and access to, similar equipment;2
  4. suitability of the proposed equipment for the proposed research program(s); and
  5. importance of the equipment for the training of highly qualified personnel.

Note: The proposal must clearly demonstrate the need and urgency for the equipment.


1 Please consult your institution for information regarding its internal selection process.

2If 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.

Operations and Maintenance Support for Research Equipment

Objective

The objective is to support the use of regional and national research facilities in Canada by Canadian university researchers in the natural sciences and engineering, by providing assistance in covering the operations and maintenance costs of such facilities.

Description

Grants assist regional and national Canadian research facilities in the natural sciences and engineering to cover their operations and maintenance costs for one or two years up to $150,000/year. They are intended to support facilities that are not routinely available in Canadian universities and cannot normally be entirely supported by using other research grants or by user fees, or those where user fees cannot be leveraged. 

Research facilities supported by this funding opportunity must provide support to a regional or national base of users in the natural sciences and engineering and must be accessible to members of the community beyond the host institution, where the facility is located, and should be greater than a single project or collaboration. Such facilities may include:

  • unique, specialized experimental facilities or items of research equipment;
  • field research stations; or
  • a collection of specialized samples or objects, as defined in the Framework for researchers working with university-based collections.

For more information about research that is eligible for support by NSERC, refer to This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency.

Eligibility to Apply

Applicants and co-applicants must be eligible to apply for and hold NSERC funding (Eligibility Criteria for Faculty). Please note that a facility cannot be supported by this funding opportunity if it is also supported through the This link will take you to another Web site Major Science Initiatives Fund of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Only major (frequent) users should be included as co-applicants. Applications can include up to 10 co-applicants.

Eligible Costs

Support is provided to assist coverage of the following costs:

  • salaries of technical and professional research support staff employed to operate and maintain the facility, and provide assistance to users;
  • operation and maintenance of the facility*; and
  • materials, supplies and minor equipment essential to the operation and maintenance of the facility.

Ineligible Costs

Grants for the support of operations and maintenance of research facilities cannot be used to pay for any indirect costs of research or expenses that are central or departmental institutional costs. Examples of such indirect costs include, but are not limited to, those for the maintenance and renovation of research spaces and buildings, leasing costs of spaces and equipment, utilities, general technical support to laboratories, security and occupational safety, financial and administrative support, or insurance. For more information about funding indirect costs of research, refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Research Support Fund.

In addition, these grants cannot be used to cover the costs of tools and equipment eligible for funding through the regular RTI program. Furthermore, these grants cannot be used to pay for the establishment, construction, or infrastructure expansion of a facility.

Other ineligible costs can be found in the Use of Grant Funds page of NSERC’s Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide.

*Only non-recoverable costs for the operation and maintenance of the facility are eligible for funding.

  • Non-recoverable costs are those expenses necessary to keep the facility in a state of readiness for researchers to use, and to increase the potential user communities’ awareness of the activities and opportunities offered. They are independent of the number of researchers actually using the facility and are not associated with specific research projects.
  • Recoverable costs comprise expenses directly incurred when researchers and their highly qualified personnel use the facility. An example of such costs is the cost of consumables that are used for a specific project.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be assessed on the basis of the four selection criteria listed below. Each criterion lists the factors that will be considered. To be eligible for funding, a facility must meet all four criteria. The onus is on the applicants to thoroughly address each criterion in their application.

  1. Use of the facility by the research community
    • Past (if applicable), current and projected level of use of the facility at a regional and national level (i.e., by academic and non-academic researchers beyond the host institution and region).
    • Potential for collaboration with complementary Canadian and/or international facilities.
    • Extent to which the facility can accommodate the specialized needs of the users at a regional and national level.
    • Demonstrated outreach to the potential Canadian or, if applicable, international academic and non-academic user communities.
  2. Demonstrated need for support of the facility for the research programs
    • Impact of the facility on the advancement of the research programs of current and projected users and, when applicable, on the dissemination and use of the knowledge generated in the supported area(s) of research.
    • Consequence of the loss of access to the facility on the users’ research programs.
    • Demonstrated need for, and effectiveness of, support through this funding opportunity as opposed to other NSERC grants and contributions from other sources.
    • Nature and extent of the commitment and support from universities and other organizations.
    • Proposed sharing of costs, including user fees (if applicable).
    • Rationale for the proposed user fees (if applicable).
    • Justification of the requested funds from NSERC.
  3. Merit of the research programs that rely on access to the facility and excellence of the user community
    • Quality, significance and pertinence of ongoing research programs of the users.
    • Excellence of the users.
    • Scientific (knowledge and technology) return on the investment in the facility.
  4. Contribution of the facility to the training of highly qualified personnel
    • Importance of the facility for training, including unique training opportunities offered by the facility.
    • Extent and excellence of training.
    • Opportunity for hands-on training.

Application Procedures

To apply, complete and submit an Application for Research Tools and Instruments by the deadline date. Follow the instructions specific to the Operations and Maintenance Support for Research Equipment component of the RTI program.

Each applicant and co-applicant must also submit a Canadian Common CV (CCV). 

Review Procedures

Applications are reviewed by experts, on a competitive basis, using the four selection criteria outlined above. Experts on a multi-disciplinary Selection Committee follow the guidelines in the Research Tools and Instruments Peer Review Manual. NSERC’s This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers (including grants, scholarships, fellowships and prizes) will be strictly applied throughout the review process.

Reporting

At the end of the grant period, grantees may be asked to report on the impact and use of the funds. NSERC will follow-up with those awarded, as appropriate.

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